“A gift from Hawaii”
These words have been etched deep in my heart. I am about to describe an experience which is surreal. Few may appreciate and honor its worth. To those who will not, I request you to not read any further.. or keep an open mind.. a mind that will not judge or ridicule.
We were walking towards the Kalapana hot pond and I recognized a few faces that I had seen earlier at Kalani.. a retreat of some sorts. We exchanged Alohas and headed towards the pond. I dipped my feet and indeed the water was warm.. the pond is geothermally heated, another example of the rather robust volcanic activity on the Big Island. We had seen the lava flow into the ocean earlier that morning.. and I was still awestruck by its magnanimity. I had soaked in a few hot springs in the past and having read positive reviews about Kalpana I was excited to check it out.. however stepping into the pond I had no clue that I was about to undergo one of the most profound, magical experiences of my life.
There were few fish swimming in the pond, and I could see some folks with their snorkeling gear. These were the calmest waters I had experienced in Hawaii so far.. and there was something very relaxing and soothing about it. Some people were swimming, some floating and there was a sense of calmness to the pond in contrast to the raging ocean just a few meters away barricaded by lava rocks.
My husband and I chatted with the folks we had seen at the Kalani retreat, they were Simon and Andrea. Simon was from Seattle and had been in Hawaii for the past 3 months and Andrea lived in Puna and was infact a neighbor to my airbnb host. Such a small world I thought. I noticed in the background that a man was gently floating another gentleman in the waters. He was floating him in what appeared to be a controlled and defined motion.. it almost had a sense of art to it.. enough for me to recognize that this was not some random guy floating another dude, this was definitely something else. Simon mentioned that this practice is known as Watsu.. and described it as a rebirthing experience. We live in the womb for the first few tender months of our lives and are pushed out into the open world. For some it may be a traumatic experience still lingering in the sub-conscious.. this was an art to heal that trauma, or any other trauma that one experiences, he explained. I was definitely curious. Throughout our Hawaii trip I had seen Parvez float effortlessly in the ocean, while I struggled to even swim half a lap, so maybe this was my chance to float and relax.. I thought. Andrea who had the face of ultimate peace also reiterated that this experience was unique and definitely worth a try. She mentioned that these two healers were from Maui and are exceptionally good. She had received a session a day prior from Shoshanna (one of the healers) and mentioned that she could not think of a way to thank her because it was such a life changing experience. She was supposed to receive a session from the gentleman, however since she had to leave she recommended that I should give it a try.
I looked at Parvez and he seemed Ok with it.. so I went ahead and asked the guy (who was still finishing up with the other gentleman) if I could receive a session. And he told me I could- so exciting! After waiting for a few minutes.. he introduced himself.. I didn’t quite catch his name (Tim K or Jim K..I probably wasn’t listening). He began by telling that he was a clinical psychologist and worked with individuals who had PTSD. Watsu was a form of oceanic therapy.. because it induces a state of relaxation by shutting the CNS and therefore only the parasympathetic nervous system remains active..which takes one into a deep limbic calm and allow the the nerves a healing environment to get rid of traumatic memory. The water is a powerful force and has electromagnetic properties, since we are 70% water, the rhythmic motion of watsu, realigns our polarity. The location was also special since this pond is heated by the magma and is surrounded by the Great Pacific. And while one relaxes, they can shut their mind down and concentrate on their breathing.. the giver of life. He also mentioned that he had received some 4K hours of oceanic therapy training and requested me to trust him with my physical and emotional safety. During the session, every time he squeezed my hand I was supposed to close my mouth as he would take me under water. I was a little nervous.. since I didn’t know how to swim. He re-assured me that the water is chest deep throughout the pond. He asked if he could sing.
And with this we started the session. He put gentle floats around my ankle and cradled my head in his hands and gently took me through the rhythmic motions of watsu. It was pure bliss.. my body began to relax and I could feel my self undergoing a sense of calm. Something similar to a meditative experience but much more profound. He swayed me gently back and forth, cradled my neck and moved in soft circles. I felt like a weed in the ocean as my body began to adapt and became attuned to the motion of the water. After sometime my mind had completely shut down and I was in a serene state of consciousness. I could feel the embrace of the warm waves giving me a liquid massage. My body had completely relaxed in the sacred magma heated water, and under complete control of my healer as he guided it in a therapeutic motion. I was completely submerged except for my mouth which was drawing air in. At certain times my only awareness was of my breath..rising and falling.. allowing the gaseous exchange to take place. Being a physician I know what happens at a cellular level of gas exchange, but at that point i was blissfully lost in the physical act of breathing..unaware of anything else but me.. my body, my breath, the warm waters. Every now and then Parvez would pop back into my mind and then i would re-enter a state of oceanic meditation. My healer sang to me softly.. i couldn’t hear the words..just a deep hum which revererbrated through the water and reached my lungs.. and I could feel myself reverberating with it. It felt like a sacred chant or the Sufi Zikr. He floated my body in mystical ways.. full circles and halves, stretched my limbs and re-aligned my spine. And then I felt a squeeze in my palm.. a reminder that I was going under water. I was a little anxious but trusting him I drew a long breath and closed my eyes. It was blissful.. I felt that I was in a warm space, gently cradled in the water.. time had stopped and it was only me. My fear of water faded away. I felt loved and protected. When he brought me back to the surface I couldnt wait to be submerged again. He continued his spiritual chanting while floating me, sending tiny ripples through my spine and sending me under water.. and this went on for maybe an hour. I was floating away in a dream like state. I opened my eyes.. both under and outside the water.. and the world felt like a new place. I looked in his deep blue eyes and I knew that this was a man with an abundance of pure love in his heart.. his hands had a healing touch.. and he was amongst the blessed few on this earth. who could reach out to others and touch their souls in a way only few can. Towards the end he pressed my forehead right between my eyes, the location of Shiva’s third eye.. the site of ultimate Shakti. Its hard to find the exact words to describe, but it felt like a spiritual electricity charging my body. My nerves felt alive..my body felt alive.
The session ended.. and I struggled to describe what I had felt. I told him I had no words.. and he said I didn’t need words. I was trying to process the experience.. and I felt I wanted to open up and tell him about all the wounds I have gone through in the 32 years of my life.. but they suddenly felt healed.. I had a sense of calm and joy in my heart that I had never experienced. I told him I truly felt that I was in the womb during the session:loved, protected, safe.. that there was only me and I didn’t have to worry about anything. He said that he hoped I can carry this peace forward in my life.. and that this was my birthright. He thanked me for trusting him. I asked how I could pay him. He said he didn’t want any thing in return. This was my gift from Hawaii. And with that he swam away, while I was still trying to summon the right words out my mouth.
I was still reeling with pure bliss and I tried floating by myself. Parvez had always told me that my inability to swim came from a fear of water that prevents me from relaxing. That fear had gone.. something had changed in me. My body felt relaxed like never before. I wanted to be in that moment forever. However, we had to leave so i got out of the pond, changed clothes and drove away. I didn’t want to talk.. I just wanted to dwell in that blissful calmness.
Earleir at Kalani, the daily horoscope on the communal table had said that I may benefit from a one-on-one session. and I had tossed it away. I had no way of knowing what that meant.
I am still trying to process it.. the soft chant sometimes reappears in my mind and I get washed by a wave of calmness. Parvez has noted that I am more relaxed.. and I no longer feel anxiety. However, I feel a need to find this man and express my gratitude.. to this nameless person, who has given my heart so much joy. He is purely selfless.. something I aspire to be. I am now back in PA and will probably not meet him again. I hope I can repay this favor by being a selfless physician to my patients and I can gain their trust, just as this man had earned mine.
And I hope that one day both Parvez and I can return to Puna and experience this again.
Love & Peace