Have you ever wondered what it would take to teach Lomi Lomi? Here is a question I receive every so often…
I love Lomi Lomi and teachings of Aloha spirit. How can I share this ancient wisdom with authenticity and respect?
I’ve been sharing Lomi Lomi and the spiritual teachings of Aloha for nearly 20 years. It has been an amazing journey and I’ve decided to pull back the curtain and take you on a journey…
Learn what it takes to become a teacher of Lomi Lomi, entrusted with the sacred responsibility of carrying a lineage teaching.
What is Kumu?
Let’s begin with a definition of the Hawaiian word, kumu (KOO-moo):
- Bottom, base, foundation, main stalk of a tree
- Beginning, source, origin
- Model, guide, example
You can see in the Hawaiian way of being, there is a sacred responsibility and depth to this title. Our kumu learned in a certain way.
Sometimes, they were chosen before they were even born. The elders watched that child and made observations:
What is the child’s temperament? What are they drawn to?
If the elder felt the child should be given the teachings, they might ask the parents to hanai, adopt or foster, the child. The elder would take the child in and raise them to help foster the child’s gifts.
My teacher, Aunty Mahilani Poepoe, was chosen by the ancestors from the other realms. A message was sent and delivered to her grandmother:
A child will be born into the family, the Punahele, keeper of the wisdom of the family chosen one to carry on those traditions.
The Journey to Become Kumu
Aunty Mahi was actually gifted to her grandparents from birth, and then taken to various family members on different islands to learn.
These journeys took her from Niihau to Big Island all the way across the Hawaiian island chain. Different mentors gave her different pieces of the puzzle.
For example, Lomi Lomi, spirituality, healing chants and prayers, knowledge of our medicinal plants, even the hula. Everything had a deeper meaning and expression. She learned to dance the hula as an embodiment of discipline, the elements, and spirituality.
Dance the waterfall? You are the waterfall. Show the rainbow, you ARE the rainbow.
There were no textbooks. Teachings were done in the old way:
Look with the eyes, Nana I ka Maka
Listen with the ears, Ho’olohe Ka Pepeiao
Pa’a Ka Waha, Close the mouth and quiet the mind. Let the answers come from within and listen to your inner wisdom.
Haha, Feel what was going on with the body
Mimic the Kumu.
It could take years, sometimes decades to fully receive the teachings.
In the case of Aunty Mahi, she spent the first 15 years of her training going from family member to family member. Then, she began to learn with the family of her husband, Daniel Poepoe here on Maui.
Her marriage was specifically arranged for the purpose of continuing her journey and tradition in her lineage. Aunty Mahi shared that knowledge with her children and close family.
After her children were grown, she began her calling to expand her teachings and share the knowledge with extended family. She brought all of those teachings together and become the source.
Aunty Mahi had decades of learning, growth and life experience to share. She began traveling globally, and eventually left this world, giving the responsibility of keeping and sharing these teachings to others.
Through many of her Haumana, including myself, the sacred responsibility of sharing the lineage teachings continues.
Becoming a Teacher of Lomi Lomi
In our Western way of thinking, we have an understanding of certification. I go to a workshop, pay a fee, and receive a certificate.
I call myself a teacher, hold a workshop and hand out my own certificates. Notice any differences?
When I receive a message from an interested party, “I love lomi lomi. I’m passionate about Lomi and feel drawn to lomi. I want to share Lomi…can I become a teacher?” it may occur to me as a surprise. I’ve actually had this inquiry from someone who had recently completed one weekend workshop.
I have only shared the sacred responsibility to carry Ho’omana Lomi Lomi lineage with one person, Meggie Walsh. She is the lead therapists at Ho’omana Spa and has attended more than 2000 hours Lomi Lomi curriculum. She has been with me for 12 years.
How many times has she taken the Lomi Lomi Fundamentals class? 30 times. Or more. And she still says she learns something new. EVERY time.
You Will be Called to Teach Lomi Lomi
I was teaching Lomi Lomi in Germany and Meggie came along as my translator. She was my voice, sharing my teachings in the classroom with me for many years.
One day, I walked out of the classroom for a moment, and when I came back it was as if I was still in the room. She was sharing without me even standing there. It was amazing!
As the years went by, more and more students came and I did not have enough time to handle every request. I began looking for the one who could support me in carrying the torch of this responsibility that I’ve been given. And I chose Meggie.
This is important. It takes more than your own desire to become Kumu. You will be chosen. Not because of the number of years practicing or the desire, But for the passion, humility, intention, essence, skill, compassion, vision, intuition, connection, spirituality and foresight this responsibility requires.
Here’s what happened to me…
I remember the day Maka’ala Yates, another one of my teachers, gave me my medicine bowl for the first time.
I had no idea it would be happening that day. There was no agreement. No warning. I was just being pili to the Kumu.
Pili is a kind of grass. When it goes to seed, it begins to intertwine around the other grass fibers. Pretty soon, you can’t tell one from the other.
I pili’d to all of my Kumu. I would hang out with them in class. Outside of class. Anytime. Anywhere. I wanted to sit at the feet of elders.
Droplets of Wisdom
It took time and lots of lessons because I was raised in California with Western teaching that did not exist in the traditional way.
I was someone who wanted to ask questions all the time. I had to learn to quiet the mind. I learned to watch because the answers are all here. My singular purpose was to pili to my kumu and experience everything I could.
I was accustomed to completing a program and achieving a result:
Master’s degree in physical therapy. 5 years and 2 practicums. Done.
Certified yoga instructor. 500 hours. Done
This is not the way our Lomi teachings were traditionally shared. It’s not about the number of years. It’s about WHEN you are ready and WHAT piece of knowledge you are able to carry. Even Aunty Mahi, who carried so much knowledge, received her teachings in small bits and pieces.
Haunani Hopkins, President of the Association of Lomi Lomi Hawaii, shared with me the wisdom of Ku I ka mana, the teacher gives small bits like droplets of wisdom.
Over time, the student can digest and achieve mastery bit by bit. Layers of knowledge accumulated at exactly the right pace.
Ask the Right Question
When someone asks me, “how do I become a Lomi Lomi teacher?” I am not sure how to answer, because there is an even better question.
How will I know that I’m ready?
Your kumu will tell you it’s time for you to go.
Time is irrelevant when you BECOME the source. As Kumu, you have the sacred responsibility to carry the heart and vitality of the Hawaiian people. The voice of the kumu who gifted their wisdom to you with all the kumu that stand behind them.
Reverence. Respect. Responsibility. Humility.
When you carry lineage teaching in this way, the Ancestors stand behind you and infuse mana, life force, and power, into your actions. It flows through in a beautiful and compelling way.
There is no questioning whether you’re doing it right or not. You have confidence the lessons will come to you.
In ancient wisdom, there is no overnight guru. No quick fix. No technique. It’s a way of being that has nothing to do with whether or not you can do a lomi lomi massage.
Authentic wisdom keepers share in a spiritual and sacred way. Passed consciously from generation to generation. It’s been almost 20 years for me, sharing these teachings and doing it with responsibility.
A Beautiful Lei
Consider the lei. Each flower has their certain purpose. Likewise, we are all needed in different ways. The haumana, students, of Aunty Mahi carry different aspects of her teachings.
I have been given the kuleana, responsibility, to share Hawaiian back walking-Kua Lua and spiritual teachings. She continues to teach me each and every day.
If you love Lomi Lomi and want to share these teachings with authenticity and respect, remember the lei, the pili and to be ready in all aspects of your being when and if you are called.