Most massages are all about compression- pushing down on muscles, rubbing tight spots, and kneading knots away. This is not the way of Kahuna Harry Uhane Jim’s healing touch. According to the kahuna, the word aloha, contrary to many of the pop culture uses it enjoys today, means “the breath of God is in our presence” and lomilomi-the ancient Hawaiian touch medicine that he practices-is the art of intentionally “creating space in your body for this breath to enter.”
A far cry from the greasy, oil-heavy body work of your typical mainland masseuse, lomilomi opens you up via gentle flowing strokes, much like waves rolling on the open ocean, and allows you to realize that, as Jim puts it, “You are enough and you have everything you need just by being who you are.” In short, lomilomi is not about being fixed but rather about restoring balance and harmony.
A native of Kaui and the latest in a long line of Hawaiian healers from both sides of his family tree, Jim, who currently calls upstate New York home with his wife and children, was called, as he tells it, to lomilomi after his grandfather passed. Leaving behind law school, he dove headlong into the art, eventually healing himself from the grief of his grandfather’s passing and pain and depression from a fractured lumbar vertebra in the process.
Lomilomi, explained Jim, is based in the understanding that your mind, body, and spirit work together to create your reality. In that sense, lomilomi bodywork allows all three to exist in the now-a place where, as the kahuna said, “There is no judgment from the past and nothing you need from the future.” It was in this space that Jim was able to work through the darkness of his depression and ultimately find his current life path and contagious happiness. After all, at the core of lomilomi is something that the Hawaiians call huna-the belief that everything seeks love and harmony and, once freed from the stresses, demands, or blockages, if you will, from times gone by or times yet to be, your spirit will naturally flow toward a better place. Or, as Jim recently summed it up with a laugh, “People get better because they already feel better.”
Thanks to the work of Celebrate Life, a newly formed Santa Barbara-based group devoted to offering workshops and adventures of all kinds aimed at spiritual growth, the kahuna will be coming to Santa Barbara for the first time later this month, teaching a three-day workshop about his unique brand of lomilomi with his wife, Sila Lehua Bray Jim. Admitting that traditional lomilomi often has a serious if not religious prayer element to it (Lomilomi was actually forced underground for a number of years in Hawai’i after Christianity-minded American invaders considered it a threat in the late 19th and first half of the 20th century), Jim considers his interpretation of the ancient art, which was historically practiced by everyone from children to chiefs, to be “done with gaiety and lightness because, he laughed, “Well, because it is just more fun that way.”
The Lomilomi Workshop takes place Thursday-Sunday, July 10-13, at the Pacifica Suites at 5490 Hollister Avenue in Goleta. Space is limited, so call Oceanna at 331-1331 for more information. The Kahuna will also sign his first book, Wise Secrets of Aloha, on Tuesday, July 8, at 7:30 p.m. at Borders Books on State Street.