Kalani Honua Blog

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Noelani Rodriguez

Photography by Jose Martinez At Kalani, a Hawaiian yoga retreat center and educational village just 5 miles from where lava flows into the sea, Director Richard Koob playfully pronounces that "I Lava You" is the mantra this Valentine's day.

Based on the foothills of the largest volcano of the Hawaiian Islands, Kalani is near the home of the mythical goddess Pele, the Kilauea volcano. Pele, which translates to "lava", is the spirit of all things passionate and fiery, burning away illusion to find love and compassion within. Pele could be thought of as a Goddess that watches over Aloha Spirit.

Perhaps Pele could be thought of as a Valentine's Goddess of sorts, spreading the message of love and Aloha Spirit.

But what is Aloha Spirit exactly?

Stewart Blackburn, a Kalani facilitator that runs a popular class on Hawaiian Shamanism, talks about getting more Aloha Spirit in your life. He describes "Aloha Spirit" as finding your own joy. The Hawaiians believe that your power comes from feeling joy, as joy gives you the power to live, and to love others fully. Stewart talks about "Aloha Spirit" as something we can practice with a Beloved. "Being connected feels good," he explains, "things like criticism hurt connection, while love and joy help build connection." He talks about Aloha Spirit as a daily spiritual practice for sharing love and joy with others, and thus being on the right path.

Charles Muir, a well loved teacher of Tantra for 32 years and co-author of the book "Art of Conscious Loving", who has recently been featured on Oprah radio, is coming to Kalani for a couples retreat for Valentine's Day. Charles is known for getting couples to re-connect in positive ways, and connection is part of building joy and "Aloha." Charles is known for helping men creating more intention and energy around loving, like drawing a hot bath with rose petals for their lady. Women create a similar experience for men on a subsequent evening. Couples can usually be seen here smiling on Valentine's Day, after taking a workshop like a couple's retreat.

If couples here at Kalani need any help, scent from Hinano flower from a Hala tree is said to add romantic punch to a partnership. According to Maui magazine, ancient Hawaiian culture utilized the Hinano flower petals for love rituals: "A young kane [man] or wahine [woman] desiring to awaken the affections of another would seek out a fruiting male [Hala] tree. Male trees sport prominent spikes called hinano. Suggestive appearance aside, the spikes are covered in sweet-scented yellow pollen considered an aphrodisiac by Hawaiians. They used this pre-Contact Love Potion #9 to perfume their bedding and dust like talc beneath their malo, or loincloths."

Many couples have renewed their vows here at Kalani, enjoying the epic oceanfront views from lookout point nearby, also called "The Point," where you can see lava flow into the water, or see turtles or whales jump out of the sea. Couples can enjoy plush tropical scenery on land or at sea, with so many scents and sights.

Many also enjoy healthy cuisine at Kalani which is legendary, including ahi tuna, basil limeade, and watercress soup. Along with many activities and yoga workshops to take and whales to watch at nearby Kahena beach, couples can combine intimacy with group activity here at Kalani.

Couples that come to Kalani get to practice Aloha Spirit, with each other and also with the friendly staff and volunteer community.

In the spirit of Aloha, don't forget to say "I Lava You" to everyone you can.


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

by Thomas Tunsch

Thomas TunschWhen I drove down the highway towards Kalapana on September 6th, it was not the first time that I looked forward to spending a vacation in Kalani. But this time was different, and that became clear as soon as I spotted the plume of Puhio-o-kalaikini where Pele is fighting with her sister Nāmaka. Never before, since my first visit to Puna in 1993, was the ocean entry of a lava flow so close to Kalapana, and it made me wonder what surprises I could expect during the next month.

While entering the Red Road I felt like I was coming home. At the same time I saw the differences: there were only a few Lehua blossoms to spot. Well, my last visit in 2006 was during the Merry Monarch Festival, and I had been told already that the islands had been suffering from a serious drought for a long time. But soon I reached Kehena where the dark green tunnel over the road covered the signs of water shortage. Then I was surprised, because Hale Aloha right at the ocean front of Kalani wasn't there 4 years ago. How would the larger Kalani be different from the smaller community that I had experienced during several visits as a guest since 1998?

Soon I would know, because this time I would be a “Sabbatical Volunteer” – volunteering for two days every week and enjoying all the guests’ amenities for the remaining days. But even as a guest I would have the privileges like a regular volunteer with free classes and the choice to spend my time with other guests or in the ʻohana. Checking in at the “Guest Services” brought me back into the relaxed atmosphere of the place again – the friendly welcome, familiar faces and voices, and I'd live at “Ocean Vista” in the house which I knew from my last stay in 2006 already.

The following days were filled with friendly “welcome back” memories, introducing myself to new volunteers and the soothing rhythm of life between sunrise and sunset. My idea to work on Wednesdays and Thursdays was accepted by Barcus, the manager of the agriculture department, and so the next Wednesday I started my volunteer work. After breakfast I joined my soon-to-be coworkers on the truck to the nursery where we started with a short meeting. I introduced myself to the others, and was welcomed by the small crew of the day. I learned that my choice of working Wednesdays and Thursdays would be perfect, because these days are reserved for projects mostly.

During the four weeks I stayed in Kalani we worked on a new path for guests and staff along the road. For me this project evolved into a very satisfying experience. Combined with the botanical tour given by Barcus, I learned a lot about the plants on the property and their traditional use by Hawaiians. Joining the Lauhala weaving classes with Lynda Tuʻa and the Hula classes with Jonathan Kaleikaukeha Lopez every Tuesday completed my adventures in Hawaiian culture and nature in a beautiful way.

Thomas and agriculture crewAll these wonderful classes and the work in the agriculture department were also connected by the inspiring teachers as well as the tradition in Kalani to start every activity with the “E ho mai” chant written by Edith Kanakaʻole. When I look back on the year 2010 now, these four weeks as a sabbatical volunteer in Kalani were not only a cultural and educational experience, but nurturing for body and soul at the same time.

I'm very grateful for the time that I could spend with the wonderful people in Kalani and for their affection. And therefore stronger then during my earlier visits I felt the prophetic meaning of the Hawaiian farewell “a hui hou” – until we meet again.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Marya Mann

Marya Mann

We live in unprecedented times. Just ask my cat Shiva. We sit in the sun together, pondering the brilliant sunshine. To my long-haired white cat Shiva, this is unprecedented, for her human servant rarely tarries: I’m so busy. We’re all so busy. We rarely pause to simply purr, watch and sense the larger movements of nature, the dance of stars, planets and moons, but I think it’s time we do.

And it’s about time. Time is the real art we are all married to.

From my backyard here on the Big Island, where the coming winter solstice, December 21, will be almost as warm as summer solstice, and thus easier to replicate the open-air observations of the ancient Maya, who studied and mapped the structure of the galaxy and greater cosmos nearly 4000 years ago. With profound precision, they pondered not only the Sun, but the precession of the solstices — how the winter solstice sun would rise at different spots on the horizon.

Over time, the Mayan shaman-astronomers realized that every 26,000 years, a major alignment would occur: the Solstice Sun will align with the Dark Rift in the Milky Way, which the Maya called the Mouth of the Crocodile, or “jaguar-toad,” on December 21, 2012.

Living now, during the end-times, was to these ancient astronomers, mathematical geniuses, so extraordinary that they chose our unique time as the transformation point of the sacred calendar, the Tzolkin, based on the cycles of the Pleiades, encompassing a vast parade of time — 26,000 years.

Linguistic alchemist and plant medicine pioneer Terrence MacKenna was one of the first to notice the incredible time-keeping system of the Mayans, which was actually a combination of several cycles that meshed together, marking the movements of the Sun, Moon and Venus. “The Maya believed, for reasons which are perhaps forever lost, or perhaps soon to be revealed, that the coincidence of winter solstice sunrise with the part of the Milky Way that they called the xibalba be would not be, as some have stated, the end of the world, but its moment of true creation.”

The Mayan visionaries, like their contemporaries the Vedic philosophers in India and pre-classical metaphysicians in Egypt, found in astronomical processes the bedrock truth of nature, and they devised inventions like the Tzolkin Calendar to teach us, their heirs, about these celestial energies, to help us push through or midwife sometimes difficult evolutionary changes. The Mayans seemed to want us to know that we are entering an Alignment Era, a time of transformation, and if we can sense it, we might feel in the spiral structure of our own molecules the spiral structure of the galaxy, and therein find our real liberty. Petty politics and WikiLeaks are symptoms, not the cause of our human problems. They obscure the real issue of realigning with nature.

Through their myths and elaborate ceremonies, the Maya honored the cosmic waltz of time, the sacred relationships of planets and stars in their cosmic waltz, dancing in the skies. For one moment, now, feeling Shiva’s fur as we count our blessings in the garden, I notice the dancing. This dance as we know it, the dance of life in our universe, has been twirling its celestial choreography for at least 13.5 billion years, the estimated age of the universe.

So what’s a little 26,000-year-cycle? One of my mentors, Jose Arguelles, wrote in The Mayan Factor, “The emergence of humankind – Homo Sapiens – represents a particular stage in the evolutionary cycle of a star system, a stage in which the purposive integration of the four levels of consciousness becomes a distinct planetary possibility. The stage, Homo Sapiens, has a duration of 26,000 tun or five great cycles of 5,200 tun each. The 26,000-tun cycle is roughly equivalent to the so-called Platonic Great Year. The 5,200-tun cycle is but the fifth or last stage of the current evolutionary cycle. What we are experiencing is the climax of our particular species and evolutionary stage – the very last 26 (now 2) years of a cycle some 26,000 years in length!”

Indigenous people all over the globe would confirm what MacKenna and Arguelles have perceived. The ancient time-keepers foretold that human lives were bound with nature, and that if we step too far away from nature or caring for the planet and each other, we can not reasonably stay in balance.

Ah, but Nature gave us options. Nature is giving us support. On this December 21st Solstice, the heralded solstice Sun will rise in concert with a rare eclipse of the Full Moon which begins on the evening of Monday, December 20th, an event that occurs only once every 120 years.

The beauty of this moment is that the Earth’s shadow — the ego’s negativity, anger and indulgence, which creates war, racism and greed — will eclipse the fullness of our singular Moon. During its overnight dance in the skies, as the Earth’s shadow moves past the Moon, I think all the wounds and pettiness of human nature can fall away too. I plan to pitch my own sly and prideful cellular negativities into the proverbial bonfire. I hope you will too.

Let the power of the visual architecture and incredible choreography of the celestial spheres carry us home to ourselves, knowing our dignity, generosity and enthusiasm for life as gracefully on Earth as the sky is above. “As it is above, so it is below,” say the ancient teachers.

And as it is below, so it will be above, in a transformed state. The passion of singers like the Puna Men’s Chorus, futurists like Richard Koob, Jim Berenholtz, and Mark Kadota, musicians Boaz and Tony Selvage, and dancers Yoko, Janelle and myself, to co-create joyful ceremony at places like Kalani Honua on the Big Island, arises from this: an abiding belief in the rejuvenating power of this poignant time, and the regenerating energies of the sacred space of Kalani, so near the outpouring of lava from Kilauea Volcano.

Whether you can celebrate this amazing time, this New Alignment Era, with us on the Big Island, or you plan to find your own transformational event, party or meditation, realize that as we bless and appreciate these significant – and also ordinary – moments in time, our sacred reflections and intentions refresh the music of the spheres.

Cleansed and renewed by the Solstice Moon Eclipse, we can choose to set our sights for the next two years, to Winter Solstice 2012, and beyond that, into the flowering of human consciousness around the one wheel of life. The time is upon us for this reunion, to quicken our pulse with the rhythms of nature, to re-bond with the earth, water, sky, fire and ether that permeate life. We’re zooming into the Floral Age, and if we reaffirm our oneness with nature, it will be the most powerful time for transformation and renewal our planet may ever face.

“As we struggle with the vastness of the universe of space and time and our place in it,” said MacKenna, we follow in Maya footsteps. In doing so, we should celebrate the wisdom of the Maya and ponder its depths, and wonder after its most persistent perception: that the world is to be born at last on December 21, 2012.”

Petting my cat Shiva while this afternoon’s Sun showers us with light, I recall how I named her after the dancing god of India, the destroyer or transformer of the Hindu Trinity of divinity. Shiva is often depicted as Nataraja, the lord of the dance, dancing the Tandava upon Apasmara Purusha, the demon of ignorance, stamping out greed, anger and delusion.

The Solstice Eclipse this December 20th at Kalani will be a chance to dance with Shiva and renew the ancient light of our true nature. Please join in, wherever you are.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Margaret Critchlow

My story is a familiar one, with a twist. My first visit to Kalani in 2003 made me want to come back. No surprise there! What is more unusual is that I returned in 2005 not to volunteer, but to do anthropological research on the culture of retreat centers.

Kalani launched me on this journey, and now it has called me back to spend two weeks as an Artist in Residence writing a chapter for the book that has grown out of the research. The working title is Journeys Through Centers. In the book, my intention is to share the voices of people who work at a variety of retreat centers, explore the paths they follow, and suggest why such centers matter to us all.

Here is a taste of the Kalani chapter. This excerpt draws on some of my earlier writing. It is a work in progress, so I welcome your corrections, and suggestions. I look forward to your input as I write the 2010 update on volunteer life at Kalani. If you want to share your thoughts or read more, please email me at ([email protected])

Condensed excerpt:

My research suggested that time was the key privilege that Kalani volunteers enjoyed.  For North Americans in the work force, money can seem easier to get than time; but volunteers at Kalani often had more time than money. They needed some money, true. Volunteers in 2005 paid $1500 for three months. But their privilege was to be able to spend months or even years in a place most could visit only for a few days or weeks.

How did people get the time they needed to be resident volunteers at Kalani? The key was to trust their gut feelings or intuition, and to see time as a very precious choice. A variety of paths led people this twofold realization.

I interviewed forty-two resident volunteers and paid staff at Kalani in the winter of 2005. The first question I asked was, “How did you come to volunteer at Kalani?” The responses emphasized the importance of following one’s intuition as well as acting decisively to break old patterns and step into an experiential space that opened people to new possibilities. Larry  (all volunteers names have been changed) was going through a marital breakup when he came to Kalani. He told me, “I thought it was really beautiful. I met the person who was in charge of personnel at the time, and I just had an amazing feeling about her, and I thought well if everyone here is like this, this is where I’d like to be.”

Ironically, time is the key resource that makes it possible to volunteer at Kalani, but volunteering  also buys people time. As Alex put it, he has the luxury of time at Kalani to allow what he should do next to unfold:

[Many volunteers] are here to have fun, but also to “figure it out”, whatever it is they have to figure out. You know, what do I want to do for work? That's a big question in my mind. I have a lot of different ideas, but nothing really has gripped me yet. I have the luxury of staying here or traveling for a while until it does, which is great. I feel very fortunate to have that luxury, to not have to keep going.

Some volunteers had no career or permanent work when they came to Kalani. But many others left or sold their businesses to free up not only the cash but the time to volunteer. Fred sold his catering business. Alex sold his construction business. Mina left a high power job in New York’s fashion industry. Dale’s dot com business was thriving. He got out and came to Kalani as a volunteer just before the tech stocks crashed.

Personal transformation, then, arises partly from making the time to step out of ‘normal’ life. Traveling, as a temporary state, seems a low risk way to do this because one can keep traveling, return home, or find a new place to live. But travel to Kalani opens volunteers to new possibilities, including more permanent lifestyle changes that critique the normalcy of the work-a-day world. For example, for Amy, who left the solar panel business, being at Kalani changed her attitude towards work and possessions…

to read more contact Margaret <[email protected]>


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Jon Montgomery

Jon Montgomery

I sat outside on the deck,
Out by the candle.
I looked up in the sky,
But my eyes were closed.
I thought, “How cool would it be
To hear from my Lord.

I sat out with the candle
And looked up in the sky.
All I could do was hear the rain
And listen for my Lord.

As my body relaxed and
Slowed down my mind,
As all the worries of the day
And the concerns of life
Started to fade away;
I sat out with the candle
And listened for my Lord.

As my body went quiet,
Then my brain,
I heard a slight voice.
“You are making the right move.”

I was concerned
over decisions in life
And God knew my soul.
He knew what was ailing me.
He knew my stress.

He picked up my pain
And said, “You are making the right move.”
I stopped to hear
But could not believe.
”Is that you, my Lord.”

And then I heard it.
I heard His voice
“Yes, it is, my son.”
But I still did not believe.

I decided to take a chance.
My words were formed.
“Do you still love me?”
I ask with expectations of despair.

And without a moment, He said,
“I’ve always loved you,
From the beginning of time,
Even before.
I’ve loved you before you were born.

As the words flowed
With no effort from His mouth,
My eyes began to tear.
I could not believe it.

As I kept my mind in slow,
I again relaxed my eyes.
Tears were there but
They were supposed to be.
I was talking to my Lord.

“God, I’m so sorry for….”
But before I could finish
He shut my mouth,
“Look straight ahead.
I’ve forgiven you your wrongs,
before they were even committed.“

As the pictures came by in my head,
I thought I’d see the wrongs --
The sinning and the dirty deeds,
All the scum and filth.

But what I saw was the pain that came
To other people I’ve known.
The pain I caused
And how I treated them.
That was the sin that God saw
He wanted me to know.

He was saying, “Keep moving,
You’re doing fine.
You’re learning and growing
And making changes to be better.
For you and those around you.
You’re learning how to be yourself
And love who you were created.”

The rain poured down,
The wind kept moving.
I was talking to my Lord.

“Am I on the right track, Lord?”
I asked with much hesitation.
Very slowly, with deliberate beat,
“You. Are. On. The. Right. Track,”
He said.

A moment passed.
And then another.
I let the words sink in.
“Can we visit for a while?” and
He replied, “We’ll be forever together.”


Friday, November 19, 2010


Blue Hands group in Japanese Garden

I am still enroute back to San Francisco after a lovely couple of days in Waikiki which was perfectly sunny and busy.

One of my most powerful experiences at Kalani happened on Saturday morning. Adi had recommended the sunrise at the point on the very first day at Kalani and I had yet to make it, so I forced myself out of bed and walked down to the point. It was a bit gray and overcast, so I did not get much of a sunrise, but I did watch the Windex blue waves crashing against the rocks. It started to rain and someone had conveniently left a small umbrella on the bench. A coincidence, perhaps, but a metaphor, maybe.

As I walked back up the long road I noticed every bird and blossom along the way. I shed a few tears remembering my first love Tony, who loved Hawaii so much. I also remembered all of the experiences of the week - snorkeling, exuberant dancing, being lovingly massaged by JaRed and Dennis, the waterfall, coconut macadamia oatmeal, buying noni juice and drinking kava in Hilo, the Japanese Garden picnic, learning the hula with Jonathan/Kimo, smoking with Dave and the Berkeley boys, swimming naked with Wallace, the horticultural tour with Barcus, Jim's doses of daily philosophy, the Russians in the sauna with Dennis and so much more.

When I got back to Mauka, I realized that the journey to Inspiration Point was not at all about the seeing sunrise, but the about clarity that morning light brings to the present and the past, the quiet time to be mindful of our surroundings. I take that morning clarity into the future along with the metaphor of the umbrella that was there when I needed it. I took it back to the bench before I left and hope that someone else will find all that they need for their journey at Kalani.

Aloha and Mahalo to you all, Lorenzo


Saturday, October 30, 2010

Cat May

Cat May

Kalani has already changed my life in such a dramatic way! The support and nonjudgmental environment that this ohana offers has allowed me to stretch beyond the confines of my comfort zone. In the last month I have been able to explore so many aspects of myself and I feel as though I am beginning a long love affair with me! That in of itself would be enough of a reason to extend my 2 month stay at Kalani, but I have not even tapped into the proverbial “iceberg” here.

The more I learn the more I realize I need to learn- Just to be ……………and let this wonderful place and the island do the rest. I have sampled a few of the infinite items on the Kalani menu (yoga, meditation, art, sports, healing circles, beaches and markets), but 2 months is not enough time to do this exquisite place justice……my soul needs more.

I have just started learning to give up the control that has governed my life for so long (it is just an illusion anyway). That the same issues that plague you in the real world will undoubtedly find you here too. But those same issues can be unwrapped, examined and let go of here. That can happen because of the intense energy of the island but also because of the support I have not found any where else on earth.

My insecurities, need for acceptance, control issues, power trips and people pleasing tendencies have all been acknowledged and asked to “take a hike”! I am finally willing and eager to accept me………………at 51 years old! How amazing is that?

Before I came here I never knew a place like Kalani existed, but now that I have found you, I don’t ever want to be without.


Friday, October 22, 2010


Warm waves of aloha to all ~~~


~~~ The view from my window at Kalani ~~~

View from my window at Kalani


Friday, October 8, 2010

Eva Neuhaus

thank you pele
for embracing me with open arms
for teaching me what it isEva Neuhaus
to create myself anew
over and over and over again
putting that which no longer serves
into the fire of transformation;
birthing new land
from fire,
a place to stand.

thank you
for giving me the time i needed
to let the running around
run itself out
for slowing me down
to see
how out of stillness,
movement emerges organically.

for heart-to-hearts with lizards
the heady scent of night jasmine, asking:
does the harvest of your life sustain you?
and the seeds you plant each day--
will they grow to nourish you, in time?
answer this question:
what's really important?
over and over and over again.

they say it takes a village
to raise a child,
but many of us
didn't grow up that way.
thank you for filling in some pieces
of my puzzle
becoming sister,
crazy uncle.

living as family
with people you just met
brings the concept
of interdependence
close enough to touch
the favor you do for me
in the morning
returned by another
in the afternoon.

thank you
for being everywhere
all the time
especially the person
i didn't want to see
holding a mirror to my face,

thank you
for teaching me
to love in the moment
and then let go.
for safe haven
to let myself be known;
for remembering that everyone
is soft underneath
before other stuff gets in the way.

thank you
to the goddess of the freebox,
whose abundance is legendary
providing costumes for us
to wear every day.
for men who let me do their hair
dress them up
and send them down the runway
in silver leggings
butterfly wings
and a bikini top.
(work it, girl!)
for all the fags
a hag could ever ask for.

thank you
for giving me
a positive
high school experience
the second time around.
for dancing on top of
washing machines
and dryers
first thing in the morning;
for late-night conversations
in the laundry shed;
for rambutans taped
to the top
of my saved dinner.

thank you
for the anonymous gifts
left in mailboxes.
for creative expression everywhere,
and all the hidden talents
that everyone seems to have.
for chandeliers and flat screen tvs
in a-frames--
who knew
that a shack
in the jungle
could have so much potential?

thank you for the generosity
of this land
for the abundance of spirit
that lives here
for so many rainbows,
double rainbows,
moonbows. for cats that smell like flowers
for lilikoi, lychees, coconuts,
guavas, starfruit, soursop
grows on trees here,
grows all around.
for the blessing of being
in a place
where nature is alive
and speaking all the time
for grace
for living aloha
i am so grateful.


Monday, September 27, 2010

Anyone who has had the pleasure of a Kalani open mic night will be familiar with the song Livin’ At Kalani.  This ditty was penned by our very own Ukelele Davey, in honor of our fabulous home in the jungle. 

Ukelele DaveyLivin’ At Kalani by Davey Groth

Now I moved to Hawai’i... to shed my stress and strife...
And strip my dull existence... to find a new direction in life...

Kalani Oceanside Retreat, it’s so pretty, it’s so sweet
For my mosquito bitten feet, We’re Livin’ At Kalani

Aloha flows from everyone, it’s shining brighter than the sun
You’d see it if the rain was done, Livin’ At Kalani

It’s a pretty place I know where work is almost play
I see so many happy people naked everyday

Yoga is just so divine, it keeps my body feeling fine
Cause hula wants a supple spine, Livin’ At Kalani

The kitchen crew, they work so hard – searin’ ono, braisin’ chard
You can hardly taste the lard, Livin’ At Kalani

It’s a pretty place I know where work is almost play
I see so many happy people naked everyday

Richard dancing on the lawn, everybody – dance along!
Shake your ass to a Hawai’ian song!  Livin’ At Kalani

Tiki working day and night – we love her, she’s just outta sight
Won’t someone take her home tonight!
Livin’ At Kalani – ONE MORE!

It’s a pretty place I know where work is almost play
I see so many happy people naked everyday

I love my sweet Ohana crew, they’re so giving – they’re so true
But only for a month or two.....
(shout out your number of months at Kalani when prompted)
We’re Living At Kalani-eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee