Kalani Honua Blog - volunteer

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Tiffany Jentsch

Note from the author:

I purposely signed up to do one of our communities weekly inspirations in October of 2013. I figured that, 2 weeks out from the Hawaii Yoga Festival (an event which I’m coordinating) there would be potential for stress, anxiety and pressure from the clock.So I thought, what better way to ground myself than by standing up and trying to inspire my entire community in just a few minutes? My ego works in interesting ways. Here I share with you the inspiration I offered to our Kalani community that day in October: 

Blog:

Today’s topic: The ego. From the time I was first introduced to Freud’s teachings in Junior High, I learned that my ego is the cause of all my misery. When I entered college, in Psychology 101 they taught me the same thing. When I started my career in the health and fitness field, I witnessed first hand how a person’s ego inflicted massive emotional pain and even physical injuries. When I walked into my first yoga class 9 years ago the teacher told me to leave my ego at the door. And finally, after sitting my second 10-day Vipassana course, I got a nasty dose of how my ego had certainly been the cause of my misery.

So it’s no surprise that somewhere along the way, I linked up that my ego is the source of ALL my pain and it must be destroyed. Many of you might agree with that statement. However, no one ever taught me the benefits of my ego, and no one ever led a class teaching me to let my ego speak. The core of most teachings that I received was to identify the ways your ego was abusing you, then silence it!

When I arrived at Kalani 7 months ago, I was on top of the world. It was a brand new, exciting chapter in my life. It had been a life-long dream to live in Hawai’i. Little did I know, Pele was waiting for me…ready to chew me up and spit me out!

We use the phrase “E Ho Mai” a lot around here. “Let it come, let it flow.” It makes total sense, but when you’re in the middle of a “crisis” and someone says “e ho mai”, oftentimes my brain is more like “e ho mai God! What is happening?!”

I had been in a bit of a funk the past few months. I closed myself off to others and spent most of my time alone at Chez Stiffy (That’s the name my friends have given my tent…it’s not as dirty as it sounds!). During those lonely hours, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what the hell I was doing here! This little voice in my head kept aggravating me, challenging me to look at my life.

“Am I just wasting time here? What am I afraid of?” are just a few questions I repeatedly asked myself. I enjoy accomplishing things, setting goals and achieving them. I really miss speaking in front of crowds, sharing things that I’ve learned and watching the moment a person realizes how powerful they really are. It’s magical. Teaching people, performing, achieving goals, hearing people tell me that their life improved after talking with me…that feeds my ego…but it also feeds my spirit.

The balance of ego and spirit, in my opinion, is one of the secrets to fulfillment. I’ve learned that the ego isn’t as bad as I once thought it to be. Without my ego, I wouldn’t have been able to stand up and speak in front of hundreds of people each week. Without my ego, I wouldn’t have traveled around the world..a lot of the time solo. Without my ego, I wouldn’t have studied so hard. Without my ego, I wouldn’t have developed the confidence to make a positive impact on people all over the world. Without my ego I wouldn’t be up here telling you all of the ways that I’m awesome! I believe that I’ve been put on this planet to help people realize their true power and show them how to step into it. So without my ego…I wouldn’t be able to fulfill my destiny.

That little voice had been beating me up for a few months. It wasn’t like a full on beating, it was more of a constant thump on my nose, just slightly irritating. It didn’t really hurt at first, but after a while, with it’s unbelievable perseverance, it started to get painful! If you know what I’m talking about, I want you to listen very closely now. Will, a friend of mine here at Kalani, gave me some great advice while I was doing this to myself, so I would like to extend that to all of you now.

He said, “Tiffany,” and I’m paraphrasing, “let that voice speak instead of trying to silence her. Let her have a voice. Write it down and let her be heard. Then get her on your side…because she’s powerful.”

That really made me think. So I did let her speak and I wrote down her thoughts for hours (that bitch is long-winded!). And Will was right – she is powerful. Instead of fighting her, I’ve used my communication skills and I’ve gotten her on my side. So the point of my story is this:

Your ego is not the enemy. It just likes to showboat. You can still let your ego in the car, just make sure you let your Spirit drive. But don’t forget, the ego is the world’s worst backseat driver! He thinks he knows where you’re going but he gets lost all the time! Your humble Spirit knows the way – though sometimes it just might need to pull the car over! But just as you wouldn’t throw your unruly child out of the car, don’t try to eliminate your ego. When kept in control, it serves you greatly and has a powerful voice…love it and let it speak through your Spirit.

I love all of you from the bottom of my heart and I’m proud to call you my ohana. So let it come, let flow. E ho mai God, we are blessed!

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Cameron S.
As a veteran camper from wet and muddy festivals, I felt well prepared for jungle living.  So I was therefore pleasantly surprised by the jungle set up at Kalani.  A platform base and a sturdy tarpaulin cover awaited my arrival, making it very easy to keep dry.  It’s all about expectations.  If you show up looking for a room at The Marriott, then you probably will be in for a shock.  

Arriving in Lower Puna for the first time, I was struck by the lushness of the tropical foliage.  Explosions of green abundance are all over the district that is home to Kalani, and the forty-five minute drive from Hilo, through the rustic village of Pahoa and south to the ocean was a spectacular welcome.  

I arrived in the winter months and there are only two seasons – wet and dry.   And yes, it can rain a lot.  It was difficult to get a straight answer about the weather before I arrived, because it is entirely unpredictable.  I have been at Kalani for two winter months and I’ve experienced a week when it rained every day, and an entirely dry week of glorious sunny skies.  Every day is different.  When it does rain, it never lasts for long.  And I’ve gone through two large bottles of sun tan lotion. 

There are four types of creatures that I encounter daily in my Kalani jungle life:   The brightly-colored geckos that scurry around the campground, vacuuming up the bugs; the friendly feral cats that live across the property, each with their own domain and their own personality; the wild pigs that harmlessly snuffle around my tent before running back into the jungle; and the infamous coqui tree-frogs who fill the warm night air with their two-tone koh-ki mating call.   (Interestingly, on cooler evenings the coquis take the night off – apparently they are not so inclined to desire a mate when it’s chilly!)

The jungle is an adventure playground for the nature enthusiast.  Ancient Hawaiian sacred spaces offer a chance for meditation and reflection for those working on their inner journey.  A beautiful monkey pod tree has its home near the campground, with its gigantic sprawling roots twisting through the rainforest and it is a favorite place for the horticulture volunteers to gather after work.  And before too long, you will start to learn the best place to pick up ripe and juicy fruit such as lilikoi or passion fruit, strawberry guavas and mangoes.
 
I have found it easy to adapt to jungle life, and my large tent keeps me protected from the elements, while offering a great vista to the foliage beyond.   Practicalities of electricity are solved by acquiring some decent rechargeable products to provide light and entertainment, although my lifestyle here is such that the amount of time I spend in my tent at night is minimal – there are far too many other exciting things to do!   The wildlife in Hawai’i entertains, inspires and delights me, and provides me with such a backdrop of rustic beauty I cannot help but feel well in this environment.  

Come and experience the jungle for yourself. 
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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Ruth Tremato

Ruth - Kalani Volunteer in HawaiiWhen a friend of mine first invited me to spend time at Kalani, I tried to figure out what Kalani was all about. I couldn’t figure it out, but I liked the website and what my friend was saying.  Besides, what can be not great about Hawaii?  So I arranged my work life as my husband’s office manager and committed to 2 months in the volunteer program.

Now, after my 2-month stay, if I had to describe Kalani to someone, I would say:

Imagine living in a natural storybook Hawaiian jungle with all the amenities we are accustomed to but none of the stressors.

Imagine playing in a huge non-chlorinated pool, hiking as much or as little as you like, and luxuriating in a hot tub.

Imagine working in a greedless apolitical environment where you simply get to focus on the task at hand and on having a pleasant experience.

Imagine eating three luscious balanced nutrient-rich life-promoting meals a day without a thought given to grocery shopping, prepping, cooking, calories, blood sugars, or food combining.

Imagine that the biggest decision you have to make in your day is choosing an inspiring class/seminar/interactive group that you would like to attend.

Imagine instantly being a part of a supportive community. Accepted for who you are, on the path to discovering who you really are.

I once overheard a volunteer coordinator say “you are just going to be yourself when you come here.”  I am not sure what context he said it in, but what could be more empowering than that? 

You come to Kalani to be yourself - your true self.  You come to a place where you have no responsibilities to hide behind and no stressors to cloud your thinking.  You come to a place where you are surrounded by awesomely beautiful life-affirming nature, and where you are immersed in a culture of love and support. 

You come to a place where you are reminded of who you really are and you understand your true heart’s desire better than ever before.  You come to a place where paradigm shifts are the norm and where magic, for a lack of a better term, can happen.

Thank you, Kalani, for a hearty dose of love, clarity and sanity!

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Monday, February 21, 2011

Noelani Rodriguez

How do you describe Kalani?

For those that know Kalani, the non-profit educational village and yoga retreat center in the Big Island of Hawaii, they know that it is a favorite repeat destination for many people!

For people that are new, here are some ways to describe Kalani:

Kalani Retreat Center | Yoga Retreats | Non-Profit | Camp

  • Spiritual Retreat Center- Kalani is kind of like Esalen Institute but more rustic, with  "tiki" chic.

  • Yoga Retreat Center - Yoga workshops and yoga retreats create a culture of people that enjoy yoga-related activities like ecstatic dance, kirtan, trance dance, and other similar events. There are other types of fun activities too like watsu, hula dance, huna healing and a full schedule of classes.

  • Volunteer Program - To volunteer in Hawaii you can live at Kalani and enjoy cheap travel, but unlike another place to volunteer like United Way, you get to live and enjoy fun activities like movie nights, open mike nights or themed "Ohana" or family nights. You also get to take most classes for free. Some people come to Kalani as a guest, start to feel like Kalani is "their family," and then come back as a volunteer.

  • It's the Food - If you are a "foodie" or even if you are not, Kalani has legendary cuisine that stays in people's memory long after their vacation at Kalani is over. For some people the food is enough to make them wild about Kalani. A recent Italian night in Kalani's kitchen included:
    • Farfalle chi Sardi - gluten free pasta with almonds, pine nuts, fennel and raisins
    • Caprese made with fresh mozzarella from the milk of water buffalo, tomatoes and basil
    • Pesce alla Messinese (whitefish with capers and olives), Cipolle Gratinate, (onions baked with balsamic and seasoned with wild island mint).
    • Cassata Sicliana that is one of the oldest cakes in history, enjoyed by Ancient Romans. Twice cooked cheese and almonds
  • Was this food for a special occasion? Not at all! It is just a typical day of dining at Kalani Retreat.

Kalani Retreat Center | Massage and Yoga Retreat

  • Community Dining - Last but not least, Kalani is unique in how it creates community. Group dining at the dining lanai creates fun opportunities for people to start out as strangers and leave as friends. Enjoyable activities like hula dancing, huna healing circle, yoga workshops can be shared with like minded others, and there are many chances to mingle and see familiar faces--during meal hours in the dining lanai, at the clothing optional pool or hot tub, or over at one of the classes. It's not unusual to meet people at Kalani and make friends for life.

Well, Kalani isn't always easy to describe, but we're doing our best for now. Want to help us describe Kalani? Please post a comment here, or send us a blog at noelani@kalani.com. It's worth it as this place is amazing and magical, and a best kept secret that others might love to know more about!

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Monday, July 2, 2007

Beverly Mendoza

Beverly Mendoza
There are certain books that get passed around here at Kalani like a hot potato. When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron is one book you’ll often find someone totally immersed in on a hammock, or on the lanai, or even in the laundry room. I was reading it once by the pool when two people in passing both whipped a copy out of their bags and proclaimed, “I’m reading that too!”

We’ve even joked that the Kalani Volunteer Program should hand out a copy of Chodron’s book to first time volunteers along with their letters of acceptance. It would be a kind gesture equivalent to saying, rest child rest… without knowing the details we know what you’ve been through.

I’ve been wondering why Chodron’s book is so popular here. I’m beginning to think as I get to hear more and more of the people’s life stories here that perhaps the common denominator of our stories and fates and destinies (and we’re a mighty eclectic bunch, I have to tell you) is that sometime before we’ve committed ourselves into coming to Kalani, our lives have broken or at least come to a halt and we arrive a bit damaged. Nothing that a yoga retreat can’t patch up, we think in our moments of hope during these breaking points. And so we untangle ourselves from our worlds, we pack our bags and we get on a plane and we take this humungous leap of faith across the Pacific Ocean to the Big Island.

Oh, the Big Island! The land of the Goddess Pele! Whatever research you’ve done on this legendary woman, you ain’t seen nothing yet until you experience her magic. I see her as the supreme real estate agent. I believe Pele calls people to the Big Island to experience whatever life-altering lesson(s) she wishes to teach you. She calls the ones who belong here and she sends the ones who don’t back.

So we arrive. We’re just bug eyed, jet lagged, little balls of excited and nervous energy and we are so ready for change, we are so ready to feel and look fabulous, we are so ready to retreat and get it together.

If anything, the “red road” heading to Kalani should be a warning of what awaits you on your journey. It is the most stomach dropping, spine tingling ride I’ve ever been on with manic up and downs. It beats the notorious San Francisco hills, no doubt. They are these short, never-ending hills and no matter what speed in which your volunteer driver takes them (although fast and reckless is always a good time) you’ll feel your stomach tickle your throat a few times. As you drive you are surrounded by lava and cliffs that look like slabs of dark chocolate. The ocean is so voluptuous and she sprays the whitest mist you can ever imagine. The sound of the waves crashing takes all your anxiety away, as if absorbing all that noise in your mind. The clouds are fluffier here too, you’ll see. And the aroma of saltwater air intermixed with the scent of flowers and fruits is what heaven must smell like. And just when you think your senses cannot take on any more you notice a canopy of lush green trees as you drive through the jungle. Specs of sunlight shine through as you go deeper and deeper towards Kalani. You look around for Tarzan and Jane, for somebody’s gotta be swinging on these vines around here. Trees with lush red flowers miraculously grow from the lava rock. Nothing makes sense here! This can’t be! You are Alice in an exotic Wonderland. Where are we? You can’t help but become a child again in such wonderment. And perhaps you’ll feel the mana (the spirit and power) from the land spiral up your spine. I did the moment I stepped off the plane. It’s the awakening of your chakras, it’s the feeling of being tapped into a very energetic land.

So you are surrounded by beauty and you’ve got some serious stuff to work on within yourself and your fate is about to intertwine with the fates and destinies and lives of some very incredible people. Are you ready?

Here’s a lesson I learned in my third week here as a volunteer. To leave your expectations and agenda at the gate (which by the way is very “Jurassic Park” – you’ll see). Whatever it is that you feel like you need to work on, whatever it is that you expect to get out of Kalani --- drop it. Enter with an open heart and mind and soul. It’s as if you’re coat checking your agenda to a higher power that has plans for you that you cannot ever fathom. If I had known that earlier, the adjustment period wouldn’t have been so agonizing for me. To be as present as you can be and to truly appreciate this experience necessitates dropping your agenda and your ego. I know, I know, it’s way easier said than done. Especially for a neurotic city dweller still dealing with the shock of being unplugged from that urban fast paced socket that necessitates control for survival. Depending on where you’re coming from, there may be many layers you need to shed here. But remember that Kalani is your blank canvas though. It is very much the real world here as it is “out there” but here you can start fresh from the get go. Your slate is clean– just like that. Be mindful of the baggage you packed with you. You don’t have to keep those here. None of us know you, or expect that from you so you can easily drop it and try something new. Changing who we are is much harder amongst people we’ve known forever. It is instant freedom to be here in that respect.

A good friend here who was on her fourth month once said to me when I thought I wanted to pack up and get out, “I came here with all of these plans of what I wanted to accomplish and I did none of that, but instead I learned all of these other lessons that I could have never imagined I would learn or even needed to learn. And in hindsight they were even better lessons.”

By the way, my name is Beverly. I’m a three-month volunteer here at Kalani and I serve in the kitchen. It’s my first time at Kalani and I’ve been here for about five weeks now. I’ve been asked to blog about my experiences here to paint a picture of the volunteer experience. And I’m assuming the readers of this blog are people that may be considering coming to Kalani (at least that’s who I had in mind while writing this first entry). I will be doing some Q&As with other volunteers who have some pretty amazing stories and perspectives to share in future entries too. And my personal experiences will most likely get much more personal. I wanted this first entry though to be a reflection on what connects us all here, to show the broadest spectrum of the Kalani volunteer experience so that you may begin to imagine your experience here, if you choose to leap of your cliff to join us.

So I hope you come back again every Monday for a new post or perhaps you’re filling out the application now and we’ll be meeting soon.

Aloha,
Beverly

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Lori Runkle

Lori Runkle is a writer and photographer who has chronicled her Kalani life and friends with pictures and words. Thank you Lori for being you, for being here, and for sharing so much with us!

Lori Runkle
Nice to meet you; I'm Lori Runkle.

I live in a small community in rural Iowa that could be described as conservative. I'm a liberal Buddhist vegetarian who earned her college degree in world literature. When I discovered that Kalani was a top-rated vegetarian vacation spot in the United States on the Vegetarian Vacations web site, I applied to the volunteer program immediately.

What I didn't know when I bought my airline ticket to Hilo was that Kalani would work magic on my mind, body and spirit- in addition to my tantalizing my taste buds.

As a photographer, I enjoy documenting my every day life in pictures. In these albums, community life at Kalani became my subject. Enjoy the trip through my days and nights on a piece of paradise in the Pacific.

Lori

Photos:
Kalani photos I
Kalani photos II
Kalani photos III

Lori's web site: http://www.public.iastate.edu/~ljrunkle/homepage.html

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