When I first came to Kalani in summer 2012, I found the experience to be so transformational for me that I knew that right after college I would return. The lessons I learned served me well spiritually and practically in my “real life”, so in my mind, I made Kalani a symbol of personal growth. This has become my mini-university of mindfulness and well-being. Of course, the journey for me hasn’t always been easy, but the fact that I am mostly surrounded by growth-minded people who live intentionally has given me insight on the 2 following themes:
Make Connections Based on Values, Not Traits.
Back on the Mainland, one generally makes friends because of proximity, and we can get stuck associating with others who share our socioeconomic status, race, etc. This isn’t always conducive to spiritual growth, and has left me feeling stuck in a creative rut. This is part of the reason I came back to Kalani: Kalani is unique because one constantly has the opportunity to connect with people from around the world over meals, our work environment, and our living space. How cool is it to have eaten with someone from Germany, Texas, New York, and Hawaii all in one table over dinner?!
Although sometimes this has pushed me outside my comfort zone, I’ve found it very enlightening because I have been immersed in a situation where I can align myself with others because of values we share vs. traits. Despite all of our demographic differences, we can form bonds over what we REALLY have in common, whether it be our love of fine arts, our interest in activism, Eastern philosophy, etc. It really brings light to the question, “What ARE my values?” And then because we have so many diverse classes and opportunities to be creative, I’ve been able to find focus after clarity has been brought to my preferences and intentions. Because of this, I’ve been able to bring more consciousness to my values and make some of the most powerful friendships and creative connections I have ever made!
At Kalani, there are many opportunities to practice flexibility, whether it be mental/emotional in our relationships here or physically/spiritually through yoga. Before I came to Kalani last year, I was aware that my rigidity and fixed attitude on some things were not working for me. I found it difficult to be in friendships/relationships for too long, because once things weren’t on my terms, I felt out of control and walked away. I couldn’t do that at Kalani…and for that I am grateful. Here, I am in an environment where if I get into a disagreement with somebody, I need to address it, for my sake and the community’s. I wish I would have learned this skill at a younger age, but I was probably too self-absorbed and intimidated to try.
Naturally at Kalani, since I am living with over 100 people, sometimes things come up! With the guidance of some of the older Kalanians, I’ve been able to work on confidence and experiment with making more room for people’s differences in my relationships. I no longer feel I am losing myself when I give in; I can see things in perspective and am more willing to conture to the needs of another. Practicing this flexibility has been reinforced by the powerful yoga classes, and I believe that flexible bodies nurture flexible minds.
I have lived at Kalani for a total of 8 weeks, and feel genuinely fulfilled. I have a renewed enthusiasm about the world because of the confidence I’ve developed, the growth-minded community, and the endless learning opportunities that make my life feel enriched and colorful.