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Inner peace in the new year

Choose a path that leads you toward wellness

A labyrinth at The Sacred Garden in Makawao offers a chance to reflect. Photo courtesy Four Seasons

A new year means a fresh start, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still plenty of stressors lying in wait to zap your energy in 2017.

Financial struggles, conflicts at work, sick kids, election hacking. The list goes on. Luckily, Maui is bursting with resources and opportunities that can help you calm the turmoil inside and focus on wellness. From upcoming events to expert tips, here are a few ideas to help you find a little inner peace and quiet.

UNWIND IN A LABYRINTH

The Sacred Garden in Makawao offers an oasis of calm surrounded by nature, where the goal is to allow beauty, love and peace to grow.

Here, you can experience a variety of stress-relief activities and soothing places, from dish gardens and living shrines to an art corner and meditation gardens, all used by island visitors, local residents, nonprofits and other groups.

The wellness program at Four Seasons Resort Maui in Wailea features acupuncture sessions. Photo courtesy Four Seasons

“We see the beauty of nature (natural beauty), and agriculture, gardening and farming as a portal for stress release, health and wellness and contributing to a lifestyle that soothes our souls,” says Executive Director Eve Hogan, whose nonprofit, Divine Nature Alliance, runs the garden. “We are truly dedicated to growth . . . of plants, food, people, animals, beauty, peace and love.”

Another way garden visitors can find enlightenment is to walk one of two labyrinths on the grounds. The labyrinths serve as contemplative paths, Hogan says. Some walk them for fun, for self-discovery and personal awareness, as a path to problem resolution, a walking meditation or a path of prayer.

One labyrinth is a replica of the one found in the floor of the Chartres Cathedral in France and features a pattern that dates back 800 years, Hogan says. The labyrinth is believed to have been used as a symbolic or metaphoric pilgrimage in those days. The other is a much older style known as a “classic or universal labyrinth” with a design that has inexplicably been found in cultures around the world.

“The labyrinth is not a maze, there is just one path that leads into the center and the same path leads back out,” Hogan says. “It is helpful to know that you are not walking the labyrinth to learn about the labyrinth but rather, you are a walking to learn about yourself.”

Those walking the labyrinth may, for example, find themselves impatient or full of self-doubt, and can use that insight as a tool of self-discovery and growth.

The spa facilities at the Four Seasons Resort Maui in Wailea offer a comprehensive wellness program. Photo courtesy Four Seasons

“The ‘language of the labyrinth’ is metaphor, meaning that everything you notice, everything you experience on the labyrinth is mirroring something you need to look at in yourself,” Hogan says.

The Sacred Garden recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary of being free and open to the public on a daily basis. In December, Hogan celebrated 20 years of offering full-moon labyrinth walks on Maui, with the first 10 years held at St. John’s Church in Keokea and the last 10 years at the garden. The first full-moon walk of the year was held Wednesday, with the next scheduled for Feb. 9 at the garden located at 460 Kaluanui Road.

Hogan says that one of the important missions of the garden is to provide a place in nature where people can feel safe to let go, whether to cry, grieve, pray or meditate, without feeling they have to watch over their shoulder.

“We are so used to having our ‘radar’ up that we don’t realize how much we hold ourselves back from the healing effects of being alone in nature,” she says.

For more information, visit www.sacredgardenmaui.com.

Travel writer and translater Bill Porter (left) will give a presentation for The Merwin Conservancy next month. Photo courtesy The Merwin Conservancy

LOOSEN UP IN LUXURY

From a focus on meridian points and thought webs to natural medicine, Four Season Resort Maui in Wailea offers a wide array of techniques as part of its spa’s comprehensive wellness program.

Beyond traditional spa treatments, massages and fitness activities, Four Seasons also dives into chiropractic care, nutrition consultation, guided meditations and more. Try acupuncture to enhance overall well-being or target stress and anxiety, or participate in an Inner Clarity session that goes “behind the scenes to discover and clean out entangled thought webs so you can enjoy more freedom and peace of mind.”

Inner Clarity sessions are performed by Dr. Debra Greene, and employ a powerful feedback method.

“She is the developer and founder of Inner Clarity, an integrative balancing method that uses energy kinesiology to pinpoint hidden core beliefs and uses a variety of energy-based techniques to facilitate conscious transformation,” says Crissa Hiranaga, the resort’s marketing and public relations manager.

Greene also facilitates “tapping” sessions, which involve focusing on meridian points to tap away stress.

For more information, visit www.fourseasons.com/maui/spa.

FIND INSPIRATION IN TRANSLATION

Next month, The Merwin Conservancy’s literary salon, The Green Room, will present a rare opportunity to hear from a renowned translator of Chinese literature, poetry, and sacred Buddhist and Taoist texts.

Bill Porter, who is also a travel writer, will give a presentation titled “The Search for Solitude: China’s Hermit Tradition,” based on his book “Road to Heaven: Encounters with Chinese Hermits,” a best-seller in China.

Porter, whose translation work is done under the name Red Pine, was inspired to begin translating when he received a book of poetry by Han-Shan in a Buddhist monastery in Taiwan in the 1970s, according to The Merwin Conservancy.

“Red Pine is the best translator of the major sutras, of the Taoteching and of the poems of Cold Mountain,” explains W.S. Merwin, longtime Maui resident and founder of the conservancy, in a press release. “In addition, he has spent years tracing the sites of the ancient Chinese hermits, and has much to tell us about them.”

The author and translator, whose work has been informed by his own Buddhist practice and travels, will participate in a Q&A session with the audience following his presentation, which will begin at 7 p.m. Feb. 10 in McCoy Studio Theater at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center in Kahului. There will also be a book-signing and a courtyard reception with dessert, champagne, a book fair and live music.

For more information, visit www.merwinconservancy.org or www.mauiarts.org.

HEAD OFF STRESS BEFORE IT STARTS

Proper preparation for the everyday tasks we face can help fend off stressful moments, says Patti Sabla, a licensed clinical social worker on Maui who specializes in time and stress management.

“Often times, we become stressed out because we feel like we don’t have enough time to finish all of the things we need to complete. Essentially, time management is stress management,” says Sabla, who runs time management seminars and stress management workshops for businesses and offers personal coaching for individuals.

She encourages clients to prep for their morning routines as much as possible the night before, such as having the kids’ lunches already made or selecting the following day’s outfit.

“Beginning your morning knowing that you don’t have to make that time-consuming decision of what to wear or that the lunches are taken care of can give you peace of mind right from the start,” she says. “This allows you to begin your day at a much less hectic pace; and our mornings usually set the tone for the day.”

Another time-related stressor people face is underestimating how long it will take to get something done, like preparing a dinner for guests or running errands. Sabla recommends allotting extra time for potential snags, an additional 10 to 20 percent longer than you anticipated. She also encourages clients to make lists their new “best friends” that will serve as roadmaps for their day.

If all else fails and you find yourself on the verge of a meltdown, Sabla says to take a few deep breaths and recite a personal mantra, whether silently or out loud.

“A mantra can be as simple as ‘I can deal with this,’ ‘This isn’t the end of the world’ or ‘Let it be,’ “ she says.

For more information, visit www.livelifebettersolutions.com.