Separate Yet Together

In the State of Aloha

What I hope to hold dear from our recently completed Maui Yoga Retreat is that sense of “Aloha”.  It has many meanings, and not surprisingly, seems to share a kinship with a word more familiar to yogis:  Namasté.  There’s a sense of seeing each living being just as they are, basic goodness in tact… worthy.


Aloha implies a sense of relationship, being present with, and honoring each life with lovingkindness and compassion for all their gifts and challenges – be that sensing the love of a mother Humpback Whale helping her baby to the ocean’s surface, swimming alongside a giant Green Sea Turtle elegantly moving through the ocean in one moment and struggling to bring its massive body onto shore the next, or holding space for the Human Beings ordering coffee around me.


How to be in harmony with this rich ocean of Life?  Take time to honor and perceive your own basic goodness.  Whether that’s 11 seconds at any moment of the day, 11 minutes at home, or eleven days on retreat. Give yourself the gift of quiet awareness, kindness and compassion.  Let whatever arises be present… be it pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral.  No need to push anything away.  Befriend your inner animal.   Know that just as you have a desire to be in that place of innate joy and contentment, so do all beings.


I want to be in that state of Aloha so that when I see someone who is frustrated or anxious, I’ll know that they just want to be content and happy … (“If that dang car in front of me wasn’t going so slow, I’d be a whole lot happier!” or “I should have left 10 minutes sooner, now I’m going to be late.  I wish I could have arrived on time and been more relaxed!”) Knowing that they too, just like me, want to be happy and content.  I can send them waves of Aloha.


I experienced many different waves and currents in Hawaii, sometimes I needed to duck under, sometimes it was best not to resist so hard and take a longer route to shore.  It can be hard not to fight a current, hard not to panic.  Fear is a riptide and can take one out in a moment’s notice.


What I learned out there on the reef:

  • Swim with a buddy


  • Practice awe and humility simultaneously


  • Be aware of what currents are tugging on me; respond sooner than later.


  • I was given a refresher course in what it means to respect my limits:  while I can offer some support, I am not a lifeguard.


  • There’s a difference between exploring my edges and allowing the sirens of the great abyss to mess with me. Know the difference.


  • Wisdom is supporting each person in their effort to mindfully find their own balance and capacity within themselves, and acknowledge that it will likely look different for them than for me.


  • Diversity is beautiful; each creature’s expression and whole being can be experienced from within my own heart.


  • The web of life is both complex and simple.  We are all intimately connected.


Each day I want to retreat into my heart’s cave and find balance… stillness… and then walk along the edges of my inner beach where the ocean meets the earth and sky in a state of Aloha.


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