Hoʻoponopono is an ancient Hawaiian and Polynesian healing art of reconciliation and forgiveness that’s been used for centuries to support, correct, restore, and maintain harmonious relationships between people, Nature and Spirit. A fundamental belief is that harmony in one’s external relationships begins by establishing harmony between one’s own body, mind and spirit. Specific Hoʻoponopono practices have developed over time and they continue to evolve to this day.
Hoʻo means to cause something to happen. Pono means balance, goodness, righteousness, order, alignment, or harmony. Hoʻoponopono translates: ‘to bring into balance,’ ‘to bring harmony.’ By repeating ‘pono,’ the power of the word is accentuated.
Hawaiians believe that to determine whether a thought, word, or action is ‘pono,’ one must consider how it affects not only our present generation of family and community, but also how it affects both our ancestors and our descendants. All life forms are interconnected; family includes not only our human relatives and friends, but also nature. To be ‘pono’ on all levels, a thought, word or deed must be harmonious or beneficial to the family and the environment.
Hoʻoponopono is used traditionally by families and friends to rectify any differences, perceived wrongdoings, or conflicts amongst them. Additionally, when a person is ill or injured, the first step in the healing process is to hold a ceremonial Hoʻoponopono session. The custom always begins with prayer and is led by respected family elders. Each family member is invited to share their thoughts and feelings, and all actions related to the issue at hand are brought to the light. When emotions run strong, comments are directed to the leader, rather than directly to other individuals involved in the dispute. The elder facilitates the process with questions when needed, and makes sure everyone has a chance to be heard. One or more periods of silence are taken for reflection on the entanglement of emotions and grievances. The group collectively decides and implements whatever corrective action is needed in order to restore harmony for everyone. All participants release each other and the past, and together they close the event with a ceremonial feast. Most problems and grievances have multiple dimensions and layers associated with them. Unraveling all the layers is referred to as ‘peeling the onion.’ Depending on the number of people involved and the layers of discord, the healing may occur in one day or it can take months before harmony is restored. These gatherings can be done daily, weekly, or as needed.