“The breath is the basis of life. If you want to learn to control anything – energy, higher self, mana (life force), your thoughts – you’ve got to start with the breath because the breath gives you life. If you can’t control your breath, how can you expect to control the most powerful universal energy around you?” ~Uncle George Na’Ope
In a recent blog, I talked about the different energies and their characteristics. Here, I’d like to go into more depth and explore how you can balance these energies. To recap, the four basic energy frequencies are:
Fire: dynamic, masculine, passionate, heat
Water: nurturing, feminine, magnetic
Earth: stability, support, strength
Air: movement, possibility, cooling
All of us have access to all of these energies. And the ancient Hawaiians thought it was important to learn how to use them properly and how to balance them. Why? Because life presents us with different situations and issues. The distinct frequencies of the four energies allow us to respond appropriately to those different situations.
Imagine if you just had access to one frequency, one way of being. For example, if you only had access to the frequency of air, you might be brilliant with an ongoing stream of creative and cutting edge ideas – but you may not be able to tie your own shoes! This the classic “absent-minded professor,” someone who is very intellectual yet can’t deal at all with the practicalities of life.
When I first became involved with Huna, I had an imbalance of fire. (By the way, it’s pretty common to be imbalanced if you haven’t done much work with energy.) When I did energy exercises with others, they felt my energy as very “hot.” In daily life, I spent the majority of my time being proactive, getting things done, and going after goals. There was nothing wrong with this – just like there’s nothing wrong with any imbalance. In fact, my abundance of fire had helped me accomplish a lot at a very young age.
But to live a fully satisfying and empowered life and to progress on my spiritual path, I knew I needed more balance and more familiarity with all four energies.
How can you tell if you’re not balanced in the four energies? Maybe the easiest way to recognize imbalance is to think about where you are uncomfortable. Are you really uncomfortable when you’re not on solid ground, when the unexpected happens or the future is unknown? You might have an imbalance of earth. Do you have great ideas but can’t quite get around to implementing them? That could be an imbalance of air. If you are really good at taking care of others but not great at going after your own goals, you might have a water imbalance. On the flip side, if you are a real go-getter but uncomfortable nurturing others, you might have a fire imbalance.
The ancient Hawaiians used chanting, hula and ‘ha” breathing to call in the different energies and balance them. Since I can’t chant or demonstrate any hula steps through this blog, let’s talk about breathing!
Breathing is emphasized in many practices and taught in different forms. In Huna, I was taught “ha” breathing to work with energy. “Ha” breathing isn’t difficult, but does require some focus and concentration. To begin, inhale through your nose to a count of 3 or 4. Next, exhale through your mouth to a count of 6 or 8 making a soft “haaaa” sound. The inhale/exhale relationship is always at a 1 to 2 ratio (i.e. 3 counts of inhale = 6 counts of exhale). As you do your breathing, you may want to stand with your feet shoulder width apart solidly connected to the earth. Extend your arms out to each side with palms facing upward. (Put your arms down to your side if they get tired.)
This practice is a powerful balancing agent in itself. But in another blog, we’ll talk more about how to use “ha” breathing to specifically balance your particular energy imbalance.