"Touch the body with a loving touch. If your hands are gentle and loving, your
patient will feel the sincerity of your heart. His soul will reach out to yours,
and the Lord's healing will flow through you both."
Aunty Margaret Machado
Early visitors to Hawaii noticed and commented on this healing art as
Archibald Menzies wrote in 1803, "A number of natives placed themselves around us to Lomi Lomi and pinch our limbs, an operation which we found on these occasions,
very lulling and pleasing when gently performed.”
In the 1820's early
missionaries to the Hawaiian Islands found the native healers to be accurate in
their diagnosis and treatment of illness, and in mending broken bones, however
they considered the Hawaiians to be heathens and in 1893, after years of
political upheaval, the new government outlawed all spiritual traditions,
including the healing arts, study of the Hawaiian language and hula dancing.
But the sacred traditions did not die; they were hidden and practiced in
secrecy, passed down only within the Hawaiian community (ohana), through "iki
maka lihilihi a maka alawa", which means “to do by observation and insight.”
In 1973, Aunty Margaret Machado, a respected kupuna (elder) from the Big Island,
decided to share her family's knowledge by teaching it to anyone who had a
sincere desire to learn, Hawaiian or not. She felt it was time for the ancient
healing gift of Lomi Lomi to be felt throughout the world. While Aunty Margaret
was criticized by many in the Hawaiian community for revealing the secrets of
Lomi Lomi, it was through her efforts that Lomi Lomi was brought to the
forefront of a resurgence of interest in native Hawaiian healing. The history of
Lomi Lomi, however, goes back to the beginning of the history of Hawaii.
Defining Lomi Lomi
Lomi Lomi is a form of Holistic Bodywork.
"It is correct to say that Lomi Lomi encompasses a massage, but it is not
limited to it. Native Hawaiians say the true definition of Lomi Lomi is
reconnecting with spirit." One may ask if it is like a Swedish massage; Aunty
Margaret says absolutely "no." It's very different she says. "It's a praying
work. Each student learns to pray first to God."
One of the common similarities among Lomi Lomi practitioners of old was the
power and knowledge they had. That is, their ability to communicate deep to the
bones of their patients via their touch through soft tissues, yet being
noninvasive and connecting it all with spirit, says Maka'ala Yates, a Hawaiian
The Lomi Lomi technique focused on finding congested areas in the body and
dispersing them, by moving the palms, thumbs, knuckles and forearms in rhythmic,
dance-like motions. Setting the intention for healing, the kahuna would also
utilize prayer (pule), breath (ha) and energy (mana). The practice of Lomi Lomi
was common within each Hawaiian community and contributed to a vibrant, healthy
Lomi Lomi literally means “knead-knead.” Aunty Margaret who is on of the oldest
and widely recognized teacher of Lomi Lomi has this definition of Lomi Lomi
which is: “The Loving Touch – a connection of heart, hands and soul with the
Source of All Life.” Students of Lomi Lomi learn to flow the love from the
heart, through the hands, to connect with the soul of the one receiving the
massage. Healing is increased by love, love received and love given. In the
Oxford Dictionary the definition of love is “fondness, a deep or passionate
affection to someone or something.” To the Hawaiians it is so much more, it also
includes tolerance, forgiveness, acceptance, non judgment, appreciation,
compassion, respect and so many other elements. This is the very foundation of a
Lomi Lomi massage.
To understand the depth of Lomi Lomi massage, it helps to have an understanding
of the Hawaiian philosophy called Huna, and how the philosophies of Huna relate
to bodywork and healing. A fundamental assumption of Huna is that everything
seeks harmony and everything seeks love. So how does this relate to massage?
Perhaps this can best be understood by one of the alternate names for Lomi Lomi,
and that is "Loving Hands" massage. The reason for this is that it works gently
yet deeply into the muscles with continuous, flowing strokes, totally nurturing
the body and, enabling the recipient to relax, give in and simply be. So, whilst
technique is an important part of the massage and associated healing, much of
the work is done by love, with the focus of the practitioner on the client being
deep and complete, using loving hands and a loving heart.
This flowing with total energy, using the long continuous, flowing strokes,
combined with the very loving touch, relaxes the entire being, assisting in a
letting go of old beliefs, patterns and behaviors that cause limitations and
which are stored in the cells of our body. People generally think of memory,
beliefs, our "programming", as being stored in our head, in our brain. This is
not the case. This memory, and other programming, is, in fact, stored in all the
cells of our body.
The Hawaiians look at things in terms of energy flow, suggesting that an idea or
belief can block energy flow as much as muscle tension can. Lomi Lomi helps
release the blockages, whilst at the same time giving the energy new direction.
Thus Lomi Lomi is not just a physical experience; it also facilitates healing on
the mental, emotional and spiritual levels as well. The Hawaiians view all
aspects of the body as one and believe that the physical, mental, emotional and
spiritual are all part of the "whole" self - when healing is effected on one
level, all levels are affected.
When harmony is lacking, the effect is pain physically, mentally, emotionally or
spiritually. Illness is a state of tension, which leads to resistance, which
blocks energy movement. Lomi Lomi helps release this and, therefore, facilitates
the road to healing. On the physical level, through Lomi Lomi, stress and
tension are relieved, the flow of blood and lymph is assisted and the elimination of
wastes and toxins stimulated.
The Lomi Lomi Massage
A Lomi Lomi
usually commences with stillness between the practitioner and client, often with
the practitioner’s hands gently resting on the clients back. In this stillness
the practitioner will quietly say a blessing or prayer asking for whatever
healing is needed to take place during the massage. Alternatively or as well,
the client may be asked to set their intention for any healing they would like
to receive. The therapist then works very intuitively with the client. In this
respect, there is no set format or sequence for the massage and no two massages
will ever be identical.
The massage is given in fluid, rhythmic motion using the forearms as well as the
hands. Some people have described this as feeling like gentle waves moving over
the body. Another feature is that different parts of the body may be massaged at
the same time. For example, one arm or hand may be working on a shoulder and the
other hand may be working on the opposite hip. This assists the recipient in
totally relaxing, as it is impossible or at least extremely difficult for the
brain to focus on the two different areas at once. By not working on areas in
isolation, a deep sense of balance and harmony is achieved. As I said earlier,
whilst technique is important, the priority is loving the body, using intuition
so the massage is "right" for the client. The client on the table is not viewed
as someone to be fixed, but a being to be returned to harmony and balance. It is
important to remember that the practitioner does not heal but is the facilitator
for the healing.
Under body and full body strokes also help to free the energy, make the body
soft, promoting free and abundant flow of life energy in the recipient.
According to Huna philosophy, energy also gets blocked in the joints. Gentle
stretches of the body and gentle rotations of the joints are therefore also
incorporated to assist the release of tensions and assist the flow of energy.
Once again not forcing, but feeling the level of the client’s resistance or
comfort. The therapist may also hum at various points during the Lomi Lomi as
the vibrating and amplified energy that results also aids the release of
Dance work or hula movements, combined with the breath work of the practitioner
are also important and integral aspects of Lomi Lomi. The reason for the
hula-type dance around the table whilst massaging is not just because it looks
cute! The movements are all-important to assisting the energy flow both within
the practitioner and recipient and help keep the energy at a high level. This
combined with breathing techniques by the therapist are also important in
assisting the energy flow. The sharing of the breath, the essence of the Creator
or universal energy--whatever name you like to give it--is an old Hawaiian
custom and greatly enhances the energy flow once again.
Because the practitioner works intuitively, a massage may be slow and very
relaxing or at times it may be a little faster and, therefore, more invigorating
and enlivening to the body. Sometimes the recipient may experience an emotional
release as the massage can release and shift negative emotions, negative beliefs
and other "stuff" that has been stored in the cells of the body, with the
healing effects of the massage continuing long after the massage is over.
While Lomi Lomi is often referred to as a spiritual massage, the technique is
also practical and specific. It is, for example, effective in breaking up
calcium deposits and lactic acid build-up. This is accomplished by a variety of
movements, such as circular thumb strokes that are done in a one-two-three
rhythm directly over the area. Knuckle strokes are used on larger, denser
muscles in the same rhythm, followed by soothing forearm strokes and hacking.
In addition to Lomi Lomi's physical benefits are the emotional releases felt
during and after a session. Recipients of a Lomi Lomi treatment often experience
freedom from anxiety, worry, fear and a host of other negative thought patterns.
This freedom comes only when the practitioner is aware of their responsibility
to the client.
"It is a process that allows the patient to meet the practitioner mid-way in
their crisis so healing can take place." Yates says. "It is the Lomi Lomi
practitioner's responsibility to guide and treat each patient with right
intentions using the correct protocol of treatment based on his/her feelings.
The purpose of Lomi Lomi is to bring alignment back to the individual in body,
mind and spirit."
During a genuine Lomi Lomi session, the therapist is aligned with divine energy,
and keeps his or her heart and mind clear for Spirit to move through them as a
conduit for healing energy. Proper breathing and pure thoughts are important.
According to the Hawaiians, thoughts contain mana, or energy. When thoughts are
combined with touch and breath they are transferred to the receiver. Therefore,
the therapist's thoughts must be focused on love and healing.
If something has occurred which interferes with the therapist's ability to
control their thoughts, then ho’oponopono is practiced. Ho’oponopono is a prayer
of forgiveness and of making things right. It must be done if we have harmed
another person or ourselves in thought, word or deed. Ho’óponopono "is a
spiritual practice of making things right with yourself and all others before
God. One who truly practices ho'oponopono is one who takes a daily inventory of
his or her thoughts. This practice is frequently performed at sundown as a way
to end the day with a right heart. Any intent to harm, any conscious or
unconscious attitudes of malice, jealousy, or hatred must be rooted out and
replaced with aloha. Aloha is recognizing the divine nature in every living
Ho'opnopono is a Spiritual practice which was nearly lost in the last few
generations. It is a precisely structured traditional family health maintenance
procedure in which discordant family conflicts and problems are resolved through
pule, discussion, confession, repentance, and mutual restitution, forgiveness,
release and severance. Its overall goal is to "set things right", to correct and
restore pono among family members.
Learning Lomi Lomi
Most therapists come to Lomi Lomi after years of doing other types of massage
and bodywork. One can expect months of training and years of practice to truly
master the technique. This is due to the mental and emotional clarity and
physical stamina required of the practitioner. Many massage traditions teach
that the therapist must continually shield him or herself from negativity that
may be coming from the client, but Lomi Lomi teaches the opposite. The client is
considered to be the vulnerable one, open to and receiving the therapist's
energy, positive or negative. Lomi Lomi practitioners must learn to control
their thoughts and trust in their higher selves in order to direct positive
healing energy to clients. Dedicated practitioners know that this is a constant
process of self-awareness and prayer.
Some months ago a new client, who for years had concerns about her size, was in
tears at the end of the massage. She told me that it was the first time in her
life she had ever felt safe & beautiful. Why do I do what I do? – That’s why.
The old ways of the Hawaiian ancestors are being absorbed into a technological
world; however, the original intention of aloha remains. A Lomi Lomi session is
a respite from the outside world. My passion with Hawaiian healing and wisdom
continues to grow and expand, and so do my regular sojourns to my island home to
reconnect with the energy that feeds my soul. My desire is to spread the Aloha
Spirit and bring as much of the energy and wisdom back to create a little piece
of paradise here.
My use of the term “Aunty or Uncle” is a term of respect on the islands of
Hawaii, not a blood relationship term.
Aloha Mai - I come with love.
About the Author
Kjol Lahti is “The Finnish/American therapist who does Hawaiian bodywork that
professional athletes trust” He is a practitioner and assistant instructor of
Lomi Lomi massage. Lomi Lomi massage sessions last 2+hours in length and longer.
He also does a 5-day Hawaii massage package, which is a 2+hour session each day
for 5 days straight. He is also an instructor of Kahi Loa, another type of
Hawaiian bodywork and an instructor of Quantum-Touch a energy healing modality.
He has also taught Clinical Soft Tissue classes at Massage Schools. He has a massage studio in the Bear Lake area on the border of
Utah/Idaho and he can be contacted via his web site
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