WHO the heart are ya?!

When I started attending wānanga of Papa Joe’s (Hohepa Delamere) teachings it coincided with Ruatau recommencing teachings from ngā manawa (the hearts) folders. Here folders,  refer to the teachings on a particular topic. Ngā manawa are three folders,

  1. pūmanawa: the emotional heart,
  2. manawa: the physical heart and,
  3. whatumanawa: the spiritual heart.

I will declare I have not completed either of the folders and it actually blows my mind to consider what I will know when I do complete them. The wānanga I have had on each has given me so much because of the way they are written. The insights are forever changing, dependent on the student, their perception, relation to, and sense-making of the teachings. You see the teachings are various types of karakia (intentions, incantations) and poems originally written in te reo Māori and then translated into English. Pāpā Joe’s English translations are not literal instead they capture the beauty held within te reo Māori, therefore, maintaining the Māori worldview.

Now back to ngā manawa…

I presented ngā manawa first to the participants of the 2nd Professional Development Symposium at ANU in Canberra, 2017. My presentation was based around the work our Ako Aronui team had been doing in professional teaching recognition and my research around mauri ora (wellbeing) in the university. In my presentation, I referred to Parker’s reflection of “Who am I as the teacher” in his book Courage to Teach and Rose Pere’s knowledge of mauri in her book Te Wheke. 

Parker (2007) raises the question “Who is the self that teaches?” (p.4 ).  This is a question of identity. The questioning of Who am I? Kō wai au? Is one of the first question Māori address when we introduce ourselves. The response often sounds more like, where we’ve come from but it actually acknowledges who we come from, highlighting the importance of whakapapa (genealogy). Now whakapapa relevance to wellbeing becomes clear as Rose Pere shares knowing your whakapapa allows you to draw on the knowledge of your ancestors, your taonga tuku iho that allow you to stand in your own truth – to celebrate and love who you are. In her book Te Wheke, she poses the questions to educators to how they are enacting their responsibility to care for the well being and mauri of the child or student, and in that, I would include peers.

From the voices of these two teaching philosophers, I set the intention and context of my presentation. The reflection I shared was contextualised by our team’s work and progress in teaching recognition. Using ngā manawa I developed the WHO framework.

Why – Pūmanawa (emotional heart)
How – Manawa (physical heart)
Objective as an outcome – Whātumanawa (spiritual manawa)

This sequencing of why-how-objective is not new. and from attending wānanga, it is revealed that it is how our tūpuna lived their lives.

From what I currently know of ngā manawa, the pūmanawa is located in the stomach region. As mentioned above this is your emotional heart. Your pūmanawa is simultaneously your emotional gyroscope and storage unit and an ethical compass – it guides our mauri. The pūmanawa is also where your mauri resides. Now mauri is often referred to as life principle, life essence, I see it as holding the essence of why I am here, on this planet, at this location, at this point in time. It is life purpose and life potential, and the waning and waxing of our mauri is our life.

As our ethical compass, our pūmanawa is programmed with values and beliefs that we have absorbed from the communities from which we live. These are changeable and can be our greatest wānanga, that is, to undo or let go of those beliefs and values that no longer serve one’s truth and mauri. I use the word absorb purposefully, as I have experienced how the absorbing of another value system can slowly but surely change who you are. Through my experience, I became aware of myself being institutionalised. Words escaped my mouth that didn’t sound like me. An attitude shaped my thoughts that scared and upset me. I became defensive and afraid, reacting in an attack-mode. My stomach hardened in defense against the invading beliefs and values, debilitating me with back and hip pains that caused me to return to a fetus position. This is the validation and evidence of our pūmanawa as an emotional gyroscope. We become unbalance and disconnected from ourselves and others. Your pūmanawa will store your emotions until your body and psyche are ready to process them. Waiting for you to go consciously into the darkness of the pain to hear it and release it. If we do not process it or let go of memories held within our bodies, infused by emotions, our emotional gyroscope can spin making it difficult for our ethical compass to keep on track. Letting go is part of becoming mauri tau – rebalancing and reconnecting. Being mauri tau is essential to our mauri ora, and fulfilling our potential. As your emotional gyroscope and ethical compass, your pūmanawa assesses and communicates the needs of your mauri.

The next is the how, the manawa. The manawa is a processor and its physical form is the heart. In determining what to do or where to go next you ask those questions to your heart. The manawa links the pūmanawa and the whātumanawa (the objective/outcomes). The manawa purifies and oxygenates and manifests through what it has assessed from the pūmanawa and the whātuamanwa. The manawa initiates te reo (vibrations) that we express from our body. Expressions that gives guidance to action alignment and connection between the needs and values set forth by the pūmanawa to the wants projected by the whātumanawa. Expressions from the subtle hair-raising chill to a full-fledging haka.

And it is here I need to present my understandings of the whātumanwa. The whātumanawa as your third eye is physically presented as the pineal gland. Medically the pineal gland is known for releasing melatonin and serotonin and regulating biorhythms. Therefore, the whātumanawa as the spiritual heart is attending to the emotional wants of the person, which of course is related to the happy-effect of melatonin and regulating patterns of behaviours. The whātumanawa can project many possible futures, imaginings, and dreams, however, for the whātumanawa to project a tohu (sign) or objective aligned to your mauri’s needs to must be connected to the pūmanawa, and this is done through the alignment done by the manawa.

Western science and practitioners are also aware of this knowledge. At the symposium mentioned earlier, in a passing-by comment made whilst collecting my buffet lunch and having multiple conversations, one of our Australian colleagues (unfortunately whose name I did not catch, but if you do read this, thank you for your gem, I was listening) mentioned how she worked with similar concepts but knew them as the three minds but the shift from the minds to the heart gave a completely different perspective. I’ve since realised that the three-minds is part of the Neuro-Linguistic Programming and Marvin Oka locating of these three minds within the bodies is shared by the locations of nga manawa. However, the foci, as our colleague stated, is from a slightly different perspective. Additionally, Simon Sinek has a similar framework called Golden Circle, as he discusses how most companies get it wrong as they start with the what, then the how and then tag on an assumed why? … money.  Sinek highlights how different the outcome, not output, can be depending on where you start. With Sinek’s Golden Circle he talks through the why-how-what as a process. However, in my WHO framework, it is not a linear process and focuses more on their individual functions and how they work together – it is focused on the relationship between ngā manawa.

The WHO detox

In my work and research, and actually in my personal life too, I work with WHO. Continually trying to aligning the pūmanawa and whātumanawa. Detoxing my pūmanawa of those values and beliefs that do not serve me, learning the lessons that shape, whakairo, so that I can create the reality I choose to live and expose my daughters too. And yes, without this has caused me to do actions that I never thought I could do, but when the stakes are my babies’ future, a mother’s protection is ferocious and unapologetic … especially within the university context. As I internalise WHO to my-self I am, in turn, detoxing a small unit of the university community. Applying WHO to curriculum and teaching has the same impact as it does on the person. Acknowledging the values that are driving current practices and the desired wanting of the people of the university highlights a cavernous disconnect and misalignment. Once this misalignment is acknowledged then accepted we can start the work, doing the medicine to transform.

WHO has been my guiding light, my ramaroa.  Tihei! Mauri ora!

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