Whole Life Magazine

June/July 2014

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Page 13 of 43

whole living T he minute you step off the plane in Hawaii, your heart rate slows, breathing deep- ens and stress instantly melts. Be- ing in Hawaii makes you feel not just physically better, but spiritually and emotionally as well. Should we credit tropical breezes, warm sand and the soothing sound of waves? Maybe all of these, but it's also the local culture that exudes a serene sense of soulful living. So why not cultivate a kama'aaina (Hawaiian for "child of the land") state of mind wherever you are? Aloha shirt is optional. 1. Walk barefoot. Most Hawaiians walk barefoot to feel their connection to the earth, but turns out it's also good for their health. A 2012 study in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health suggests that walking barefoot can help improve sleep and reduce pain and stress. Not only that, it can help your yoga practice. California yoga therapy and health coach Marty Bon- sall, who has been visiting Hawaii annually since 1971, explains, "In yoga the feet are our foundation and when we place atten- tion into rooting, strengthening and stability, it can open the heart, enhance our health and well-being, help us integrate body and mind, and increase strength and fl exibility." 2. Be one with the 'aina (earth). A 2012 Gallup-Healthways Well-being Index put Hawaii at the highest overall well-being for the fourth year in a row, and re- search from the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions shows Hawaiians live longer. That's partly due to good exer- cise habits—year-round clement weather means locals spend more time outdoors. But beyond swimming and hiking, there's a benefi t to being connected to the environment. Hawaii Psy- chological Association past-president Darryl Salvador, Psy.D. says, "Spending time in nature allows us to connect with some- thing that is bigger than us and nurtures our need to belong, which in turn enhances our happiness." Whether you live in a cold climate or a tropical one, savor your time in nature. Don't just run or hike through it; breathe it into your lungs and pores. 3. Spend time with your ohana. The family, or ohana, is the pulse of Hawaiian life. Events, cele- brations and daily life include nuclear family as well as "cala- bash cousins"—close friends af- fectionately called uncle, aunty or cousin. Having that kind of support not necessarily bound by blood brings a wealth of emotional and psychological benefi ts, says Salvador. "The family can help establish iden- tity, promote positive self-con- cept and create a sense of belonging." If you live far from the family you were born into, create your own family and gather on a regular basis. You don't need a big holiday as an excuse; host your own tailgate party, craft night, book club or even a luau. Make it a "family" tradition. 4. Eat with your hands. In the early Hawaiian culture, indigenous people ate poi (from the taro plant) and other staples with their hands. Adults new to this practice may feel squeamish, but it's a surprisingly pleas- ing experience that evokes childhood feelings of discovery and wonder. Eating with your hands also slows you down and makes you more mindful of what and how much you're con- suming, which helps prevent overeating and accompanying health problems. 5. Eat to live. Hawaii produces a variety of tropical vegetables and fruits from papaya to more exotic edibles such as dragon fruit, and while agricultural laws may prevent you from bringing a piece of the island home with you, you can still reap the benefi ts of eating diverse produce. Experiment with new fruits and vegetables at Asian and farmers markets in your hometown, or take a stab at planting your own tropical garden. Betty Gearen, founder of The Green House, a Honolulu nonprofi t center for sustainabili- ty, notes that, "Growing your own food is a great way to build a sense of community and respect for the 'aina." Photo: Abigail Lewis Island aloha to go Organic farmer Lee Roversi, North County Farms, Kauai 10 SECRETS TO LIVING A HAWAIIAN LIFE By Brandi-Ann Uyemura 14 wholelifetimesmagazine.com WLT-JUN-JULY-26.indd 14 5/26/14 2:09 PM

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