Mana as a project / collective / community being rooted in Hawaiian and Polynesian culture is very important for me. In college I lived in Hawaii for one semester. I had always been a proud New York girl (read: strong-willed biotch), so living in Hawaii for six months was a complete culture shock for me. I learned so much about the land, the culture, the people. We learned to chant, we traveled, we explored sacred sites and had the most amazing experiences. I learned about myself and what I wanted out of life more than ever before. When that time was up, it was time to come home and back to what felt like another world to start preparing for a career on wall street - what could be more different than that? I took that awakened hippie girl and I shoved her back inside, so deep down, that it took me a really long time to find her again.
I have been back to Hawaii a few times since and I swear its where my soul feels most alive. In July this year I went back for a retreat - just me, no kids, no husband, just me. It was the most amazing experience. I wanted to share with you an excerpt from my journal about Aloha.
"It flows through me, this life force. I feel it in every cell of my body, but also beyond that, like a force radiating around me. The wind tickles me, and my hair stands up. My breath is disrupted, and I have to help myself to get back on track. I am so mesmerized by the beauty, but its not just beauty, its energy.
Being in this place where the water meets the sky and this sacred land you cannot help but feel the magic of it all. Its not the magic that a lot of people think of when they think about Hawaii, but real Aloha. Actual gut wrenching, heart breaking, so beautiful its almost tragic because you never want it to end Aloha magic. Its transcendent.
The sounds, the feelings, the sights, the experience of floating in the water and just being held by the earth as if its saying let it all go, give it all to me, I’ve got you. The nourishment from the food and what it feels like to feed your body and give yourself what it needs. To treat your body right, to slow down to check in with your breathing and to close your eyes and just listen, to yourself, and to anything and everything around you. Listen for beauty, for messages, for absolute pleasure and then just feel your hearts happiness. To embrace island time and trust and know that everything will unfold just as it should - you are and will be where you are meant to be with and when you need to be there. To see, to really see, not just look, but see without judgement and to feel and understand and see the beauty in all of it. Even when you see what society labels poverty, be able to see the humanity and the freedom. Seek to understand. We are all connected. Being here in this place activates all of that in me.
It feels like my soul has come home. When I am here it feels as if there is nothing else, there never was, and there never could be, yet there is. There are two worlds, two realities, two beings at war within me – or at least they were. They can coexist. Or at least they will coexist going forward. I am love. I am Aloha. No one can take this away from me. I can carry it with me wherever I go. I don’t have to choose anymore. Although my physical body must leave the island, I will keep the essence in my heart.”
Mana is me bringing the Aloha home.