My final days in Hawaii are here, and I'm feeling so grateful.
I received a traditional Hawaiian massage called lomi lomi yesterday, which really helped me release tension in my body. The massage therapist was an interesting 62 year old woman who lived in a tent with her Dobermann dog for years while studying this ancient massage style with indigenous elders. I could tell she was an assertive and yang/masculine person instantly, which mirrored her muscular and angular physical build. Every day, she swims out into the ocean for miles, studying dolphins and basking in the Hawaiian sun.
We had a meaningful time together, and realized we had lots in common. She told me about how her billionaire philanthropic friend brought Desmond Tutu and Dalai Lama to Hawaii, where she had the privilege of doing bodywork on them. I talked about Vandana Shiva and my holistic health educational background, and she talked about a new book called The Immense World, which explores the deep intelligence of animal senses beyond human perception. There was also lots of space and quiet between us too, which made for a perfect massage experience. And she was quite intuitive in finding some of the tightest and most tense spots, and digging her hands deep in there. It took a conscious effort on my part to not flinch or jump off the table.
There's a sort of magic that happens when we face our pain and discomfort, and not buy into resistance or reactivity. For most situations, we realize that what we're afraid of isn't always what it seems, and that we actually have more control over our experiences than we think. The experience of not buying into our fears and judgments can be so empowering.
In my holistic health studies program, we often discussed a technical term called dysponesis, or unnecessary tension that can create chronic inflammation in the body. This could be as simple as the unconscious tightening of the body, like tight shoulders and clenched jaws. Through mindfulness, we become aware of when and where we tighten. We learn how these subtle patterns and behaviors in our body deeply influence the mind and our emotional states every moment of the day. We learn to release unnecessary tension that adds extra burden to our body's self-regulation process. The simple act of slowing down and finding our breath can be game-changers.
If I'm stuck in my head and not being mindful, I'll often find that I'm clenching my fists or holding tension in my gut unconsciously, which impacts proper breathing and digestive functioning. I used to find it incredibly difficult to receive someone's touch in an intimate way, like a massage or even lovemaking. Hugs and physical touch in social settings were always fine and deeply welcomed. Yet anytime someone saw my scarred buttcheeks or touched my knees, feet, or middle back, I would flinch and go into flight, fight, and freeze mode. Yet learning to let go of some of these fears over time with the help of somatic embodiment skills has been a humbling and deeply spiritual experience. Whether we're in a difficult conversation with someone, reading the latest crisis in the news headlines, or rushing to an appointment, we can practice being present and letting go of unnecessary tension no matter what is happening in our lives.
Relaxation is the doorway to creating inner security in a chaotic world. It helps build new patterns and beliefs that can literally heal inflammation in the body, and past traumas that get stored in the body. Relaxation also reminds us that our bodies are also wired for pleasure and feeling good, which builds resilience and satisfaction.
Sometime during the session, she shared something that touched me. "I can tell you're a rare soul," she said. "And not many people know how to relax, and I'm impressed by how well you can relax even when I'm getting into some of your body's most vulnerable and tight spots. Just know I rarely give compliments, especially to clients." Given her strong energy, I knew she wouldn't say something like this if she didn't mean it.
Her feedback was another affirmation that I'm on the right path. I'm proud of myself and how I'm evolving. It's taken me a long time to build confidence and feel at home in my body. I've done a lot of healing work to be able to build more of the yin/feminine qualities in life: trusting, relaxing, opening, surrendering. Not just when I'm on my yoga mat, but in everyday life settings as a way of being and interacting with others in the world. We even exchanged numbers after the session, and she told me that our time together was one of the most meaningful encounters she's had in a while.
Freestyle dancing has become a daily ritual. Over time, I've cultivated a profound sense of belonging in my own skin and body through dance. The joy and celebration of life moves through me, always reminding me of the bigger picture. Below is a dance video from this morning :) Hope you enjoy, Hive community!
“If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don’t hesitate. Give in to it. There are plenty of lives and whole towns destroyed or about to be. We are not wise, and not very often kind. And much can never be redeemed. Still life has some possibility left. Perhaps this is its way of fighting back, that sometimes something happened better than all the riches or power in the world. It could be anything, but very likely you notice it in the instant when love begins. Anyway, that’s often the case. Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb." - Mary Oliver