by Graeme Kapono Urlich
As I was making my cup of coffee this morning I found myself spontaneously thanking the kettle for
boiling the water for me. I didn’t just say the words in my mind, I felt a genuine sense of
appreciation. This reminded me of an exercise I did in a Huna workshop on Kauai many years ago where
we took things like turning on a light switch and consciously acknowledging everyone and everything we
could think of connected with that act. This exercise was about connection.
My thoughts went to the company who generated the power initially but as I sat with the idea the
people who designed and made the switch, the people built the place I was in and installed the lights,
the people who mined the copper and manufactured the wires etc. began to come to mind. Even Michael
Faraday and Nickola Tesla and others involved in inventing the technology started popping up.
Another version of that exercise, to do with prosperity, involved doing a nalu meditation (quiet
contemplation) on an item of clothing and everyone and everything, particularly how much
money that was involved in having that item of clothing available to wear. I extended that to include
the benefits of having that clothing to wear. This then brought up all of the connections that came up
in the light switch exercise as well.
The word mahalo is used for thank you in Hawaii. Thank you in English was originally recognised as a
blessing, praise for something beneficial someone had done. Mahalo has similar meanings of admiration,
praise, esteem, regards and appreciation. In breaking the word down to syllables we can get
connotations of sharing an experience of life, breath and spirit. In some ways it is related to the
word aloha which means love, joyful sharing.
Doing the exercises left me with a feeling of relaxing expansion, warmth and connection. It has become
a habit now as I do things day-to-day to express gratitude consciously like thanking my computer and
everything connected with it for making it possible to share these thoughts with everyone “out there”,
forming more and more connections. I even thanked my eyes, hands, brain and every part of my body
involved in the process, and every part of me that supported those parts on this occasion.
Initially I did this as a fully conscious process, going through and thinking of the connections until
the feeling came but after a while just thanking the person or thing in front of me generated the
feeling and I pause to acknowledge that. I still take time periodically to do the exercises to keep up
the habit, especially if I notice the feeling isn’t as intense as usual.
Expressing genuine gratitude leaves us with a real feeling of connection. Like so many things, if
there is no good feeling associated with it in the moment, it’s just saying thank you by rote and the
genuine gratitude has fallen silent. If we can think of someone or something and that feeling wells
up, perhaps even with a sigh of contentment, then we are genuinely feeling and expressing gratitude.
Graeme Kapono Urlich (July 2021)
Aloha New Zealand - School of Huna and Hawaiian Shamanism