Kahi Loa Ho’okhi (Mana Healing) represents a traditional form of healing that was used by the Hawaiian masters. Kahi Loa means “long glide,” and Ho’okhi means “oneness,” and the healing is accomplished by stimulating the flow of sacred mana to harmonize the mind and body with nature. Passed down by oral tradition through many generations, this practice was part of a sacred healing ceremony and was firmly established in family life. The kahunas saw that all life springs from the same elemental force, and, through their ceremonies, they called upon the vital energies with breathing rituals, blessings, and chanting. The healing powers of plants, herbs, and stones were also used, as well as the well-known healing power of touch. The primary form of bodywork used by the kahunas was known as Huna Kane Temple Massage. It was a considered a sacred process that focused on the god within and the enhancement of innate psychic abilities. Huna is Hawaiian for “secret,” and that name began to be used when Western missionaries drove the practices underground during the 1820s. But even after it was outlawed, the elders and lapa’au (“special healers”) continued the practices in secret. In the early 1900s, Max Long devoted his life to uncovering the methods and teachings of what he called Huna Therapy. He founded the Huna Fellowship and was instrumental in spreading awareness of the practices.
Bearing a significant part of the Huna philosophy, Hawaiian Lomi Lomi Massage evolved out of the temple massage originally performed by medical kahunas. This method of bodywork was first introduced to the United States in the 1880s by Douglas Graham but it wasn’t until the 1970s, when Auntie Margaret Machado brought Lomi Lomi to the general public, that the practice resurfaced as an accepted form of therapy and was spread throughout the world by her students. many styles were passed down orally in all levels of society, the temple style known as Ke Ala Hoku and Machado’s Big Island Kahu style are the ones most commonly found today. Although the term Lomi Lomi is now widely used, in Hawaii the people performing the bodywork are called Kanaka Lomi, which means “massage person.”
This spiritually based form of massage, sometimes called loving hands therapy, represents the best of the traditional spirit of aloha combined with modern wisdom. The invocation of the power of mana, breathing techniques, visualization, chanting, and prayers asking for the free flow of energy through the recipient are blended with a variety of long, flowing massage strokes. This work is primarily about touch that embodies the principles of caring, support, and nurturing—giving love through skilled touch. The practitioner holds a space of giving and receiving so that a healing change of mind, body, and spirit can take place in the recipient. The practitioner also connects with a higher power while identifying the client’s problems and applying the therapy. The primary goal of Lomi Lomi is to help recipients remove all sorts of blockages, become more aware of their inner and outer environments, and create a more harmonious appreciation of themselves and the world around them. These are often feelings that come from the gut rather than from the mind. Today, the essence of the practice remains the same, though it has mostly lost the ceremonial aspects. However, depending on their particular lineage or training, some practitioners still retain some of the ritual. The most frequently used adjunct practices are Ho’oponopono (the restoring of harmony and healing of relationships with reconciliation and forgiveness), colonics, cleansing steam baths, and the use of cleansing teas.
A full-body treatment, Lomi Lomi uses the power of loving intention and prayer to stimulate the flow of mana while the practitioner’s palms, elbows, forearms, and sometimes feet apply both gentle pressure and vigorous rubbing, stroking, and kneading. The intention is to relax the muscles, increase circulation, and break down adhesions. This work focuses on the skin, which is the largest organ of elimination in the body, as well as particular body points known as kaomi. Massaging the skin with light finger pressure or stroking movements is intended to release toxins back into the bloodstream for later excretion. The whole body from head to toe may be treated by raking, pinching, and sweeping the hands over its surface as the practitioner “listens” with the hands. The progressively deeper, rhythmic strokes flow directly from one area to the next over the whole body. The continuous, fluid strokes, very broad hand movements, rotations of recipient’s body, and deep, rhythmic vibrational rocking are similar to Swedish Massage, but they are more often done with the palm, elbow, and forearm and include figure-eight patterns. The major joints are stretched and rotated for further deep-tissue relief. Acupressure point work and Hot Stone Massage may also be used. Special forms of this treatment have been developed for women before and after giving birth.
Since access to the body surface is important, Lomi Lomi is usually performed in a warm setting on a unclothed client who is draped with a cloth or sheet. There is ample use of coconut or kukui-nut oil, except when applying cross-fiber friction techniques, and herbs, ti leaves, and smooth, hot volcanic stones are sometimes placed on certain spots to soften and warm the body while the hand work continues.
Many other Polynesian islands spread across the Pacific Ocean use forms of massage therapy similar to that found in Hawaii. Generally speaking, the traditional Polynesian massage found among these island groups shows some variations in technique, but for the most part uses similar stretching, body flexing, and rubbing movements with only moderate pressure, often in conjunction with the soothing use of aromatic oils and hot stones.
This modality comes from “Our Inner Ocean”, a book by Captain LeCain W. Smith: The author, LeCain W. Smith, learned early in life that his personal path to awakening was through ocean sailing, bodywork, and transformational energetic experiences. When living on the sea, making friends with the elements and with nature, he uncovered his passion for adventure, exploration, fitness, and health. He spent many years studying and experiencing bodywork and practicing yoga, qigong, breath-work, and meditation. This passion, combined with seeing numerous friends struggle with health problems, eventually drove Smith to reach out and help others through the writing of this book. If this endeavor changes the life of only one person, he will consider it a success.
Good health is something we all aspire to, but it’s so much more than just being free of disease. A perfectly functioning body, tranquil mind, and vibrant spirit working together harmoniously create the joy and happiness that put the good in good health and the worth into a life worth living. Our Inner Ocean describes ancient and new holistic modalities of practitioner-applied bodywork and revitalizing self-care practices.