Gingerhill promotes life—in plants, in our soil, and, most importantly, in our treasured guests. But what does it mean to really be, and feel, alive? Our answer is what makes us stand out from the other healing retreats Hawaii has to offer.
Medically speaking, defining life is simple. Philosophically, however, we enter the realm of subjectivities, where the question becomes much more complex.
Think about what people talk about when they are discussing their lives. People talk about their professions and hobbies. They talk about where they go. They talk about what they are good at. In general, they talk about what they do.
In our high speed, sensation blunting Western world, we only live insofar as we do. Your profession is what you do for a living. Your hobbies are what you do in your leisure time. We reduce the whole of a human being down to their actions and motions. And what do we say to people who don’t do anything with their time? “Get a life.”
But what if we adopted a conceptualization of living that emphasized not the importance of action, but the wonder of experience? What if, instead of spending time as a currency for output, we experienced it organically; fell willing prey to the lessons, sensations, and creation perpetually coasting by as time carries on? At Gingerhill, we emphasize the importance of living not just as a means for creating, but for becoming one with creation itself; we embrace living as being—a fusion of doing and experiencing. We seek to infuse all of the experiences that we offer here at Gingerhill Farm Retreat with our philosophy of living. In so doing, we have become one of the most healing retreats Hawaii is home to.
What Can You Really Do?
We live in a world where the dominant institutions embrace masculine qualities, praising strength, self-discipline, and action. Our belief systems valorize virility, efficiency, and progress. We perpetuate a conceptualization of time as linear progress, a process of continual, irreversible evolution. We charge forward, ever active, bound by our own unceasing momentum.
Yet most people don’t experience these robust feelings of vigorous evolution and expansion in their daily lives. Instead, most of us feel stuck in a monotonous cycle of repetitive motion. We go to the same job. We come home to the same neighborhood. Typically, we see the same people and talk about the same things. We revisit the same unresolved traumas, the same quelled feelings we’ve shoved aside for years. Most of us live the same exact life, repeating the exact same actions, every single day.
These two truths are at an impasse: how is it that we are always striving to progress, to act, to do, and yet end up feeling immobile? How is it that in constantly doing things–going to work, completing the shopping, cleaning the house, and otherwise plowing through our to-do lists–we feel as if we’re not really growing at all?
At Gingerhill, we see that what is trapping our stressed and tired retreaters is the very compulsion towards action itself. People do because not doing is socially reprehensible in our society. They lack control because they allow their lives to be dictated by the notion that constant action is the purpose of life. Ironically, in always trying to do, do, do, we end up feeling immobile; like there is nothing we can do. As a result, we become bogged down by boredom and inefficacy, losing sight of life’s simple pleasures.
The Taboo of Passivity
Passivity has a negative connotation in Western society. In fact, its condemnation is evident in the very language that we speak. Think about it: how many times has a teacher told you that you’re not allowed to write in passive voice?
To just observe and experience the world instead of acting within it is socially and politically condemned, because when you are observing and experiencing, you cannot act. Many of us become so focused on our tasks and to-do lists that we forget to really experience the world as it moves by us, to feel the physical, mental, and emotional sensations made available to us all of the time by the very fact of our own existence.
Liberation can only be possible when we, as a society, realize that doing and experiencing are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they are quite the opposite. The integration of action and experience creates the very fabric of being, of living our lives as nature intended, both acting upon the world around us and receiving its signals. What sets Gingerhill apart from the other healing retreats Hawaii is known for is our focus on tapping into our sensory experiences to facilitate the healing process.
Being at Gingerhill
At Gingerhill, we seek to promote a balance between action and experience that allows our guests to rediscover intimacy with both nature and themselves. Our community teaches cultivation of the land, but we also encourage our guests to be receptive to nature’s subtle signals and to enjoy the sights and scents it proffers. We teach meditation as an active practice of tuning into our receptive selves. We encourage physical activity and yoga not only to improve health and fitness, but also to allow us to immerse ourselves in the experience of our own bodies.
This balance of activity and both intuitive and physical experience allow us to cultivate both stewardship and agency—elements that will be paramount to creating a socially and environmentally sustainable society. Social injustice and climate change can only be met with action; however, lasting solutions will require that we intuit the needs of both our planet and our fellow human beings. Thus, in being by both doing and experiencing, we vie for a world of social, mental, emotional, and ecological harmony.