Hawaii On My Mind

You’ll come to learn that I have a love affair with words. So much so that I can easily fall into an etymological wormhole. (Thanks, Google.) I recently learned of the definition to a familiar Hawaiian greeting. Aloha means “to consciously manifest life joyously in the present". Is that not one of the most beautiful things you’ve read? I imagine that being surrounded by the crystal blue waters of the Pacific Ocean, gorgeous palm tree lined landscape and simplicity of island living would make aloha easily accessible. But for those of us on the mainland, how might we channel this ancient philosophy? Let’s pick apart aloha (compliments of Google) to see if we might bring some of that island magic to the contiguous U.S.

  • Consciously: in a deliberate and intentional way
  • Manifest: display or show (a quality or feeling) by one's acts or appearance; demonstrate
  • Life: vitality, vigor, or energy
  • Joyously: with great happiness and joy
  • Present: existing or occurring now

This small 5-letter word holds a lot of weight. Deliberately and intentionally displaying a sense or feeling of vitality, with great happiness and joy, in the immediate. It sounds great on paper (or screen) but practically speaking, it’s a lot of work to carry out. But if I want these tenants to be true characteristics of how I’m relating to the world, I’m going to have to roll up my sleeves. Just like if I want to run a marathon, I’m going to have to hit the pavement.

The more and more we cultivate a mindful life, we become more engaged, more rooted, and more us.

I think meditation and mindfulness can help direct us towards aloha. According to a New York Times article, mindfulness meditation creates a mental state "that can reduce stress, increase calmness and clarity and promote happiness". This is achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. Mindfulness meditation is captured in the very notion of showing up to the moment without judgment or shame nor does it call for a Pollyanna ignorance and naivete. We can allow ourselves to sit, aware of what our 5 senses are telling us about the now and giving space to exist now, not in the past 5 minutes or 5 years or the next 5 minutes of the next 50 years but in the very second. We find that the present offers us something and we don’t want to miss it lest we rob ourselves. The more and more we cultivate a mindful life, we become more engaged, more rooted, and more us. And maybe, we can begin to smell some of that salt air in our landlocked city.

{The above-mentioned article also provides guided meditations ranging from 1-minute to 15-mintes.}

Tiffany Dang

Tiffany Dang, LPC, Austin, TX