Dancing in the Sea of Life        

Afternoon Surf by Harry Wishard

The poʻi na kai uli, kai koʻo, ʻaʻohe hina pukoʻa.
Though the sea be deep and rough, the coral rock remains standing.
Said of one who remains calm in the face of difficulty.
~Mary Kawena Pukui #904
ʻOlelo Noʻeau, Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings

"Every life is a work of art, and if it does not seem so, perhaps it is only necessary to illuminate the room that contains it...If you learn to listen, 
you will find that each life speaks to us of love."
~Andrea Bocelli

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Mahealani Uchiyama
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Na Kumu Hula Mahealani Uchiyama and Kawika Alfiche present
Hula and Tahitian Workshops 
August 17 - 19, 2018
5180 N Elston Ave.
Chicago, IL  60630
Register Today!

Mahalo Nui Loa!!!

August 4, 2018

Danny Akaka, Jr. and Susan Durbin of Mauna Lani Bay Hotel with June Tanoue & JoEllyn Romano of Halau i Ka Pono, Itasca, IL.

I started volunteering again at the Cook County Dept of Corrections - the county jail - teaching mindfulness meditation to incarcerated women awaiting trial for whatever crime they were accused of committing. 

Since early July Iʻve been going every Tuesday from 12 noon to 1 pm.  My friend Ruth goes with me to volunteer.  Itʻs nice having a second person with me.

The approximately 30 women we work with live on the 2M Tier of Division 5 at Cook County Jail.  Some have been there for many years.  This is the maximum security tier where after their trial date, most will go on to a federal penitentiary.

I was a little nervous when Ruth told me she was going on vacation last week.  I thought about emailing the administrators and telling them I couldnʻt make it.  But my Zen practice is about sometimes sitting with difficult situations (including emotions like fear) and by breathing bearing witness to them and not turning away.

When I confided my nervousness to my friend Ruth, she looked at me square in the eye, and said, "you know you are absolutely safe there."  I knew then my fear was something good to practice with, and I decided that of course I would go.

Division 5 is big and houses about 200 women.  The 2M tier we go to is lit by florescent lights.  There are some 15 cells for the women - housed two to a room.  Thereʻs no door to the bathrooms so when someone flushes the toilet, the sound reverberates through the tier.  I always stopped talking when someone flushed because I couldnʻt compete with the volume.

There are three rectangular tables where most of the women sit on cold steel benches.  Robinson was the name of the African-American guard who opened the door to the tier. She  yelled at a few women to get off the pay phones because I was there.  She was a no-nonsense woman who gave me a brief smile as she nodded for me to enter.

I noticed a small flat screen TV high up on the wall where inmates watched movies.  The women were busy talking to each other.  A few recognized me and started to settle down.  I managed to get their attention and talked to them about the Path of Freedom - Fleet Maullʻs excellent workbook teaching mindfulness for prisoners.  I reminded them that even though they were physically incarcerated, their minds did not also have to be imprisoned.  Mindfulness meditation can free anyoneʻs mind.  This is the Path of Freedom.

About 1/3 of the women were listening to me.  About 1/3 were zoned out - maybe on prescription drugs for anxiety.  The rest were talking quietly to each other.  I gave them some basic meditation instruction, and then we practiced meditation for a few minutes.  I heard some laughter and talking, toilet flushes, and then more talking.  I reminded them that just noticing sounds is good - making it part of your meditation is good - and just coming back to your breathing is the practice.  

Carol, a tall, thin older African American woman, got really into it.  After we ended meditation, she said sheʻd been practicing, and it had helped her tremendously.  I could see that she was one of the most relaxed, calm, and clear woman there.  Itʻs not easy living on this tier!  One young Latina woman, Tracy, kept asking me questions about meditation.  She asked, "Can it really help? My thoughts are all over the place."  She was visibly tense - her shoulders all hunched up, her face drawn and worried.

Yes I assured her that it could help.  I said, "you have to do the practice.  Thatʻs the hard part.  Itʻs simple but not easy to do.  But it gets easier like any new habit you try to incorporate."  The tier was getting noisier.  My hour was just about up.  As I was walking out, Tracy came up to me and burst into tears. My heart just about broke. Tracy said, " I hope meditation helps because I just found out that I need to be here a little longer." 

I assured her that it would.  Carol was next to me thanking me for coming and wondering if she could get a copy of the book The Path of Freedom.  I gave her a copy of the first chapter I had with me - called Training the Mind - The Power of Mindfulness.  When Carol saw Tracy, she gave her a hug, and said, "Iʻll help you."  

Carol was like the coral rock in a rough sea.  I saw love in that dark place.  I knew that every life there was a work of art.

Malama pono (take good care of body, mind and heart),

June Kaililani Ryushin Tanoue
Kumu Hula and Sensei

Mahealani Uchiyama

Kumu Hula Mahealani Uchiyama

Kumu Hula Mahealani Uchiyama studied hula with Maile Baker, Maiki Aiu, Hoʻoulu Cambra and Joseph Kamohaʻi Kahaʻulelio.  She also studied ʻolelo Hawaii (the Hawaiian language) with Kalena Silva, Sarah Nakoa, Pua Anthony and Larry Kauanoe Kimura.

Kumu Mahealani has written The Haumana Hula Handbook for Students of Hawaiian Dance to encourage respect for this rich cultural heritage.  She runs the Mahea Uchiyama Center for International Dance in Oakland, CA that is celebrating itʻs 25th Anniversary this September.

Kumu Mahealani and Kumu Kawika Alfiche will be in Chicago on August 17 - 19 teaching workshops in Hawaiian chanting, dance and Tahitian.

I met Kumu Hula Mahealani Uchiyama in the Hula Kiʻi (puppet) Beamer Style Workshop at the ʻAha Hula Conference in Hilo, Hawaii this past June.  She is tall, graceful and serious about her love of hula.  I asked her to tell us how she used hula in her everyday life.

Mahealani Uchiyama:  I consider the hula to be more a way of relating to the world rather than a mere collection of movements. It grounds me, offers an insight into how to regard the natural environment as an expression of divine love and wisdom. As such it connects me in a visceral way to a larger community of not only other practitioners, but also to physical manifestations of Spirit. These include the wind, rain, ocean, forests and all beings who dwell within these forces.

The hula teaches me how to move through the world with self-awareness and with appreciation and respect for these gifts. This is the same indigenous wisdom found in African spirituality as well, and as such also reminds me to articulate my thoughts and actions in such a way as to bring pride to my ancestors and honor to my descendants.
The Haumana Hula Handbook for Students of Hawaiian Dance by Mahealani Uchiyama
About Us
Halau is about family, relationship and aloha.  May we understand the deepest meaning of love and aloha and bring it fully into our lives!  Photo by Tom Neiman.

Halau i Ka Pono - the Hula School of Chicago is a sister program of the Zen Life & Meditation Center, Chicago located in Oak Park, IL.  Kumu Hula June Kaililani Tanoue established the school in 2009 and has been teaching hula since 2003.


Halau i Ka Pono means School that Cultivates the Goodness.  We teach Hula which we define as the art of Hawaiian dance expressing all that we see, hear, taste, touch, and feel.


Hula and healing go hand in hand in our Halau. The dance connects us to the grounding energy of the earth and opens us to the warm spirit of Aloha (love). 


Come join us!  We have wonderful introductory classes for adult and keiki (children)!  No experience necessary.


Contact Kumu June at june.tanoue@zlmc.org for more information.  May your lives be full of joy and aloha blessings!