Welcoming a Bountiful Life

To bring ancient wisdom into modern times is a profound exercise in faith.
Faith in the natural world, faith in the source, faith in love and in one's self--  these all come into play as we carry our ancestors' teachings into the present. Such a practice is indeed a challenge, as we are all familiar with the stresses and pressures that the modern world throws at us-- so familiar, in fact, that these feelings feel normal, and it becomes easy to forget what brings true joy and meaning to our life experience.

Are you taking time each day to remember that life is bountiful?

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The funny thing about the past is that it brings the present--being present--back to us as a normal and bountiful aspect of our daily lives. It is normal and bountiful to be connected to nature, to the source and to others; Hawaiians have always known this, and it is in remembering such wisdom that we can infuse our world with bounty.
In ancient times, Kahuna La'au Lapa'au--the masters of healing in Hawaiian villages--would gather plants in odd numbers, always reserving one for the spirit ancestors.

Offering Hibiscus

Practitioners would use different aspects of the plant prepared as teas, mashes and poultices to heal the people. Always, they would honor the spirit of the plant through prayerful intention. Such intention declares an opening up of understanding of that which needs healing, calls the plant medicine to reveal itself, empowers full yielding of the body to the benefits of the treatment, honors the spirit realms and offers protection for the practitioner. Today, we practice holistic healing with La'au Lapa'au and intention together in each of our services at Ho'omana Spa Maui. Our After-Sun Replenishing Treatment is one of my favorite offerings. Niu (coconut), 'Aloe (aloe vera) and Wai Meli (honey) are used to exfoliate and replenish damaged skin surfaces in this treatment.

After-Sun Replenishing Treatment

Niu, while soothing to damaged skin, is also a powerful plant medicine that can help keep the skin from developing blemishes from aging and over-exposure to sunlight. Honey is also moisturizing, trapping and sealing in moisture to leave skin soft and supple. It also stimulates the growth of skin tissue, reduces inflammation and contains natural antioxidant properties that supply the body with vital nutrients. Put the two together, and with the loving Lomi touch you have a powerful and refreshing Coconut Milk and Honey Body Masque. After-Sun Replenishing Treatment'Aloe, another soothing plant, helps the epidermal layers rebuild cellular tissue. This anti-inflammatory is rich in minerals and vitamins C and E, hydrates the skin and even prevents dryness by increasing the availability of oxygen to the skin. Our Aloe and Lavender Serum is cooling and replenishing, leaving your skin feeling fresh and new.

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When we gather up the bounty of the ‘aina using plants from our own native botanical garden, infusing them with intention for our clients' well-being, we are partaking in an ancient tradition of Hawaiian healing. Being a part of this practice, receiving loving touch and the healing benefits of La'au Lapa'au in connection with the life force of the land, brings ancient wisdom into modern living. Taking part in rituals of the past allows us to care for ourselves in a profound way and invites support and guidance from our ancestors who have passed on these original instructions for sustaining life in a vibrant way.
I invite you to take a moment today and think about the ways in which you are welcoming bounty into your life.
Share your reflections in the comments so that we can acknowledge and learn from one another in our individual quests for joy, meaningful experiences, and self nurturing lifestyle.

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July 1, 2015 No Comments

Moving Forward with Intention

As the Makahiki season comes to a close, we must ask ourselves: How are we going to move forward with intention?

Makahiki is a celebration of the bounty of the land and a commitment to peace. In ancient times during the Makahiki season, Hawaiians participated in spiritual cleansings, made offerings and outlawed war; they celebrated with song and hula, sports, and by being in community; finally, they would set adrift a canoe full of offerings as a gift to Lono. Today, Hawaiians continue to celebrate with ancient games and festivals. Like many ancient traditions, however, the spirit of Makahiki must find its place in a modern world. I am grateful to see that our ancestors’ rituals are coming alive today, in more ways than one.
Ten years ago, Aunty Mahi expressed a vision of Hawaiians marching together with shining torches around the island of Maui.
They would start in Lahaina, she told us, and the march would signify the beginning of Hawaiians coming together. In 2009, Aunty’s vision came to life, and Hawaiians gathered at Moku’ula to march for enlightenment and unity in a torch-lit journey. The 193-mile Ka’apuni brought hundreds of native Hawaiians together six years ago, and this week, Hawaiians are coming together to march once again. As they make their way around the island, carrying torches and the weight of their ancestors, welcomed by ohana from each of Maui’s twelve moku, marchers are lighting the way for a brighter future. Ke’eaumoku Kapu of Kaua’ula Valley, west Maui taro farmer, cultural advocate and founder of the Ka’apuni in 2009, announced that by marching together, organizers aim to achieve unity amongst one another, amongst the moku and all the people within them. As torchbearers continue their journey, stops along the way prove to be unifying and enlightening as intended. Day 2 of the march, walkers lent a visit to Kupuhua—a heiau very dear to us here at Ho’omana Spa Maui. Twice a year, our lomi lomi students journey to Kupuhua Heiau in Honolua Valley to care take the land. We are warmed to learn that the marchers’ visit to Kupuhua, wherein they helped clear the land, was also rich with conversation. Their presence and participation led to discussions about regular upkeep of this sacred space, and because of this, John and Josephine Carty, keepers of the temple, have decided to begin taking steps toward opening up the land to the public. Adapting to modern times is a challenge for every indigenous culture, but one that presents not only hardship but also great possibilities. As we move forward each day, we are empowered to move with mindfulness and intention for the kind of world we are creating. These bearers of light are moving forward with a great intention of unity. It is not the role of Hawaiians to live in the past, nor should we aspire to grow without our roots. Moving forward with intention means gathering the wisdom of our ancestors and bringing it into a world that is ever evolving and yet evermore defined by the richness of our past. How are you going to move forward with intention? Share your ideas and, like the torches carried around the island, they will light the way for a brighter future.

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March 6, 2015 No Comments

Our Past, Our Future

What do you get when you combine the richness of the past with the possibilities of the future?

What flourishes when you put together the force of Hawaiian ancestral wisdom and the outlook of a better world? For us, this blend is nothing short of magic. Overwhelming in its power and comforting in its roots, this blend of knowledge from the past and goals for the future is just the kind of mixture that our Lomi Ohana was immersed in this past weekend in Moloka’i. Our generous hosts Maile and Hanohano Naehu welcomed us at their cherished Keawanui Fishpond. Along with our team of lomi specialists, we were blessed to bring with us Kumu Mike Kumukauoha Lee, who shared his mana’o with the fishpond community. In the few days we spent at Keawanui, between lomi lomi sessions and big ohana meals, we witnessed a beautiful harmony take place—that between past and future, between wisdom and action. Kumu Mike Lee has dedicated his life to Hawaiian cultural practice, to sharing his knowledge about Hawaiian constellations and star systems, to spreading ancestral wisdom and the idea that we can use this knowledge to bring sustainable practices back into modern society. He believes that ancient Hawaiians discovered great things about the world and the stars, and that this wisdom can solve some of our biggest environmental issues today, if only we let it.

“Our future looks more like our past than our present.” These are the words of Hanohano, ‘aina warrior and passionate activist.

With little more than his internal compass, his connection to ancient Hawaiian culture, and faith, Hano and Maile have sustained one of the largest fishponds in the world, along with creating aquaculture education and research opportunities for the Moloka’i community and beyond. In the face of resistance and uncertainty, this family has manifested the kind of resurrection that Kumu Mike has dreamed of and spoken of for decades.
And there we were, our Lomi Ohana, in the midst of a harmonious uniting. Hanohano and Kumu Mike represent pillars of what it takes to move forward with intention and purpose. To create a sustainable and just future, we need both thought and action. We need wisdom and passion, guidance and drive, roots and branches.
As we gathered in a circle after sharing lomi with the Moloka’i community at the Makahiki games, filled with mana from all of the warmth and aloha exchanged throughout the day, we expressed to one another the power of unity and healing. What do you get when the past and future come together? In Moloka’i we saw sore backs transform to new bodies; ancient wisdom brought to light; searing passion creating opportunities—anger becoming motivation. We saw words become action and saw action find guidance, as one person’s dream found solace in another’s. In Moloka’i, people from all islands came together to participate in ancient ceremonies and play ancient games with aloha and pride. The Hawaiian language filled our ears, and love for the people and for the ‘aina filled our hearts.

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February 5, 2015 2 Comments

“Aligned with the Ancestors” by Shannon Wianecki

Aligned with the Ancestors

Lomilomi — Hawaiian massage — seeks to balance the body down to the bone, and all the way back in time.

Hawaiian massage, lomilomi, is deep medicine. “It’s meant to penetrate the bones,” says Jeana Naluai, owner of Ho‘omana Spa.

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Hawaiians believe that mana, life force, dwells within the bones. Lomilomi practitioners use a variety of techniques to skillfully unlock the tension in the muscles and ligaments surrounding the bones, which allows mana to circulate freely. “Sometimes, says Naluai, “there can be a miraculous healing.”

Naluai knows something about miracles; her career in the healing arts has been marked by the kind of encounters that some call coincidences, others divine intervention. In college she majored in physical therapy, obtaining her master’s in sports medicine. Soon after, she had the rare opportunity to study with Margaret Machado, a renowned native Hawaiian healer who, in the 1970s, was among the first to share lomilomi with the world.

Traditionally, the science and lore of lomilomi was kept secret. Each Hawaiian family had a healer who would pass his or her knowledge on to a chosen apprentice. But like many indigenous arts, lomilomi was in danger of extinction; too few elders remained to teach the younger generation. Machado felt it best to open her oceanfront home in Kealakekua, on Hawai‘i Island, to anyone willing to learn.

In 2000 Naluai arrived. She and a dozen other students camped out on the lanai, where they learned to massage using their forearms, palms, knuckles, elbows, knees, and feet — even sticks and heated stones. Machado taught them to collect sea salt and black volcanic sand for exfoliation, and to sweat out toxins in a lauhala-thatched sweat house.

Practicing la‘au lapa‘au (plant medicine), they drank herbs to better tolerate the heat, and rubbed fresh aloe onto their skin.

lomilomi massage techniques “My first full lomi massage was transformational,” says Naluai. “I knew this is what I was meant to do.” Sports medicine and its fixation on isolated joints seemed inadequate after this taste of holistic medicine. With an appetite whetted for Hawaiian healing arts, Naluai sought out relatives on the kanaka maoli (native Hawaiian) side of her family — someone who might have traditional knowledge. She came up empty. As far as she knew, any healers within her family had passed on, taking their secrets with them.

She traveled around the state, learning from various lomilomi practitioners, until a friend introduced her to Aunty Mahilani Poepoe. The voluptuous, white-haired Hawaiian greeted Naluai with a knowing smile. “My grandmother came to me in a dream two days ago,” the elder woman said. “She told me you were coming and to be ready to teach.” After talking, the two women discovered that Poepoe’s grandmother and Naluai’s great-grandfather were sister and brother. Naluai had found the healer within her family.

Poepoe ran a free lomilomi clinic at her home in Waiehu, a predominantly Hawaiian neighborhood in central Maui. From sundown to well past midnight each Wednesday, people gathered in the carport. They brought along their keiki (children), grandparents, and even animals for healing. They offered mangos and pickled pipinola (squash) as payment and played ‘ukulele to pass the time until their turn with Poepoe.

“She was a seer,” says Naluai. “She could see where the injuries were in their bodies, or if nutrients weren’t being assimilated. She’d read them, and then send them over to us working on the tables.” Naluai and a few other assistants would massage them. No privacy, no fancy spa atmosphere — just powerful bodywork.

Lomilomi has its roots in lua, Hawaiian martial arts. Ancient warriors needed to know how to mend bones in the field. A lua master’s final training includes ho‘onoho iwi, or “resitting the bones,” says Naluai. “When you relax the muscles and attachments to joints, you can reset bones easily.”

Often, the therapeutic benefits of lomilomi begin before a practitioner lays hands on a client. Hawaiian healers commence each treatment with a prayer. “Sometimes Aunty Mahi would just pray with someone and the ailment would fall away,” says Naluai. As fabulous as this sounds, even Western medicine acknowledges that shifts in a person’s attitude can make all the difference in his or her ability to heal.

During one of the evening sessions in Waiehu, Poepoe motioned towards a very sick woman, a local realtor who was dying of liver failure. “Talk to her when you’re ready to move upcountry,” Poepoe told Naluai, who looked askance. The young massage therapist lived in Kihei at the time; she had no intention of relocating upcountry — nor did the realtor look like she would live long enough to make another sale. Soon after, Poepoe herself passed away, and Naluai decided to open her own healing center. When she went looking for the right location, Poepoe’s words proved prophetic. The realtor, now fully recovered, sold Naluai a special parcel of land up in the forest above Makawao town.

Ho‘omana Spa is tucked into a curve along Pi‘iholo Road. It’s a far trek from just about anywhere on the island, but those who make the journey are well rewarded. Naluai brings ancient wisdom into a contemporary luxury-spa setting. The grounds are lushly landscaped with fragrant flowers and medicinal plants. The elegant treatment rooms feel cozy, like a bedroom in your favorite aunty’s house. Couples can retreat into the bathhouse, where they can sink into two deep marble tubs filled with warm water and aromatic herbs.

On one occasion a man visiting from Barcelona approached the few steps up to the door at Ho‘omana with trepidation; for years his injured knee had forced him to walk crablike up stairs. To his astonishment, the pain disappeared as he climbed the spa’s stairs. He asked Naluai, “What happened? How did you do that?” She replied that she had simply cleared the energy surrounding the spa.

An even more powerful healing recently occurred during a fourhanded lomilomi massage. The spa’s bookkeeper bought this lavish treatment for her husband, who had difficulty speaking after suffering a stroke. One of the benefits of four-handed lomilomi is that the two practitioners working in tandem are able to recalibrate the client’s connection between the right and left brain. After the massage, the man was able to carry on a normal conversation with his wife.

Ho‘omana means “to empower,” and it’s an apt name for this healing sanctuary. The spa menu incorporates ‘alaea (red clay), ‘ili‘ili (hot stones), and ‘awa (a relaxing tonic) in its body masks, massages, and herbal soaks. Guests take part in la‘au lapa‘au, collecting lemongrass, lavender, and white ginger blossoms for their treatments.

Twice a year, Naluai takes five students through a 600-hour certification program, inducting them into the ancient rites. In addition to the usual lessons in anatomy and technique, her students learn Hawaiian chants, plant medicine, and ho‘oponopono (conflict resolution). Before graduating, they tour sacred sites around the island and perform community service, such as caring for heiau (temples), and working in lo‘i kalo (taro patches).

“When you bring the physical body into alignment, it brings the spiritual and emotional body into place . . . so that we walk in line with our ancestors,” says Naluai. “Each vertebrae is an ancestral support that helps us to stand and walk.”

Lomilomi has the potential to “heal a person’s path backwards and forwards,” she says. She’s a living example. By picking up the lost thread of lomilomi, Naluai reestablished the lineage of healers within her family. Her many beneficiaries include not only her clients, but her students, children, and future grandchildren.

For more information or to book a treatment, call 808-573-8256, or visit hoomanaspamaui.com.

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February 1, 2015 1 Comment

Spreading Seeds of Understanding

Today’s world offers us many stories of conflict—of misunderstanding and opposition. As this New Year unfolds, let us bring forward the stories of resolution—of peace and commonality. Let us share our experiences of coming together.

When have you experienced opposition that turned out to be an opportunity for positive change?

Recently, I hosted a Hawaiian cleanse for some of my family members visiting from the mainland. Over four days’ time, we cleansed internally with seawater, received lomi lomi massage for physical realignment, cleared mentally and emotionally through Ho’oponopono, and visited a few of Maui’s sacred sites for ritual cleansing. Our final destination on our Sacred Sites Excursion was Kukuipuka Heiau, a magnificent Hawaiian temple overlooking the ocean. The sea breeze alone carries a great sense of rejuvenation, only amplified by the felt presence of our ancestors and the grounded feeling that such connection brings. Upon arrival, we performed a ceremony called Pi Kai. Before entering the Heaiu, I chanted us into this sacred space as my ancestors have done for generations. While inside, we talked story about some of the benefits we were experiencing from the Hawaiian cleanse: a deeper connection to our sacred ‘aina, to our community and ancestral rituals were just a few. Everyone in my family expressed that they felt a new sense of balance—even my Uncle Terry, who had not participated in the cleansing, as he had flown in the day before, but was able to join us at Kukuipuka. There he expressed his appreciation for the cultural education and the ritual—not present in the same way in his community on the mainland. As an administrator at a Seventh Day Adventist Hospital in California, his community has its own particular trials and tribulations, as most communities do. A few months later, I received a call from Uncle Terry. He shared with me about a previous upset between the hospital and the Pomo Indian tribe who make up a great percentage of the hospital’s patient population. One of the tribal elders had passed away in the hospital, and during his passing, the family were exercising their cultural rights of passage as they assisted their loved one into the spirit world. Many of the other patients however, as well as the hospital staff, were uncomfortable with these practices and, so, created a policy against them. This policy of course had been a source of unrest and anger between the Pomo community and the hospital, my uncle explained, and the upset grew, as an elderly matriarch of the tribe was passing that same week. With growing tension, the matriarch’s granddaughter decided that she was going to meet with hospital officials and unleash her anger and outrage about what had been going on. Before the meeting, she visited her grandmother and shared her plan: “Today I’m unleashing my anger,” she told her. Her grandmother shook her head and replied, “No! Today is the day that you will be an instrument of healing between our nation and theirs.” So, deciding to go with her grandmother’s instruction, she went to the hospital’s administrator—my Uncle Terry—and said, “I think we have a misunderstanding. Let me share with you why we do our ritual when a person is passing.” She explained that they must sing, in their native tongue, their ancestors into the next place. When she then sang for my Uncle, he expressed that it sounded just like the Hawaiian oli (chant) that he heard me doing before we entered the Kukuipuka Heiau. When she performed a clearing ceremony using a feather, he thought of the ritual I had shared with him, swiping with a Ti leaf. Suddenly, he was able to connect with what she was sharing on a new level, with understanding and acceptance. Uncle Terry then set out to help the granddaughter make things right: Each day the following week, this tribal daughter shared with a different department of the hospital the ways of the Pomo. Each day she opened these teachings to people who once resisted her practices out of discomfort and unknowing. Rooted in her own lineage, these practices greatly shaped her own identity.

Together, the granddaughter and the hospital staff created a space for healing—for communication and sharing—and since that time, the healing continues to unfold.

‘Imua—to go forward. Pali Jae Lee articulated in her book Ho’opono, “Life is a tapestry; threads of many kinds and colors are interwoven back and forth in wonderful designs. We weave as we live, and what comes out is what we are…. If we are going to move forward, we must give up this ‘us’ and ‘them’ attitude…. Each hour, each minute is precious. When all things are in balance in our lives, we find happiness in just being alive. We are far more willing to reach out to our friends and family, to aid and assist where it is needed, to enjoy one another and ourselves, to listen when another speaks, and to share our joys and sorrows with those who care. When we do this, we become intertwined with others. We are again a part of the whole beautiful tapestry—part of the human family.”

I believe that great healing has taken place in Uncle Terry’s community, just like the matriarch said would happen. It only takes one person to plant a seed of balance, of aloha, and that seed can spread and feed communities for generations to come. When we focus on our similarities and not our differences, we can weave a tapestry of great power—of understanding and openness. When we find commonality amongst one other, we can move forward with the mana of our ancestors and the strength of our community—as one people of the earth with more than one way to weave our threads.

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January 16, 2015 1 Comment
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