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Cha Cha Cha Changes
You gotta love David Bowie. What is that man up to these days? I need a song. A life soundtrack sort of song for this phase in my life. Something classic and timeless.
Dearest Sir Bowie,
If you happen to be perusing the Web for Hawaiian Yoga Retreats and chance upon this note, please visit (bring Iman!) and write us a song!
Hey, it is possible. I was told the other week that Neil Diamond was just down the road.
I’m in Chicago, readers, visiting for a few weeks and returning to start phase two of Kalani. I’ve extended until the end of the year. I intend for “Kalani Part Deux” to be less social and a time for me to buckle down and finish my thesis for grad school. Practice a little bit of self-discipline and reflection. Hone in my energy. So yoga, writing, meditation, work, swimming. Yoga, writing, meditation, work, swimming. (If I say it often enough as my mantra it’s bound to become reality, right?). Kalani Part One was more: yoga, hang out at pool, hang out all over A-Frame Land, go to every good-bye party imaginable even if I just met you yesterday, hang out all over Pahoa, hang out in Hilo, take lots of adventures, hang out on massage tables, beach hopping, hosting visitors, lovely delicious cat naps, work and then if there’s a spare moment left to write then I spent it watching movies or reading books – escapism at its very finest.
I don’t regret any of it. I enjoyed every pleasurable minute, actually. I’ve transformed from the inside out. I am the happiest and most energetic I’ve ever been since I was seven years old. Playing and resting like that really does wonders to your soul. It is a retreat after all. I was revived.
But the summer crew has left. Practically all the friends I’ve made here in the past three months have gone. The mass exodus has commenced and a new crop-a lot of returning volunteers actually whom I’ve never met-are arriving.
“They come and they go,” our volunteer coordinator, Sharyl, says in the old-lady-sitting-on-the-porch-in-a-rocking-chair-mint-julep-in-hand sort of tone (oh and I forgot to mention a tumbleweed rolled on by).
“At first it’s tough, but after awhile it becomes, ‘oh alright, see ya later,” she says gesturing a dismissive wave.
“You’re so cold,” I say after confessing how I just spent one afternoon walking around A-Frame land eating mint chocolate ice-cream and crying a little bit for the place was a ghost town. It just dawned on me that afternoon that certain folks were not there.
It’s tough to detach. The time we spend here is so intense and we grow and change so quickly together. It’s like boarding school or camp for adults. Connections and bonds made with others are quicker and penetrate to the heart faster, instant family (just add hot water and tadaaaa). We often refer to this phenomenon as Kalani Time. It’s a vortex that somehow condenses major life changes in such a short period of time that it seems to stretch out the minutes of time, but in reality, it’s just intense life experiences jam packed into the same unchanging tick of the clock. It only feels that minutes are longer.
Psychological time vs. clock time – the balance is way skewed here (psychological time way ahead). Space and time seem to fold into each other and our experiences are marked by the wrinkles. It doesn’t help that a majority of us don’t know the date anymore here. “I know it’s Sunday because of Ecstatic Dance but it could be July or August, who’s got a calendar?” It’s hard to keep up with clock time. Not seeing a person for a day feels like weeks sometimes. A lot can happen in a day. Just the other week Mother Nature proved a lot can happen in a week. Potential natural disasters seemed to test the Big Island.
It began with meteor showers. How beautiful to watch these forces of light just shooting across the sky. Natural fireworks! And then came Hurricane Flossie heading straight towards us. We wrapped up our A-Frames in tarps, took down our tents, secured any potential flying objects, placed our valuables in plastic garbage bags, moved our cars away from coconut trees and prepared for the worst. It was very anti-climactic the day the Hurricane was supposed to hit. The mountains protected the Big Island again and Flossie landed 50 miles off the South Shore. We had gorgeous storms throughout this week because of Flossie. And the waves were out of this world.
We also had four earthquakes, every night consecutively that week. I was working in the kitchen and thought I broke our Hobart Machine (the dishwasher) when the first earthquake hit just after dinner – the 5.6. It only lasted for a few seconds and the kitchen staff continued on rushing to finish our shift as if someone merely dropped a plate. Nothing seemed to phase us at this point. Then because of the earthquake in Peru, the Tsunami watch was in full effect right after the Hurricane watch. One couldn’t help but feel that maybe the end is nigh. It was surreal and invigorating to ride the waves of all of these natural disasters. I remember thinking, hey, if this is how it’s going to end, I couldn’t be in a better place with such interesting people. I believe I attended a going away party for my friend, Jean-Claude, the eve of the Hurricane. We drank decadent mango shakes and danced the night away in our kitchen manager’s and pastry chef’s home. My friend *C and I took a dip in the pool afterwards and relaxed in the hot tub well past midnight. I couldn’t sleep for some reason. Something was in the air that night. Mother Nature was stirring. The energy was so palpable.
Being back in the mainland the changes become apparent. Since I’ve landed friends and family have been very forthcoming with their observations of how I’ve changed. I seem to be under the microscope here, it’s a bit uncomfortable, but it is what it is. It’s very different out here as well, I’ve noticed. Or maybe, it’s my perspective that’s different. All I know is that I miss the Big Island so much. I’ve realized how luxurious simplicity is. What a gift it is for us to simplify and be with our core and raw nature for a while. The simplicity of life in our retreat, the paring down of the noise and excess of urban life is a luxury and gift. It gives us time and space to experience life-altering moments so presently. And I must cherish this time and space at Kalani and continue to embrace the changes.
The next few posts will be Q&As with volunteers who have recently left. We often gain perspective once we leave. I’m interested to know how life is like out there for these guys. What they’ve gained from retreating at Kalani and how they assess the changes within themselves, their perspectives and the world. I foresee my life getting pretty boring as I sit and finish this thesis. I predict my blog would be in the vein of:
Today I practiced Kundalini at The Point, ate a papaya and wrote three pages. Talk to you next week.
Well, let’s hope. Yoga, writing, meditation, work, swimming…