I’ve always been aware of and attracted to contrasts. Light vs shadow. Bright vs dark. In my personal art practice, contrasts have been a theme, as they have in my personal experience of emotions. And in Hawaii, this awareness was heightened. I visited Hawaii for the first time in 2017 while I was still living in Johannesburg, with a group friends who are all Kahuna Bodywork practitioners in South Africa, along with our Kahuna teacher. I wrote this article a few weeks after our return from this trip.
Going to visit Hawaii is a distant dream for many people, certainly for people in South Africa. It’s something we put on visionboards and bucket lists, because Hawaii has the appeal of being like paradise. It is a minimum 32-hour excursion to travel half way around the world to Hawaii from Johannesburg, but it is a trip worth making, and I am so grateful that I was able to go.
Many parts of Hawaii are just like the tropical paradise we are shown when we Google images. Everything is bigger, brighter, bluer, crisper, more colourful and exquisite than we experience in daily life in smoggy Johannesburg (or any big city). In terms of beauty, it’s like Cape Town on steroids. The plants are exquisitely exotic, with colors that appear too intense to be real, and the rainbows look like they were painted on top of the clouds, close enough to touch.
But Paradise also has its dark parts and challenges and bad weather. It was the volcanoes that had the biggest impact on me. The black lava landscapes had me fascinated, and as we got closer to them I was entranced by the ‘lava doodles’ created as lava flowed and solidified into earth. (l do love doodles!)
The Big Island (Hawaii) is an active volcano. As you drive, you see large parts of the landscape are made of pitch-black lava. One morning, we ventured out at 4 am to walk nine kilometers to see where the live volcano’s lava tube entered the ocean. It was beyond exhilarating to be walking out in this dark landscape before the sun was up.
It is a natural habit of my mind to draw parallels between Mother Nature and our human existence – we are part of nature after all. The stark contrast and beauty of the black and blue, the light and dark, brought to my mind the essence of how we often feel, living in our world of duality, a world where it’s all about right vs wrong, black vs white, Christian vs Muslim, Jews vs Palestinians, us vs them, rich vs poor etc. It’s also how we flow with our emotions – one day we can feel joyful, and the next, we can be in a deep dark pit of despair. For me, this adventure was the highlight of the whole trip – seeing new earth being formed in front of our eyes. It was a potent moment to witness all four elements present in one place like this – fire and water creating earth, and letting off steam (air).
The potency was in noticing that at the point where the two contrasting energies of fire and water meet in the ocean, alchemy happens and there is magic. Something new is formed. New land. New territory. New terra firma. It changes the shape of the existing island and creates more land. This is the power of fire. It is both destructive and creative.
Since my return from Hawaii, I have felt like I am the lava. I am the hot red molten stuff flowing down the mountainside toward the ocean where I will be transformed into something new. I did not yet know what that meant, however it is inevitable that if my thoughts are changing and my energy is changing (as I am consciously working on them to create change, and traveling the world changes you), then the physical nature of my body and the outer reality of my life will change too. It has to. It has in the past, and it is certain that it will in the future.
In the meantime, I’ve been going through quite a journey down that mountainside toward the changing point. For a few weeks after Hawaii, the heat of the lava’s fire burned deep inside me, and showed up on the outside as rage (road rage in particular. I often use my reactions to other drivers on the road as a barometer of what my emotions are really doing inside me), irritation, and hot fury.
Then the anger turned to hurt, sadness and disappointment. It was not aimed at anything or anyone, except perhaps politicians and the state of the world in general, and at myself. Now, I know better than to place the blame for my uncomfortable emotions onto anything outside myself, because the world is as it is, and I am responsible for my inner world and my emotions. I also know better than to be angry and blaming myself. But the emotions (and their associated thoughts) came along anyway.
All of these emotions came to the surface with force. My dear partner has been so loving in accepting them – but I have been so judgmental of them, trying to be the perfect partner and mother, the good girl, the pleasant daughter, friend, and colleague. I wanted to see myself as perfect in all ways, and I didn’t want to accept these ‘ugly’ and uncomfortable emotions as part of me.
So I took steps, took action to clear the confusion and move the energy. I’ve been dancing and art journaling, and intuitively writing and drawing (doodling) and meditating and ruminating and chanting and receiving Kahuna massage to shift them. I’ve been to see my homeopath and doctor, and got remedies for the physical signs of my anxiety and stress (like not being able to get enough breath in, and feeling totally fatigued). I am emerging from the deep dark pit, and seeing a bit of light again.
Sometimes moving and shifting these emotions is not always the answer. We need to BE with them. Sit WITH them. And wait for them to transmute into something else. THIS is the alchemy. This is where the magic happens and we start to love ourselves wholly – love the whole spectrum of emotions and feelings that we experience, AND all the behaviors and quirks that show up as part of us. These ‘ugly’, ‘bad’ parts are not something separate from us, things that need to be ‘got rid of’. No. When we can gently be with them like we would be with a small child who is having a tantrum, and love them fully, then we can love everyone else more fully – especially those people or groups of people that we view as ‘different, separate, other’. Perhaps this is the healing that we all need to do for our planet to heal.
The experience of these deep fiery emotions changed me on the inside. The hot emotions moved on eventually, and I felt I had been cleansed of deep-seated beliefs that were holding me in a pattern that was stuck. Something was released. Six months after this trip, I found myself married and moving my life across the ocean to live in Washington. (I had always dreamed of living away from Johannesburg, near water, and here I am surrounded by the most beautiful lakes.)
One way to learn to love yourself more deeply is by connecting with the body. Kahuna Transformational Bodywork is often called “the dance of breath and life from the heart.” Regular sessions of Kahuna bodywork can take you through the fire, emerging on the other side. You can schedule one session, or if you want to experience how regular Kahuna Transformational Bodywork can support you in your life, I offer special pricing for packages. Book via my website, or contact me directly to book a session at Cedar Sanctuary. firstname.lastname@example.org / 425.435.9498