Hello Dear Ones,
If you are keeping track of these posts, you will know I am heading to Hawai’i soon. I am quite excited about this, and honestly, a little nervous. I have not flown since 2017… and certainly not since Covid’s shenanigans!
I spoke to a friend recently, whose opinions I deeply respect. They are a bit of an activist and a non-conformist – but I appreciate their reasoning and fresh perspectives. (And honestly, I wish I were brave enough to live my values like they do.) We were talking about being with Hawaiian people. Discussing how the Hawaiians call White people, Haoles.
When I look up this term on google, I find many explanations that Haole simply refers to an outsider – usually of a white race (European, American, etc). Basically a foreigner from Europe or America. But I prefer the “fable” definition better:
The words Ha and Ole mean “without breath.” And knowing what I know about trauma, having studied the Polyvagal Theory, Polyvagal Therapy, Somatic Experiencing, Pre- and Perinatal Psychology, and Integral Somatic Psychology… one of the easiest and fastest ways we can avoid feeling any big, challenging emotions is by suppressing our breathing. If we stop breathing, we won’t feel anything. So in the trauma field, we know to check the respiratory diaphragm early in the repair process – knowing that shock and distress land there quite often. So it makes really good sense that Hawaiians would say that White people are “without breath.”
According to the fable, White missionaries would preach and proselytize to Hawaiians until they were red in the face. Then they would continue preaching – all while barely breathing! No wonder the Hawaiians say Haole! My friend mentioned that Hawaiians would always breath a certain way during and after prayers. And they noticed that the White people did nothing of this sort. So Ha ole could also mean one who does not breath while praying.
If someone knows how to properly breath, that means they have either done a lot of healing and repair work from undoing their learning how to not breath… Or they were born with really good resources – parents who were loving and embodied and modeled how to properly and fully breath with life. Either way, getting to a place of mindfulness and awareness around our breath (or just doing it innately) means we have done some solid embodiment work (or have really good karma to start with)!
So I hope I am not technically a Haole (according to the above discussion). I hope I have done enough work on myself to continue breathing when I pray, to breath when I talk to people, and I sincerely pray that I am not so addicted to creed or dogma to profess it while I barely breath! Yes, I look about as White as they come. Brown eyes, brown hair, pale skin. But I have deep respect for the old ways. I have deep respect for the old traditions that respected Mother Earth. I have deep respect for people who value breathing and loving above utilitarian or financial worth. I long to hear stories and myths told around fires. I yearn to get back to my roots – deep in the earth, deep in mystery traditions, connecting to loved ones.
I pray I carry this respect and humility to Hawai’i with me in a couple weeks. And that this deep respect extends to the land and the people of these beautiful islands!