In Vermont, we know the power of people's voices and actions in supporting green energy, recycling, community clean-ups, organic farming, and community gardens.
But what about our internal environment? Do we feel the same drive to steward the care of our own bodies? Sometimes in the cold north, the answer can be a stodgy "No." We often neglect or push aside our aches and pains, waiting for another day to attend the "ea o ka 'aina" within ourselves, our own bodies, and within our families.
But if there is one unbreakable concept that links us to the land, it is that we are made of the same elements: our bones are made of the same minerals as the rocks, and water courses as blood through our veins just as the same water does through the streams through the mountains. To draw a line of separation between what we call "inside" and "outside," to sully or uphold one over the other, is a key cognitive error in our time.
Therefore I invite you to consider, to really feel, that what is within *is* indeed without, and vice versa. If you have awe standing in front of the ocean, also have awe that your blood, too, is nearly the exact same salinity. If you see trash thrown to the side, pick it up, and know that you make a cleaner place for your own precious body to thrive. If you have an ache or a pain, consider that the rivers and the air also have aches and pains. Your care for the land, air, and water *is* care for yourself, your family, and your community. And also... your care for yourself, your family, and community are equally beneficial as care for the land, air, and sea.
Ua Mau Ke Ea O Ka 'Āina I Ka Pono
Ah! Beautiful Lake Champlain. When I first started practicing lomilomi in Vermont, I really had to search myself and my natural environment for ways to connect to all that I had experienced in Hawai'i. Why? Because lomilomi, like most Hawaiian cultural practices, is deeply connected to the 'āina, the land, and both the kai and wai, the fresh and salt waters.
However, I knew I also needed to "anchor" the journey of bringing Hawaiian healing and bodywork in this new place. According to Hawaiian worldview, I turned both Mauka (toward the mountain) and Makai (toward the ocean) for support. Connecting in with the closest mountain range was easy: Majestic Mansfield, Camel's Hump, and Mount Abraham form the "spine" of this area, and it seems their presence deeply infuses the consciousness of the people.
It was much more difficult, at first, to connect with the ocean: the nearest sea is hundreds of miles away!
I went to the shores of Lake Champlain and began to offer Hawaiian chants, specifically parts of the Kumulipo, a Hawaiian creation chant. After several months of contemplation and offering chants at the shore, I became aware of my new "Mauka" and "Makai"... really taking that moment to connect with this huge, incredible system of watersheds that drains the western side of the Green mountains and the eastern slopes of the Adirondacks into this incredible wai ola nui, large living water that is Lake Champlain. Feeling the water as it journeys from the high springs, down the slopes, into the valleys, making its way into the lake, then north eventually into the Atlantic Ocean... I could finally feel my kai, my moana, the sea and deep ocean that would support lomilomi and Hawaiian healing practice here in Burlington.
To learn more about Mauka and Makai, and traditional Hawaiian land and resource divisions (called ahupua'a), visit The Bishop Museum's educational site. Enjoy!