Over the weekend I had the privilege of taking part in a Noho Marae Stay. This is where you get welcomed onto the Marae (Powhiri); you spend the day learning about and experiencing Maori culture (and EATING); then you spend the night together in the Whare Nui. There is so much I could say about what I experienced, but one simple thing really stood out to me – and that was Aroha. Most Kiwi’s will know that, loosely translated, Aroha means love. What I learned though, was that there was much more to it that that!
Aro is a verb. It means “to face, turn towards, take heed, take notice of, pay attention to, consider.” Ha is also a verb; it means “to breathe or taste.” So living in Aroha becomes much more than loving those closest to you. It asks you to live in an attitude of love. Whatever I turn my attention to, whoever I notice in my day, whatever I consider – I can choose to do it in love. And when I give my breath to something – my words, my actions, my focus, my intent; Aroha asks me to examine my motivation. Am I acting out of love? Or is it self interest, or greed or envy? When I taste and experience something in an attitude of Aroha, I give it my full attention, I am fully in the moment. Even in a situation that is not happy or positive I can still choose to live in Aroha – to interpret, experience and respond to the situation so I am mindful of loving myself, others and my environment.
So lets get practical with this. Below are some questions that I have asked myself this weekend – and that I invite you to ask yourself too.
- What have I got in my day today? No matter how mundane or exciting – how can I do it in an attitude of Aroha?
- Have I got a conflict situation in my life at the moment? If I approached this situation with Aroha, would I do or say anything differently? If I choose to love, honor and respect both myself and the other person(s) what action might I take? Would I choose to forgive? Would I make the first move to reconcile? Would I choose to put in some boundaries? Would I choose to say ‘No”?
- What has my internal dialogue been like this week? Do I talk to and about myself with Aroha? Or do I criticize, belittle and tear down? What simple actions could I take each day to treat myself with love?
- What choices am I making this week to treat my world with Aroha? What products am I buying? What am I flushing down my drain? What am I throwing into landfill? What simple choices could I make this week to nourish and protect my planet?
Simple questions but also life changing if we let them!
I’d like to finish with a Whakatauki (Maori Proverb) I learned at the Marae. I believe it sums up what I’ve just written,
Pu ana Ki Roto (Originating from within)
Ke ana Ki Waho (It fills the outer)
Ka pu te Ruha (When wisdom emerges)
Ka hao te Rangatahi (Transformation occurs)
I Runga I te Aroha. (Upon the foundations of love).