I’ve been drawn to the Hawaiian Massage: Lomi Lomi, ever since I came across brief literature on it while in massage school. The forearm strokes and stretching techniques seemed a different way of working on the body. This approach through movements sparked my interest, as a deep tissue massage therapist, I became more interested in learning more and exploring this graceful style of bodywork.
My arrival in Hawaii
I knew it was going to be something special when I got off the plane at the Big Island, Hawaii, and took my first breath of warm, fragrant air.
The biggest of the Hawaiian islands and known for its unimaginable beauty, giant cliffs that tower above crashing waves, rivers of molten lava, lava fields, rainforests, and valleys of beautiful greenery. It was certainly going to be a captivating place for a nature lover like myself.
I was about to start four weeks of intensive training in Hawaiian Aloha Academy. At the little bayside town of Hilo, I was to meet my Lomi Lomi teacher, Angela Leslee who had lived and trained practitioners on the island for close to 20 years. Her lomi lomi training classes were widely respected and sought out by people from different walks of life.
Most of the workshop group were out on porch as I approached and I felt a warm welcome into the fascinating world of Hawaiian healing.
History of Lomi Lomi Massage
Many stories were imparted during my training. I was told how the Polynesians arrived from the Marquesas in Hawaii in the 3rd century, followed by Tahitian settlers in 1300AD, who conquered the original inhabitants and eliminated them. When Captain James Cook discovered the Hawaiian islands in 1778, the doors to the Western world opened and the era of ancient Hawaii gradually eradicated.
Over time, many traditions, including Lomi Lomi, were observed and prohibited by Christian missionaries who settled on the island. The Hawaiian monarchs were determined to hold on to their healing arts but native practices lost all protection with the overthrow of the monarchy in 1893 and the ensuing American annexation. In 1905, the Hawaiian American Territory banned native healers (kahunas) and anyone else practising traditional Hawaiian healing massage faced fines or imprisonment.
Lomi Lomi survived through the skilled kahunas who practiced and taught secretly. The 1905 law was finally revoked in 1973 and kahunas were able to legally practice Lomi Lomi again.
Among the things that stood out for me in the Hawaiian learning experience is the immersion style of learning by careful listening and self initiative. Basically four words: “Be quiet and listen.” You don’t have techniques, pathways in Hawaiian style — you get “You see?” Until you get so quiet you really can see and feel. In other workshops I attended, they demonstrated a technique when you work with someone else. Hawaiian style allows you a deeper breath of bravery ; you’re going to that second body work level. The Hawaiians Way is ‘You will eventually get there in your own wisdom’. That’s a big piece in Hawaiian culture: “No say, do!” “Don’t just talk about it, do it.”
I experienced similar active participation during the potluck lunch included within the workshop, students were asked to bring in some food the following day to share with each other. On the day of the lunch, it was truly something beautiful to experience the bonding benefits of making food and sharing with each other, we weren’t just talking about caring, we were living the Aloha spirit of Oneness and unity.