Ho’oponopono is the ancient Hawaiian prayer for forgiveness and roughly translates to “cause things to move back in balance”. Ho’oponopono works as a mantra that over time cleanses the soul by releasing shame, guilt, negative feelings that can keep the mind fixated on negative thoughts, and ill will towards others. There are some variations of the prayer floating around, but the foundation goes like this: “I’m sorry”, “please forgive me”, “I love you”, “thank you”.
Essentially, when directed at another person, you are cleansing their soul and yours at the same time because you are connecting with the collective on a soul level. Then one day I thought, “if that’s the case, then what would happen if I were to say it for myself?” But not just for myself, but to HEAL all of the trauma and damage I had done to my body over the years. All of the fad diets that don’t work, starvation, over exercising, negative comments I made about my body, but also the negative comments OTHERS made about my body as well.
I began directing the prayer to my body every single morning before getting out of bed. I place my hands over my heart then begin the prayer. I personally began to feel the shift after about three days, and it was amazing! My skin began glowing more and after about five days I was making healthier choices like, eating more whole healthy foods, and making it to my yoga mat everyday. Everyone has different starting points, and when I started doing this most of my shadow work revolved around my body image and not tying my worth and body together. The most important part of this prayer is to FEEL what you are saying.
For this prayer, typically most people will say/ think, “I’m sorry,” “please forgive me,” “I love you,” “thank you” and then be done with it. Personally, I found it most effective when I actually say the specifics of what I’m sorry for, what I want forgiveness for, and what I’m thanking my body for. Also, instead of saying “I love you” I say “I love you, body” and I say body before starting the prayer. I find this to be easier to embody the feeling and genuineness of what these phrases offer.
Why are these phrases important?
“I’m sorry” reflects humility. It reminds us that we are human and aren’t perfect. We make mistakes and the apology is our way of taking accountability for that mistake, whether it’s something we did to ourselves or something we allowed another to do to us.
Forgiveness in itself is incredibly healing, and when we’re trying to heal trauma it’s so important. When we ask for forgiveness, we are also giving a part of ourselves to that thing (for- give- ness). There is also the potential for some serious inner child healing, depending on when your body image issues began. In asking your own body for forgiveness, there’s this beautiful exchange of energy that is occurring within you that you’ll be able to feel over time.
This one can be really difficult which is why it’s third on the list. There are some variations of Ho’oponopono where they say “I love you” first. I don’t recommend that when just starting out. The other parts of the prayer are equally important, but they also act as a primer to this part. After a few weeks of doing this practice at least one a day I added “I love you” at the beginning. Not switching the order around, just as an extra one. This step is incredibly important because love is in everything. And for those out there that are healing perfectionism wounds and/ or blocks, this can be one of the most difficult parts of this process. Just remember, if your best friend is worthy of love and they aren’t perfect, then so are you. This step does get easier as time goes on. I’ve been there.
Gratitude! Gratitude! Gratitude! We have so many reasons to be thankful for our bodies! Our bodies are what allow our souls to be here on Earth. They allow us to see, hear, smell, taste, touch the world! They allow us to fully experience this world, if we give them permission to. Your body is with you the day you’re born and will be with you until the day you leave earth. Being on the frequency of gratitude is healing, it just makes you feel good!
So, if we were to put all of this together with reasons to increase the feeling it could look something like this: “Body, I love you. I’m sorry for all of the negative things I’ve said about you. Please forgive me for damaging you and adding trauma to you. I love you, body. Thank you for everything you do for me.”
Another important note is to not add judgment to these statements. Is it really an apology, forgiveness, love, or gratitude if there are conditions? No. It’s not our job to judge. It’s our job to take accountability and make amends.
Trauma is stored in the body and unless we release this trauma, it stays there. It weighs us down and makes us heavy, even if we don’t know the origin of it. Sometimes, things we won’t realize will come up, and that’s beautiful. It’s coming up for us to heal and move past it.
Heather Gale uses holistic health to help women become embodied, love their bodies, and rediscover self-love and their love of life. She is a certified holistic health coach, pilates instructor, and a mindfulness/ meditation teacher.