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How To Stay Healthy
by Serge Kahili King

Hawaiian legends contain many tales about swift runners that seem too fantastic to be true, like Pakui of Oahu who could circle the island six times in one day, or two brothers on Kauai who could make ten circuits of that island in a day and run on land or ocean, earth to sky.

Regardless of how historically accurate these legends are, we do know that runners were very important to ancient Hawaiian society, that carvings of them appear at many petroglyph sites, and that they had to be in exceptionally healthy physical condition to do their job.

Today we do not know exactly what the runners did to stay healthy, but we do know what Hawaiians in general did because we still have the words they used for their various methods of healing, and some of their healing methods are still in use today.

From an analysis of this information we can come to the conclusion that the primary cause of bad health is 'iha'iha--excessive tension--and that the primary preventative is relaxation, for which there are about thirteen different words in Hawaiian for different types.

One of these words, huli, is especially significant because it also means "change something." A proverb, pau ka 'ai 'aina, huli ke alo i luna, literally says "after eating, turn your face up," but it really means "after doing something, relax."

When we do too much of anything we create excessive tension in our bodies, and if that tension is not relieved it leads to illness of some kind.

When we work or play too hard physically, when we eat or drink too much, when we fear too much or dislike too much, when we worry too much or regret too much, when we do anything too much the result is too much tension, and the result of that is that we become unhealthy physically, emotionally, and/or mentally.

How do we know when we are doing something too much? The answer is so simple it is easy to overlook. When you do anything too much you feel unhappy. It is the best and most accurate feedback system that could ever be devised.

Now at first you might be tempted to think that the natural solution would be to increase happiness, but that isn't so. If unhappiness is feedback, then so is happiness. Forcing happiness into the system will provide a very temporary feelgood state at best, and pa'apu o loko--a repression of tension--at worst.

No, the natural solution is to relax. It does not matter what techniques or methods you use, as long as the effect is a relaxation of your physical body. When that occurs, unhappiness fades away, happiness increases, emotions stabilize, thinking gets clear, and relationships improve, because the better you feel, the better the people, animals, plants, and things around you feel.

So here a few guidelines for relaxation. Each type listed has the practical effect of relaxing your body as well as your emotions and your mind. And of course, feel free to add others or make up your own.

Physical relaxation:
slow deep breathing
drinking more water
engaging in some kind of physical movement after a period of stillness
changing your type of movement after sustained movement of a particular kind
Emotional relaxation:
count your blessings
contemplate beauty
do something enjoyable that keeps you in the present (sing, play, build, create)
Mental:
self suggestion for relaxing, feeling good, or being optimistic
bend or change some of your rules that don't make you feel good
imagine pleasurable activity
Spiritual:
perform random acts of kindness for people, places, plants, animals, objects, or spirits
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