I just got back from a week-long retreat working again with Jody Mountain to deepen my grasp of the practice and principles of the Hawaiian massage tradition of Ancient Lomi Lomi. Looking back on the retreat I realize that the insights it gave me are a perfect jumping off point to express what my work is all about and why I find the spiritual tradition of Ancient Lomi Lomi so compatible and compelling.
While on retreat I had the opportunity to leave the conceptual world of the known far behind and sink deeply into the exquisite sensual world of uninterpreted experience.
The massage practice of Ancient Lomi Lomi is truly magical. I have seen and experienced myself its potential to facilitate truly life-transforming healing, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. But there is a catch. (Isn’t there always.) The magic is only available when the massage is performed from the mysterious consciousness of non-conceptual awareness. To the extent that the practitioner thinks they know what they are doing, or is directing their own efforts according to any ideas or goals, the potential for healing is dramatically, if not entirely, diminished.
At its core Ancient Lomi Lomi revolves around expanding our bodies consciousness by entering into non-conceptual awareness so that the bodywork is guided only by the inner sensations that arise in connection with the person being working on. Ideally, the practitioner is not holding any ideas about what they’re doing so that their arms and hands move across the body as if guided by their own intelligence.
I am sure you can see the similarities to meditation. Sitting still and following the instruction to ‘not make a problem’ out of anything that arises in consciousness, similarly necessitates that we let go of our habits of mind. We enter into non-conceptual awareness releasing all of our ideas about what we are feeling or what any of it means. All that remains is an uninterrupted flow of pure experience.
What my work and my life are dedicated to is a shift in paradigm. We live in a conceptual world – a paradigm shaped by personal and cultural ideas and convictions about reality and how it works. As long as we remain bound by our current conceptual paradigm we remain constrained inside a very limited range of possibility. If we want to dramatically expand what is possible for us and the world, we must learn how to let go of everything we think we know.
The challenge of letting go to this depth is that it brings up a tremendous sense of insecurity. We are so conditioned to navigate the world according to our mental models and intellectual conclusions that moving beyond them can feel like driving a car while wearing a blindfold. I find this sense of flying blind arises in both the practice of meditation and Lomi Lomi, and this is the doorway to awakening because in it we discover that we are capable of knowing more than our conceptual minds ever can.
We have been trained to assume that what we know conceptually – which means what we can understand with words and ideas – is the limit of existence. It isn’t. Reality extends far beyond what we can know with our conceptual minds. My experience of the past 25 years tells me that meditation, and more recently the practice of Ancient Lomi Lomi, both give consistent access to non-conceptual awareness and even more importantly the chance to abide in the insecurity of that mysterious space so that we can begin to get used to it.
The main difference that I experience between these two practices is a difference in where our attention is focused when we do the practice. In meditation our attention is directed inwardly toward the movement of thought and feeling. Because of this we open to the secret inner workings of the mind. We see that the mind was always active at many levels beyond the thoughts and feelings that we are consciously aware of.
In Ancient Lomi Lomi we’re focused on our bodies, and specifically on the massage that we are giving. What we experience in this practice is the miracle of seeing how movement can be guided spontaneously without thinking. It is not that I am feeling for bodily sensations and consciously trying to follow them. I am simply allowing my hands to be guided by an intelligence that is unknown to me.
In both cases you are giving up control. In meditation we are letting go of the habitual control that we relentlessly use to try to shape our inner experience into something we find pleasant or acceptable. In Ancient Lomi Lomi we are letting go of control of our physical movements and allowing the sensations of our body to guide us.
In both cases I find that I am continually confronted with the same miraculous revelation – and that revelation is the direct experience of a source of intelligence beyond the human conceptual mind. We have been training to trust – almost exclusively – the wisdom and guidance that comes from our conceptual mind.
In this experience we are moved by a living wisdom that is much more profound than the ideas we hold in our heads. It is a source of wisdom that lies outside of our conceptual understanding of ourselves – but it is part of our larger self. This deeper wisdom, this profound sensitivity and higher love is all coming from inside the being you really are.
The reason I have fallen in love with Ancient Lomi Lomi (And by the way, you can take a moment to find out more about it here.) is because it is a different path that leads to the same spiritual journey I devoted myself to many years ago. That journey takes us first from the limited awareness of conceptualization into non-conceptual awareness and then from the limited possibilityies of our current paradigm into the open-ended freedom of spontaneous being.
The question that compels me most is, what happens when enough of us let go and live in the unknown together? What kind of world will we create when we are not limited by our concepts and ideas. The conceptual self has done an amazing job in many ways, but it seems to be reaching its creative limits – a bigger self wants to be born to take us places we literally cannot imagine.