True lomilomi always begins with an affirmation in the form of a pule, or prayer, which can be done silently, verbally, or as a traditional Hawaiian chant. It is always acknowledged that the healing is in the hands of God or the recipient’s higher self, which is directly connected to God. Pule centers the practitioner and prepares him or her to be a vehicle for loving, selfless service; it focuses the intention and invokes intuition. Pule also prepares the recipient to be open to the possibility of healing and to be receptive to more subtle levels of reality and awareness. No matter who you are or what your beliefs may be, you can pray. Do not ask for anything when you pray because that pushes the desired state out of the present moment. Instead, become mindful of the presence of eternal Spirit.
After assessing the person who will be receiving the massage, the hands on techniques begin. One of the greatest skills of the kahuna lomilomi was the ability to perform diagnostic palpation. It takes years of practice to be able to ‘see and hear with your hands’. Because lomilomi manipulates soft tissues using moderate to deep pressure, some areas may need to be avoided during a session, so learn about contraindications before performing physical massage on another.
Massage strokes include compressions, kneading, gliding and stretching strokes, using the hands and forearms. The whole body is usually massaged, including the abdomen. Lomilomi means to rub, squeeze, crush, or knead something, including food that was prepared by the hands (like when turning taro root into poi). This term can be used for the kneading movements or for the massage treatment as a whole. On the body, as Aunty Margaret often commented, “lomilomiresembles the alternate pawing of the claws of a contented cat.” It is deep, thorough, and rhythmic, but also loving—never bruising or injuring the tissues.