Metta “Loving Kindness” Meditation

This week on my YouTube channel Yoga with Haunani I shared the Metta Meditation, also known as the Loving Kindness Meditation.  While I do not know the whole history of this meditation, I do know it works.  I can’t even remember who I learned it from or where I was when this meditation practice was taught to me.  All I know is that it stuck with me and I have been using it for several years.  This was my go-to meditation practice when I taught yoga to Marines and Sailors at the Naval Hospital.  One of my favorite memories of sharing this meditation is having a very young Marine who was clearly upset before class, finish this meditation, open his eyes and say out loud as he was gently nodding his head, “damn, that really worked.”

In many ways this meditation practice is really a blessing.  You bless yourself, another, your community or family, and then all beings everywhere.  It’s a simple practice, easy to follow, and effective. I’m writing the words out in this blog so you can follow along or print it out as needed until you have it memorized.

When repeating the phrases you can say it out loud, whisper, or repeat them silently to yourself.  A longer version of this meditation is to say the four lines out loud, then repeat at a whisper, and then silently to yourself.  Each time you say a line, take a moment to breathe in the statement and just witness what arises.

Prepping for the meditation:

  • Print a copy of the Metta Meditation.
  • Find a comfortable place to sit for this meditation
  • Remove yourself from distractions (i.e. phones, computers, electronics)
  • Connect with your breath
  • Give yourself permission to let go of your day, or your plans, to just focus on the practice

The first round of the meditation is directed at yourself.  This comes back to the idea that you must take care of yourself before you can truly care for another.  Or, you must love yourself before you can truly love another.  The first round is for you to reconnect with your heart.

MAY I BE HAPPY.
MAY I BE WELL.
MAY I BE SAFE.
MAY I BE PEACEFUL AND AT EASE.

The second round is dedicated to another.  At first, I recommend you choose someone who you are grateful for, who cares for you, is a mentor, or is an inspiration in your life. With them in mind and in your heart, repeat:

MAY YOU BE HAPPY.
MAY YOU BE WELL.
MAY YOU BE SAFE.
MAY YOU BE PEACEFUL AND AT EASE.

Remember to give yourself time to breathe in each statement.

The third round is dedicated to your family (blood or soul), your community, or a group of people you entrust.  Keeping them in mind, repeat:

MAY WE ALL BE HAPPY.
MAY WE ALL BE WELL.
MAY WE ALL BE SAFE.
MAY WE ALL BE PEACEFUL AND AT EASE.

The final round is dedicated to all beings everywhere.  You might imagine the World, a sea of people, or a symbol or concept that weaves us all together.  Keeping this in mind, repeat:

MAY ALL BEINGS BE HAPPY.
MAY ALL BEINGS BE WELL.
MAY ALL BEINGS BE SAFE.
MAY ALL BEINGS BE PEACEFUL AND AT EASE.

Take time at the end of the practice to sit and be mindful.  Notice how you feel at the end of the practice compared to at the beginning.

When you become familiar with this practice you can also use it as a powerful healing tool.  In the second and third rounds, you can bring to mind someone or group of people who has hurt you, made you angry, frustrated, or upset.  By keeping that person or group in mind, you can rebuild a sense of oneness or connection between the frayed or fraying relationship.  Using the Metta meditation in this way may help to soften the hard edges of emotions and feelings you once had toward that person or group of people.

As in all meditation practices, allow yourself to be present and witness what arises. Try to avoid judging your thoughts or having expectations of how you’re suppose to feel or be during and after this practice. The Metta Meditation is powerful in that it allows the heart’s true nature to arise and release what it has been harboring at the conscious and unconscious levels.

Be kind to yourself and just allow this words to help you reconnect with yourself, someone you love, your community, and the World.

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Post-election fire

When I started this blog, one of my main missions was to spread messages of Aloha across the globe. Obviously though, if I am living in a state of fear, than I can’t.  Aloha, like love, and fear are opposites. So the first 48 hours after the election my world was rocked. This past week has been surprising and unexpected to say the least.  Sharing or being Aloha was a far off distant ideal.  Besides the personal healing this election brought up for me, I felt very uncomfortable being a US woman affiliated with the US military living in a Muslim country.  Given the messages previously spoken by DT regarding Muslims, I wasn’t quite sure if all of a sudden it would be safe for me to walk around so carefree as I had become accustom.  Would I be the target of people’s fear or their backlash?  Should I begin to cover my head so I’d fit in more and not stand out?  It is almost ironic my knee-jerk reaction to cover my head when all I hear back in the states is to be careful if you’re covered.  Good thing is, I haven’t experienced anything different.  I wish I could say the same for those back in the States.

Before we moved, my friends, family, and I joked about how moving to Bahrain might just be the best move ever…given the upcoming elections.  The jokes went both ways…if Hillary gets elected, better to be in Bahrain; likewise, if Trump gets elected, better to be in Bahrain.  For me, I never wanted to see the US led by DT and never wanted DT to represent me, let alone become Commander in Chief (aka Tad’s boss).  I didn’t really know who I was going to vote for.  I wasn’t a huge Hillary fan despite loving the idea of a first women President.  Then in May 2016 a library book, Vital Voices, fell off a shelf and landed at my feet.  This book about the non-profit organization, Vital Voices, co-founded by HRC, gave inspiring detail to the ripple affects she has created globally for women’s, and thus, human rights.  It fueled something within.  As the hateful insults and acts of disrespect from DT were getting more blatant, in my heart I knew…just knew there was no way he had a chance of winning the election. I mean really, it was like he was trying to throw it away.  Yes, I seriously thought that and even told Tad that several times.

But I was wrong, oh so wrong…and it hurt OH SO BAD.  In my FB post, I mentioned a “bullet through my heart” but really it felt more like a fire out of control.  And Tad, my rock, my anchor, the one who always has great perspective even when shit is hitting the fan (it’s his job, no really, that’s his job to be the calm in the storm) was in San Diego.  My world felt like it was crumbling.  Everything felt like it was on fire.

During the election as the states began to change from blue to red and orange to red, I had a very personal moment of releasing the dam of 30 plus years of my deepest darkest secret. It hurt. It was personal. In a mere hour, I felt hope dissipate into the deepest pain and disbelief in my adult life. I was just shocked that so many Americans could “overlook” (my words as how I felt them) DT’s direct insults on so many different groups of people and still vote for him. To me, the act of voting for DT actually felt inhumane, like an attack on me, and a direct bullet to my heart.  Then again, I’ve always been a softy for humanity. Now that the emotional tsunami is subsiding I can see in so many ways this election, DT, and all that is following is exactly as it’s suppose to be AND I’m fired up.  It is Divine Timing.

Kam Chancellor, yes, #31 Seattle Seahawks (GO HAWKS!) superstar strong safety, wrote a very powerful message on his IG feed. And while I do not know my Bible versus the message he shares is still the same regardless of your chosen “religion.”

“My president is Trump because I understand that God places kings on thrones (Daniel 2:21), and I must respect who he places in authority (Romans 13:1-7). It’s a reason he placed Donald Trump in this role. To test our FAITH.”

Gulp. Eyes lower as I finally exhale in surrender to the heart and this reality which I was so sad to be a part of…

Fuck, he’s right.

Now before I hear you say, “You’ve fallen into the masses.  Haunani, how could you?” Hear me out.  “Trust the process” or “have faith” DOES NOT mean become complacent.  To me, trust the process and have faith means to accept the outcome as is (what done is done for today) but to use this as a wake-up call, to realize I was becoming complacent in my cozy little bubble and that it’s time to get to work.  I trust and have faith as I stand tall in who I am, what I believe in, and never give up on all of humanity that God/Universe/whatever name you use is behind me 100%.

Maybe, just maybe enough of us have been praying about this “change,” and talking about a “needed change,” that God is delivering all our prayers.  Tuesday was the tipping point, perhaps a gift in disguise.   For many, it’s not how we would like it to look.  It’s messy.  It’s painful.  It’s creating divisions where there once felt like unity.  Friendships are collapsing.  Families are fragmenting.  It’s popped the bubble of my reality and many others. It’s nothing like the 24 minutes of anticipation when ooooie gooooey brownie batter gets transformed and changes into perfect morsels of delight.  But it is a good analogy because to get from the ooooooie goooooey to morsels of delight requires FIRE.  Fire and heat are catalysts. This literal and figurative fire we are feelings, watching, experiencing is the change we were all voting for (no matter who your vote went to)…it just looks a lot different and feels a lot different than we ever anticipated, imagined, and dreamt about when we were praying about it.

Change always requires another force to act upon the current system in order for the molecules, trajectory, and outcomes to change. Literally, this is science. But when it happens to us personally, especially when we weren’t “ready” for this change even though many of us who are most upset have been asking for this change of consciousness for some time, we feel shaken to the core.  And it’s okay to feel shaken, just don’t let those shakes paralyze you.  It’s okay to feel depressed or dark, but trust that the light within you that makes you amazing is still there–it’s just needing a little time out to reflect and become brighter.  I am not tied to one religion but am a very spiritual person and have found much peace and much reassurance through these past few days by sitting in meditation, allowing the waves of my emotions to pass, and then just sitting in the void on the other side of those deeply painful waves.   The message I keep hearing is, “Do you Trust Me?” My heart always explodes into a million rays of light and I begin to feel a strong warm passionate response, “Yesssss. Yesssss. Yes.” But this is my journey. It may not be yours. However, I invite you to find more moments away from FB, social media and the TV to connect with something higher than yourself, go out in nature, move more inward than looking for answers on a screen, listen more deeply to the voice behind the emotions, and possibly see how things begin to shift (if ever so slightly).

Trusting the process is easier said than done but it is the mantra that I have put my faith into and continue to repeat since election day.  It reminds me of my faith and alignment to something higher than myself.   Trust the process for myself and my own healing. Trust the process for my family.  Trust the process for my friends, country, World, and our own perceived divisions. We have all called upon this time to come and now that it is here we need to take responsibility for what we brought in, prayed for, wished, discussed with friends, and day dreamed.  Some may even give thanks to this seemingly dark time.  It’s a choice.

It is incredibly powerful to find one thing about the last few days to be grateful for and watch how the whole perspective begins to shift.  This is especially useful if you feel stuck.  Maybe you’re grateful to see people for who they really are (as hard as it is to see and admit).  Maybe you’re grateful to have a group of friends, or new group of friends around the globe, to turn to.  Maybe you’re grateful or thankful that four, even eight, years are a blink of an eye in the history of our existence.  No matter how personal or grand, gratitude is a very powerful force that can begin to shift the dark to light.  For me…if it were not for this election I would still be pushing down those 30 plus years of silence, shame, guilt, and embarrassment that has built up from being sexually assaulted many times throughout my life. So while election day hurt like hell, I crumbled, relived every moment, remembered every boy or man, sobbed uncontrollably only to pick myself up and feel a tad bit more clear yet weaker than a dead mouse smashed by a car, I proudly and very humbly say thank you election.  Thank you for allowing my dam of anger, silence, shame, guilt, and embarrassment break wide open and pour out of me. Thank you for finally giving that part of me a voice and forever being freed from the fear of anyone (except the one or two people who I had confided in) finding out.  Now that my biggest skeleton in the closet is out, I feel so free.  It feels amazing.  I am not broken.  I am not a different person.  I am just a shinier less convoluted version of myself…AND IT FEELS GREAT.  So not only thank you election for this amazing healing opportunity, I really owe my thanks to DT, the man I hated and felt utter detest towards for the last year or so. Without your ego and hate, I would not be a better person. So truly, thank you.  AND watch out World because I’m FIRED UP!

Now that I have spent a lot of reflection time on the yoga mat and away from the screens…I am hopeful. I am trusting the process. I am definitely NOT becoming complacent but I am trusting the process. I am walking my talk more than ever but with a new fire and passion for really holding myself and others accountable for treating each other with respect, integrity, and love.  I am lucky to have a strong Marine to stand next to me, who makes me more proud of our service to this country and the sacrifices we are constantly making, and to hold my hand with the unknown of a new Commander in Chief who blatantly insults the military.  But I am hopeful and I am trusting the process.  And this is what is allowing me to spread the Aloha once again.

Aloha & Namaste

Please know:  I have spent the last thirteen years of my life digging into the depths of my own fears, suffering, uncertainty, and pain.  I have lost friends, found new friends, grew stronger in my truest of friends, strayed from family and then reunited in tighter bonds, traveled the world working with different teachers looking for the magic pill, cared about humanity so deeply it made me physically sick, gave up on humanity because it felt like too much…and here I am strong, proud, pissed off right now but hopeful, and more aligned with my purpose than ever.  I move in and out of these huge emotional swings and world changing perspectives much quicker than ever before only because I have done it a lot.  If you are reading this and it is the first time you’ve been confronted with this level of disappointment, you are not alone.  You are not broken.  I’ve been there too, a lot.  Please find someone you trust, stay connected, and do not get attached to the emotion.  It too will pass.  This is a major shift in consciousness.  Trust the light within you–it will be there after this feeling of darkness.  You are being asked to clean the closet, to move away anything that dulls your light and to shine brighter than ever.  Stand tall in what you believe in.  We are in this together.

My wish for the World

Many of you know I meditate, practice yoga, and think about the World and situations slightly different than the average gal.  Right when we moved to Bahrain, in fact the same week we moved here, there was a slew of suicide bombings and mass shootings.  Reading the news was depressing, sad, frustrating, and for me, motivating.  Motivating because it made me really sit and meditate more, dig deep into my own fears, pray, send out more love, contemplate life, and question why we are all here together at this time.

Eventually, the big move, suicide bombings, missing my family, friends, and dogs, and trying to find a new home got to me and I lost it.  I just downright lost it.  Balling.  Crying.  And so sad for the World we live in.  Why?  How?  WTF? Can’t we all just get along?  I know it sounds so cliche but I know I was sobbing those words out loud.  Through years of a committed yoga sadhana practice, I now know when I start to feel like the external (environment, situation, reactions) is affecting my internal peace, it’s time for a little reflection exercise*.  With puffy eyes and little sob to my breath, I got paper and pen and wrote at the top “What I wish for the World.”  Then, I wrote.

I want people to wake up. To take responsibility for their life and footprint on this planet in this infinitesimal amount of time we are here. To realize they do make a difference and every action, word, though creates a ripple. To take responsibility for their physical health. Mental health. Emotional health. Spiritual health. To not fear but live. To stand tall in their physical body and be able to say in the mirror, “I love you.” To not get attached to the thoughts and monkey mind. To see others and other situations as a reflection of themselves. To not be beat down by challenge but to rise up and see it as an opportunity to learn, grow, and become wiser. To be okay with not knowing. To be okay with stillness. To love more than hate. To be aware. To stand up for your beliefs while being flexible enough to learn new things and change your beliefs. To create more smiles than frowns. To leave a place in a better mood than when you arrived. To not take anything for granted. To thank God for everything in your life. To let go of what people told you to think and believe and to think and believe for yourself. To share your passions with the World. To apologize when needed but to not give up your personal power. That’s it. My wish for the World.

I was so mad and angry when I first started writing but by the end I felt like I had gotten something out.  My breath had calmed down and I felt more at peace.

Recently, while I was unpacking and settling into our new villa, I found this piece of paper.  I read it again.  I was both embarrassed and totally inspired.  Embarrassed because it reads as if I have this all figured out myself, which I don’t.  Inspired because it sounds like a calling from within, a call to action to step up my own game as a member of this human tribe and to really live this way too.  By theory, I totally 100% believe in everything I wrote.  In action, life is not always 100% of what I believe.  So, when I read this, I feel inspired to make my actions align with my beliefs.

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So why share this?  Because if you look at the external–the news, world politics, race relations–it’s easy to point the finger, to get upset, and feel helpless.  But remember, when you point the finger, there are three fingers pointing back at you.  It’s also the 15th anniversary memorial of 9/11.  For many people, this day represents a turning point in perspective.  The ripple affects of September 11, 2001 are still felt worldwide.  Indeed, it’s a day of reflection.   There are many ways to reflect.  I’m not biased to one way or another.  I do believe it’s beneficial for people to do self-reflection often though.  So if you’ve never done this type of self-reflection exercise, I encourage you to do it.  It is powerful.  Get a piece of paper, write “What I wish for the World” and just start writing without judgement or holding back.  Put it aside for a few hours or weeks.  Then read it and see how what you wrote reflects your own current life.  Are the theories and daily actions aligned?  In this reflection, hopefully you will glean insight into how your external environment and internal beliefs are aligned or not.  Some of you may even be inspired to be your own change you wish to see in the World.

Life is messy and confusing sometimes.  It can seem like life can be happening to us and we have no control.  However, it’s an even playing field when it comes to how we respond to life.  We all have the same chance to live in accordance with how and what you truly believe.  What’s your wish for the World?

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Quote by Courtney A. Walsh

*In yoga, the personal practices toward uncovering one’s true nature, self inquiry (svadhyaya) is a very powerful tool for releasing anything that disturbs the mind, especially feelings of fear, frustration, worry, jealousy, hate, and attachment to name a few.  The practice of self inquiry and self reflection have been very powerful tools in my own life and have played a major role in my own physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual healing.

Gift Yourself this Holiday Season

Whether you like it or not it’s the time of giving.  Giving gifts, giving your time to family, shopping, traffic, going to obligatory work functions, holiday parties and giving your immune system an extra test with travel.  Unfortunately, if we’re not careful and give of yourself too much you end up sick, stressed out, overwhelmed or the Scrooge.

Gift Yourself ImageThat’s why I’m dedicating this article to all of you who need permission to gift yourself this holiday season.  Sometimes we just need permission to do the things we know we ought to do.

As a stress reduction specialist (I’ve been using this term more and more since someone told me this is one of my specialties), I find that when people don’t take care of themselves during the year, the holidays become overwhelming, tiring and stressful.  In a time when there is much to celebrate, many people focus on the obligations rather than the attitude of gratitude or truly gifting another from the heart.  Furthermore, when it’s time to receive a gift from someone, people don’t know how to truly appreciate this act because we’re burnt out, feeling unworthy or again, being Scrooge.

There is a quote that I live by, “learn to love yourself before you can truly love another.”   This same psychology can also be used when it comes to gifting.  Learn to gift yourself before you truly give to others.  Easier said than done.  Learning how to gift yourself is learning how to appreciate and find gratitude for your own life and authentic self.  Learning how to gift yourself also teaches you how to receive.  Yes, RECEIVE.  Gifting is an act of moving energy from yourself outward.  When you gift yourself, you practice receiving, or moving energy from the external to the internal.  Receiving is just as important as giving but in a culture that is focused on the external objects to make us happy, many of us have forgotten how to receive with an open heart. I’m encouraging you this holiday season to gift yourself by taking care of yourself and doing things that you find indulgent but are actually very simple.  Watch your thoughts when you decide to gift yourself and notice how you receive.  Also notice how you give.  The holidays are such a beautiful time of the year for celebration and fun, take care of yourself and learn the balance of giving and receiving to truly optimize this special time of the year.

Top ten gifts to give yourself this holiday season:

Breathe! Take 5-10 releasing breathes in the car, in the shower, bathroom stall, really ANYWHERE.  How to: Take a nice deep slow breath in through the nose.  Hold the breath for 1-2 seconds and gather up any emotions or stress.  Then exhale, breathe out, with a sigh or the sound of ‘haaaa.’  Repeat as necessary.  Caution: you can cause lightheaded.  Please do not overdo.  5-10 breaths is plenty!

Mooooove your body.  Remember to move and stretch during your travels.  If you’re driving, during your rest stops walk around the parking lot, do some push ups on a bench or some squats in the parking lot.  Yes, people will look at you but again, by taking care of yourself (and having fun doing so) gives permission for all the other achy travelers to move too.  If you’re flying, remember to flex your legs, ankles and glutes/buttocks regularly.  When you’re waiting in lines try to balance on one leg.  Maybe even jog or speed walk to your next gate, not because you’re about to miss your flight but because you’ll feel better once you get there.

Foot massage.  Did you know there are millions of nerve endings that send signals through your whole body when you massage your feet. Foot reflexology is based on this principle.  How to:  Sit on the floor a comfy chair, cross one of your legs and begin massaging the heck out of your foot, ankle and calf.  Better yet, get a friend or loved one to do it for  you!  If you don’t have a foot or hate feet, keep reading to check out another gift you can give yourself.

Self Oil Massage.  That’s right, oil yourself up.  Use a natural oil like coconut oil, sesame oil (not toasted, it should look golden), olive oil or jojoba oil. gently warm the oil in a double boiler, coffee warmer or on the stove.  Be careful not to burn yourself or overheat the oil.  If the oil begins to smoke, start over.  With your warm, body temperature oil, begin by applying some to the scalp.  Then cover the body making circles at joints and long sweeping motions on limbs and torso.  Let the oil sit for 15-20 minutes.  Enjoy your favorite cup of tea (gift yourself #4) and then take a hot shower without soap to wash the oils off.  This is an ancient healing secret from the East.  It is a therapy to create balance of the body and all the tissues.  If you go to a spa and get this done you’ll be dishing out $150-$350.  Yes, gift yourself!

Hand massage.  Like the foot, did you know there are millions of nerve endings that send signals through the whole body when you massage your hands?!  Massage each hand for 10 minutes.  Better yet, have a friend or loved one massage it for you.  Kids are great at giving hand massages and very healing and intuitive by nature.

Indulge in your FAVORITE cup of tea or coffee.  Not sure about you, but I tend to buy tea in bulk, not a high-end tea but something I know will GET THE JOB DONE.  My husband who is a coffee drinker tends to do the same.  HOWEVER, why not give yourself permission to go out and buy your all time favorite tea or coffee for the holidays?  Sipping on it while you get a foot massage or after you’ve given yourself a full body massage will feel like you’re the Queen or King of the neighborhood.  Which I’m sure you already are 😉

Sleep in as long as you want.  Arrange with your partner, spouse or family to give you one morning where you can sleep in as long as you want.  Some of you already do, so don’t choose this as a gift to yourself.  Others of you, including myself, have pets or kids to take care of.  Sleep is so incredibly important to reducing stress from the body and mind.  When we don’t give ourselves permission to get sleep until we naturally wake up, we are adding more stress to our lives.

Do one thing you LOVE to do.  Novel idea, right?!  In the clinic, I like to give my clients homework assignments between sessions.  The most often “prescribed” homework is asking a client to do something they absolutely LOVE to do but never do anymore.  One lady in New York loved walking around looking at the old architecture and taking photos.  She hadn’t done this in over 10 years even though she walked everywhere and lived on the upper east side, an amazing area for her passion.  Another lady just wanted time to sit with her cat in her lap, turn off all the gadgets and watch the world walk by.  Another man wanted to continue to write on a screen play he began 18 years earlier.  By giving themselves permission, each of these people did what they LOVED!  You should have seen the smiles on their faces during our next session.  TRY IT, that’s why you LOVE IT!

Buy yourself a gift.  In the Business and Money section of the Times this week, there is an article New Holiday Tradition: Buying Yourself a Gift.  While I’m attempting to keep the gift yourself idea focused on health and wellness, I have to admit there is something incredibly satisfying and healing when you buy yourself a gift for no reason.  A REAL GIFT that is, not something for the house, your pet or work.  A gift is something you’d probably never buy for yourself because of the thirty reasons of why you could use something else…for the house, pet or kids.  It doesn’t have to be something huge, lavish or expensive.  Maybe it’s hand lotion, a favorite candle or a hard-cover book.  Imagine that, a real book?!

Write or express your dreams, goals and aspirations for 2013.  This is not the same as a New Year Resolution.  This is about giving yourself permission to dream and dream big.  Not only learn from the past and decide to move forward with all the wisdom you’ve gained but maybe in this process learn something new about yourself.  Attempt to get out of the usual things you dream or think about and go wild.  Questions to ask yourself: If money weren’t an issue, I’d__________.  If I had all the time in the world, I’d_____ or may day would ____________.  When I look back at this time next year, I want to feel __________ or be able to say, I did ______________.  I want to learn about _____ in 2013.  The biggest lessons of life have come from ___________________.  I’ll use this knowledge in 2013 to _____________.

Choose an Attitude of Gratitude.  The holidays are the perfect time to point out who’s glass is half-empty and whose glass if half-full.  Unfortunately, the half-empty mentality is much easier to follow and fall into its unforgiving jaws.  IF however, you are a half-full or overly full mentality type, keep it up this holiday, even around friends and family.  You may get picked on, you may even be asked the most silly questions like why or how can you be so happy,  but more importantly you give others permission to live this way as well.  I can’t think of a better gift…and it’s free!  Remember, even the smallest and most simplest things can turn our world around.

Caution:  If you feel silly gifting yourself, you’re not alone.  More importantly, you’re probably doing it right.  Don’t worry what others think, just have fun.  After all, the holidays are a time for having fun and being silly! 

What “yoga is” to me.

At some point during my studies in Yoga, Oriental Medicine, Hawaiian Healing and Ayurveda a teacher once shared with me, “Until you can see Love in all things, until you can Love all people, you’re not ready to practice this medicine.”  I remember being floored, my gut turned inside out (at the time, not good for my IBS, which I’m happy to share is completely healed through Natural Medicine), my dreams dashed for a second, but my heart was racing and the internal me was shouting “Yes, Yes, Yes!”  This was a moment in time when I realized I was exactly where I was supposed to be.

Of all the modalities I have studied, in my own heart I consider them all a form and practice of Yoga.  Yoga, in the more general sense of “unification of the present,” is a path to seeing, feeling, hearing, observing and being connected to all things.

In an attempt to bring more clarity to what this means for me in a practical sense, I want to share what yoga is to me.

Yoga is…

Uniting the body, mind, emotions and spirit with the breath of all life.

A breath of life that eventually shows its identity of all things to be LOVE.

Feeling the breath of life breath you.

Where challenges become opportunities to grow and expand our boundaries, and deepen our relationship and understanding of God, of Love.

Hearing the sound of your own heart’s song in the stillness of your mind, and then living in accordance to your authentic heart song, without inhibition.

Choosing Love first.

Forgiving.

Seeing Transformation as a Way of Life.

Recognizing the interconnectedness of ALL life, including your self and choosing to live in HARMONY, in BALANCE, and with RESPECT for all things.

LOVING yourself, recognizing that before you can truly Love another, you must first begin to Love yourself.

The art of remembering, returning to your own Heart Light and refusing to let others tell you otherwise.

Yoga is YOU…You were born from yoga, born into yoga, and will die in yoga.  Yoga is your, his, her, my true nature.  The stillness of the mind simply reminds us of our true nature and our true nature is experienced in Yoga.

You are the difference!

Another blog discovered in my archives from January 10, 2010.

About two years ago, I was sitting with a close group of soul-sisters who are dedicated, beautiful, and ridiculously funny Change Leaders from the non-profit organization, Shakti Rising, in San Diego.  It was during a fun night of honoring the sacred feminine, speaking our Dharma, and uplifting each other to greatness, that I was introduced to this quote by Margaret Mead:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful people can change the world.  Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”

We used this quote to inspire, thank, and remind the 100 volunteers that help run Shakti Rising that each person’s efforts were truly appreciated for the greater good of All.

As I do with most inspirational quotes, I place them on my altar.  This quote, in particular, I placed on my refrigerator next to the picture of Paramahansa Yogananda, Gandhiji, my family, and the Dalai Lama (the second altar in my house that reminds me of my abundant life each time I eat).  Each day reminding me that my thoughts, my actions, my words, my intentions are somehow in someway making a difference.  And if not in someone else’s life, at least in the experience of Love (God, Allah, Spirit, you name it)  flowing through ME in this body, this time around.

Recently this bright yellow reminder has been speaking to me differently.  It’s reminding me that transformation isn’t just possible, but that it is happening.  So, I want to share my “same-same but different” version with you as a source of inspiration, remembrance, and motivation.   A reminder of how AMAZING YOU ARE and how each and every one of your actions, interactions, and intentions are truly making a difference TODAY.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful and passionate people can and will change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”

Here’s to being YOU…thoughtful and passionate, willing and able!!!  Have a wonderful day.

Aloha & Namaste

What’s your Passion?

Last night I rediscovered “What’s your Passion?” from past blogs on an older website.  On the memorial date that changed the world’s events forever, and thus our lives, I felt it was appropriate to repost it.  Especially now as the spouse of an active duty Marine Corps Infantry Officer, I find this post more meaningful than when I first wrote it.   May you continue to find gratitude in all parts of your life including the stranger or person standing next to you.  Every-body is extraordinary with an extraordinary story.  

February 7, 2010 by Haunani Chong

About two weeks ago I was truly blessed to attend a reception sponsored by the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine with special guest Naomi Judd in San Diego, California.  The reception, titled  “Journey into Healing,” turned out to be spiritually uplifting and confirmed the path I’m walking on now and the path that lies before me.

Starting off as an inspirational speech, inviting doctors to consider the more subtle aspects of whole-being (like emotional and spiritual health), the reception turned into a night of promoting and advocating integrative health and wellness solutions for ALL, including our service men, women and veterans.

Towards the end of an hour-long, interactive, and surprising, funny speech, Miss Judd concluded by reading a letter from her lifelong friend.  Miss Judd’s friend was a mother who watched her son’s life change, transform, and eventually end because he chose to live his life’s purpose (dharma)—serving in our Country’s military.  This letter was brutally honest, heart wrenching and at the same time life-promoting.  What struck my heart-chords the most was the line, “Will my country ever learn to love the way he loved for our country?”  Tears filled my eyes.

For the past two weeks I’ve taken this same question personally.  Will I ever learn to love the way he loved for my country and me?  I am touched by this young gentleman’s selflessness.  He was willing to sacrifice it all for my freedom.  And yours.  My freedom to be here now writing this blog, to attend a post-graduate degree in Asian Medicine, to teach yoga and to have the ability to share my ideas and thoughts in public.  That’s love, unconditional love—to serve in a way that allows others to live their dreams.

So, what’s your love?

My love is humanity.  My love is you.  My love is medicine.  My calling is to serve all of humanity by improving medicine by integrating holistic mind-body solutions into clinics, hospitals and all lives, especially the military system.

Today, I ask you: what do you love so much that you’d be willing to sacrifice it all?