Is Ho'oponopono a "Therapy"?

Someone wrote me recently asking whether Ho'oponopono could be helpful in depression. I've been cleaning with this for several weeks.

While keeping the writer's confidentiality, I'm moved to share the [slightly abbreviated] note. Perhaps we can all clean with it while reading:

"Dear Dr. Pappas,

I see you are a psychiatrist who has also learned the art of ho'oponopono . . . I just wondered if you thought that ho'oponopono is able to help people recover from endogenous depression ?

As you are the only person I have found who is both a psychiatrist and aware of this hawaiian technique, I just wondered if you practiced ho'oponopono on your clients, or do you mainly practice it on yourself ? If you do not practice it on clients, have you heard (on the ho'oponopono grapevine) so to speak if ho'oponopono is curing people of depression and other serious illnesses.

It requires quite a lot of effort to practice this therapy every day and do the cleaning, and I get the impression it is important to clean for months maybe even years before the therapy really works, and so in order to help me stick it out, it would be really helpful to know that this technique really does work !

I wish there were more testimonials on the internet from people who are cleaning, and finding their illnesses and symptoms are clearing up. So far, I can only find websites that tells us why we need to clean.

I would be most grateful for any information you can share."

Thank you, dear writer, for this letter which raises so many important questions for us all. Your earnestness comes clearly through your words.

First, I do not consider Ho'oponopono to be a "therapy" to be practiced on anyone else. It's a way of life to practice with one's self only; it helps me feel peaceful in each moment. So I don't do it "on" my patients or others. I do work with my own reactions to patients all the time -- before, during, and after their visits. But unless they've heard elsewhere about my doing this, they never know it's going on.

Only Divinity really knows what happens as I clean, but sometimes people around me notice that they feel better. Perhaps as I let go of my own memories [and Divinity transmutes them], my patients can receive their own inspiration from Divinity too. That's got to be better than anything I could ever say!

I'm able to clean while with others because of my relationship with my inner child (subconscious, Unihipili). She cleans all the time, no matter what else I'm doing -- listening to someone, feeling fearful, getting mad, or even sleeping! I've had to regain contact with her, show her I appreciate and love her, and teach her about Ho'oponopono. We're a firm unit together now, and without her I'd be in dire straits.

Can Ho'oponopono help people recover from endogenous (or "major") depression? That's pretty complex! In my experience, practicing Ho'oponopono can temporarily increase feelings of sadness, guilt, shame, and depression as one begins the process -- especially if one is prone to these responses already. I found this in myself, and have also heard others comment about it as well.

One reason is that Ho'oponopono means taking 100% responsibility for all that comes into our awareness -- even if it seems distant from us. There truly is "no out there", and we share in all that occurs. This can feel overwhelming at first.

Also, for me there are some languaging problems in Ho'oponopono (please help me clean with this). I have heard some teachers say, "You're the problem, and you're responsible." This could certainly escalate feelings of depression in susceptible people. In contrast, Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len often says, "Let's be very clear. You're perfect -- just as Divinity created you. We're all perfect. It's the [imperfect] memories and data running us that are the problem. And those can be erased."

This latter view provides a whole different scenario for me -- MUCH less depressing, even energizing. With this I can DO something, even if my conscious mind doesn't know what's going on. I'm no longer a victim, or a hopelessly awful person wallowing in perpetual guilt. For me, that's a natural antidepressant. :-)

Dr. Hew Len and Mabel Katz also teach that when we "clean" these memories that block Divinity's light in us, what comes off of us comes off of everyone else too. It's like a light switch: even if only one person in the room uses it, the lights come on for everyone. It's no accident that "light switch" is also a Ho'oponopono cleaning tool.

Others have also described lightening of depression through the use of other cleaning tools such as drinking Blue Solar Water, and keeping a 3/4-full glass of water that's emptied at least twice a day. I've used both of these myself, with positive results.

There have been some people who were suicidal and ready to be hospitalized before they started cleaning -- but who (sometimes through the glass of water method above) got well. You might ask Mabel about this in one of her teleseminars; she's shared that story and more.

Still, I would not recommend that anyone expect a full cure of major depression from Ho'oponopono alone. Why not? Because we can't know what we're really dealing with when cleaning. Our conscious minds are only aware of a very small part of the information that's active at any time. So how can we possibly expect to control the outcomes of our cleaning?

This doesn't mean that cure CAN'T happen though!! Dr. Hew Len comments on physical problems, and offers suggestions for responding to them:

“The physical is the expression of memories and inspirations taking place in the soul of self identity. Change the state of self identity and the state of the physical world changes.

When your soul experiences memories (replaying as problems), say to them mentally or silently: ‘I love you dear memories. I am grateful for the opportunity to free all of you and me.’ ‘I love you’ can be repeated quietly again and again. Memories never go on vacation or retire unless you retire them. ‘I love you’ can be used even if you are not conscious of problems.”

Dr. Kikikipa Kretzer at University of Colorado (Colorado Springs) is now conducting research with Ho'oponopono and various health conditions such as depression. Participants fill out questionnaires about their health, take the Health Ho'oponopono classes, and follow their progress over several months. She's already published a pilot study showing positive results with hypertensive patients.

In my own life and in the lives of my patients, I've seen that processes like Ho'oponopono help us experience a loving connection with something larger than ourselves. This connection helps us feel whole, attuned, and hopeful -- an antidote to depressive feelings such as brokenness, abandonment, guilt, and even apathy. For me, the idea that any pain I experience is an opportunity to let go is very hopeful.

It doesn't have to be Ho'oponopono for everyone, but we all need connection to something larger than us in our lives. Maybe for you it will be something else, whatever is exactly perfect for you. Thank you again for the opportunity to clean with depression, frustration, and all other pain -- which memories I of course share with you. But (thank heavens!) we can all be free.

Peace begins with me,


weekjebenin said…
Thanks Pam,
for another clear explanation of the way you work with Ho'oponopono. You seem to be able to find the exact right words to express this. But please can you explain to me little bit more on: I'm able to clean while with others because of my relationship with my inner child (subconscious, Unihipili). She cleans all the time, no matter what else I'm doing.
How did you establish this contact with your inner child? Is it throught a meditation? What meditation? Is it through just talking to her? How do you talk?
Please explain that to me.
Pam Pappas MD said…
Hello Alex,

Thank you for your comments. Relating with our inner child is just like talking lovingly with any other child, including him/her in all we do. A large part of Ho'oponopono trainings is devoted to establishing (or re-establishing) this crucial relationship -- so if you can do it, please attend one. It would be much better than I can say in a small space. I do talk (and listen) all the time to my inner child, especially in the morning and evening before and after major (outer) activities are done. I show her the cleaning tools, and explain what we can do with them. That way she knows to use them even when I'm doing "other" things.

I will write a longer reply in another post, but in the meantime please go to and consider one of Dr. Hew Len's trainings. He is wonderful at communicating what he does personally.

Peace to you,

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