GRAND HYATT KAUAI RESORT AND SPA
Ernelle Gonzales at the Grand Hyatt Kauai demonstrates centered healing practices, where the body, spirit, earth and universe are brought into the implementation of healing. Such practices will be demonstrated at the "Malama Ola" festival in Poipu Beach, Kauai, Oct. 19 to 21.
Event highlights Hawaiian-style healing
The diagnosis was grim: The elderly woman had an aggressive form of cancer and was expected to have only one year to live. The effects of chemotherapy left her with a poor appetite and difficulty digesting food.
Family members rallied around her by preparing herbal teas and medicines, holding spiritually cleansing hooponopono sessions with her and creating a loving, relaxing, happy environment for her at home.
To the surprise of her Western doctors, she lived six more years.
In traditional Hawaiian belief, the kino (body), naau (center of our being), uhane (spirit) and ao holookoa (universe) all play an important role in healing. This is the premise of "Malama Ola (To Take Care of Life)," a new health and wellness event set for Oct. 19-21 as part of the resort's 15th annual Hawaiiana Festival.
Stella Burgess, manager of Hawaiian culture at the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa, recognized the need for a health event that shed light on the intertwining of all these elements. She also saw the value of sharing different cultures' approach to the process. With the support of the Grand Hyatt Kauai's General Manager Doug Sear and Rooms Director Matt Humphreys and a grant from the Hawaii Tourism Authority, Burgess spearheaded the development of "Malama Ola." Presentations will focus on indigenous healing traditions from Hawaii, China, Japan, India and the Philippines.
"These countries focus on holistic healing and have developed practices that are unique yet fundamentally similar," said Burgess. "'Malama Ola' will explore both their similarities and differences."
Topics for seminars, demonstrations and panel discussions include medicinal plants, music therapy, massage techniques and martial arts, hula aerobics and other forms of physical and mental exercise.
One highlight will be a session led by Dr. Mitchell Eli, author of "Lua: Art of the Hawaiian Warrior."
"Attendees will learn how the kahuna, the ancient priests of Hawaii, used mana (spiritual energy) to heal," said Burgess. "They were able to perform extraordinary feats by channeling mana in a variety of rituals -- some known only to them -- that people today might describe as magic."
Cultural specialists Keahe Denton and Kuulei Becklund will lead another "must" presentation on practices surrounding the consumption of tea in Hawaii, China, India, Japan and other countries.
"They'll explain the physical and mental health benefits associated with various teas," said Burgess. "For instance, some teas possess cleansing capabilities, while others may be important for healing. Attendees will try teas from different countries, learn how they are served and the philosophy behind the ritual. In many cases the consumption of tea is a meditative experience."
Burgess expects "Malama Ola" to provide valuable information about the essence of healing and maintaining optimum health. "We have gotten so dependent on pills, surgery and other treatments that we have forgotten nature's part in the healing process," she said.
The Hawaiians and many other ancient cultures believe that if all is not right in the environment, complete healing cannot occur.
Your well-being is intricately linked to your surroundings; when the natural world isn't in harmony, it has a profound effect on you.
"In the ideal scenario," said Burgess, "Our spirit and nature join with medicine to help us achieve a balanced, happy, healthy and productive life."
"Malama Ola" is one of the key components of this year's Hawaiiana Festival. Other offerings over the weekend include talks, demonstrations, workshops, craft displays and a luau. Of note is a series of panel discussions revolving around the theme "Is the Hawaiian Culture Alive and Well?" Lively interchanges are expected on subjects such as the Hawaiian language, history, cultural sites, voyaging and sovereignty issues.
9 a.m. to 2 p.m. (continuous sessions with the following)
» "Music's Effect on the Body," with Anthony Natividad, recording artist and Hawaiian cultural practitioner
» Crystal energy, with massage therapist Jamie Natividad
» Why history is vital to well-being, with author David Penhallow
» How to create and utilize well-managed and balanced environments, with Sol Kahoohalahala, executive director of the Kahoolawe Island Reserve Commission
» 9 a.m.: Tsunami Taiko drumming group
» 9:15 a.m.: Hula aerobics with Lopaka Bukoski, Hawaiian cultural practitioner
» 10 a.m.: Kickboxing with Ani Pursell
» 10 a.m.: Use of mana, magic and kahuna in healing, with Dr. Mitchell Eli, lua (Hawaiian martial arts) expert
» 11 a.m.: Shiatsu with massage therapist Linda Oshiro
» 1 to 2 p.m.: Hooponopono, the art of conflict resolution and developing meaningful relationships, with cultural specialist Charles Kaupu
» 2 to 3 p.m.: Kali, Filipino martial arts, with practitioner Mel Manonbog
» 3 to 4 p.m.: Crystal energy, with Jaime Natividad
» 4 to 5 p.m.: Lomilomi with massage therapists Anthony and Jaime Natividad
» 5 p.m.: Aha moku, how the land cleanses itself and how to cleanse the land from a Hawaiian perspective, with cultural specialist Keaumoku Kapu
» 9 a.m.: Nose flute performance by Anthony Natividad
» 9:15 a.m.: Nose flute therapy with Natividad
» 10 a.m.: Yoga with massage therapist Lida Martin
» 11 a.m. to noon: "Na Moolelo Lomilomi: The Traditions of Hawaiian Massage and Healing" author Makana Risser discusses her research for the book.
» 1 to 2 p.m.: Acupuncture with Maurizia Zanin
» 2 to 3 p.m.: How to live a "brain healthy" lifestyle, with Janet Eli, president/chief executive of Alzheimer's Association in Hawaii
» 3 p.m.: Nualolo Kai/Hinaakala ancient archaeological sites on Kauai, with Sabra Kauka, historian and cultural practitioner
» 4 p.m.: Tea practices, with cultural specialists Keahe Denton and Kuulei Becklund
» 4:30 p.m.: Healing with Hawaiian plants, with Denton and Becklund
» 5 p.m.: Cleansing body and spirit with ha (breath): With Denton, Becklund and Stella Burgess
Cheryl Chee Tsutsumi is a Honolulu-based free-lance writer and Society of American Travel Writers award winner.