Tag Archives: Honolulu

Honolulu’s Meditation Gems

When you first move to a new city, it’s always an adventure finding new circles to network in, adventures to experience, spaces to explore. Foodies might hit up Yelp to check out the local kine grinds; or if you’re big into drinking, you’re probably good just cruising out to the ‘hood with the most bars per square mile, and having a little stroll.

If you happen to be a yogi/meditator/Buddhism-phile who just moved to Honolulu, choices of meditation communities are pretty easy to locate through a Googly search:

Kailua Shambhala Meditation Center: Shambhala lineage Tibetan Buddhist mindfulness meditation and workshops.

Kagyu Thegchen Ling: Tibetan Buddhist meditation center offering daily pujas and weekly meditations.

Siddha Yoga Meditation Center: weekly satsang and hatha yoga classes.

Diamond Sangha: meditation classes offered to the community three times per week, as well as workshops and residential programs.

Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin: a Jodo Shinshu Buddhist temple offering weekly sits, as well as judo, ikebana, and other activities.

Aloha Sangha: a group of meditators meet on Thursday evenings for yoga, meditation, and dharma talk, led by a former Buddhist monk.

There are also more private meditation sanghas one generally needs a personal introduction to in order to join; I know of just a few, from friends who’ve been on the island longer.

As for open public sits, after just a few months of seeking, I’ve visited with the sanghas at Bodhi Tree and Native Meditation – and loved them both.

Bodhi Tree is located in a gorgeous three-story house in Nuuanu Valley, graced with a view of Diamond Head and twinkling Honolulu city lights. Weekly Vipassana sits are 40 minutes long and followed by a dharma talk with a larger community of about 15 people or so. Loving Kindness meditations are also offered on the full moon, and the center hosts an array of workshops on Buddhist practices.

I had two lovely sits here, followed by invigorating chats with the teacher and a fellow sangha member in the circle who’d been living at the center for a few months. It’s definitely a sweet spot for meditation and meeting experienced community members.

My first experience with a community sit in Hawaii was actually with Kit Kanohoaloha, a teacher in the Shambhala lineage. His space was recently about to be made a sister center to the Kailua Shambhala Center, but the paperwork and whatnot got in the way and Kit is now running his sit as Native Meditation. Intimate, welcoming, and very beginner-friendly, Kit starts out with 20-30 minutes of introduction to the practice and lineage for new students. The next hour or so is sitting meditation (eyes open), and walking meditation; he alternates between the two for a few rounds and then everyone shares their experience.

Meeting my fellow meditators in the circle was super inspiring. Everyone had such interesting backgrounds – an Italian first-timer, a hula-dancing seeker, and a new transplant to Honolulu from China – and we all convened here, in Kit’s warm abode, to sit quietly and contemplate life together. I left the house feeling connected and jazzed to continue my practice at home.

It’s really been so fulfilling to come into contact with these groups, bringing peace to themselves and the community, on a regular intentional basis. When I grew up here, I was never really aware of all these possibilities for growth. My former Hawaii life was all plate lunches and movie theaters. Now, it seems I can have my meditation … and plate lunch, too!

That New Neighborhood Vibe

Kaka’ako, once a bustling area for fishing and salt harvesting, is now an experiment in urban island culture.  Creative spaces for delectable dining and tipples are popping up on the regular, like Hank’s Haute Dogs (oh, lobster dog, you will be mine!), the collaborative culinary community at Taste, and the authentic NY hipster joint, Bevy (happy hour $1 oysters?  Oh, yes indeed.).  Amidst the warehouses, auto shops, and old school mom and pop shops, Kaka’ako’s future iteration is gaining momentum, heading toward (what I hope will be) a green, walkable, long-term sustainable ‘hood, supporting local talent and business.

A Burgeoning Kaka’ako

On Friday, I walked past a brand new integrative healing center that just opened up a half a block from my apartment.  Offering tea ceremony, ikebana lessons, yoga and the Okada Method, The Mokichi Okada Association will bring much needed nourishment to the populous elderly community here in Kaka’ako. The tea room is stunning and the welcome is warm, I highly recommend checking it out.

When there’s huli-huli chicken smoke in the air, you know something good is going down.  Saturday marked the opening of Kaka’ako’s farmer’s market – woo hoo!  I arrived at opening hour, around 8:00 a.m., and already the stalls were heaving with little old ladies, small families, and a few of us solo-shoppers.  Most vendors I spoke to were from the North Shore and Waianae – and everything I’ve eaten so far has been divine.  Check out some of the photos below for a visual breakdown!

Art galleries and nonprofits, a bike shop, a dope new ‘hood magazine, it seems like Kaka’ako can do no wrong.  Then again, the prospect of multiple high-rise condominiums looms with an ominous tone.  What kind of traffic will all those new residents bring?  Will the housing be made *reasonably* affordable?  And though this may be more of an island-wide concern, what can we do to help the homeless sprinkled about our quiet urban petri dish?  Building a new neighborhood, especially in Hawaii, is no simple endeavor.

Despite the challenges ahead, I see Kaka’ako as a prime opportunity to create a real ‘hood community in Hawaii, the kind of space that may play a vital role in encouraging reverse brain drain.  So many of Hawaii’s talented individuals leave the islands, never to return, many because they don’t see a place for themselves back on ‘the rock.’  Most of the island is based on a car-culture, which, though convenient for big families, has been proven to be socially isolating, detrimental to physical health, and inherently oil-dependent.

Some of the more frustrating aspects to island life are the slow pace and resistance to change.  Having just returned home, I hesitate to make grand broad statements about what “should be” (like the rail, more bike lanes, world peace, etc.)   But this is an exciting time for Honolulu, most especially if residents and developers alike can approach the evolution of Kaka’ako with transparency, vision, and a commitment to community.