What Hawaiians Can Teach Us About Life

In Hawaiian culture, the Native people have often relied on specific concepts that, when followed and appreciated, lead them to lives of contentment.  The concepts include:

  • Mana: is the spiritual energy of power and strength that both people and objects possess. It is a life energy that people can influence; the choices made can either strengthen mana or take it away. Living a life of meaning, being modest, building and maintaining relationships and giving back to others or your community are all examples of good mana.
  • Pono: is righteousness. In Hawaiian culture, it denotes goodness and has a spiritual connotation to being in a state of harmony. Pono is the concept of leaning into moral values so as to live a life that is balanced and essentially good.
  • Aloha: is the Hawaiian word for love. Often used as a simple greeting, aloha for Hawaiians is a way of life – aloha is a way of living and treating each other with love and respect.
  • Ohana: means family. In Hawaiian culture, the concept of ohana refers to one’s social support system, including nuclear family, extended family, close friends and colleagues, and/or other communities or groups they are a part of. Being part of an ohana means that there is a mutual obligation to care for each other.

Hawaiians are known to live a life that is peaceful and less stressful than Westernized society. We can take a lesson from their pages of ancient wisdom by consciously thinking about how these concepts have contributed to living a simple and grounded life.

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Photo credit: http://Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

Some Hopeful News Ahead about Youth and Mental Health

In a recent article entitled “Lanark first in Canada to adopt Icelandic model for reducing teen social harm” by Elizabeth Payne and featured in the Ottawa Citizen, we read about a group in Lanark called Planet Youth Lanark who have signed a five year agreement with the Icelandic Centre for Social Research and Analysis. The article features some interesting facts about Iceland’s program to reduce substance abuse among their youth:

  • after the induction of the program in the 90’s, Iceland’s substance abuse among youth fell from 48% to 5%.
  • Iceland’s program is a primary prevention program that is based on data from the student’s themselves.
  • Surveys given to youth include alcohol and cannabis use as well as issues such as vaping, screen time, body image and mental well-being.
  • Iceland’s program includes proactive measures designed to create environments that promote healthy growth and development and include such things as increased parental involvement, curfews, and the introduction of numerous activities, including sports and music.

Data from the surveys conducted in Lanark and Smith Falls, will then be studied by Icelandic officials with subsequent reports that will highlight how the communities can develop proactive strategies.

What an encouraging news story! As we continue to worry about the rising rates of anxiety and depression in our youth population, this program has the potential to grow in numbers across our province and nation.

To read the full article: https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/a-good-news-story-lanark-becomes-first-in-canada-to-adopt-icelandic-model-for-reducing-teen-social-harm

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Photo credit: http://Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

The Meaning of Ubuntu

I came across this lovely South African tradition:

“In certain regions of South Africa, when someone does something wrong, he/she is taken to the center of the village and for two days he/she is surrounded by his tribe, while they speak of all the good he/she has done. They believe that each person is good yet sometimes we make mistakes, which is really a cry for help. They unite in this ritual to encourage the person to reconnect with his true nature. The belief is that unity and affirmation have more power to change behavior than does shame and punishment. This is known as Ubuntu – humanity towards others.”

What I love about this ceremony are the following words: reconnect, unity and affirmation. We are a relationship species and our deepest level of feeling safe comes from being accepted by others. What a lovely tradition, focusing on the importance of social unity and generosity of spirit. In many ways we can incorporate this philosophy in our own relationships, focusing on the inherent good of a person so as to incline them towards their own inner spirit.

Photo credit: http://Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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Seven Sacred Teachings; Truth – Post 7

In our last of a series of posts celebrating the Seven Grandfather Teachings of First Nations People, we add Truth to the core values of wisdom, love, respect, bravery, honesty and humility:

Truth: is to know all of these things. It is said that in the beginning, when the Creator made man and gave him the seven sacred laws, the Grandmother Turtle was present to ensure that the laws would never be lost or forgotten. On the back of a Turtle are the 13 moons, each representing the truth of one cycle of the Earth’s rotations around the sun. The 28 markings on her back represent the cycle of the moon and of a woman’s body. The shell of the Turtle represents the body real events as created by the Higher Power, and serves as a reminder of the Creator’s will and teachings.”

The first step towards healing is to speak your truth. In order to achieve growth and movement, we must be first able to acknowledge what is holding us back. It is only then that we open up the avenue to understand how our patterns or core beliefs have affected our relationships, influenced our actions, or hindered our ability to be emotionally healthy. Being able to incorporate the seven sacred teachings into our lives even in small ways can greatly influence our capacity to feel whole; moving towards a feeling of peace in who we are and how we treat both ourselves and our loved ones.

Thank you for joining me on this series; I hope you enjoyed it!

Information for this post was found at: http://empoweringthespirit.ca/teachings/the-turtle/

Photo credit: http://Photo by Randall Ruiz on Unsplash



Seven Sacred Teachings: Humility – Post 6

Today we add humility to our Seven Sacred Teachings of the First Nations People:

Humility: Humility is to know yourself as a sacred part of the Creation. Symbolized by the wolf, humility is about being humble and not arrogant. The expression of this humility is manifested through the consideration of others before ourselves. In this way, the Wolf became the teacher of this lesson. He bows his head in the presence of others out of deference, and once hunted, will not take of the food until it can be shared with the pack. His lack of arrogance and respect for his community is a hard lesson, but integral in the Aboriginal way.”

Humility is a core value that we can often struggle with as it tends to lend itself to the idea of submission or being meek. I suppose where true humility comes into play is to know when to defer; if you don’t know something, you are much better served to say so than to pretend as though you do. It is about not allowing your pride to get in the way of true growth, working towards inclusiveness versus self-importance, it is to know the strength of power and to use it wisely. To know true humility is to know peace.

Information for this post was found at: http://empoweringthespirit.ca/teachings/596/

Photo credit: http://Photo by Michael LaRosa on Unsplash

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Seven Sacred Teachings; Honesty – Post 5

The fifth core value that the First Nations People speak about in the Seven Grandfather Teachings is Honesty:

Honesty: Honesty also means “righteousness”, be honest first with yourself – in word and action. Long ago, there was a giant called Kitch-Sabe. Kitch-Sabe walked among the people to remind them to be honest to the laws of the creator and honest to each other. The highest honor that could be bestowed upon an individual was the saying “There walks an honest man. He can be trusted.” To be truly honest was to keep the promises one made to the Creator, to others and to oneself. The Elders would say, “Never try to be someone else; live true to your spirit, be honest to yourself and accept who you are the way the Creator made you.”

How lovely is that? To live in such a way that it would capture the attention of a giant. Being honest with ourselves is not always an easy task; when we are rigid in our beliefs, sometimes honesty gets set aside for needing to be right. To aspire to honesty is to value sincerity and trustworthiness. It is about striving to be authentic, not only in word but in action; it is to be ourselves.

Information from this post came from: http://empoweringthespirit.ca/teachings/sabe/

Photo credit: http://Photo by Sakkarin Kaewsukho on Unsplash

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Seven Sacred Teachings; Bravery – Post 4

Continuing our series on the Seven Sacred Teachings of the First Nations, today we look at Bravery:

Bravery is to face foe with integrity. Symbolized by the bear, he teaches us courage. The Bear provides many lessons in the way it lives, but courage is the most important teaching it offers. Though gentle by nature, the ferociousness of a mother Bear when one of her cubs is approached is the true definition of courage. To have the mental and moral strength to overcome fears that prevent us from living our true spirit as human beings is a great challenge that must be met with the same vigour and intensity as a mother Bear protecting her cub.”

Fear is perhaps, one of our greatest obstacles to change. When our fear response takes over, it can affect our rational brain’s ability to temper our diffidence and worry, leaning us instead into moments of feeling stuck. In order to overcome what are often perceived fears, we must find courage to be curious about how those misgivings developed and asking ourselves if it has to be that way. Structural change often comes from a tenacious feeling that something must change; from there we can find courage in the simple ability to stay the course.

Information for this post came from: http://empoweringthespirit.ca/teachings/the-bear/

Photo credit: http://Photo by Paxson Woelber on Unsplash

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Seven Sacred Teachings; Respect – Post 3

Continuing our exploration of First Nations’ Seven Sacred Teachings, we add respect to wisdom and love:

“Respect: To honour all of the creation is to have respect. Symbolized by the buffalo, no animal was more important to the existence of Indigenous families than this animal, and its gift provided shelter, clothing and utensils for daily living. Native people believed themselves to be true caretakers of the great herds, and developed a sustainable relationship with the buffalo resulting in a relationship that was a true expression of respect.”

Being able to respect and honour our self while also respecting the other is one of the healthiest positions we can achieve when in relationship. “I am important and so are you” allows us to recognize our own needs while considering the feelings of our loved ones. Respect towards our environment and the natural world holds us accountable to reducing our carbon footprint and live a more eco-friendly lifestyle. At times, it becomes about respecting another, even when we might not agree with their opinion or choice.

In any case, we best access respect through attention and regard, reaching a level of esteem we can hold in reserve.

Information for this post was found at: http://empoweringthespirit.ca/teachings/the-buffalo/

Photo credit: http://Photo by Eric Murray on Unsplash

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Seven Sacred Teachings; Love – Post 2

Continuing our exploration of the Seven Sacred Teachings of First Nations we look to their second core value as a way to acknowledge the importance of human conduct and how that relates to our well-being:

Love: To know love is to know peace. Symbolized by the eagle, the Eagle was chosen by the Great Spirit to represent the belief that to feel true love is to know the Creator. Therefore, it is expected that one’s first love is to be the Great Spirit. The Eagle can reach the highest out of all the creatures in bringing pure vision to the seeker.”

Love in this sense is unconditional. It is the knowledge that love, when secure, is perhaps the most healing and tender gift we can give to ourselves, to our loved ones and to what surrounds us. It is the love we experience in our vulnerabilities, in the gentleness of nature and in human moments touched with peace and benevolence. When feeling fully secure in love, we know peace.

Information for this post came from: http://empoweringthespirit.ca/teachings/the-eagle/

Photo credit: http://Photo by Bonnie Kittle on Unsplash

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Seven Sacred Teachings; Wisdom – Post 1

In the First Nations community, they teach the Seven Sacred Teachings. Also known as the Teachings of the Seven Grandfathers, they incorporate  core values that they deem to be imperative to human conduct. Let’s explore each one in terms of not only how they are viewed traditionally, but how we can apply each one to ourselves in a holistic and therapeutic sense.

Wisdom: To cherish knowledge is to know wisdom. Symbolized traditionally by the beaver, it is the example of the beaver using his sharp teeth for cutting trees and branches to build his dams that expresses this teaching. If he did not use his teeth, the teeth would continue to grow until they became useless, ultimately making it impossible for him to sustain himself. The same can be said for human beings. One’s spirit will grow weak if it is not fulfilling its use.”

The value of wisdom is about intent to grow. When we set out to continue learning this can come in many forms; sometimes it is book knowledge in terms of academia, other times it is to expand our knowledge of world events, politics, or how to fill out our income taxes. Sometimes it is about learning a new skill or coping strategy in terms of our emotional health. We may desire to continue to learn about ourselves by making self-reflection or spirituality a part of our goal for well-being; we may decide that getting the knack of something is important such as learning how to actively listen to our loved ones or learning how to say no effectively.

In any case, understanding that to cherish knowledge is to heighten its value, bringing the core value of wisdom ever closer.

Information for this post was found at:http://empoweringthespirit.ca/teachings/beaver/

Photo credit: http://Photo by Abigail Lynn on Unsplash

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