My Personal Journey with LomiLomi
I was first touched by the fragrant embrace of the ‘aina (the land of Aloha) on the island Oahu in Hawaii in 1977, while on vacation with a friend. Little did I know then how the gifts of the Hawaiian tradition and lomilomi would become a part of my life.In 1985 I received my first professional massage after being injured in a car accident. I was so impressed with the healing I experienced. Four years later I was ready for a career change and decided to give notice at the Chevron gas station I had been managing for 7 years and go back to school. I chose to attend Brian Utting School of Massage.
Growing up as a basketball and volleyball player in high school and college I had considered P.E., athletic training, or physical therapy as possible majors. I loved giving and receiving back rubs. I was always told I had good hands and gave a great rub. I had taken 10 years of piano lessons growing up, which allowed me to develop good strength in my hands. So choosing to study massage seamed a perfect fit.
I was so excited to be back in school. I immediately felt I had found my calling. I loved giving massage. I knew through personal experience, the profound healing benefits of massage as well. During school I easily logged my hours of giving and receiving outside of class. Near the end of the school year I experienced my first sight of Lomilomi massage when Shawn LaSala Kimmel came to speak and demonstrate at Brian Utting School of Massage. The prayerful dance, rhythm, and graceful flow of the Hawaiian work along with the metaphysical meaning and story behind the work moved me to tears.
I began my studies with Shawn in Hawaii in 1991. I took every class she offered for the next 4 years and logged 510 hours of continuing education in lomilomi. My bodywork style and personal growth has been greatly influenced by Shawn.
In 1992 I met Jim Hartley, my husband to be at one of the trainings. In 1993, we both met Aupuni ‘ Iwi Ula a native Hawaiian. Through a series of events we had brought a Hawaiian made fan home for him because of a request he made of a mutual friend. We encouraged him to share his Hawaiian teachings of spirituality, energy, and lomilomi. In 1995 he began The Kalama Foundation. We were some of his first students. During the next 4 years I completed 210 hours of continuing education with him. Aupuni has influenced my understanding of energy, group process, and circle sharing greatly.
In July of 1995 Jim and I were married and I moved my practice from Bellevue, Wa. to Olympia, Wa. During our honeymoon in Hawaii, Jim and I met Auntie Margaret Machado. I was very touched by her presence, love, and intuitive vision. She immediately knew from my countenance exactly where I was holding tension in my body. I was struck by her deep sense of the power of prayer, ho’oponopono (forgiveness), and loving the body. You could feel her Aloha so easily and deeply.
I knew I would like to study with her one day. When I returned home I raised my rates and began setting the extra fee aside in my dream account. In February 2000, when Auntie was 83 years old, I flew to Hawaii to attend a one month, 150 hour program with her. Mark LaMore, a 20 year student of Auntie’s, was our main teacher, and as Auntie’s health allowed she was there with us every day. She would look across the room and remind us to have soft hands, and love the body. She taught us how to go down to the ocean’s edge each day at sunset.
We were to review the day in our mind and as the sun set ask for forgiveness for any harm we had done ourselves or another that day. And also be willing to forgive any harm that had been done to us. Auntie Margaret taught me about being clear and current in my life, being willing to surrender to healing, love, and forgiveness. She deeply touched my heart and affected my personal journey. Hawaiian salt water colon cleansing was also a part of Auntie’s teaching. Many of the strokes and concepts Auntie taught us we have incorporated into Heartspire Lomilomi including soft hands and love the body and the lomilomi stroke.
In February of 2000 my husband Jim graduated from Alexander Massage School. He then came to Hawaii to be at my graduation from Auntie’s school, and we celebrated together.
In 2001, we first met Nancy Kahalewai when she was on book tour on Whidbey Island. She brought Daniel Albers with her to demonstrate lomilomi. They were going to be in Washington for a month. We convinced Daniel to come to Olympia and teach his basic lomilomi. We quickly put together a group of people for him to teach and hosted him at our school. We had him back again to teach Deep Tissue in 2002. We learned a lot of new strokes along with the Hawaiian names of the strokes. His style had an easy natural flow and a bit faster pace than ours. We incorporate many of his strokes in our Heartspire lomilomi classes.
In 2004 we hosted Dr. Maka’ala Yates, a native Hawaiian, for a Clinical Lomilomi class. Then in 2006 he returned again to lead us all on our first Hawaiian Salt Water Colon Cleanse. He was one of Auntie Margaret’s early students, and an original voyager on the trip back to Hawaii from Tahiti in the Hokulea, Hawaii’s famous double-hulled canoe. We learned about sinking down to the bone with soft but deep touch. We also experienced great healing with our personal health through the colon cleanse. Dr. Maka’ala Yates is someone who truly walks his talk.
In 2004, we met Dougie McKeague a native Hawaiian man who practiced lomilomi in Redmond, Wa. He spent some time with us in our home and taught us a little about opu huli, piko huli, and breathwork. His love of Spirit expressed through the healing touch of lomilomi can be felt by all he comes in contact with. He is a wonderful musician as well. We enjoyed our experiences of Aloha with Dougie and share his belly work in Heartspire lomilomi classes.
In the summer of 2005 we hosted Nancy Kahalewai in our home for an informal gathering of lomilomi teachers from Wa. and Oregon. We had a wonderful time sharing lomilomi, talk story, good food, and Aloha. I received a little bodywork at that gathering from Wayne Powell. The work really opened up my right hip which has had limited range for many years. So I gave myself a birthday present of attending his 9 day fall training on Salt Spring Island. I especially loved the joint rotation sequences for the hips, knees, ankles, and shoulders, elbows, and wrists. I immediately began incorporating them into our deep tissue classes. Then Jim and I both attended his 2006 and 2007 Summer Lomilomi Reunions in the Skagit Valley. We enjoyed meeting some fabulous bodyworkers, and learned some advanced work as well as sharing a little of our own.
Then in August 2006 we had the opportunity to study with Nancy Kahalewai and Mahealani Henry on a Lomilomi cruise. We had an amazing time with a wonderful group of Japanese students. We deepened our knowledge of lomilomi and teaching by spending time with Nancy. Mahealani shared her teaching of Pono ke Ala (The path of excellence). We also had the opportunity to learn hula from her sister Neaulani Henry.
Our most recent teacher Harry Uhane Jim (author of Wise Secrets of Aloha) came into our lives in the summer and fall of 2010. We attended a 5 day intensive with Harry and his wife Sila in Iowa at Windemere School of the Healing Arts in June of 2010, then we hosted Harry in Olympia at our school for a 3 day workshop in October 2010. Harry’s warmth and humor as a teacher and his reminder that “I am enough!” and all I need to do is reach out and ask for “Help!” and it will be there, are some of his teaching catch phrases. He shares about Lomi Ha (breathwork), Lau Lima (laying on of hands), Creating Space (a gentle stretching technique) and Bone Washing (releasing the cherished wounds stored in the bones). I highly recommend his book and teachings. We incorporated some of his teachings into our 2011 classes.
In 2011 we co-taught a spring and fall Ho’oponopono Retreat with Harry and Shilah. In 2012 we plan to attend a 10 day Gathering Gathering of the Light Bearers workshop with Harry and Sila in Hawaii. We will have a special opportunity to experience Pu’uhonua o’ Honaunau “The City of Refuge” while we are there.” We hope to offer a Fall Retreat again this year with Harry and Sila.
Some of the gifts lomilomi has brought me along the way are an opportunity to deepen, align, and love myself through prayer and Aloha. I’ve learned to care for the altar of my body through lomilomi and have incorporated exercise and have released 50 lbs. bringing my body into a better state of balance. I’ve listened to the call of holy spirit and allowed myself to be a (good straw), for healing energy to move through me, both in working with intention and prayer in my massage and teaching. I’ve opened to be in relationship with my ancestors, and through prayer and forgiveness am carrying forward my lineage in a good way. I’ve experienced deep healing in the faith I was brought up in and have circled around and returned into my roots of faith.
Over the years, beginning in 1994, teaching has been a natural progression of my personal journey and love of lomilomi. By holding space for others I’ve allowed myself to hold bigger space for myself and my wholeness. I love watching the ripple of lomilomi and Aloha spread out in the world. By teaching others this beautiful work I have the opportunity to touch so many more people through my student’ s hands and hearts. I have had the opportunity to teach in Alberta, Washingtion, Idaho, Iowa, Michigan, and assist in the waters off Hawaii on a cruise. I’ve also enjoyed being asked into teach in these schools: Corteva Brian Utting, Body Mechanics in Olympia, Everest in Tacoma, American Institute of Clinical Massage in Post Falls Idaho, and Windemere in Decorah Iowa.
I have hope that the Aloha Spirit of love will always flow through Lomilomi and richly bless our human relationships, the earth and all we come into contact with helping us to live up to the Hawaii State Motto.
Ua mau ke ea o ka ‘aina I ka pono. The very life, breathe, and spirit of the land endures forever in right relationship with people and all living things.