The Hawaiian Art of Forgiveness

On “Going Shamanic” radio show, Jen Engracio interviewed Uncle Harry Uhane Jim on the Hawaiian art of forgiveness called “Ho’oponopono.”  Uncle Harry  joined us to talk about why clearing the past is important to our health and well-being in the present, and shared with us how it’s done.  Don’t miss this show!  It’s filled with wisdom you can take into your daily life.

Harry Uhane Jim is a Kahuna, healer, and teacher. He is the author of the book, “WISE SECRETS OF ALOHA.” He was born and raised on the island of Kauai in Hawaii.  He has been doing healing work for many years and has been trained in the traditional apprentice style by the best known native Kahuna’s of the last seven decades. Shot 2015-03-02 at 12.19.05 PM

The Gift of Aloha

After spending a month on the Hawaiian Islands, I’ve come home renewed with a greater appreciation for aloha and the elders there who continue to share their lineage teachings with me so graciously.

From “The Book of Aloha: A Collection of Hawaiian Proverbs and Inspirational Wisdom” by Mutual Publishing of Honolulu:


The official flower of the island of O’ahu.

“Visitors to Hawaii will inevitably encounter the term aloha at some point during their stay. They will most likely hear someone say ‘aloha’ when they arrive. They will soon realize that aloha is not just a word but a concept that is multi-dimensional, that it encompasses random acts of kindness, that it means giving love or affection to both close ones and strangers, and that it represents an attitude, a way of thinking, a spirit of living, a philosophy. Aloha is an integral part of the Hawaiian culture and can be considered its gift or legacy to the world. Giving aloha, acting with aloha, and caring with aloha sets examples for all to follow. Aloha can be said to be the soul of Hawai’i, the thread that ties together the Hawaiian cultural and social values that make these islands so unique. Long after returning home one remembers not just the scenery but the feeling of aloha which lingers like a fragrant scent. Live aloha, let aloha into your life, be aloha.”

Here’s a strategy that has worked well for me that I’d like to offer:  Start by giving aloha to yourself. In tough or stressful moments, take deep breaths into your belly and allow the aloha to flow from your High Self to your Low Self like a river. Keep going until you feel filled and refreshed.

I’d love to hear how aloha appears in your life and how you tap into this energy.  If you care to share, please do so in the comment box.

Interspecies Communication

Tune into “Going Shamanic” radio with Jennifer Engracio. This episode, we explore Interspecies Communication with Val Majeau from Sacred Paws.

How can we learn to communicate with animals? What can they teach us about living? How can they help us heal? 

This conversation will bring up some age old questions about the ‘feelings’ and sensitivities of animals.  Val Majeau is the owner of Sacred Paws, a business she runs from the Calgary, Alberta area of the world.  Sacred Paws is a mobile service, devoted to all animals. Animals suffer from physical, mental, emotional and spiritual issues just as we do. They are sensitive to human moods and changes in their environment.  Val also helps humans to understand their animals’ needs better.

Learn more about Val and her amazing work at

To listen, follow this link:

Women are Worth it

I’ve been feeling deeply disturbed and unsettled since the news came out last week that a CBC broadcaster, Jian Ghomeshi, has been abusing women for years in his workplace and in the wider community. The troubling thing is how many people knew and said nothing. This was allowed to continue because no one took action. Many people were afraid of tarnishing their reputations or impacting their career advancement options.

I thought back into my own past and saw many times where I was apathetic to news such as this: I’ve gotten the subtle and overt messages my entire life that my rights as a woman were less than those of a man. Moreover, I had experience to show that if I came forward to report abuse and harassment, no one would do anything. I was born in Canada.   And the following stories happened here.

When I was in high school, a teacher sexually harassed me. He kept giving me poor grades and told me the only way I would pass the course would be to come after school for ‘extra credit’ work- a classic move by perpetrators to isolate their targets. I told my mom about this. She knew how hard I was studying for that course. I wasn’t slacking or looking for an easy ride. The material was challenging and I didn’t feel I was getting the support I needed from a teacher to help me master the concepts presented. One Friday late at night, the phone rang. It was this teacher calling to complain to my mom that I hadn’t been going in for extra time with him to ‘catch up’ on what I was missing. My mom interrupted him: “You have the gall to call me up on a weekend- my time off work- to tell me lies about my daughter? I happen to know that she is working hard at that course and that instead of supporting her learning, you have been harassing her. She will not be attending your after school ‘sessions’ and if you know what is good for you, you will leave her alone.” She hung up the phone without waiting for his response. She never talked to the principal about it. I knew that a few students had already filed their own grievances and nothing had been done. My mom took care of business herself.

When I was in university, I began being sexually harassed by a professor. It was mild at first but it quickly escalated to the point that I felt nauseous every morning before his class. He was the only professor who taught this course- a prerequisite to getting my major. When I couldn’t take it anymore, I went to the advisor responsible for his department. When I walked through the door to file a complaint, she told me she already knew whom I was going to mention. She pulled out a file of grievances as thick as a book and proceeded to tell me there was nothing she could do because he had tenure. I went home and sat with my choices. I was unwilling to go through that abuse any longer and decided to change my major. Some time later, my mom and I were filling up with gas at a station when he pulled up beside us and started taunting me. I had to lock my mom in the car so she wouldn’t kill him. Jail time wouldn’t have served either of us! I stood strong and he drove away.

The thing is, all of these incidents were so ‘normal’ in my life as a woman that I never thought of standing up to these men as a victory. I don’t know any women in my close circle that have not had to deal with harassment and abuse of some kind. I had the courage to stand up to these teachers because I had already had lots of incidences in my childhood where I had not and was left to suffer the consequences: pain, shame, guilt, low self-esteem, and lack of self-worth.

It occurred to me recently while collecting women’s power stories for a book I am editing that women’s stories are full of victories and tragedies that go unnoticed in society because they are seen as being run of the mill. Many women I asked to contribute stories initially said they couldn’t think of times where they’d felt powerful. When I started talking to them, we realized that women’s power is wrapped up in everyday stories that they live: abuse, miscarriage, birthing and raising children, harassment, addiction, depression, and a host of others. They are not seen as heroines or particularly exciting figures in mainstream media, but in reality, these women are the foundation of any society. Without women, literally none of us would be here. I think of countries where female babies are killed because they are considered a liability and wonder: what kind of insanity is this? Do they not realize that they are killing off their lineages and impoverishing their communities? We need more women’s voices and stories out in the world to counter this sort of ignorance.

I refuse to think of myself or these women as victims based on their past histories and what they have struggled with. All of us have made poor choices or the best choice we could make in crappy circumstances. There is a resilience about women that is something I admire more now after editing this book than ever before. These women survived horrific trauma and still found ways to heal and thrive. I hope in the future that more stories like these come out and that women see their inherent worth as human beings and the birthers of human life on the planet. I pray for a world that honours women and the feminine principle of life. I pray that women who have been mistreated or abused find the power within them to reclaim their lives and find the support they need to move forward in a good way. I pray for women to take back their personal power and inner balance. We are all worth it. In fact, the future of our species depends on it.

Parenting as Spiritual Practice

Do you ever have the feeling that parenting is more than you actually think it is?
Do you ever feel like you are on a spiritual journey with your kids?

If you want to find out more about how to connect with parenting as a spiritual practice, tune into today’s show as we talk with Trisha Savoia, the author of “The Soulful Parent.”  She is owner of Absolute Awareness (

Your host, Jennifer Engracio, is a shamanic practitioner whose purpose on this show is to share how to integrate spirituality into everyday life.

“Going Shamanic” Radio Show link:

Walking with Grief

Avo Maria

Last week my grandma, Avó Maria, passed away. She was just shy of her 96th birthday. The gift of Alzheimer’s is also wrapped up in the challenge of it. On the one hand, seeing someone you love lose their mind can be heart wrenching and distressing. I had to come to grips with the fact that Avó might not recognize me or be able to engage in a conversation with me at any given time when I visited her. I was angry at her for choosing this way to fade out of life at the spirit level. I had to face a lot of my issues around Death and my control issues with Life. I put those in capital letters because I know that Death is a part of Life and both are great teachers for those willing to learn from them and grow while they are here on the Earth. I know I sometimes turn away from them out of fear but I also know the importance of facing them. Grief gives that opportunity and I took it. The gift of Alzheimer’s is that it gave me time to let go in stages and grieve fully before my grandma’s death. I got the chance to really look at my attitudes around death, dying, and life to come to terms with them. But I also got a chance to say goodbye to someone I love with all my heart. I got a chance to say the things I had to say. I consciously valued the last opportunities to touch her, massage her skin, and love her up while I could still be with her in the flesh.

I wrote this back in April 2014 on my blog (

I went to visit my grandma the other day at her care home. She is turning 96 this year and has pretty advanced Alzheimer’s. Although she is not able to carry on a conversation that makes sense (to me), she looked into my eyes and recognition came over her. She knew my spirit and I could feel the delight rising in her. I spent an hour massaging her arms, legs and hands while she relaxed and looked out the window at the trees and the spring sunshine. At one point, she gave me a leg that I’d already massaged and said, “Faz. Faz.” which in Portuguese means “Do it. Do it.” I laughed and gave her what she wanted. I barely said a word to her the whole hour I was there. We did this somatic and spirit dance that was intimate and loving; we said more in that hour of not speaking than in one hour of talking. And I thought, “What a gift to just be able to BE together.” It was a relief to not feel like I had to chatter away. All of my earthly titles, degrees and achievements didn’t matter one iota. All that mattered was two humans connecting. Sometimes when I struggle with the predominant worldview we live in of achievements and titles, I think about what will matter to me when I am readying to die and reflecting back on my life. I doubt my university degree will be on my mind.

Although it seemed cruel to me at the beginning, I now see the wisdom that came out of walking alongside my grandma on her Alzheimer’s journey. Since my grandma’s passing, I’ve been reflecting on how long almost a century is in human years but how it is really such a short time in the large scheme of things. We really only have a blink of an eye’s worth of time in each lifetime to make positive impact. How many of us hold back what we want to say to friends, loved ones, and the world? Or then how many of us hold back our dreams? How many of us are living to please others? How many of us are so wrapped up in the lives of others that we forget that our job is to immerse ourselves in our own lives and healing?

Avó’s death was a reminder of how precious Life is. And it also drove home the fact that our bodies are of the Earth- that there is a sacred connection with this planet that we were birthed from that can only be honoured while we are in human form. I’ve felt tremendous surges of gratitude for being able to taste a peach, make love, walk barefoot on the grass, and feel the wind on my skin or the warmth of the sun on my body. I can’t experience those wonderful things in spirit form. I’ve made a renewed commitment to really living my life fully with aliveness. I thank my Avó for helping me to remember the preciousness of Life and for all the blessings she brought into my life’s journey while we were here together. May you cross speedily into the light from which you came. I look forward to continuing my relationship with you as an ancestor in the Spirit world!

Dance as Catharsis

Gabrielle Roth, the developer of the 5Rhythms practice, says this about dance as spiritual practice in her book “Sweat Your Prayers”:

“In the beginning, we all danced. Our religious roots go back at least 75, 000 years to shamanic traditions grounded in the rhythms of nature: the marvel of night turning into day, the awesome power of thunder and lightning, the wonder of birth and death. These movements have been our teachers and our source of inspiration, reflecting back to us the nature of who we are. Science may have explanations, religion might have dogmas, but the truth is we still don’t know how or why the universe began to dance. Our ancestors danced until they disappeared in the dance, til they felt the full force of spirit unleashing their souls. This was their religion and it was ecstatic and personal and tribal and it moved through time like a snake…Trance is a tricky place, a place not many understand. It’s a mindful state that only happens when you get out of your way and fall into your true self so deeply that something inside clicks and you are simultaneously being and witnessing yourself. It’s a myth that trance is a spell that somebody else puts you under…Nobody can put you in a trance but God…In trance, we move into the bigger picture. And from this vantage point we can see into the dark of our own hearts and let go of all the things that haunt us, relinquish them, turn them over to the Great Spirit.”

I was fortunate to grow up in a culture and family that valued dance. Every weekend, the whole extended family would get together at a relative’s house, eat together, socialize, and dance. After everyone had had time to chat and digest their food, we’d all pitch in to help move the furniture to the outskirts of the room, thereby creating a dance floor. The record player belted out top 40 hits, world music, dance music, and all sorts of other eclectic beats and sounds; we’d easily go from Michael Jackson to Julio Iglesias in an evening! Although I confess, I was never much of a Julio fan, the adults in the group certainly loved him. And that leads me to the other brilliant thing about these evenings: they were multi-generational. The kids danced with the adults, teens, and elders. Everyone was included.

This went on until I was about 12 years old. I knew that something was wrong in my extended family when people stopped gathering as often. But I knew that something deep was at work when my family stopped dancing altogether. Internal family conflicts divided people and they simply did not know how to utilize the dance for anything other than celebration and personal expression. They didn’t know that dance was therapy and that they could dance through anything and come out the other side of it more balanced than before. I often wonder what might have been different and if communication would have improved if they had had this knowledge at the time.

It took me about 16 years to recover my love of dance after that. I found myself attracted to non-choreographed dance modalities such as belly dance, rave, and trance dance. I’ve been dancing 5Rhythms ( for nearly a decade now and it is a practice that has supported and moved me through some serious transitions in my life. I’ve danced through tremendous grief, exhaustion, fear, sadness, joy, rocky love relationships, moving away from my family, and healing an addiction. I dance because my body doesn’t lie to me like my mind does. It is utterly honest. When I come to dance an issue in my life, my body tells me exactly what is going on as I move the way it wants me to. My body tells the story of what is out of balance and gives me clues for what I need to do to regain my center. It does not use words so I’ve learned to understand the somatic language of feeling throughout years of practice to uncover its messages.

Going to class isn’t a “So You Think You Can Dance” sort of atmosphere. It is the polar opposite of competition, showing off my steps, or learning rigid dance moves. It is a spiritual experience where my body literally moves and heals me. All I have to do is follow my feet and my instincts. Often, I can feel burdens lifting off my shoulders and emotions leaving the hidden caves they’ve been trapped in- sometimes for years. I never know what is going to happen and that unpredictability is a part of the attraction for me. The unknown is where we heal, learn, and grow. They body knows how to move us in that direction if we surrender to its non-linear intelligence.

To listen to the “Going Shamanic” show on the topic, go to:



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