When I travel, I often bump into how much I don't even know what I don't know.
As Ralph Crawshaw, a psychiatrist and champion of compassionate health care
"Travel has a way of stretching the mind."
For example, until I actually visited Hawaii many years ago, I thought Aloha was a simple greeting, a fancy way to say "hello". After a few trips to the Big Island, I realized it was so much more.
Aloha implies love, affection, peace, compassion and mercy. It's considered to be a moral code, a connection to nature and an innate sense of loving things unconditionally. If someone wishes another much aloha, it's one of the nicest things they can offer. Aloha encourages us to not only live in the present but to cultivate an appreciation for whatever that brings. It offers the opportunity to see the good in people and situations and to cultivate meaningful connections. If I hadn't spent some time in Hawaii, I would never have known that. Even better, I got a chance to feel it when I was there.
So much about being on the Big Island was soothing and comforting for me at a time when I especially needed it. I loved having someone point out that the alphabet has only 12 letters and that all words end in a vowel making the endings of words sound like the end of a deep breath. In fact, when English-speaking missionaries first arrived, the native people were taken aback by the brusque and blunt way that the "white people" abruptly ended their words, as if they were cutting off their air. Every anti-stress exercise I know involves reminders to fully breathe in and out. Think about taking a big breath in while saying Alo and then releasing it with a calming haaaaa.
Another term that crossed my path was Ho'oponopono. In a nutshell it means correction or to make right and there are four simple steps to take or declarations to make:
I love you.
Please forgive me.
It reminds me of a related philosophy found in Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism called Ahimsa which refers to compassion and refraining from injury or violence.
In a world that feels angry and hurt, these are invaluable concepts to turn to when we are seeking a way to cope and hopefully improve circumstances. Whether we are traveling outside of our country or community or recognizing the journey we are taking through life, I love being reminded of something the chef and travel documentarian Anthony Bourdain said:
“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.”
Aloha and Ho'oponopono are two things (of many) that I brought back from Hawaii. Sometimes I forget all about them until something reminds me that I have it stored away in my heart and soul. Even though they are simple, elegant, easy-to-grasp ideas, they can be distilled down even further to Love always (all ways) ... this is what I wish for you.
Love and Sparkles,