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Losing Weight With Huna
by Pohaku

Yes, I know it sounds trendy and catchy. But Google for "lose weight" and you get back 25 million matches versus a paltry 8 million for "stop smoking". Only "get rich" lands you more with 34 million hits. Whether we want to lose weight because of seeing skinny models on TV or because, like me, you realize that you need to shed a few pounds for better health, lightening up on the scale is a challenge that many of us face. What a perfect Huna opportunity!

Shed 20 lbs and kept it off
I'm 5'10 and last year tipped the scales at 201 lbs. About a year ago at my annual checkup, my doctor told me I needed to lose some weight. A quick click to's blood pressure calculator confirmed that I needed to get to 173 to be what they consider "normal". At age 45, this was the first time I was confronted with the problem of being overweight, and by about 30 pounds at that. After about 6 months of reprogramming my Ku, I lost 20 pounds and after about 12 months I've kept it off and have 8 more to go. I've never starved, suffered, or deprived myself of eating foods I've always loved.

Huna is ultimately about practical application
I've really appreciated that Serge always drove the idea that Huna is an eminently practical application of naturalistic sciences. After living the Huna way for over 20 years, I couldn't agree more. I feel that sometimes we get so enamored with making clouds disappear, grokking the neighbor's cat, and astrally projecting into alternative future worlds that sometimes we overlook the need to apply this body of knowledge to common everyday problems. In my opinion, "practicing" Huna without solving real, basic problems (especially ones of a personal nature) is essentially nothing more than performing impressive parlor tricks.

Habits are difficult to change, but the principles give a roadmap
Changing fundamental habits is probably one of, if not the, most difficult missions one can undertake. As the label implies, these habits are a fundamental part of your Ku's pattern and by definition serve a vitally important role (at least from the Ku's perspective). And as we know, deeply ingrained patterns (i.e. habits) cannot be eliminated but only replaced. The seven principles give us a very good roadmap to understanding and changing habits, so let's apply them to the specific task of losing weight; but note that this approach can be applied to reconfiguring nearly any undesirable habit, e.g. smoking, drinking, watching too much TV or even workaholic attitudes. Here's how:

Ike: be aware of what needs to be changed
Clearly in this case I was aware that I needed to lose weight. But as I further meditated on that goal, I began to "ike" all the various patterns that supported my current state. Clearly, the Ku has the complete ability to modulate weight and essentially set it at whatever number is required, so the question becomes not so much how does one lose weight but more so, why are you at your current weight?

Untangle the net of driving needs
As I continued to pour a lot of "Ike" into my habits, Ku slowly revealed the underlying causes for most of them. One of the big ones was security. When I first moved to Hawaii nearly 25 years ago, I had very little money but I always made sure I ate well. Having a secure feeling in my stomach gave me the strength to cope with the insecurity of trying to make a living. Though years later after my financial situation normalized, I still found that filling my belly was something my Ku had grown accustomed to. As I continued to open up my "ike," more and more habits and especially their underlying purposes continued to reveal themselves to me to the point where I had identified at least half a dozen patterns which contributed to an overweight condition. The point here is that with applying makia (more on that later) and remaining in a strong "ike" state, not to mention maintaining strong lines of communication with the Ku, a solid collection of supporting patterns which contributed to my current state were revealed to me.

Kala: let go of the unproductive patterns
Why did I have a big meal at 10 pm right before going to bed? Why did I eat so much ice cream? Why did I eat while watching TV? Why did I eat a lot of fatty, high-calorie foods? As my "ike" focus revealed my to-do list of habits to change, the next step was to identify and remove their underlying purpose for existence, thereby enabling their release. The Ku is extremely efficient and will not continue a habit which serves no purpose. So with a continued introspective focus and a "high bandwidth full-duplex Ku comlink" (that's the new way of saying "strong two way communication with my Ku") I replaced each habit with a more productive one.

Replace them with the new ones
You essentially can't eliminate a habit but you can replace it with something better. For example, I replaced ice cream with fruits. So every time I had the need for some sweets, I grabbed for oranges and mangoes and ate until I was full. The late night eating was challenging because I had to replace it with a non-eating pattern. When I felt the urge to eat at night, I told my Ku, "Hey, if you need nourishment, go ahead and burn down some of that fat round the waist!" and kept that in focus until the hunger subsided. It was an amazingly effective technique; in the year I've been changing my eating patterns, I can only recall once or twice when I've eaten late, and they were small snacks at that rather than the full blown meals I used to pound down. One by one, each habit and its corresponding replacement was identified. My plan was shaping up nicely.

Makia: stay focused on the changes
With a reconfiguration plan firmly in hand, I had to stay focused on replacing patterns. I found that the most powerful tool was a daily visit to the digital scale in the bathroom. Looking at hard numbers (not just a needle on a dial) every single day and seeing how my weight would go up and down by a few pounds sent strong signals to the Ku that losing weight was important. The daily makia of my current weight (to a tenth of a pound!) made me question the wisdom of every food choice that was presented to me throughout the day. With repeated focus on what I needed to do, I hardly ever had a meal that didn't trigger a whole collection of questions about how it fit into the broader picture.

Manawa: choose wisely in the present moment
Applying this principle is relatively easy when it comes to eating because it is ultimately a physical activity and by definition occurs only at the present moment. Keeping the concept of manawa in mind meant that I could take immediate action to change a situation right now. When I would go to a restaurant serving oversize portions, I would immediately ask the server for a take-out box and put half the meal in it, and then enjoyably eat everything on my plate. The moment I noticed I was eating a food that I didn't need, I gave myself full permission to immediately stop eating and discard it. Whenever regretful thoughts arose about how I allowed myself to get 30 pounds overweight in the past, I refocused that energy to make better eating decisions in the present.

Aloha: gotta love it!
Losing weight (at least for me) is pretty simple math: burn more calories than you consume. So far I've shared about the calorie-reduction side, and aloha helped to power the burn. Our family dog became one of the rallying points around which a collection of enjoyable exercises were formed. We take daily walks around the neighborhood and are blessed with a nice hill that gives us a chance to burn some extra fat. I use the dog walk as a chance to spent private, quiet time with my children as well as making it a family event on the weekends. I don't think it's possible to sustain physical workouts that aren't enjoyable, so doing things that allow aloha to flow work very well.

Hawaii makes it easy to stay active
Of course, I would be remiss if I didn't mention how blessed we are to live in Hawaii where we have outdoor weather nearly 365 days a year and abundant opportunities to live a healthy, active lifestyle. Bodysurfing Makapu'u beach is definitely my favorite intense workout by far. We take family hikes to interesting places at least once a month which engage us in active exercise for at least half the day. You'll notice I never mentioned that I work out at the gym and that's because I don't. Personally, I feel a lot more aloha in walking with my daughter than watching a video and pumping iron.

Mana: don't leave home without it
In this situation, applying the mana principle meant that I needed eating habits that never left me feeling weak and/or hungry. I found that my old pattern was to hold off eating until I was absolutely ravenous and then take down a huge meal. The new pattern is to have the fridge stocked with lots of healthy, high-bulk/low calorie food (fruits, veggies, rice, pasta, beans) and then freely reach for food anytime I want it. The result is that I end up snacking throughout the day and usually avoid poor eating habits. In this case, a diet which maintains lots of mana keeps me free from poor eating patterns.

Pono: bad food is not evil
I know from experience that deeply-rooted patterns cannot be overcome overnight and therefore I took a long-term view of bringing my weight down. Indeed, at around 181, I've still got about 8 pounds to go and I've been working at this for about a year. This long-term view has given me the flexibility to still enjoy the foods I used to eat a little too much of in the past. When I feel like eating some ice cream, I buy a bar at the 7-eleven and savor every bite. I still sprinkle cheese on food, but now only as a flavoring and not a meal. When we go to the right kind of restaurant, I enjoy a choice cut of meat. Here the principle of pono allows me to not declare any food untouchable or strictly hands off. I eat more of the foods that work for me and less of the foods that work against me, yet I don't completely forbid anything. I believe this approach has resulted in a healthy outlook on "bad foods" because I never feel deprived.

The principles at work
Back when I took Serge's Teacher Training in 1993 I was most impressed by how he used the principles as a basis for a teaching process. This inspired me to use the principles as a structured method to address virtually any problem. If we take a generic look at the principles as they apply to changing habits, it might look something like this:

  • Ike: Become aware of why the habits exist - what purpose do they serve?
  • Kala: Let go of those habits by replacing them with more productive ones
  • Makia: Create tools to keep you focused on the new habits.
  • Manawa: Use the power of the present moment to make immediate adjustments as old habits resurface
  • Aloha: Activities surrounding the new habits need to be pleasurable and fun. You'll have a much better chance of succeeding if aloha permeates your replacement patterns.
  • Mana: Make sure you always have plenty of mana to disrupt the old patterns and establish the new ones.
  • Pono: Bless the present and allow the old habits to have their place. Avoid demonizing old patterns and if the situation allows, give yourself the flexibility to "indulge" if needed.

The Huna principles provide an outstanding foundation for dealing with a wide range of issues. Truly effective shamans are always applying their skills to address common, practical issues. Few things are as satisfying as replacing a challenging habit with a better one. Now it's your turn!

E Komo Mai to

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