Tony Crawford Reflects on Lomi Lomi Massage
Over my 20 years as an L.M.T., I have come across many therapists who aren’t familiar with the art of Lomi Lomi Massage. It is not a well known modality, and it is taught in very few schools throughout the country. I had never heard of it in my first ten years of practice. Then, I discovered a Lomi Lomi workshop.
Other than having the courage to initially sign up for massage school, taking that workshop was the second most important career choice I have made. It was a true game changer. This work has changed the way I think about Massage. It has helped my client’s well-being tremendously. It has increased my business, and, more importantly, it has changed the way I think as I proceed with my life’s journey.
Lomi is performed using your forearms much more so than in Swedish Massage. It is using your body weight to your advantage. This allows long flowing motions that will relax both your body and your mind.
What is Lomi?
If you think of massage as a powerful form of healing, then Lomi must be considered one of the most profound forms of massage. These are bold words, but true. Lomi Lomi loosely translated means to knead, or to rub. It is an ancient form of Hawaiian bodywork that was considered by some to be a rite of passage for the villagers, performed by kahunas and elders. Each community had its own style and form of Lomi. At the end of the day it was still about healing, healing the body, healing the mind, and healing the spirit. I have found it to be a form of cleansing, and through your work and your presence, you can facilitate healing, allowing your client to let go of both physical pain, as well as emotional pain.
We have all learned in school the typical sequence of Swedish massage. Most therapists been trained to work from body part to body part. We finish the back then move on to an arm or leg, rarely going back to the part already worked. Your client can “guess” what’s next, when it is time to turn over, and when you are done. This keeps their conscious mind working in a logical pattern, following your moves and keeping track of your work. It feels great, but are they really relaxing and letting go? Is any emotional healing taking place?
Lomi works on a different and deeper level. Lomi works the whole body as one and not just as individual parts. Lomi is best described as a “rhythmic dance around the body.” It works from the neck, down the back, and down the legs, then back up and over to the other side. This sequence is repeated as needed stopping along the way and concentrating on a leg, a back or arm as the practitioner feels is needed, then going back to the “dance.”
The great part about Lomi is that as you work the muscle structure becomes warm and loose and deep work becomes so much easier on you and less painful to your client. An example I often use with my students is that a muscle is like a stick of butter. Take a stick of butter out of the refrigerator. Try putting your finger in it, you can’t. Rub that butter for a few minutes and your finger goes deeper and deeper. Massage, any massage, is no different than that stick of butter. Lomi has a special way of warming and caring for each muscle so deeper work can be performed easily, painlessly, and as needed.
Lomi is performed on a clean table using no sheet on the table itself. I have heard gasps of astonishment from some therapists when they heard of this practice. The reason, however, is rather simple. While your client is in the supine position you have complete and easy access to working their back without interference of a sheet. A “run” can be performed by going up the body from the feet, continuing to the hip, and transversing under the back. Or, while standing at your client’s head, you can place your hands under the shoulders and work down to the sacrum area and “lift” and pull your hands back towards the head along the vertebral groove. These are some of the most appreciated runs by my clients. Often as you work a back in this manner you will hear them release pent up emotions. The power of this work is astonishing.
There is a powerful healing process that is inherent in Lomi. A very wise lady told me once that “when you are born, your life is like an empty bowl. As we age and go through life that bowl gets full of stones, issues if you will: life experiences, loves, losses, hurts, and sorrows, all of the common emotions we share as humans. Lomi facilitates a way of throwing some of the stones out of that bowl. It can help clear the body and mind of some negative experiences as well as help to remember a joyous time or person who has touched us in a special way”.
As I said earlier, standard Swedish massage engages the conscious mind. The dance of Lomi and the unpredictability of where the practitioner is going next shuts down the conscious mind and allows the subconscious to surface. I have found this to be one of the more intriguing parts of the work. Once a client relaxes and stops thinking about what you are going to work on next two things usually occur: total relaxation and, more importantly, deep healing can be experienced.
Our bodies are memory banks of past emotions and experiences. We hold these thoughts in our muscles, in our cells, and right down to our DNA. In many ways we are our past, and we are our ancestors to whom we share a common bond. Lomi provides a safe and healing space, should the client allow for these emotions to surface. You, as a practitioner, are creating and holding a safe and caring space for your client, being totally present and supporting them in their healing process. —Powerful and meaningful work.
I have been an L.M.T. since 1996. I was graduated from the Swedish Institute of Massage and have been practicing in Florida for the past 17 years. I have studied and advanced my Lomi training through Sacred Lomi. I have taught and practiced Lomi throughout the United States and abroad. I am currently associated with the Massage program at FSCJ in Jacksonville and work and live on Amelia Island. If I can be of any assistance with information concerning Lomi, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling my cell at: (904) 557-8350.
Tony Crawford L.M.T.
Florida License #MA 0027867