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9 Tips For Navigating the Road to Hāna

9 Tips For Navigating the Road to Hāna

Driving the Back Road to Hāna

What road are you traveling down? This could be a literal or figurative question. Today I want to share with you a road I recently conquered and hope to do again some day. Ready for a road trip? Let’s go on a drive to Hāna…

First off, what and where is Hāna? Hāna is a very, very small town on the eastern end of Maui, Hawaii. Call me naïve, but I didn’t even now it existed until I got TO the island. I ventured down to Maui to visit a college bestie who has lived there for several years, currently in Lāhainā. Being caught up in my own world here in Dallas with life and work, I didn’t pay much attention to my friend’s home down there, but wow, did Maui immediately get my attention, especially on this adventure.

Hāna has maintained an isolated, ‘small town’ feel for basically its entire existence. It’s no wonder it’s not easy to get to. My mom owned a travel agency throughout the 80’s and early 90’s and said that to get clients of hers to Hāna back then, she would schedule a helicopter ride for them from Kahului. She said there was a “winding road that no one wanted to drive or take the time to do.” I can understand that now; in 2016 it’s definitely not a road for everyone: blind corners on every turn, dozens of one-lane bridges all the while you’re driving on the edge of a cliff. Some of it is not even paved. You can see mailboxes on the side of the road and you know that up in the green Amazonian-like hillsides, people are living and existing in this quiet, serene and secluded area. Peaceful is an understatement. Oh, and there’s only one resort in Hāna to choose from.

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All this to say: there’s only one back road to Hāna. This is the more adventurous route starting from “upcountry.” If you’ve gone all the way to Maui you might as well get full use out of your rental car and do this. Snag the front seat, make sure you trust your driver, down some Dramamine and have your camera ready. While you’re en route, here are some of the gems my local friend had us stop at along the way…enjoy!

Stop #1: Grandma’s Coffee House – Get the entire loaf of banana chocolate chip bread. Believe me when I say, “It’s not like regular banana bread!” Even though it’s only about 45 more miles to Hāna, it’s going to take you a while and you’ll want a snack!

Stop #2: Ulupalakua Ranch Store – Where a little bit of the Wild West meets Maui. If you’re hungry, get a grass-fed burger (apparently the best on the island according to my friend and other locals) or if you’re a tourist like me, get some of the goat’s milk caramel sauce and homemade hot sauce with locally grown ingredients. Oh, and mini jellies too.

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Stop #3: Friends of St. Joseph-Kaupo – This is actually a spontaneous stop. You really can’t miss it – a beautiful, old white church overlooking the ocean that looks nearly deserted. We pulled over and got out to explore. Founded in 1862 it only has several services per year now, but the grounds are maintained. Wow, if this place could talk… lots of history to observe there.

Stop #3: Hiked Pipiwai Trail to Waimoku Falls + 7 Sacred Pools – This is where you pay the parking fee and get to hike through a bamboo forest to an iconic Maui waterfall. Yes, you read that right. Then, if they’ve had rain recently (unfortunately for us, they hadn’t – sad!), you head back down to the 7 Sacred Pools – where you can swim.

Stop #4: Chow Wagon (Hawaiian food truck!) – There are a decent amount of food trucks to choose from – we really wanted Thai (because Hāna is THE place for Thai), but they were already closed when we rolled into town around 3pm. However, Chows did not disappoint! We had the ‘catch of the day’ and delicious veggies!

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Stop #5: Hāna Farms– What’s not to love here? On Friday/Saturday nights they have farm-to-table organic wood fired pizza being served. Since we had already chowed at Chows, we didn’t partake but I did end up with some organic cacao nibs and a coconut face serum infused with Maui coffee, vanilla and fruit seed oil! Glowing skin here I come!

Stop #6: Overlook at Wailua Valley State Wayside – You’ll come around a sharp curve at mile marker #18 and this view will knock your socks off. You’ll be looking at the most beautifully green valley stretching to the ocean with mountains behind you. We met a local walking his dog who lived in town. He said about 3-4 families have occupied the town for several generations. They are all fisherman, farmers, etc. It’s gotten a lot smaller with more of the children growing up and moving away for other opportunities. There are two churches you can see in the valley below – legend has it that during a storm in the 1800’s a bunch of white coral was washed ashore to build one of the churches that is still stark white to this day. He considers it “the most Hawaiian part of the island” due to its remoteness, small town and secluded vibe.

Stop #6: Coconut Glen’s Ice Cream – This is a few miles outside of Hāna heading north. Don’t miss it. Best. Ice Cream. Ever. There’s more than coconut and we even met Coconut Glen himself as well as his new puppy.

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Stop #7: Sunset at Ho’okipa Beach Park – A beautiful beach with a perfect sunset as we watched storm clouds roll in.

Stop #8: Thai Spice, Paia – If you can’t get Thai in Hāna, wait until you get to this place in Paia – delicious spring rolls, pad thai and curry! It’s small, so be patient or get it to go.

Stop #9: Your bed. Trust me, you’ll be ready for sleep after this long, beautiful, winding road of a day!

Don’t miss this adventure on your next trip to Maui. Start comparing fares to get you there and before you know it, you’ll be hiking to waterfalls, sipping on Maui coffee and basking in the green, lush Amazonian surroundings.

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Last Updated on August 13, 2020

12 Benefits of Meditation That Improve Your Body And Mind

12 Benefits of Meditation That Improve Your Body And Mind

As a mediation teacher, I am constantly confronted with these two questions regarding the benefits of meditation:

1. Why can’t I enjoy the benefits of meditation continuously?

I ask back: Is it maybe because you see mediation as a technique, performance, or some exclusive activity? The answer is: yes!

Or, because your mind is constantly evolving on the past negative attachments and traditional habits? After careful thinking they answer: yes, probably!

Although meditation is very simple and challenging at the same time, in the above mentioned case, it’s not easy to benefit from meditation, especially when approached with the idea that it has to be learned, studied, or applied. Meditation is to be seen as a natural, mental cleansing process that happens on a basis of awareness on a moment-to-moment experience. When that takes place, the benefits of meditation are continuous.

2. What is the purpose of meditation?

The purpose of meditation is to accomplish a level of consciousness for mastering the mind and uniting with the finest, deepest, and subtlest part of yourself as a being.

It is a conscious process of observation of the mind—helping the meditator to understand the structure of its mind and the quality of its content. During this process, countless benefits of a physical, mental, and spiritual/philosophical nature arise for the meditator.

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Meditation as a Fixer and Benefactor

In this article we’ll have a look at the primary and the ultimate benefits of mediation, which improve your body and mind at the same time. For the sake of clarity, readability, and tangible experience, I have separated the benefits into three groups.

You can change just about anything you don’t like about yourself (psychologically, as well as physically) through meditation. However, this is only possible with a specific approach, when your brain allows the benefits of meditation to do their work.

This means not to interrupt the benefit with other thoughts, but to let their effect implement itself in your body and mind. This approach is crucial.

The following exercises will make you feel the benefits of meditation instantly, but the continuity of the benefits of meditation on your body and mind depend on the discipline of your brain, how you manage external stimuli and your thoughts.

Less Physical, More Psychological

Even though the practice of meditation is more psychological and less physical, the first benefit we’re going to experience is both physical as well as mental.

This benefit happens literally immediately, right at the moment of meditation. It is the essence of mediation basically.

The First Benefit of Meditation

The first benefit of meditation is twofold:

  1. Improving inward attention (sharpening the mind)
  2. Relaxation of the body

Let’s do it right now. This benefit consists of only one step, and it is very simple to perform. It goes like this:

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Sit still and pay attention to your exhalation.

That’s it! Technically, the whole journey into the world of mediation begins here and nowhere else. And right here, you benefit from this step in the following way:

When you pay attention to the flow of your exhalation (gentle, deep, effortless exhalation), your body begins with the process of relaxation instantly (your heart rate slows down, your nervous system calms, and tension in your muscles is relieved).

When the nervous system calms, your mind calms down, and, more specifically, less thoughts are produced by your mind. How, exactly? By applying one of the most valuable mental skills—attention—the mind follows the breathing and has no space and time to generate any other thoughts. Only when the attention goes off the breath, other thoughts are constructed, and the mind is accelerating with thought production again.

Keeping the First Benefit Effective and Ongoing

Here you apply the approach of not letting the relaxation and attention process get interrupted; rather let the effects of these benefits implant in your body and mind as deeply as possible.

This is to say, the instant relaxation and inward attention happen at the same time when you follow the flow of your breath. Repeating this process—creating a constant rhythm out of the breathing and the attention—you create a process of meditation.

Keep your attention on the flow of your breath and see how the calmness of body and mind begin to rule your present moment. The longer you stay connected to your breathing, the stronger you’ll feel the benefit. Start with 3-5 minutes at a time without doing anything else, and increase to 10-20 minutes and onwards.

Can you think of a better, simpler and quicker exercise that can relax the body and improve attention in this way, at this speed?

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This benefit takes you to the second one.

The Second Benefit of Meditation

While still working with the first benefit of mediation, you slowly start to see the second benefit of mediation, which is fourfold. I call it the major value of mediation:

  1. Energy (physical and mental strength)
  2. Observance
  3. Peacefulness (stillness, and space of mind for deeper observation)
  4. Patience

Peacefulness is the source of a blissful life. The energy is the fuel to express that blissfulness. Whatever we want to accomplish in life we need: 1) Physical and mental strength, 2) Observance of that energy, 3) Peacefulness—the calmness and stillness that creates space for freedom of being and creative thinking, and 4) Patience for the process of accomplishment.

You can only get creative in thinking and boosted with physical and mental energy when you get in touch with the deepest levels of yourself—when you harmonize your mental and physiological activities. How do you do that? Let’s try it right now:

This step involves the observation of the two separate movements of your breath. After paying attention on your exhalation, you have prepared your body and mind to really see and feel what true peacefulness and true energy means.

1. Energy

Keep your attention on your inhalation (inhaling gently, deeply and lightly) and feel the new energy (new oxygen) flowing in your body. The inhalation is the symbol for aliveness and vitality. It is the the primary act that connects the baby’s body with the outside world after coming out of the womb[1]. Each inhalation is a new opportunity for your body to revive, regenerate, and renew itself.

2. Observance

The observance comes during the process of meditation, enabling you to see the physiological benefits of introducing new energy to your body. Use that benefit by utilizing its effects, and create deeper observation into yourself. With every single inhalation, this observation will enable you to generate even more energy, mentally and physically.

3. Peacefulness

Keep your attention on your exhalation, and feel how, out of the relaxation, peacefulness is spreading throughout your whole body. The exhalation is the symbol for relaxation and peacefulness. Only through meditation can you realize what absolute peacefulness means.

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4. Patience

The meditation delivers the previous benefits to you immediately and opens up the possibility for many other benefits and great virtues. A specific one to mention, which is essential for reaching the ultimate benefits of meditation, is patience. If you have experienced the aforementioned benefits, it means that you have invested a certain amount of patience into mastering yourself and your mind.

The Ultimate Benefits of Meditation

Patience is a key quality when it comes to the ultimate benefits of meditation.

Since the mind is the tool that reveals everything, mediation is the method for the proper utility of the tool.

The above mentioned benefits of mediation lead to the ultimate benefits of mediation—qualities that depict what makes a human being human. As you dwell in a meditative state of being, the following benefits begin to emanate:

  • Diligence: the persistence for righteous effort to reach an intrinsic value; inner strength.
  • Temperance: to express self-control and show excellence in managing the physio-biological and mental necessities
  • Courage: using righteous effort and braveness to look into the weaknesses of yourself and at the hardship of your life, endure it and patiently overcome the obstacles
  • Loving kindness and Compassion – a capacity to care, understand, and tolerate other people’s state of being, wishing them freedom from suffering.
  • Wisdom: the moment when you feel that mediation gives you the feeling and the knowledge that what you do relating to life and practical affairs is just.
  • Equanimity: that puts you in a state of composure, and you experience an ongoing blissful state of being.

These are the 6 ultimate benefits of meditation that put your body and mind in a state of health and balance.

Final Thoughts

Mediation exists to put order in your mind and awaken the best of you, to reconnect you to your goodness and your inborn intelligent capabilities.

Meditation is the window to your true Self. It gives you a panoramic view of your heart’s greatness. It shows you the true meaning of love, freeing you from the dungeons of ignorance and despair. The power of meditation dismantles the evil that’s trying to cloud the beauty of your heart.

Your heart, body, and soul are the bridge over which the challenges of life frequently carry their heavy load. Meditation is the support of that bridge. Make use of that support.

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Featured photo credit: Mor Shani via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Medline Plus: Changes in the newborn at birth

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