When massage taps hidden emotions, Huna offers physical and spiritual release
Massage therapists are trained to relieve physical pain in their clients’ muscles, but what happens when they encounter emotional pain in their clients?
One thing I have noticed in working with massage therapists is that at some point they realize some problems are outside of the scope of the physical body. I have had hundreds of massage therapists come and take trainings with me. With the exception of one or two who were just starting out, most of them have experienced something like this: You are moving your hand up the person’s back, you hit a spot and the client becomes emotional—not out of pain, but out of an emotion that comes up.
What the massage therapist has essentially done is hit a spot that is a physical manifestation of a client’s stored or trapped negative emotion. It is usually at this point the massage therapist says, “I better get some extra training.”
The connection between mind, body and spirit is integral to Huna, the ancient Hawaiian tradition of my lineage and life experience. Huna means “secret” or “hidden wisdom,” and is the modern term used for Ho’omana, the ancient Hawaiian system for living. (Ho’o means “to make,” while Mana is “energy.”) Taken together, Ho’omana means to make life-force energy.
Huna teaches people how to get in touch with their life-force energy, how to move it and how to understand their connection with the environment and with others.
As we go through life, we all encounter painful experiences. Some of these are so painful that we are unable to process and release them, so we hold onto them deep inside. I refer to these stored negative emotions as our black bags.
When a massage therapist finds a client crying or getting emotional, it can be an unsettling experience. Often it compels the massage therapist to begin looking for ways to help the client. Those who want to help their clients on a spiritual level can attend a workshop on Huna.
The best massage therapists I have ever received a massage from know how to work with energy. They know the mind does affect the body, so they need to at least have a working understanding of the mind and how that trickles down to the physical body. This makes them a better massage therapist.
The Hawaiian approach to massage therapy that incorporates energy work is called lomilomi. One of the foremost experts on this method, Auntie Margaret Machado, taught at our early Huna workshops, so the workshops fit well into a model of massage plus energy work.
I don’t teach massage therapists specific techniques they can use in massage, but I teach people how to work with energy. At certain levels of Huna, I teach people how to help others let go of their negative emotions and the limiting decisions those emotions can cause.
Kathi Miyagawa is a massage therapist in Honolulu, Hawaii, who has been attending such workshops for years. She says it has transformed her massage and her practice. When a client has emotions come up, Miyagawa says, “May I assist you with releasing the negative emotion associated with that knot?” This is because she learned the process of Ho’oku’u —to make something release.
If a client holds onto a negative emotion and it manifests itself in a muscle knot, that knot will keep coming back no matter how much you massage it. What Miyagawa has learned to do is help her clients release the negative emotions, and therefore free themselves from limiting decisions. She says her clients are receiving better results faster than ever before and she gets more referrals from clients as well.
When a trapped negative emotion is released, the physical body has an almost immediate reaction, which a massage therapist can sense. It’s all about helping people release negative emotions from the spiritual to the mental to the emotional to the physical.
Matthew B. James, M.A., Ph.D., is president of Kona University. His new book, The Foundation of Huna: Ancient Wisdom for Modern Times, details forgiveness and meditation techniques used in Hawaii for hundreds of years. He carries on the lineage of one of the last practicing kahuna of mental health and well-being. To reach James, e-mail him at info@Huna.com.