Kalani Honua Blog - volunteer
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
When 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!
Monday, February 21, 2011
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:
- 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:
Was this food for a special occasion? Not at all! It is just a typical day of dining at Kalani Retreat.
- 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
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. It's worth it as this place is amazing and magical, and a best kept secret that others might love to know more about!
Monday, July 2, 2007
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.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
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!
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's web site: http://www.public.iastate.edu/~ljrunkle/homepage.html