“To greet the sun as it rises- this was the tradition of the ancestors...Everyone would turn to the sun with prayers of love and gratitude because native practitioners believe that with the coming of the sun, the mana (life force) returns to Earth each day. With mana comes healing, growth, life itself, for all creatures and the Earth." – Kahu Lanakila Brandt, kahuna
I wanted to go to the top of Haleakala for the first light of the first day of the first year in my new decade. I was told it was worth waking up at 3:30am and driving over two hours (22 miles with 36 switchbacks) up the mountain to the summit, elevation 9,754 feet.
I knew to dress warmly but I underestimated what 40 degrees with wind felt like. I stood against the guard rail to ensure I’d experience the epic sunrise to the fullest. Even when the ranger yelled out, “you can see the sunrise from inside the warm visitor center. You don’t have to stand out here and suffer,” I didn’t budge. In my mind, it wasn’t about looking, it was about experiencing.
So, I shivered and wished for better socks as the cold bit my naked ankles above my sneakers. As the clock ticked towards the 6:37am sunrise, the sky faded from pitch black to a warm gray and revealed a sea of fluffy clouds stretching towards the horizon and filling the valley before me.
It was magical to be above the clouds and to consider what they were hiding. How often must we be patient and wait for the right time before we know the truth?
The ranger, or keeper of the mountain, interrupted my thoughts. She welcomed us to Haleakala, House of the Sun. It’s a holy site for Hawaiians. Legend has it the demi-god Maui captured the sun here and negotiated with it to have longer days for half the year.
She explained to us that when the sun rises, we should take that moment to speak to the deceased, to leave regret behind, and to welcome healing and comfort. She said to focus on the experience and not the sight. Oh, and don’t look directly into the sun rising, observe it through your phone.
She began to chant.
E ala e Ka la i kahikina
I ka moana
Ka moana hohonu
Pi’i ka lewa
Ka lewa nu’u
Aia ka la.
E ala e!
The sun in the east
From the ocean
The ocean deep
Climbing (to) the heaven
The heaven highest
In the east
There is the sun
“E ala e!” a visitor responded. Awake!
The dark clouds clinging to the horizon began to glow orange as the powerful yellow orb rose above them. In a few minutes, the star shined its blinding light. Holding my camera with frozen fingertips, I captured its beauty while I told my mom that I’m happy. I cast away my negative thoughts and considered what I wanted to call into this next chapter of my life.
I want to vibrate at a higher level: watch what I’m eating; exercise; meditate; make compassion a priority; and spend time with high frequency people, things, and places.
At the summit of Haleakala, the Earth's magnetic frequency,7.83Hz, is the same resonance as our hearts. This abundant energy offers comfort and balance.
So, the sun finally elevated to a point where I could look out over the volcano without protecting my eyes. The valley’s cloud cover disappeared and my vista turned into an extraterrestrial landscape. The massive depression is over 7 miles long and 2 miles wide with a scattering of volcanic cones. It was awesome to ponder that all life on this island came from this. In less than ten minutes, what was hidden, was revealed. I knew then that I must be patient and let go of control. Things happen when they are supposed to. I told myself that although I don’t know about tomorrow, I know it has the potential to be magnificent.
On the drive down the mountain, I learned about the true meaning of Aloha. It literally means “presence (Alo) of breath (Ha)” or “breath of life.” According to the old priests (kahunas) being able to live the Spirit of Aloha was a way of reaching self-perfection and realization for our own body and soul. Aloha is sending and receiving a positive energy; living in harmony; treating each other with love and respect. A life of Aloha is when the heart is so full it’s overflowing with the ability to influence others around you with your spirit.
With the dawn of my new decade, I learned a very powerful lesson- be present and breathe.