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What is Lomilomi
by Patti Miller

We are often asked the question, What is Lomilomi?  What makes it different than any other form of massage? There are many styles and lineages of Lomi, all with their own way of working with the body. One thing remains the same in all the kinds of Lomi you may find, and that is the spirit of Aloha that flows through the giver and the receiver.


After connecting deeper to Hawaii and its people, I realized the depth of knowledge that this tradition carries.  On Molokai I had a glimpse into real Hawaii, and what it is to follow traditions, and to follow protocol. In order to understand Lomilomi, one must first understand what it is to be Hawaiian.  What makes Lomilomi different is the mindset behind the massage.


The mindset of a Hawaiian:
To live in aloha, open-hearted, in the pa’a, the now.


Nana ka maka;

ho`olohe ka pepeiao;

pa`a ka waha.


Observe with the eyes;

listen with the ears;

shut the mouth.

Thus one learns.


This is the way of learning for a Hawaiian.  They were taught to be very attentive, and to search within for the answers to their questions, or to use their eyes and their ears; wait for the answer to present itself.  This taught humbleness, patience, and self-empowerment. -all core Hawaiian values.


The Lomilomi practitioner comes from a mindset where everything is connected as one, everything has a voice, and everything has a spirit.  The role of a Lomilomi practitioner is to remove any limiting beliefs or "baggage" from within themselves that may be blocking their aka chords, the strands of energy that connect them to all things.  This is done through daily practice. Forgiveness is a daily practice for the practitioner, and also a core aspect of Lomilomi. Lomilomi is not only a practice of massage. It is a tradition, a way of life. The way of aloha, living in harmony with all things. The body (heart), and mind must be clear, open and inviting in order to be a clear channel for a Higher Power. 


~For it is a Higher Power that actually gives you the mana to help someone.~


A Lomilomi practitioner was taught to scan the body, by examination of the face and look of the person, and by the use of haha, which is the practice of scanning the body with the hands to find the source of the ailment in a person.


Treatment was always done holistically:

Lying first in the sun or in a steam bath

Working with the mind and the emotions through the use of Ho'oponopono

Prayers and chants were offered before treating the person with herbs (la'au lapa'au) or salt rubs

Lomilomi and bone setting or restorative healing work would follow

Periods of cleansing would often be incorporated to clear the colon
(ocean water cleanses or tonics were often used)


So you see, massage was just a part of the overall treatment!

Lomilomi ~A Gift from the Heart~

He kehau ho`oma`ema`e ke aloha.

Love is like a cleansing dew.

The cleansing power of aloha can soothe and heal.

Hurt, pain, and suffering yield to aloha’s healing power.

The massage itself is a huge gift, which comes from the heart.  Lomilomi is purely heart-centered, it is pure love. Auntie Margaret is often quoted as saying both, "I just love the person, God does the rest!" and, "Lomilomi is a praying work".  It is said that it is the prayers that really do the healing, not the technique, not the strokes. The receiver is acknowledged as an innocent and sacred being, worthy of unconditional love, grace, and blessings. The giver focuses on the perfection and wholeness of the receiver and bears witness to the Holy Spirit of Aloha and the Truth of their being.


In Lomilomi, as in all things Hawaiian, there is an association with the ancestors, and it is understood that the ancestors are always here with us, guiding us; and connected to us through our bodies. The Aumakua is said to breathe life back into the person needing assistance, but they must first ask for help. The High Self, the Higher Power, will not enter into your conscious mind without first being invited! Both the giver and the receiver are expected to ask the Aumakua to enter into their conscious awareness and assist with the healing taking place. Breath is also a very essential part of the process, as the most efficient and effective way of releasing stress and bringing rejuvenation to the cells of the body.


On a physical level, Lomilomi is also very heart-centered.  Fluids are being pushed in a variety of ways to and from the heart in a rhythmic, flowing pattern.  In this way, the circulation is increased, and the lymph system is deeply flushed and cleansed. A large amount of attention was also placed on the opu, the belly. The belly was known as the ruler of the body and working with the colon was an essential part of healing the whole body.


The body was known to have its own soul and its own consciousness. The body has roles to carry out; one of which was being a direct channel to the High Self, to access Divine messages and the energy of creation. The other role has to do with storing all our memories and taking directions from our conscious mind. When traumatic events occur in our life that we place judgment on, the energy of these memories becomes crystallized, lodging itself in different areas of the body, causing tension and all types of physical disturbances.


These crystallized memories can be found lodged in the connective tissue between the bones and the muscles. Lomilomi is a way of gently and lovingly clearing the channels along with the bones of the body, guiding all the energy needing to be released down and out the extremities. The nurturing strokes bring aloha (love) and mana (life force) into the body, which causes any crystallized memories to rise up to the surface to be acknowledged, forgiven, and released with the Ha breath.



Why Temple Style Lomilomi?

Temple Style Lomilomi is making waves, becoming one of the. The most popular forms of massage in the world today.


Temple Style Lomilomi to me is what happened when traditional Lomilomi met the 20th century, and then the '60s, 70's and 80's, and went to a whole new level.  The Old Hawaiian ways were beginning to resurface, and they collided with the sexual and spiritual revolution happening in America. As our society grew and changed, the healing needs of society changed as well, and temple style Lomi grew out of Hawaii to meet those needs.


The man who brought this form of Lomilomi to the Western world was Abraham Kawai'i, a Kahuna from Kauai.  
Abraham was trained in a traditional Hawaiian way, and he designed his workshops to help students to liberate themselves, and free themselves of any limiting thinking. Wayne met Abraham in the late '80s and was instrumental in the promotion of Abraham and the development of his career.  Abraham considered himself to be of kahuna status and enjoyed teaching what he knew with his students. He was a controversial figure and had a style all his own that he developed from Lua, a Hawaiian martial art, and Hula, Hawaiian dance. His philosophy was to take what tradition teaches you about Lomi and then go one step further, taking it to the next level.  


Temple Style Lomi is called Temple Style because each Lomilomi session is looked at as sacred, ceremonial healing.  The actual massage is fluid and flowing, like a dance, and incorporates more shamanic aspects of moving energy, breathwork, and communing with the elements and ancestors.  This style is also unique because of the joint rotations that are combined with the massage strokes. These joint rotations are very powerful and healing for the body and are only taught by some Temple style teachers.  Wayne, myself, and all the teachers Wayne has trained to teach, teach these joint rotations in our Aloha Mana training.


Temple Style uses elements and principles from the traditional Lomi massage but allows one to experience a slightly more sensuous and unpredictable style of massage.  When we teach Lomilomi, we still teach you the basic strokes, but then we teach you how to listen to the body and let it guide you. This type of healing process is very intuitive and students are encouraged to invent their own moves. This type of freedom does not come often in a therapeutic massage course or in a traditional Lomilomi Halau!


People often rave about their Temple Style Lomi sessions because the massage has such a profound impact on their being.  Once they have the Temple Style experience, they don't want to go back to the other forms of massage out there.


The reason for this is because they feel so honored and so deeply loved. The trancelike effect of the massage takes people on a shamanic journey.  Temple Style Lomi is known for its transformational effects. The aloha and the sensuous strokes induce states of ecstatic bliss! Because it is so intimate, it helps heal issues around intimacy or trust, emotional blocks, body issues, or anything that just needs a lot of love. The holy, sacred space that Temple Style Lomi Givers construct, offers a safe environment for people to become vulnerable, surrender, and open enough to release deeply buried wounds.


After releasing these deeply rooted, most cherished wounds, we find inside who we truly are, beyond the masks that we wear in the world, and we glimpse our true beauty and strength. We align with our True Path and our True Purpose, to live out our heart’s desire. There is definitely a huge need for this type of service in our society and our culture! No matter what style of Lomilomi you are receiving, one thing is for sure, you are receiving aloha, and so the breath of God is in your presence. I personally really enjoy all forms of Lomilomi, as long as they are performed by a practitioner who is very loving, and sensitive. We often find ourselves as practitioners, or Lomi Givers, mixing different styles of Lomilomi together, creating a perfect combination of strokes for that person’s personal needs.



This is truly a fascinating and humbling path to be on, one that opens many doors. I am eternally grateful for the spirit of aloha that flows through all things, and through those who help to keep the traditions of Hawaii and Lomilomi alive!


Mahalo nui loa, to all my teachers and the people of Hawaii

Imua!  (Press on, go forward!) Aloha!

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