All I Need to Know I Learned From Hula Part 3
by Lynette Sheppard
April 22, 2017 - 6:19pm

As promised, here are a few more hula (life) lessons that this beautiful dance has taught me over the years.

Lesson 6
When in doubt, ha`ina
This is another gem from my first hula teacher, Kanani. We were always instructed that if we forgot the moves, we should simply kaholo (a series of basic hula steps that go between verses) until it came back to us. If there was no hope and we had forgotten it all, we should fast forward to ha`ina. Most Hawaiian songs end with a verse that sums up what the song is about. The first line of this verse is “Ha`ina ia mai ana kapuana” meaning this is my refrain; this is what my song or my story is about. This verse often repeats much of the first verse. In other words, when in doubt, get off the stage and wait for another time.

In life, when we don’t know how to proceed, it’s a great idea to “get off the stage” and ponder our next moves. There’s no shame in not knowing all the answers (or sometimes any of them). It’s far more important to regroup and find the questions. A receptive space can allow for more right answers.

Lesson 7
Rise up on Your Toes - What you think you got toes for?

Kumu Raquel was teaching us a song where we were to lift up on our toes, then dip down low, our arm movements reflecting the gentle flapping of wings.

While we might have thought we were lifting, Raquel became more and more frustrated. Finally she burst out, “Up, up on your toes! What you think you got toes for?!”

I’d never given much thought as to what my toes were for, save a bumper for the rest of my foot or places to try out a new polish. I had to really muse on my toes - what indeed were they for?

What my questioning led me to was this. Use everything you’ve been given -let nothing go to waste. Everything has a purpose, many times more than one. Find out what it’s for and then use it wholeheartedly. Stretch to live your life to the fullest.

Lesson 8
Smell with your Eyes

Kumu Raquel once told us that we must smell with our eyes. She was referring to us using our whole being to express emotion in the dance, not simply gesture and smile. Never had I considered “smelling” with my eyes.

She wanted us to commit fully to the emotion and story of the dance - if we were communicating the scent of a lovely flower (person - remember the kaona is the hidden or double meaning), then we indeed would smell with our gestures, our noses would flare, our eyes would lift in delight, and we’d touch the deeper intention of the song.

I took her teaching to heart. I felt that she was not just speaking about hula. She was telling me to use my whole self in every endeavor, to commit completely and whole heartedly. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing with all my senses fully engaged.

I am learning new lessons every day from my hula practice. I am working to apply them to my life, dancing through my Second Act.

Denise Jensenon April 23, 2017 - 11:02pm

Lovely hula insights, humorous, inspiring and comforting. One of my favorite forms of dance for mind and body. Also a gorgeous accompanying image!

Barb Bozzoon April 24, 2017 - 11:09am

Everything we do or see in our lives has some sort of "lesson". The more we embrace these lessons, the more we will find peace and quality of living on our life journey. Even more important is that we will then model these lessons to those whose lives we touch. I love the three lessons you present here, Lynette. My added theory to the "when in doubt" lesson is that when we take three steps forward and then two steps back, there is almost always a lesson that was presented to us that we rushed by. Take those "setbacks" as an indication for the need to revisit something! To be able to "rise up on your toes" is a wonderful metaphor for being sure that we use every tool we have in order to reach our maximum potential in life. I have always admired ballerinas and their ability to balance and stretch to their the heights of their being! The dress in your lovely image reminds me of the gorgeous orange hibiscus, therefore certainly encouraging us to imagine a lovely fragrance. It is a wonderful reminder of the power of the five senses and how they often overlap and can be trained to compensate for each other. Thanks again, Lynette, for your powerfully insightful words. Our Second Act can and should be our most rewarding!!

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