Kalani Honua Blog

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

In the Western world, we've been conditioned that it's "good" to be busy and ambitious. Prioritizing time to relax still carries a stigma around it, and as a result, many of us struggle with stepping back and saying no. But the more we push through without pausing, the more likely we will burn out.

One way to change this cycle is by developing a preventative self-care practice. Whether you are unsure where to start or just want to reevaluate your existing routine, here are four tips to help break the cycle of being busy:

- Take a breath. If possible, find a place where you can remove yourself from distractions and notice sensations in your body. If you can't escape, try slowing down your breathing and extending your exhale. Imagine releasing what's no longer serving you. Deep breathing can help us center and ground ourselves again, and the breath is always available to us.

- Ask yourself What do I need? Whether it's sleep, exercise, connection, alone time, or something else that feels missing, there's a reason why it's coming up. It may feel strange at first to prioritize yourself, but remember: your needs are just as important as the needs of others.

- Make a list of activities that give you personal satisfaction (it doesn't matter if you're any good at them). Even if you have a job that is perfectly aligned with your passions, or an ideal home life, it is important to have hobbies outside of work and home. Rediscover an old pastime or take a class you've always wanted to - make time for what inspires you.

- Cut yourself some slack! The point of a self-care routine isn't to create another chore, and there is no need to feel guilty if you get off track sometimes. Return to the practice when you need to and when you can; balance is a lifelong process.

In order to show up fully for ourselves and others, we must learn to take care of ourselves. We deserve it.

If you’re someone who struggles with justifying the time and prioritizing yourself, consider this perspective from acupuncturist, breathwork facilitator and Reiki Master Erin Telford: “When you take care of your spirit and your heart and tend to your wounds, EVERYBODY wins. If you aren't carrying around decades of emotional pain, anxiety, fear and sadness, you're going to be nicer to your Uber driver, you're going to be more available to your friends, your family, your partner, your clients, your kids. Take care of you on every level and everyone benefits. And if for some reason there is still an old program running that says you are selfish and you can't do it for you, do it for The World! We need you!”

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Photo: Jessica Tam/Flickr


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

When Ty Black left Oklahoma to spend a month at Kalani, he had no idea how his time on the Big Island would transform his life -- on and off the mat.

Check out the video below for more on his personal transformation and how the Hawaii Yoga Festival and Peak Beings Yoga Teacher Training helped Ty expand and deepen his yoga practice.


Thursday, November 24, 2016

Joel Barraquiel Tan, Kalani Honua Executive Director

The outpouring of grief and increased outbreaks of hate crimes in the wake of the U.S. election reminds us that our work - championing individual freedom and equality, while protecting natural resources - is more important than ever. Here, at Kalani, we will continue to hold space for the complex dialogues that these times require, while respectfully engaging a wide diversity of individual points of view. Our community remains grounded in oneness and guided by love for self and other.

November 10, 2016, 5 a.m.

Awake. Cool wind and palms sway. Coquis and bullfrogs sing to the moon and rising sun.

Exhaustion knocks me out for a few hours, but the shocking upset of the presidential victory + the the Senate and House wins jolts me awake and now I’m up and writing, pre-dawn. The outcome of this election is both a wake up call and an American tragedy for climate change, women, people of color, people with disabilities, immigrants, affordable healthcare, queer folks, civil rights + basic human decency. Despite this...

The lava still flows into the ocean. Liquid rock sliding into the waves and the rhythmic hiss and steam of it all making new earth.

Here, on this part of the Red Road, we keep bees and grow a lot of our own food. Here, our WiFi comes and goes with the clouds and cell service is spotty. We beat drums in a circle and sing along to blue moons, new moons, black moons. Here, we are about finding deep joy through devotional practice. We hug a lot and organize cuddle puddles. We never mind what we don’t want and instead invite what we do want: to manifest grace + abundance. Here, on this part of the Red Road, we are cashless, naked and free.

This Eden and the few remaining like it are the polar ice caps of peace and freedom in a furious and fearful world. We are the stewards, the caretakers of this sacred place and more than ever, we cannot afford to remain insular. We’ve got work to do and important guests to prepare for.

Our “business” is the work of transforming, balancing, actualizing. This Eden that is Kalani Honua is sanctuary and recharge station for change makers and super heroes: artists and farmers, futurists and permaculturists, yogis and yoginis, psychics and mediums, queerdos and nasty women.

We are a place for slowing down and disconnecting, especially for you mainland progressive social justice soldiers, warrior artists and mad futurists. When the city chaos wears you down, come bury your hands in the cool of our magical dirt and lava rocks. Replace the media drone with bird song and the buzz of bees. Recharge by connecting to deep earth fire.

When the fight wears you down, restore + replenish here, with us.

Let us feed you good, nourishing food. Let us offer you a comfortable bed to catch up on much needed sleep. The jungle will heal you and make you stronger. This place of transformation, restoration, nature, and wellness is where revolutions begin.

Here, on the Red Road, Hawaiian Sovereignty still stands.

Here, on the Red Road, on the Big Island, Pele and a pantheon of Brown Gods rule.

Here. Where you belong.

Photo credit: Loren Frohning (top)


Monday, October 24, 2016

Rachael J. Haylock

With promises of diverse classes, dynamic teachers, like-minded people and special performances, yoga festivals are popping up all over the world year-round. Everything from power vinyasa to yoga nidra draws you in with ideas of furthering your practice, deepening your philosophy and opening your mind.

Life is about the journey, and treating your time at a yoga festival as an integral part of this journey could lead you down a variety of paths — or change your course completely. By attending a yoga festival, you have the opportunity to use a week of yoga-based activities to help you make new decisions and learn new lessons. Here are some of the benefits a yoga festival can bring to your life:

Listening better to your body

It can be tempting to choose from a lot of physically-challenging classes that could leave your body worn out before the week is over. The best way to tell if you’re expanding your comfort zone or if you’ve gone too far is to tune into yourself.

“Our intuition is the ability to understand through feelings and not through facts,” says Maxwell Starkhouse, founder of Intuitive Yoga, based on the Big Island of Hawai’i. “If we’re in a posture and our feeling is telling us ‘This is too much,’ it’s having the wisdom to listen to our intuition instead of our logic or ego: The teacher said I should hold it for 10 breaths. Look how deep they are in the posture; I’m going to push myself until I get there.”

Learning to listen to your body's wants and needs can result in you leaving the festival with revived equanimity and balance. If you’re having trouble going inward, Starkhouse suggests moving to the pace and rhythm of your own breath -- not your teacher’s or your neighbors -- to facilitate a deeper connection to your body, your intuition and your practice.

When you’re pushing your limitations, Starkhouse also recommends slowing down your practice. “If you’re in an aggressive class and don’t have the time to process the feeling of what’s going on in your own body, you lose some connection to the self and how you’re feeling. If I slow down, I start to feel what’s happening with my forearms, my elbows, my chest. Kind of like doing a body scan in each posture.”

When you pay attention, your body will let you know when to speed up and when to slow down, when to challenge yourself and when to relax.

Disrupting habits

Another benefit that yoga festivals offer is the opportunity to notice your routine -- and your attachment to it, gifting you with a heightened awareness of your frame of mind. Becoming aware of which classes you gravitate toward and how you chose to organize your day can give you insights into your daily habits. What would your hatha practice feel like if you spiced it up with some vinyasa flow? Dropping old habits and introducing new habits, however small, can aid our personal growth in a multitude of ways.

Find presence by changing your routine and breaking your usual yogi habits. By stepping outside your comfort zone, you will allow yourself the space to grow. If you’re someone who always puts your mat in the back row, challenge yourself to practice front and center (or vice versa!) and see how that influences your practice. Approach every class or workshop with a new curiosity in order to break down any repetitive behaviours you may have acquired.

One way of expanding your comfort zone on and off the mat is by taking a partner yoga class. “Sometimes yoga can be so serious, but partner yoga lightens it up and adds some fun, says Crystal Galleher, a yoga teacher on the Big Island of Hawai’i. “It’s another way of being more present because you’re exploring the practice in different ways — you’re inviting someone else into your practice and supporting someone else’s practice at the same time.”

Setting intentions

During your time at a yoga festival, you will begin to find new spaces within your body. As you listen to your body's wants and needs, taking the time to explore your practice in different ways, you will end the week feeling stronger and more supple; a perfect blend of ease and steadiness.

The body acts as a direct reflection on the state of the mind, so the more space you have in your body, the more you will find in your mind. Within these spaces, you will have the ability to find clarity on your situations and your direction.

For the Hawaii Yoga Festival organizers, having a theme for the festival was an important part of setting the right tone. “We set an intention of balance for the Hawaii Yoga Festival this year,” said Ali Slous, Director of Storytelling at Kalani Oceanside Retreat Center. “Not only because it falls squarely in the middle of Libra season, but to reflect what many of us are searching for lately: balance between work and play, effort and release, solitude and connection.”

You may discover new insights, or even just master that pose you've been trying to grasp, not to mention make connections with like minded-people from all over the world. With an increased awareness of your body, the habits you want to leave behind and the intentions you want to welcome in, it's not hard to envision how you will be feeling at the end of the week.

What's more, you can take the lessons you learned in the classes and workshops and apply them off your mat: remind yourself frequently to listen to your body and assess your options for growth, therefore maintaining a constant balance between strength and ease as you take on the waves and currents of life.

Photo credits: Zoltan Bovanovics and Melanie Heufert (middle)


Thursday, August 11, 2016

Alexandra K. Ambrose

What are the benefits of volunteering at Kalani?

This might be your biggest question before filling out the volunteer application. Kalani offers volunteers a full schedule of classes and events (including lots of yoga); 3 healthy - and mostly organic - meals per day; and lodging in a tent or shared room. While all of this helps to make your extended stay in Hawaii’s Puna District comfortable and memorable, there is so much more to be found here:

Discover a simpler way of life.

Kalani life is a change from the routine. Before arriving here, many of us get caught up in chasing a standard of life that leaves us feeling stressed, tired, frustrated, or some combination of the three - but that certainly doesn’t make us happy.

All it takes is a tent or a simple room, letting go of excess stuff, and having all your basic needs met, to free up time and energy to discover what actually does make you happy. Even volunteers who have never lived so close to nature or never considered off-grid living, adjust easily to this simplified way of life.

Feel at home.

A week’s vacation goes by like nothing at all - usually leaving us feeling rushed and depleted when we have to go back to the regular 9 to 5. This is a different story when you stay for 3 months, which is our standard volunteer commitment. With the extra time, you can visit all the places on your list and maybe even discover one of the Big Island’s hidden gems!

Not only does volunteering at Kalani take the rush out of traveling, but an extended stay also allows you to feel like more than just a tourist passing through. Whether you frequent Ecstatic Dance, Kehena Beach, or Uncle Robert’s night market, you’ll begin to feel a part of the sights and sounds of Puna. Before long, Kalani becomes home.

Make meaningful connections.

While there are many ways to connect with others, an intentional community offers the opportunity to create a unique bond. As we live, work, and share meals together, every day, this intimate setting embodies the Hawaiian tradition of ‘ohana, or extended family. This is why many volunteers leave Kalani with some of their closest, lifelong friendships - even if we only spent a few months getting to know each other!

Balance work and play.

Let’s face it, spending three months anywhere without structure would get monotonous. We all require a schedule of some kind in order to maintain focus and discipline. That’s how our 4 day a week volunteer requirement works: the short workweek allows for a balance of volunteering, exploring the island, meeting new people, and taking time for yourself.

In fact, balance is the intention set for Hawaii Yoga Festival - October 11 through 16. With a schedule of classes and events designed to help inspire balance, you’ll end the week ready to set your life on a renewed course. Get here soon and stay for this enriching event!

Get outside your comfort zone.

There are so many opportunities! Visit lava flowing from an active volcano. Snorkel with fish, turtles, and dolphins. Try yoga for the first time. Explore vulnerability with a new friend or in a group workshop. Live in a tent. Maybe just the act of coming to Hawaii on your own is a giant step outside your comfort zone.

Getting out of your comfort zone is an incredible learning experience. It teaches you more about your likes and dislikes, how to communicate effectively, and what you may be missing out on. Take a chance and see how you grow in the process!

Learn more about yourself.

This time is devoted to you - whether you decide to journal, meditate, practice yoga, or any other activity that helps you to look within. Volunteers can also join special one-day events, workshops, or retreats (for a reduced rate) to create community and discussion around the process of self-reflection. These activities and the community support help make Kalani such a transformative environment.

Find your bliss.

“I learned to have fun again” is a common quote we hear about Kalani’s Volunteer Program. There’s something to be said about the spirit of aloha on the Big Island - it’s a constant reminder to be kind, slow down, and practice gratitude.

Puna is also a place filled with opportunities for inspiration. These include the natural wonders of the lava landscape as well as the people culture made up of artists, healers, and yoga enthusiasts. You will find yourself immersed in ways to rediscover and rekindle your passions, with friends by your side.

Take part in social transformation.

In many ways, it is the estrangement of people that causes us to disconnect; we often forget that our actions can have far-reaching impacts on others. In the frequent interactions of a volunteer community, it’s easier to see your role in the collective and to work on ways to improve these interactions. It is also an opportunity to discuss and reflect, with like-minded people, about how to address conflicts amongst each other, in our culture, and in the world.

Embrace change.

There is a reason why so many of us are called to Kalani with a great desire to change our lives. Located next to one of the world’s most active volcanoes, Kilauea, the Big Island - and Puna in particular - is a living model of the constant nature of change. Here, we can literally witness new earth being born and, often, the birth of a new self as well.

There are so many benefits of volunteering at Kalani - this is just the beginning. Check out our Volunteer page to find out more and take advantage of our $300 off special!


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Alexandra K. Ambrose

Did you know that honey bees are responsible for about 80% of pollination worldwide?

Bees pollinate fruit, nuts, and vegetables - which include 70 of the top 100 crops that provide us with food. Naturally, a bee colony loses 5-10% of its bees in the winter, and then replaces those losses in the spring. In the U.S, winter losses are now as high as 30% to 50% or more due to Colony Collapse Disorder - when the majority of worker bees abandon the hive and their queen.

Hawaii, however, has seen a much lower percentage in the loss of bees. This climate supports lush tropical plant life - including numerous fruit trees and macadamia nuts - that provide an abundant food source. It also helps to have incredible beekeepers like Jen Rasmussen who are committed to making a difference. Jen began learning about bees here on the Big Island eight years ago and, soon after she began her journey, encountered major problems with pests that paved the way for her intuitive beekeeping method. She brought this method to Kalani in August, starting us with two of her top bar hives.

Defining Intuitive Beekeeping

This natural method relies on the bees themselves to care for their hives - without treatments or chemicals. When Jen experienced an infestation of varroa mites and small hive beetles that devastated her earliest hives, she discovered that the best method of dealing with these pests was to take direction from the bees. They understood how to best protect themselves through hygienic behavior - meaning the bees located pests and other diseases and treated them appropriately themselves.

In essence, intuitive beekeeping is simply observing the bees’ natural behavior and working in harmony with them. It’s about creating a relationship between the beekeeper and bees that fosters a safe environment where bees flourish.

The Bee Basics

In a bee colony or hive, there are three types of bees: drones, workers, and the queen. The drone bees are the males, whose role is to fly up about 400 feet in the air and wait to mate with a queen. The female worker bees provide many functions for the hive, which are carried out in a cycle during their 35 - 45 day lifespan. These tasks are dependent on the age of the worker bee, and they know instinctively when to move from one duty to another. The queen bee is notably larger than the other female bees and lays twice her bodyweight in eggs each day. She produces a pheromone that communicates the condition of the hive to the rest of the bees.

Usually during the spring, bees reproduce their colonies, and essentially clean house, through a cycle called a swarm. When swarming occurs, the old queen flies off and takes about 75% of the other bees with her to look for a new hive. At this time, a queen cup - a specialized cell designated for a new queen - will be utilized in order to create a new queen for the original hive.

Bees are nature’s architects. As bees build their hives, they make a string with their bodies that measures the size of the cells. In fact, this action actually determines the sex of the bees that will be produced. The top bar hive works with the bees’ natural inclinations as builders, allowing them to build with gravity.

Importance of Treatment-Free Beekeeping

Another problem Jen came across was a commonly used pesticide called imidacloprid. The bees brought it from the plants to their hive, where it made them confused, then paralyzed, and eventually killed them. However, once she knew what to look for in the bees’ behavior and could instruct other beekeepers on what to look for in their hives, she found that these chemicals could be banned from communities with bees because of their adverse effects.

Although the dangers these pesticides present to pollinating bees are noted, some beekeeping strategies treat pests and disease within the hive similarly. Bees are treated with antibiotics, miticides, and stimulants to combat these issues. The problem with such treatments is that they create more disease-resistant pests, rather than stronger bees. As Jen explains of her experience, “my strategy has changed from battling the pests to empowering the bees.” Her treatment-free hives are a way of working with nature to help the bees adapt to their best ability and fight pests off themselves.

Harvesting Abundance

Since our bee hives were established, we have harvested over 20 gallons of honey to share with the community. Honey is created from nectar that bees stir with their proboscis (tongue) and then dry by fanning their wings. Typically, it is used to nourish the bees during the winter when they can’t often leave the hive to forage for nectar. Hawaii is unique because there aren’t many days when the bees are cooped up in their hives and therefore, honey must be harvested regularly.

We are grateful to not only share honey, but also to host workshops about Jen’s intuitive beekeeping methods regularly. For more information on bee workshops and others in our Permaculture Series, like our Permaculture Facebook page. The bees are a model of how to create a sustainable community where all contribute to the abundance.


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Alexandra K. Ambrose

Ahhh, home sweet tent.

Never thought you’d be about the tent life? Well, living in Hawaii just might change your mind. Here are five reasons why living in a tent rocks:

1. Minimalist living.

We live in a consumer-driven world, bombarded with the message: buy this now! It’s important to take the time away from advertising overload. Living in a tent is an opportunity to really utilize your space and get rid of what you don’t need - we even have an excellent “Free Boutique” where you can share with others! Take this time to disconnect from consumer culture.

2. Ultimate freedom.

Now that you’re living without the burden of all that extra stuff, you’re free to pack up and go on a trip - any time. You’re as mobile as you want to be, which is excellent because the Big Island has so many great places to explore. You can even bring your tent with you to great campgrounds, like Ho’okena, where you can wake up to see dolphins in the morning.

3. Get in touch with your natural biorhythm.

Without the distractions of technology or electricity, you’ll be able to discover what your body really needs. Fall asleep to the sound of coqui frogs and wake to the birds singing. You’ll find yourself getting deep, restful sleep away from all the hustle of urban life. Let all the rush and anxiety just melt away as you discover how good it feels to be in touch with the natural cycle of daylight.

4. Be sustainable.

Yes! Make a positive impact by living without electricity and by passing your tent on to a new owner after you leave. You’ll get to live close to nature in the lush beauty of the jungle - without leaving a harmful footprint behind.

5. Simplify.

Suppose you don’t want to leave the Big Island (it’s happened before!) and you decide to extend your stay. Usually it is an enormous pain to sift through all the clutter just to move somewhere new. However, once you realize packing up and moving the contents of a tent is a snap, you’ll fall in love with a simpler way of life. Whether this inspires you to pick up and go more often - or just to keep your travel options open - tent living is a great traveler experience.

Let’s be honest, given the year-round warm climate, living in a tent in Hawaii is more like glamping than your average camping trip. Our retreat center is the perfect place to experience tent life while rejuvenating in luxurious simplicity and abundant natural beauty. You’ll definitely be a happy camper!

Ready to try camping life? Learn more about volunteering at Kalani Retreat Center.


Monday, June 13, 2016

Shinzo Fujimaki

“My role as a healer and teacher is not fix a client or student or make outside change; instead, I open energy channels to their higher selves, and together we recognize and empower our own capabilities through self-healing, self-expression, self-awareness, and self-love.” -- Shinzo Fujimaki

Imagine your body as the earth.

Both the earth’s surface and our bodies are made up of about 70% water. This water is constantly moving in the form of currents and tides, due to the powerful pull of the sun and moon. This movement is just like the energy flowing along the meridians of the body. Can you imagine no movement in the ocean? When water stagnates, natural life within it dies. Our bodies, like the earth, rely on the free movement of tides to bring forth and maintain the fragile ecosystems that support the continued existence of life. Energy is constantly moving smoothly throughout the body’s meridians with the pull of both the sun and the moon. Shiatsu is the tool that allows us to live harmoniously with this flow of tides along our body’s meridians.

What is Shiatsu?

Shiatsu is Japanese healing massage. The term Shiatsu means “finger pressure” in Japanese and is practiced on the body with hands, fingers, and knuckles that stimulate and direct the natural healing powers of the body. Oriental medicine dictates that healing energy is flowing throughout our entire bodies all the time through meridians - energy lines that run along the body. As long as energy flows smoothly and without blockage, we are healthy. We become ill when the energy stagnates along the meridians.

How does it work?

People who experience Shiatsu healing sessions quickly discover the healing energy that exists naturally in the body and mind. Shiatsu practitioners understand the complex body processes of both physiology and energy, working constantly to maintain equilibrium and health. Japanese Shiatsu is based on the principle that the body can and desires to heal itself and enables us to maximize health through the use of healing touch on particular points along the body - using many of the same points an acupuncturist uses when treating clients.

When you have a headache, you naturally touch your head where it hurts. Our hands automatically reach out to relieve pain; we find comfort in pressing lightly or massaging an aching spot. Through gentle touch on a painful point, we open up the underlying energy of that point with our hands. Shiatsu seeks to understand not only the area in which you feel pain, but the whole body, so that healing energy is allowed to flow freely throughout all the meridians. Pain becomes an important teacher that instructs us about the imbalances in body and mind. After a Shiatsu treatment, you will feel a strong sense of vitality, often vibrating through your whole body; that vibration is your body’s natural healing energy at work.

Where can I learn Shiatsu?

At the end of the summer, Shinzo Fujimaki - an internationally renowned healer and teacher - will bring Shiatsu to Kalani for the first time. Born in Japan, Shinzo first learned the art of Shiatsu at an early age, massaging his ailing mother and other family members. Because of a natural gift for healing, he chose Shiatsu as his course of study and vocation. He has been practicing and teaching for over thirty years. Shinzo fervently believes we all possess Shiatsu’s wonderful natural gift of healing. Therefore, his passion is to teach and empower each person to touch others with healing hands and communicate from the heart.

His classes will offer Oriental Philosophy and the theory of Yin and Yang through Aikido, Yoga and, Qi Gong. Students will learn the techniques of Shiatsu necessary for the effective practice of massage. Students will practice how to release and tonify along the 12  meridians as well as Oriental breathing practices, Qi flow, intention and physical postures of the practitioner.

Register here for Shiatsu I and Shiatsu II. For more information about Shinzo, visit his website.


Monday, May 30, 2016

Alexandra Ambrose

Aquatic bodywork consists of floating massage, dance-like movement, and stretching in a warm water pool. Major forms of this type of bodywork include Watsu and Healing Dance. Kalani is currently a leader in offering aquatic bodywork treatments, as well as in training practitioners from around the world.

Upcoming Courses
This summer, our teacher training opportunities begin June 12th with Watsu 1, facilitated by Alexis Lee. This will cover the basics of Watsu - including the introductory moves used in all Watsu sessions, learning your own body mechanics in relation to supporting another person during a session, and adapting your style to the different needs of the recipient. Alexis has worked with aquatic bodywork pioneers Harold Dull and Alexander George to shape her approach.

Inika Spence will also offer Healing Dance 1, beginning June 19th. As the former director of the Harbin School of Healing Art, she brings passion and expertise to our program. This Healing Dance training will teach the paradigm shift of seeing the body as at home in the water, where movement creates healing.

About Watsu and Healing Dance
Watsu was created in the early 1980’s by Harold Dull at Harbin Hot Springs in Northern California. Initially, Watsu was an adaptation of Zen Shiatsu massage for the water - emphasizing the creation of synchronized breath patterns between recipient and practitioner and establishing a deep meditative state. Healing Dance was developed by Alexander George in 1993. This powerful aquatic technique combines movement on the surface of the water as well as submerging the recipient beneath the water.

Aquatic bodywork sessions foster deep relaxation and meditation, which help increase circulation and mobility and promote general wellbeing. Practitioners float the recipient while gently moving and stretching them. The effect has often been compared to that of being in the womb - a space where we are completely supported and secure. Being in the water creates a special space that is free from gravity, unlike traditional bodywork practices on land.

Kalani's Watsu Offering
Kalani’s own Watsu pool is a large and well-maintained facility nestled in our lush and peaceful tropical setting. Enjoy the privacy of an individual session as well as the opportunity for an intimate class setting of 12 - 14 people. Our staff is comprised of compassionate and skilled practitioners and teachers focused on creating the optimum aquatic bodywork experience. In the future, in conjunction with our continued sustainability efforts, this pool will include even more eco-friendly features such as solar heating.

Our aquatic bodywork training offerings will continue with more courses expanding on Watsu and Healing Dance. Scholarship options are available in collaboration with the Aquatic Bodywork Fund. To register for courses and sign up for your aquatic bodywork session, visit upcoming workshops.


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Rob Dorgan

I have mentioned my mom Dottie in several of my articles. Dottie was a huge influence on me - she still is and always will be - but, recently, I experienced an unexpected visit with a different Mom, one who had always been part of me but that I had forgotten…Let me explain.

Fourteen years ago, Steve and I went on a retreat to the Big Island of Hawaii. We stayed at an Eco-Retreat Center called Kalani Honua, meaning, The Harmony of Heaven and Earth in Hawaiian. It was a magical time, and we went back once more, a few years later, to experience the same magic. The last time, as we pulled away from the property, we cried. It is the only time either of us could remember crying at the end of a vacation.

The experience of those magical days are etched clearly in our memory. We pulled our red Mustang convertible to the end of the Kalani driveway and waved our hands, as we walked to “The Point” - a secluded, yet accessible jut of land right across the Red Road at the entrance to Kalani. It overlooks a wide expanse of the Pacific Ocean. We waved goodbye, threw some kisses, then climbed into the car and pulled onto the Red Road. And we cried - hard - as we headed towards the airport.

We talked about that departure many times over the last decade. We also talked about returning to Kalani at some point for an extended stay.

Fast forward to New Year’s Eve 2015.

After many years of “life” happenings, we decided to take the leap. In May of 2015, we applied for a Sabbatical at Kalani. We wanted a 5 week stay to recharge, rejuvenate, relax and get creative about our lives. We asked to come the last week of December to the first week of February. And we were accepted. Yes!!!

The past 12 years we spent New Year’s on Key West, another Island. It was hard to change that pattern as we knew the staff at the Guest House so well. We knew the other guest, the places to eat...it was easy to relax immediately on arrival with so much familiarity.

But we both knew we needed something different. We needed to shake things up and to challenge ourselves to spark our creativity.

Enter Kalani.

We knew it would be completely different as we would be unplugging from our life for 5 weeks and going to the middle of the Pacific Ocean, where California is 2,500 miles away and Japan is 4,100 miles away. We would be 10 or more hours and 5 times zones away from home.

As the departure day from Cincinnati got closer, we got nervous. To uproot ourselves and move into somewhat unknown territory is not the easiest thing to do for two Earth Signs (a Capricorn and a Virgo). In spite of that, we felt there was a reason, something was pulling us to Hawaii and to Kalani or The Puna Coast, specifically.

We arrived late to Kalani on a Tuesday night. It was dark when we got to our room. We were very tired from a long day of travel. Kalani is an eco-retreat, which tries hard to keep the footprint we are all making as small as possible. It is earthy and rustic in its simple elegance and charm. Being tired, we were not so receptive to its simple charm on the first night; it was more like, “What the ______ have we done?”

Our inner “princesses” were making an appearance. We realized the expectations which where in our heads where not meeting with reality in our arrival moment.

But even that first night we could hear beyond the coqui frog’s mating song, to the lullaby of the crashing waves on the nearby black cliffs. She was calling to me. She - the Ocean - my different mom!

The next morning was spent in orientation to the Kalani campus and a few other logistical things regarding our stay. The following day, we worked a full day in our first volunteer housekeeping shift. It wasn’t until about 4pm Hawaii time that we got to walk out to The Point to see “Her” with our own eyes. As we entered the canopied sanctuary they call The Point, I spontaneously said out loud – “we’re back!” And just as spontaneously, I began to cry. Not just streaming tears but deep, full sobs as I felt I was back with someone dear who I had not seen in a long time, and for whom I had great longing.

I was surprised at my own reaction, at first, but I went with it. I let the tears come and I let the ecstasy of our reunion flow through me in a series of inner waves. It was magic.

Two days later we made our way to the near-by black sand beach, Kehena. To get to this little gem, you have to climb down a steep rocky natural lava staircase which takes some effort and a certain degree of mindfulness. Once on the beach, you are surrounded by the black cliffs, the lush deep green foliage, and the coarse black sand. Steve and I laid down our towels. I perched on a nearby tree stump to do some writing – but, I was distracted. I wanted to get in the salty water - “Her”. I closed my journal and coerced Steve to go in with me.

We walked out to where the water came up to about mid thigh and then back in to sit in the shallow water to feel the waves wash over us. Instantly, I was a little kid again. Actually I was more a baby-child of about 2 or 3 years old - I was being held. The waves got a little rambunctious and knocked us over. It was rolling us around- back and forth. I was covered in black sand. I was overcome with spontaneous, uncontrollable deep laughter. It was the laughter of a child being lovingly moved around by its Mom. A slight tickle and caress. I let go. I rolled. I laughed. Again I let the ecstasy of this nurturing love move through me. Ahhhhh...

This sense of being cared for by Mother Earth in all Her forms, but, especially this salty embryonic fluid of the ocean, had erased any doubts I may have had about being here.

The love I felt from the sounds of her waves and her touch were more nurturing than anything I can possibly describe.

I am from the mid-west. There is no ocean. It’s not like I grew up with Her caressing me daily. What is it about Her that calls me, calms me and nurtures me? My good friend and teacher, Bobbie Corbean, used to say, “My spirit needs to get to the ocean. I need a shot of the ocean water and sun on my face.”

Nature is our ultimate mother. She doesn’t subtract anything from the relationship I have with my Mom, Dottie. As a matter of fact, our relationship with nature adds to all of our personal human relations. We can go back into nature when we need to feel we are being held, nurtured and loved unconditionally.

I am now coming to realize that being in and with nature, in her many forms, is a necessity for me. She brings a sense of calmness to me. I feel like wounds I may not even be aware of, are being healed. Is there stuff in our DNA which we inherit from our ancestors that needs to be released by a personal connection to nature?

I still ponder these thoughts and my spontaneous crying and laughing as I came back to Her presence. Sitting with Her and in Her, in stillness and in silence, I feel love. I do. I feel love.

Steve and I can hear Her from our room at Kalani. Yet we find ourselves wanting to be closer to Her, so we walk to The Point frequently. Many times we don’t speak. A few days ago, after sitting there for about 5 minutes, I started to cry again. My best friend Steve, pulled me to his shoulder. My control freak inner self, let myself be comforted by him and Her. I had a deep long healing cry. About what, I am not sure. Afterwards I felt better. There were no words.

I share this with you because I am surprised at what is happening here in Hawaii, at Kalani Honua - meaning where Heaven and Earth meet. I suggest that you plan an unexpected visit with your Mom - Mother Nature. She holds us when we are weary. She smiles when we are in ecstasy. She loves us unconditionally, always.

Wherever you are in the world, find a place to be with Her and get quiet. Imagine yourself being held and loved to the depths of your being - and then know it to be true.

Originally published at: http://simplestepsrealchangemagazine.com/an-unexpected-visit-with-my-mom/