Maori and the Next-Level Meditation!

I’ve always been struck by how the tools promoted to achieve meditative states seem quite foreign to a Maori way of being.  To pull yourself away from everyone, to be alone, to be on you own, to be without anyone, always seemed to be in direct opposite to teachings of our ancestors. A lot of meditative practices (well at least online stuff) promote quietness, silence, stillness and often being by yourself to achieve this.

I am going to challenge this.

Generally, Maori practices and tools for living a good life center around relational teachings, or focusing on nourishing relationships, which suggest quite alternative practices for accessing higher levels of consciousness.

Google tells me mediation is …

“a state of profound, deep peace that occurs when the mind is calm and silent, yet completely alert”

I agree that this is a good state to achieve, but what I challenge is that we have alternative ways, Maori ways, to get there.

I am immediately taken back to a very strong memory I often carry with me, of lying under our old pohutukawa tree. At our homestead on a summer’s day, the cuzzies and I are scattered on mattresses and swabs, back from beach, relaxing.  I can go on and on with descriptions of that moment, the scene so clear in my mind, the smell of the earth, the sound of the kids playing tag in the paddock, the feel of intense heat coming of the sun, Uncles in the background, laughing and telling stories on the porch, the comfort of knowing boil- up and crays from the days dive, were on the fire. Us cuzzies, lying there,  were “completely alert” of everything going on around us, very little talk passing between us, just the odd comment of ‘what a beautiful day’ or ‘it’s so nice being under this old tree in its shade’. The moment was one of “profound, deep peace”.

So, this was most definitely a meditative moment.

Another example, often in a wharenui,  there is a sense of harmony, from being surrounded by photographed and carved tipuna, whanau lying around you, everyone talking, chatting, laughing, the comfort of noise, and knowing you are with all your people. In these places we are “completely alert” and experience “profound, deep peace”. So, these are also, most definitely meditative moments.

What is quite remarkable, is these are ‘meditative’ moments at a group level.   Shared moments across,  for example, the whole homestead, or wharenui, experienced with all the whanau. Our ability to have shared experiences collectively is next-level meditation people!

These states we take for granted, but they happen all the time for us, on Marae, at hui, kaupapa, wananga  etc, where whanau work together, spend time together, doing things together and then a sense of belonging and harmony switches in from being together. So let’s not forget that we have our own ways of getting to this state of profound, deep peace and reaching these higher levels of consciousness. And lets not forget to acknowledge our Maori next-level meditating!

Photo Credit: Ans Westra, 1963.

Image showing interior scenes from a Ringatu Church meeting, Wainui near Ohope Beach, taken in 1963 by Ans Westra. Persons are unidentified.

15 thoughts on “Maori and the Next-Level Meditation!

  1. Except don’t forget the extreme tapu of tohunga, who were not to be touched, who were fed by a specially selected child. Who even then used an implement so as not to directly handle the kai

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      1. I also am aware of the meditation in accessing deeper consciousness that occurs at the pre-deep sleep phase. I recall my mother and other whanau members being asleep to the point of snoring yet being alert to a conversation that was going on in their presence. Is that deep meditation – individual ways of accessing a deeper consciousness. I remember discussing this ability of our people to be able to do this. with other IPs. And what about tohu that came from dreams? Not a collective action. Interesting study.


  2. Nice article Kiri. I think you’re right about the significance of collective spiritual practices.

    In Buddhism the ‘sangha’ or spiritual community is one of the three foundations of the faith. Jung spoke of the ‘collective unconscious’, the ‘anima’ or hidden feminine, which has a curious correlation to the Maori ‘hinengaro’.

    Such collective moments for me are often on the paepae, during karakia, whaikorero and waiata. Other practices of my iwi (Waikato) such as visiting the awa and wahi tupuna are often more solitary experiences (though not always).

    Heoi, ka mutu i konei me tenei o nga tongikura ta Kingi Tawhiao, ‘Kimihia te mea ngaro’.

    Rire. Hau. Pai marire.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. i must have look at anigma, that is a curious correlation.

      Yes I think we as Maori dont acknowledge how advanced some of our collective spiritual practices are. And I do believe individual ones are important too.


  3. Kia ora Kiri. There are also the meditative states from being in nature, walking along the beach, in the bush, or up in the mountains. Each one brings with it, it’s own variation of meditatative state. Thanks.

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  4. I think is another element too. Being in ‘flow’ is a form of meditation, e.g. yoga, sport. And so I believe taiaha and poi would invoke meditative states, as well as raranga, whaikairo. All which can collective.


  5. Tena ra e Kiri

    Agreed, meditation practices are multifarious, but more than that, they’re deliberately so, to suit the general group-psyche of the different cultures, groupings, peoples, and the conditions in which they live. The workings of Io-nui and how this is all done is beyond our human understanding. Safe to say that ultimately, whatever the method, all rivers flow to the Great Ocean… and this is depicted in our poutama design.

    Based on this alone, there need be no schism over which method to follow, or which one is better. First-contact history offers many examples of how our ancestors were drawn by the power of Te Mea Ngaro, to the ‘new method’ from a new race of people. Since that time we’ve undergone a continued unfoldment of consciousness, allowing ALL of us greater access to the pool of matauranga tahito – ancient knowledge, knowledge that was formerly imparted only to the elite.
    I do want to ask rhetorically,

    ‘what is the main purpose of meditation?’

    We have korero about Maui, Rupe, Tawhaki, Taneatua, Tane, many others, who ascended to the rangi (realms of consciousness) by way of a certain path… did they do this as a group? they did not and cannot, and this is the nature of true meditation. I support the notion that group gatherings amplify certain energies, especially under the guidance of a Master, but all historical korero and evidence point to the ‘final step’ being taken by one’s own self.
    Given that we all have varying levels of understanding, I think it’s important to put things into perspective. Your post is good and it’s great to generate some awareness around this kaupapa, but I see it’s only the tip of the ice-burg stuff, and just how deep we wanna go is very much an individual, lone, solitary, inward journey.
    On the surface, the teachings of other peoples might seem to oppose what we deem as the ‘Maori way’ and that’s perfectly ok, but fundamentally they are the same – a closer inspection into our korero tuku will tell us this.

    Nga mihi ra

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Thank you so much for sharing this meassage it has found a place of memory for me to be aware in all situations there is a higher collective awareness and not to go it alone even with our own wisdom, it is when we can relate and really disect our own experiences in collaboration, then we can see it clearly, Kia Ora Kiri Kia Ora.



  7. Thank you so much for sharing this message it has found a place of memory for me to be aware in all situations there is a higher collective awareness and not to go it alone even with our own wisdom, it is when we can relate and really dissect our own experiences in collaboration, then we can see it clearly, Kia Ora Kiri Kia Ora.



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