Live :: Optimistically :: Through :: Universal :: Struggles
How many times have you been in the ocean and for some unexplainable reason you feel better?!
When the world gets stressful, I find myself, feeling drawn to the ocean. It is my form of therapy. Growing up in Hawaii, I have always valued and loved the ocean. As a child, my mom would scold me for being in the water for too long and complain about my "prune fingahs." For my entire life, the ocean has been a place of joy and healing. A few years ago I started to understand why. While working at Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center, one of my supervisors shared the story of Makahiki season and hi'uwai (salt water cleansing).
Today's phrase - "Work hard and play hard," is a perfect demonstration of the Hawaiian work ethic. Hawaiian community and villages farmed and fished for months. Once a year, everyone came to an agreement, like a ceasefire. Makahiki was that ceasefire. "Make love not war," - no work, no war, just a time of peace, love and harmony. Makahiki was as important as planting the crops, catching the fish or pounding tapa, it was a time to stop and take care of yourself, to refresh and rejuvenate. (Doesn't that sound like self-care?) Wouldn't it be great if we could follow those customs now? Makahiki was a time to celebrate, indulge and enjoy. It was a time to be thankful for the abundance of the past year. Villagers would come together eat, play games and enjoy each other's companies. When it was time for the Makahiki season to end, the villagers would participate in a salt water cleansing - hi'uwai. At dawn, everyone would strip down, enter the ocean and release their indulgences, stress and worries. As they soaked in the ocean, their spirit was re-energized. They cleansed their spirit, mind and body.
Although we do not always understand why we feel a certain way when we do something, my whole life I have subscribed to hi'uwai. While I am a local girl at heart, I also have a gypsy soul. I lived in California and Australia and traveled the world (Czech Republic, Japan, Greece, New Zealand, Canada, Vietnam, Mexico, Turkey and Ireland), you better believe no matter where I have been, no matter how cold it's been, I have always been drawn to the ocean. I didn't care what others thought of me, even if it was too cold to submerge my entire body, at least my toes needed to touch and be revitalized by the ocean. I NEED to be in the ocean, the ocean automatically relaxes me, soaking in the calmness and mana (power) of the waves, makes me feel whole and new again. Hi'uwai has always been a tradition that heals me. What is your tradition? What heals you?