Weʻve been concentrating on love in Hula class. To be specific, love for the land in the beautiful mele (song) Waipio Paʻeaʻea (Waipio of the Calm Seas).
The composer, Kuana Torres Kahele, fondly remembers his childhood growing up and playing in beautiful Waipio Valley on Hawaii Island.
There are metaphors of life and nourishment throughout the song: fresh springs of water, waterfalls and a river - all give life and love to nourish the land. It is his gift of aloha (love) for all that this special place has given him and still gives to us today. The beauty of the song and melody inspired me to choreograph a hula.
The splendor of the land is easy to love in Hawaii. It is everywhere you look from the deep blue of the ocean, to multi-colored flowers and lush green plants to the majesty of the tall mountains and vast azure of the skies. The warm, fragrant air rich with moisture caresses your skin.
But can you love a place when itʻs cold outside, the trees are bare, and thereʻs loud, constant traffic noise? Or how about a place that shakes violently with hundreds of earthquakes and erupting molten lava that burns up everything in its path?
Love is unconditional and helps one be brave and authentic. It is also an ability that we can learn. A good way to learn this is through Metta (Loving Kindness) Meditation. This is a meditation of care, concern, tenderness, loving kindness, friendship - a feeling of warmth for oneself and others.
Metta practice is the softening of the mind and heart. Itʻs a good way to learn about gentleness and to become empathically present to our life without judgment.
In Loving Kindness Meditation, we first direct metta towards ourself. Take a comfortable position and notice your posture. Two feet on the ground, back straight but not rigid. Get in touch with your body by noticing how it generally feels without having to change anything. Start to notice your breath, also without having to change anything about it.
Direct these phrases or phrases like these towards yourself silently or softly as many times as you want.
◦ May I be safe
◦ May I be happy
◦ May I be healthy
◦ May I live with ease
The next step is to direct these phrases out to others. Start with people or animals that you love. Then direct metta to people who feel neutral to you - the bank teller, the grocery clerk, the waitress or server. Allow yourself to feel tenderness for their welfare.
Now - for advanced practice - move to someone you have difficult feelings or resentments toward. If you have problems here, return your metta meditation to someone you love and let the loving kindness arise again. Then return to the difficult person and try again. Remember that this is advanced practice, so be humble. If you canʻt do this right away, keep practicing. Baby steps are good.
Let these phrases resonate throughout your entire being. And then see if you can extend this feeling of loving kindness to all beings.
◦ May all beings be safe
◦ May all beings be happy
◦ May all beings be healthy
◦ May all beings live with ease
This is a good way to cultivate aloha for yourself, others and ultimately the whole earth.
June Kaililani Ryushin Tanoue
Kumu Hula and Sensei
P.S. We had a wonderful visit with Kumu Michael Pili Pang and 7 of his amazing haumana (students) of Halau Hula Ka Noʻeau based in Honolulu. Enjoy a slide show of the weekend of hula workshops and performance!