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Meditation, mindfulness and Hula with Hiwa Greig

Over the last month, you may have noticed some mini-meditations floating around your Instagram timeline from the Department of Spiritual and Religious Life at Mills (@srlatmills). The student behind them is junior, sociologist major, and social justice and spiritual coordinator, Hiwa Greig, who has been positioning these mediations leading to her hour and a half meditation event on March 19 from 6:00 – 7:30 pm PST. Recently I met up with Greig to talk about her background in meditation, mindfulness and the recent Student Speaker Series on Hula.

In your student speaker series, you talked about your relationship with Hula. How did you get into Hula and what is it like competing at the topmost Hula competition in the world?

“So my mom is my teacher, my Kumu Hālau [Hula teacher] So I didn’t really have a choice as a kid, it was a family thing. I started when I was five, as most kids do, so we would have practice in my house and I know everyone in the Hālau [group]. It’s always been a part of my life. […] It’s really intense [competing in Merrie Monarch Festival]. I’ve only ever competed in high school and that was really rough, trying to be in high school and be in the competition, takes up so much of your time. In 2018, which was the last time I competed, I remembered I skipped a week of school just to finish printing one of my costumes to do that. It takes not only a lot of time but space in your brain too. I remember I tried to do all my homework the month before because I knew my brain capacity would need to be empty for just remembering movement and where I need to go on stage, and all this different stuff. […] We [Hula dancers] are definitely underappreciated in regular life, but in the Hula community that is the standard of excellence. Being able to go on stage and show my evolution and people saying ‘yeah I really liked it is a really cool feeling.”

Photo of Greig and hālau competing at the Merrie Monarch Festival.

What is your favorite part of Hula and if you could change one thing about Hula what would it be?

“For me as a Hula dancer —practicing my religion to get to that highest level to be a Kumu Hālau, that’s the goal. It’s been changing and evolving and for many Hula dancers that is the next goal, it’s one thing to be recognized by the world but to be recognized as a Kumu Hālau, that’s the next level. So my favorite part about Hula is that goal, and the journey to that goal, and learning more about how my religion ties into Hula is really fulfilling. And that’s my favorite part. I would say [making Hula more] inclusive, a lot of people think because we are on an island, we’re ethnic Hawaiian, that we get a pass, and immunity and that [is] certainly not true and I wish that we [the Hula community] would be open to different points of view. […] In my culture we respect elders a lot so it’s hard to muscle my way through and be like, ‘Hey guys let’s be more inclusive.'”

How did you get into meditation?

“I have always been a spiritual person, […] and a couple of months ago in October, my mom’s physic, told my mother that I would have a question for the physic, and long story short I have been working with this physic, and she has been teaching me things. I am pretty new to it, so I have been doing some research into the history of it because I want to make sure I can be pay homage to the group of people who created it. For me [meditation] really helps me focus on my spirituality. If you don’t take time to center yourself, you can lose the energy around you.”

What advice would give to people new to meditation? And what is your favorite part about meditation?

“I would say don’t think that there is one way of doing meditation, even the way I am doing [it] is one way out of thousands of ways to meditate. My grandma likes to stare at a wall for an hour a day and calls it meditating! Meditating can take forms in many different ways, and don’t feel pressured to do one which way because whatever works for you and is resonating for you is the right way. Having some sort of control over my emotions, because I’m not quick to be emotional and so once I am there, I’m there. Meditation forces me to slow down and take time to think about things, but also be okay if there’s no conclusion. So doing meditation helps me calm down in a way that allows me to process things in a healthy way, and that’s my favorite part.”

What should readers expect at your upcoming virtual meditation event on March 19?

“I have been doing a three-part series on Instagram, the videos are short about five to ten minutes. Each video has a theme that will prepare people for the long and large meditation on the 19th. The themes vary from learning how to clear and shield, grounding, letting go, and the larger event will be focusing on self-healing, which can be really intense. I think it will be good, I didn’t want to just send people into that one [self-healing], with no practice, so the videos are there to ease people in.”

Hiwa’s Innerself Healing Meditation will take place virtually on Zoom on March 19 from 6:00 – 7:30 pm PST. For more information and registration contact Hiwa via email at