Updated: Sep 25, 2019
I received my first Lomi Lomi massage around fifteen years prior to my own study of the practice. The memory of it has stayed strong with me ever since, inspiring a desire in me to attempt to give to others what was given to me. It’s not easy to articulate one’s experience of Lomi Lomi, but I’ll do my best, hopefully without too much superfluous fluff.
Receiving Lomi Lomi, for me, was like being held, in softness and firmness, with a complementary sense of feeling both free as a bird and deeply rooted to the ground. It felt loving and nurturing, and it was as though the massage therapist wasn't even present. After its completion my energy was lifted and seemed to be activated, although paradoxically, for the duration of the massage I felt a pleasant, drowsy kind of relaxation (which I now know is due to its capacity to activate the body’s parasympathetic nervous system, creating the best conditions for rejuvenation and healing). And it seemed to transcend time and space.
“Lomilomi is our spirit having a human experience.”
Kumu Harry Uhane Jim
Lomi Lomi is a sacred Hawaiian practice and philosophy that has traditionally been informed by a connection to the spiritual (spirit guides and ancestors), to the land and to aloha (the breath of life). For traditional practitioners of this ancient art it is also inseparable from lifestyle, beliefs and social structures, not unlike religion and mythology.
Lomi Lomi descends from the ancient healing temples of Kauhna priests who would perform healing and right of passage work on members of the community. Later Lomi Lomi became a more accessible form of treatment that family members would give to one another for relaxation, recuperation and for treating ailments. It is also used to promote the flow of mana, a spiritual and healing energy similar to ki, chi, prana or the holy trinity in other cultures.
Lomi Lomi takes you back to a simplified state of being, of receiving, of being nurtured.
For many, more traditional Hawaiian families their introduction to Lomi Lomi begins at birth with a mother lomi’ing her newborn with nothing more than the natural goodness of coconut oil and her loving intention. What’s being passed on through Lomi Lomi in this tradition is not just massage or healing, but knowledge and wisdom, lore and values, and the power of love.
Lomi Lomi is a very broad generic term that encapsulates a variety of styles and techniques, each unique to place and family of origin. Many of the traditional methods that have been practiced for countless generations have been kept secret to this day and are a privilege bestowed upon community members only.
The movements are designed to confuse the rational, thinking mind and invite the receiver to surrender, letting go of anything that is no longer serving them.
My introduction to learning the art of Lomi Lomi was quite different. I was 44 years of age and without any exposure to anything more of Hawaiian culture than that of the Hula dance...oh, and that one episode of The Brady Bunch when Mike takes the family on a trip to Hawaii. I was brought up in the tradition of Western culture, albeit tempered with my own exploration of what lies beneath and beyond its conventional boundaries. When attending my first Lomi Lomi course I wasn’t necessarily drawn to the spiritual principles underpinning it and Hawaiian culture. Not that I was averse to spirituality, rather I was at that time simply interested in expanding my repertoire of massage techniques. However, I was instantly drawn to the teachings that transcended typical massage instruction. Some of them resonated with me deeply and so I adopted and integrated what seemed to fit into my life and professional practice.
Lomi Lomi differs from conventional massage in that it is asymmetrical and more intuitive, rather than formulaic and analytical or clinical. The movements are designed to confuse the rational, thinking mind and invite the receiver to surrender, letting go of anything that is no longer serving them and to manifest more of their 'soul' energy, for want of a better and broader term. I recall from my experiences of receiving Lomi Lomi many moments of not knowing exactly which part of my body the therapist was working — the leg, the shoulder or both? It was as though they were everywhere all at the same time.
Kumu Harry Uhane Jim, one of the last Kahuna of Lomi Lomi, Keeper of the Deep Mysteries of authentic Hawaiian esoterica, says, 'As soon as your soul knows connection with yourself, you can offer bodywork as opposed to massage'. The last twenty years of my life have been a kind of re-education camp for me and my 'soul'. So, for me, I was able to internalise Lomi Lomi principles and marry them with my own set of values and cultural context and deliver a style of Lomi Lomi that is authentic to me, to my land and which is informed by my own spirituality. And, aloha, the breath of life, well that’s universal to us all.
Lomi Lomi takes you back to a simplified state of being, of receiving, of being nurtured. Recipients of Lomi Lomi have described the experience as returning to a baby-like state of nurturement, not unlike being bathed and coddled. Each person receives something different and unique, exclusive to their needs, when receiving Lomi Lomi. Aunty Angeline, who lives on the island of Kauai in Hawaii and a teacher of Aloha and Lomi Lomi for over thirty years, describes Lomi Lomi as 'open heart surgery'. Intention is important to the practice of Lomi Lomi, which is key to a practitioner’s skill set. But also to he or she receiving it (Read more about the benefits of Lomi Lomi here).
When giving Lomi Lomi, or any massage for that matter, my heart is open and my intentions are considered. I seek to provide a loving, healing treatment that honours the receiver’s intentions. I draw upon my own life’s work, of the teachings of Lomi Lomi and from beyond the physical realm to deliver a holistic treatment from those energy fields. Every part of the body, every particle, which comes together to form the whole, is a universe unto itself requiring equally special care and consideration. My embrace of the receiver during Lomi Lomi is both physical and spiritual and is intended to transform in some way, holistically or just physically if that's what's needed.