I have been a massage therapist for more than 20 years. During this time, I have studied many modalities that have inspired me in my practice. Ten years ago, I found myself moving to Hawaii-specifically the island of Kauai. I was there to study the ancient art of Hawaiian massage, known as lomilomi.
The training for lomilomi was different than any of my previous trainings for other modalities. We spent days studying the principles of Huna (Hawaiian philosophy), learning dances, understanding how to be Ohana (extended family), waking up early to practice yoga, learning about the land ('aina) and discussing our differences and issues until they were resolved. Only then were we finally given the opportunity to learn the techniques of this ancient art.
There were times people in the group were frustrated and angry that they didn't know what was going to happen next. Many wanted to just learn the technique and didn't understand the process and practices required that would open our hearts, prepare our body, mind and spirit, as well as provide the discipline we would need. Therefore, the practice of ho'oponopono, meaning "to set right and bring to balance," was incorporated into our training. It gave us an opportunity to share our feelings and resolve any troubles with our Ohana in a nonjudgmental and forgiving manner.
I walked away from the training realizing that many people have an enormous amount of judgment, fear and beliefs that do not work for them in their lives. I wondered how I would integrate this art into my life.
While I had my own frustrations, it wasn't long before I realized something on a deeper level had changed inside of me. Clients were feeling it as well, and they expressed to me that their massage sessions felt more sacred. More importantly, my life was never the same. The mana (energy) I connected with lived with me daily. Mana is explained as the life force, or awareness, of the Earth's magic and wisdom. The 'aumakua, our ancient ones or essence of the spirit of our ancestors, is present, with me to call upon for guidance and help.
Today, I feel blessed to instruct this beautiful, sacred form of massage with a wisdom that comes through from the ancient ones. In dream state, the ancient ones have come to me and advised me to share this gift, or makana.
I combine compassionate touch exercises I created when I realized many individuals were unaware of how to touch on this level. Lomilomi brings an amazing compassion and love to each participant. I watch individuals struggle in their own skin, and they eventually find their life has changed for the positive, their sessions are more profound and they are never the same. I watch each student literally unfold and blossom.
My experience while living on the island of Kauai for seven years showed me what the spirit of Aloha meant. Aloha means loving, compassion, caring, the breath of life and friendship. Today, I bring this spirit into my teachings. We breathe together, move together and delve deeper into our capacity to be compassionate human beings.
Lomilomi is the art of compassionate and loving touch. We connect with a deeper sense of self and spirit. We find a space to call upon our 'aumakua and ask for guidance and healing. We give love on a level that is pure. We call upon the mana to help us, and we remember to bless and hold sacred every touch, every breath.
Kahu Abraham and Auntie Margaret Machado are known for sharing their wisdom to those who are willing to open their hearts to sacred touch and love. Lomilomi was originally shared in families and passed down by elders (kahuna) to the chosen one-the healer of the family.
Makana Risser Chai published Hawaiian Massage Lomi Lomi, Sacred Touch of Aloha and quotes Machado in her book: "If your hands are gentle and loving, your patient will feel the sincerity of your heart, his soul will reach out to yours and God's healing power will flow through you both." She also quotes Allen Alapai', "Forgiveness is the key that opens the heart. When the mind goes off, the heart opens. Life is a feeling, not a thinking."
Meanwhile, Dane Kaohelani Silva says, "I conceive it to be a system of deep communication using biomechanical and energetic waves to stimulate the cells to heal and regenerate."
Lomilomi consists of a variety of techniques that include stretches and rocking, vibration, range of motion of the joints, kneading and loving touch. The strokes are long, flowing and nurturing. There is a hypnotic sense created as the practitioner dances to the rhythm of your heart. The use of hot stones, salts, bamboo sticks or herbs are common in the practice. A chant might even be sung over the client's body, calling in the ancient masters to assist in your healing session.
I am blessed to bring all I have learned from my mentors and share it with others who touch the lives of many. I wish that one day you experience this sacred and compassionate form of Aloha!