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What Native Hawaiian Traditions Can Teach Us About Wellness

Seven ways we can re-set into wellness

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As we all know, COVID-19 has created an unprecedented reality that we find ourselves living through today. The external world and internal experience are not always aligned. The new-normal during this pandemic creates fear, anxiety, and stress for adults and children.

Our children are living through historic times that we, as adults, are having a hard time understanding. We must embrace the uncertainty and craft a new wellness experience that can become a roadmap for healing for ourselves and our children. 

In the Fall of 2019, I attended the American Business Women’s Day held on Lāna’i. The panel consisted of nine women from various Hawaiian islands who told stories of their journeys to personal empowerment. 

Malia from Moloka‘i shared her incredible story about losing her mother when she was four years old. She said one particular phrase that stood out and continues to resonate with me: We need to “stand in our mana, especially during the tough times.”

In the native Hawaiian culture, the sacred term mana is the spiritual energy of power and strength in places, objects, and people. Native Hawaiians believed that mana is both external and internal and highly individual. You can either sustain or lose this spiritual power with every action you take. In Fundamentals of Hawaiian Mysticism, Charlotte Berney explains, “Having meaningful work to do, enjoying harmonious relationships with those around you, and being of service, helps to gather mana.” 

The Global Wellness Institute (GWI) defines wellness as the active pursuit of activities, choices, and lifestyles that leads to holistic health.

Therefore, it is our responsibility to create a lifestyle of wellness. Live by the concept of both mana and pono, which is a Hawaiian word commonly rendered as “righteousness.” We have the right to consciously choose to do what is right for our self and others, and for the environment.

In the same vein, the Hawaiian tradition explains that mana comes from pono. Thus, aligning actions with good choices helps the body, mind, and spirit stay strong. 

Seven ways we can re-set into wellness using mana and pono:

• Aerobic exercise. Participating in any physical activity gives us energy and engages our heart, lungs, and muscles, enabling us to sustain health and overcome harmful effects of being sedentary.  

• Nutrition. Our diet plays a massive role in inflammation, which affects our brain’s health. Modify the diet to more anti-inflammatory foods, and use antioxidants and supplements to support brain health. 

• Deep breathing activates the vagus nerve, which is the direct channel to rest and digestion. Yoga and Tai Chi help reduce stress.

• Sleep provides vital rest, restores the mind and body, and helps with memory processing and with functions that remove waste in the system.

• Meditation cultivates love, compassion, kindness, calmness, and heightened self-awareness.

• Environmental stimulation. Activities, such as hiking, volunteering, playing music, singing, and dancing, stimulate the senses.

• Emotional health. Maintaining a positive mindset, cultivating spirituality, trusting, and loving yourself and others are all foundational for healthy relationships with yourself and others. 

It is our responsibility to make healthy choices for ourselves so we can become empowered and share the benefits with our ‘ohana.

Affirmations to help you stand in your mana:

I move so I can be healthy. 

I eat so I can be healthy.

I sleep so I can be healthy. 

I practice quietude and patience.

I am empathetic with myself and others.

I live in the present. 

I give up what I can’t control.

I make my talents available to those who need them. 

I recognize that we are all trying to do our best.

Stand in your Mana
Stay Well
Caroline

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