The Māori dictionary on Rongoā
remedy, medicine, drug, cure, medication, treatment, solution (to a problem), tonic.
to hear, feel, smell, taste, perceive – used for all the senses except sight.
Rongoā is sensing. It’s using all of the senses to be able to bring balance into not only the individual but whanau (family) and the wider community that surrounds them. Rongoā is about maintaining balance, knowing and sensing when there is an imbalance in the body, mind and spirit and also within the whanau.
Traditionally, Māori would treat the imbalance at the onset of symptoms before they could set in. e key to this under- standing was in fully knowing the body and discerning when there were changes in the anatomy and physiology, as well as within their whanau and wider community.
Rongoā promotes and supports balance. To know what is out of balance requires a deeper understanding of self. Being in the present moment, practising stillness and recognising what is happening around you enables you to recalibrate when needed. Rongoā is a journey of self-discovery.
Rongoā is not about medicine. Rongoā is about balance and peace. Rongoā is a way of living. Having balance, which is essentially peace of the hinengaro, tinana and wairua (mind, body and spirit) is what is most important and what we strive for. Knowing how to navigate and sense when the balance is tipping excessively in one direction is crucial to be aware of. When we could not de ne the imbalance due to various reasons, we sought external support from whanau members, healers, tōhunga (Spiritual healers) to guide us in bring- ing balance back into our lives. e focus may have been to steady the balance from within the hinengaro, tinana, wairua,whanau, te taiao (mind, body, spirit, family, extended family members, and/or environment). When one of these elements displayed an imbalance treatments were conducted to stabilise and provide an equilibrium.
How Do We Know When Something is Out of Balance?
Even though the elements mentioned above appear separate in nature, they are imbued as a whole, not individual. ey are one. When we heal the wairua (spirit) we heal the tinana(body). When we heal the taiao, we heal the tinana. When we heal the hinengaro we heal the taiao. Each of the elements are working together holistically and symbiotically. We look at it as one whole instead of isolating segments. For example, if I am told I have cancer of the cervix, what does that really mean? It doesn’t mean anything until we know what the pathway is. We need to understand what is occurring in the body and in particular, the pathway or the environment (te taiao) that has become out of balance. When we can define the pathway in the body that is out of balance we then know what we can do to bring te taiao (the environment) back into balance. If something is out of balance within the tinana then it is out of balance within all things. e only di erence is time. The tinana and te taiao are physical and live within the dimension of time and therefore are dense in nature. Wairua is not positioned in time and is always in motion. The hinengaro, in terms of the mind, has a profound influence on how we see our being and our world, especially if we give our permission for it to do so. Most people allow the hinengaro to direct them and this is only because we have allowed ourselves to be in infiltrated. The hinengaro can be problematic but that is because we have given it full power to lead us. The hinengaro is powerful but only when our being has full control over it. By this I mean, we are empty of ego and self-image and come from a place of purity.
Questions to Ask Ourselves
Where in our life have we allowed an intruder to come into our being?
Where have we misappropriated ourselves from the tapu(sacredness) of our being?
When did we stop seeing ourselves and our environment as tapu?
What happened to us to misalign ourselves and become malignant?
We can exhaust all our attention looking into particular parts of the body. Instead of segregating and isolating parts of the anatomy we look at the whole. We look at the imbalance from a holistic lens and nd out why it has occurred. Why has it happened? What is the pathway of imbalance? If we can expose the intruder that blocks the pathway then we can treat it and bring balance back into the path which is a free-flowing, clear, energising flow of mauri (life-force). But, for that to occur we have to look to see why we have left the door wide open. For some reason we let our guard down. Why did we allow ourselves to lie dormant and exposed? Why did we fall asleep? Where in our lives do we have to regain composure, strength and energy? What was it that made us give the key away to the door? We have to ask ourselves why.
Some of us leave the door open for all to enter while being o guard and some of us slam the door shut and pour concrete over the door so that nothing can penetrate. Nothing – not even the good guys. We have to allow the good guys in so they can help strengthen and support us. Not only have we closed the door but we have closed it to our whanau and community and the people that love us. ey can’t get in. ere is always a reason for that and it could come from a place of trauma and exhaustion. We’re protecting ourselves (with concrete) until we nd the energy to move or e-motion.
What Does It Take for You to Feel Safe to Open the Door?
When we slam the door shut and barricade it, the energy does not move, it stagnates. ere’s no movement and no ow ofmauri (life-force) to energise the space. We need the good guys and we need the bad guys owing in and out; we need the balance. What we must understand is how each polarity moves with the other. e neutral point in between the polari- ties of good and bad, dark and light, positive and negative, electron and proton, yin and yang is the balance we strive to maintain. ere is no good and bad, it just is what it is. When we understand this fully, the fear of darkness dissipates. We learn how to manage and sense both light and dark.
When we place a wall up around the heart for example, there is no flow of life-force to circulate. So what can we do to remove the wall? How do we have an even flow of life- force flowing to-and-fro through the door that opens and closes just like a heart valve? The blood that flows through the body collecting all the toxins or negative energy comes through the door (valve) of the heart to be cleansed, refreshed and recalibrated, to then circulate pure life-force throughout the environment of the body again. It’s a natural process that happens again and again until we put up a wall for protection. Then the life-force slows down to a trickle. Stagnation occurs and there’s a build-up of toxins. Why have we put that wall up to stop the flow? What is the why? The why may feel too big to deal with. For some, it may feel bigger to deal with the why than to deal with the dis-ease. We’re either going to give up and vacate or we’re going to deal with it.
Something in us stirs. We wake up to the idea that we have moved too far out of balance and we want to feel the life- force moving within us again. Something awakens to move us toward neutrality. A subtle shi ing of energy that stirs us from our slumber. We slowly open our eyes. We awaken and something in us calls to our being to move toward balance.
A spark of light within has triggered us into action. An idea forms within us direct from the universal web of Intelligence to move toward the light. We sense the light and turn toward it. e rst step in removing the wall is when we turn toward the light.
When we turn toward the light our karanga (call) is sent out to the Universal Web to support us in moving in that direction. The universe conspires to bring everything and everyone to be placed in our path to support us in moving toward the light.
The next step is to accept the Universal support that is placed in our path. We accept the flow to move through us. We accept the flow to move through our world. It could be in the form of a book that is given to us or a person that we meet that has a message for us. It could come from an idea that we need to act on, like calling a certain person or travelling to a special place. It could come from a piece of music that moves us. Ideas well up in us from out of nowhere that cannot be denied and must be acted upon. New ideas, new inspirations and new people will come into our life to support us in moving toward the light. These ideas will feel like divine light and you will feel called to them like a plant in the shade reaching for the light. This is balance and this is rongoā. It is a way of life.