|Subscribe to my newsletter
to receive news of
upcoming massage classes.
BENEATH THE SURFACE
OF SOME KEY HAWAIIAN TERMS
USED BY LOMILOMI PRACTITIONERS
Lomilomi taps into unlimited healing potential. Intentionally holistic
and spiritual in its approach to healing, lomilomi can bring wholeness
and alignment back to the individual in body, mind and spirit. This
article explores some special Hawaiian terms and concepts that
frequently used by lomilomi practitioners and other Hawaiian cultural
practitioners. I love these words! They feed my spirit.
God, deity, divine elements, Universal Source, Divine Creator, spirit,
– back, rear
– literally: everything which came before us
With the passing of time and the intermingling of cultures, Hawaiian
use and interpretation of the term ke
has evolved. Pre-contact Hawaiians did not have the
concept of a single “supreme being” or
“divine creator”. Ke akua
generally to “spirit consciousness” and
specifically to beings in the spirit world with extraordinary mana
(spiritual power) who assisted people. These beings manifested in
various elements of nature, in the souls of people, or in ancestral
spirits. Since the arrival of Christianity in Hawaii, the term ke Akua
used for the Biblical God. Today universal thinkers may translate ke Akua
Power, Great Spirit, Divine Creator, Spirit of Peace, Harmony &
Love, or other titles.
: In sharing lomilomi we treat ourselves and each
person who comes to us as mirrors of ke Akua
whatever form we personally experience spirit consciousness.
– honoring the Divine Presence – the presence of,
the face of;
– the breath of life
When we express aloha
we identify with our common divine foundation. We recognize and treat
all creation as ‘ohana
(family), as an extension ourselves.
: Lomilomi restores health and well being as we
relate to people who come to us, and also to ourselves, with aloha
Breath of Life, specifically the exhale
Greetings shared between people in traditional Hawaiian manner include
an exchange of ha
which connects the greeting parties in shared presence and shared aloha
with awareness of our connection, we nurture our mana
When we breathe easily we engage our truest selves; when our breath is
restricted the fullness of our being is limited.
: We use breath in lomilomi as the medium of our
spirit and attitude. Our breath unites our body, mind and heart. Our
intentions on our inhale determine the outcome or attitude of our words
or actions on our exhale. Lomilomi can free both the giver and
ha'a - low
Strength is implicit with the Hawaiian understanding of humility; ha’aha’a
is never subservient. We are each but a single aspect of divine
creation; we are as a single drop of water in an immense ocean, a
single twinkling star in the expansive heavens. As a single aspect of
Oneness, we each carry kuleana
for) ourselves and also to contribute to the Whole. The blueprint for
all of creation is contained within each of us, so that although we are
each infinitesimally small, we reflect the entire universe.
: The lomilomi practitioner knows that the
receiver is ultimately responsible for receiving the benefits of the
lomi session and for their own unique healing journey. Our job as
lomilomi practitioners is simply to be a vehicle of the healing
process, to be a conduit for mana
and for ke Akua
and to do our best.
Make right within ourselves, our families, our ancestors, and our
When we are not pono
(in balance) ma’i
(illness) can appear in an individual, a family, a
community, a nation. This illness may be physical, emotional, mental or
the process of setting things right, can include acknowledging and
releasing our harmful thoughts and actions and making amends.
Ho’oponopono involves releasing guilt and blame and granting
and accepting forgiveness. Ho’oponopono
restores our connection with ke Akua
(Source) and opens channels for our mana
: Lomilomi restores and replenishes health by
facilitating a return to pono
(balance) and connection with Ke
. As lomilomi therapists, we practice ho’oponopono
ourselves to nurture our own well being and our capacity to guide the
healing process. Sometimes we simply model this process. Other times we
may specifically encourage our clients to identify disruptions in their
lives, rectify them, and thus release blocked energy, not only during
the massage, but in all parts of their lives.
these words refer to ancestors
(note: ‘ancestors’ is only one translation of the
Both of these words are also commonly used with other meanings.)
Ancient Hawaiians nurtured their connection to Oneness spanning time
and space. This Oneness includes connection to those dearly departed -
those who have “changed address” from the human to
spiritual realm. In the spiritual realm our ancestors can continue to
guide those of us still living in human form.
: In sharing lomilomi we can be aware of the
influence of our ancestors on our bodies, minds and spirits. We can
give and receive both gratitude and forgiveness for our
ancestors’ contributions and wrongdoings in a way that can
lead to healing, including physical healing, in the present.
genuinely care for something, someone, as if it were our own
From the concept of aloha
we are all connected to the Divine and to all aspects of manifestation.
We all share the ha
of life, and this understanding guides malama.
: As lomilomi practitioners we malama
ourselves and our clients. We protect and care for our
client’s well being. A simple reminder from Aunty Margaret is
to “love the body as if it were your own.”
force, like chi or Ki, inner Light
Polynesian power source for healing. We are each born with a measure of
we tend our inner Light, it grows in strength. We cultivate our mana
practices of meditation, thought and action, and with malama
both our selves and our connection to all creation. We can direct our mana
changes around us - a substantial responsibility.
: Using mana
a lomilomi practitioner can use breath, prayer, intention and fluid
lomilomi motions to gain healing access to inner links connecting each
of us, the environment and Universal Spirit, and thereby influence
healing on multiple levels.
The lower abdomen, the intestines, the “gut”
Hawaiians traditionally identify the na'au
the center of wisdom, emotion, mana
and physical strength. The expression “gut feeling”
reflects this understanding of our bellies being the core of our being,
the seat of emotion.
: In lomilomi our physical, mental, emotional and
flow from our na’au.
I find that this applies even on the simple
physical level; when I massage someone's belly, their shoulders and
hips move more smoothly. Massaging the belly helps the
recipient connect with their core or multiple levels.
‘oha – taro corm
na – a common suffix
‘ohana – literally: a taro corm with offspring
Hawaiians traditionally have a heightened awareness of the Self being
connected to every part of everything. A defining traditional Hawaiian
story describes the kalo
(taro) plant as the first born child of Father Sky and Mother Earth,
and mankind as the second child. Thus, nature and people are siblings
born to the same parents at the start of time and all of nature -
including mankind - shares a common genealogy as part of Divine
(divine life force) exists within ka
(the ocean), ka
(the land), and within every plant, animal
and person. As the elder sibling kalo,
representing nature – feeds mankind; as the younger sibling
mankind has the kuleana
(responsibility) to tend and care for nature.
: As lomilomi practitioners we malama
our clients as members of our divine family. We aloha
(elders), na kumu
and our fellow lomi practitioners.
Hawaiians envision a triple piko
(head) is our piko where our aumakua
(ancestor gods) hover. This piko
with Spirit and with our ancestors. Our navel is our piko
connecting us with our current generation of blood-kin.
“Pehea kou piko?” translates literally as,
your navel?” and means, “How are you and your whole
family?” Our third piko
our genitals, is our visible bond with our decedents. Our
can be experienced as a structural time line within our bodies
connecting us with our ancestors and descendants.
our consciousness can create restriction in the movement of our spines.
In giving lomilomi sessions we can approach the bodies we tend with
awareness of their connections with many generations of
The unlimited healing potential of lomilomi crosses generational
lines. We can be aware of the three piko as special energy
centers. We can connect with our clients by focusing our
on our own piko
and our exhale on their piko
Balance, rightness, correctness
When our lives align for the highest for all of creation, and we treat
all with aloha, with justice and fairness, we are pono
being at physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual levels.
As lomilomi practitioners when we align with the highest good, we open
the path for unlimited healing potential to manifest in both our own
lives and those of people who come to us.
to pray, to cast a spell
Just as the term ke
has evolved with the passing of time and the
intermingling of cultures, the term
has also evolved. It is currently most
commonly translated as
can be used to
call on ke Akau
in whatever form a person experiences ke Akua
(See the discussion on ke
above.) Traditionally, pule
calling on Spirit(s) to ask permission for what one was about to do, to
request help, or to express gratitude. Pule
sometimes been used as a means of ‘casting a spell’
intended to harm others.
For many people, when we pule, we affirm our relationship with our
Divine Source. We honor, respect, and give thanks to Source and also
humbly ask for guidance and protection. Pule
lomilomi practitioners we “center” ourselves
and after each lomilomi session in order to be fully present and
focused on the session at hand and connected with our own highest good
as well as that of the person we are working with. Many of us
prayer to do so, and thereby open in the depth of our beings to
Spirit’s flow and guidance, and to connect ourselves and our
client with the Source of all Life.
practitioners we are mindful that while many people thrive on prayer,
other people have experienced pain and even harm from their experiences
with religion, including prayer. We seek ways which best
our clients to center and to connect with their true and best
selves. Some other ways to center include using conscious
or simply focusing on the highest healing potential for ourselves and
This information was compiled by Barbara Helynn Heard
drawing on these published books and articles:
- “The Sacred Tradition of Hawaiian
Lomilomi” by Marcel Hernandez, N.D. in Feb, 2001 Hawaii
- Change We Must by Nana Veary
- Hawaiian Dictionary by Pukui and Elbert
- Big Island Massage by Nancy Kahalewai
- Man, Gods, and Nature by Michael Kioni Dudley
- Nana I ke Kumu by Mary Kawena Pukui, E. W. Haertig, M.D.,
Catherine A. Lee
- Tales of the Night Rainbow by Pali Jae Lee
and also from conversation, handouts, my notes and websites of/with
people and organizations:
- Mahealani Henry
- Aupuni Iwi’ula of the Kalama Foundation
- Lucia Tarallo Jensen
- Shawn Lasalla Kimmel
- Serge Kahili King
- David Lewis (Sheila O’Malley’s text
on David's website was my original inspiration for this article)
- Aunty Margaret Machado
- Dane Silva of Hale Ola
- Maka’ala Yates, D. C.
- Foundation of I
Barbara Helynn Heard
For more information visit www.lomilomi-massage
at msn dot com
Phone 1-206-323-5871 Seattle, Washington
All materials are copyrighted. If you would like to post
your website or use it as training material, permission is granted as
long as all contact and credit information remains intact