Pender County’s Spirit of Aloha: Michael McDowell

by Angelica Pallas Natural Awakenings August 2009

Sharing the spirit of aloha is believed to attune one to the universal power called mana, or “all power comes from within,” as defined by the seven Hawaiian shamanic principles.

Sharing of the breath, an ancient Hawaiian healing custom, Michael McDowell inhales, “Ssssspp.” Then, exhaling with a loud “ha,” the Sacred Lomi massage master stops, lays his hands on the spirit he is about to give to and asks the universe for guidance. “Ssssspp. Ha. Ssssspp. Ha.” In a trance-like state, McDowell begins working the energy in the space surrounding the massage table. Sweeping, stirring and weaving, his dance is one of sacred geometrical patterns used by old-world Hawaiian healers, the Kahuna lā’au lapa’aus. With the space surrounding McDowell (the giver) and his client (the receiver) now swirling with free-flowing energy, it is time for the journey to begin. The soothing, rhythmic music becomes louder. The heat and vibration of the acoustical massage table intensify. The mind begins to quiet. The body starts to unwind. Forearms, elbows and hands continuously bathe the receiver with long, rhythmic strokes of the healing waves of energy released through the sacred patterns of his dance as McDowell chants ancient Hawaiian shamanic principles. “Ssssspp. Ha. Ssssspp. Ha. Aloha. Sssssppp. Ha. Sssssppp. Ha. Manawa.” With energy growing stronger as the receiver’s own healing powers release, the Sacred Lomi master becomes lost in a healing journey of his own as life energy fills the room, flowing uninhibited between receiver and giver.

Originally introduced to the Hawaiian Islands by early Polynesian settlers, the healing art of Lomi Lomi massage is ancient. Evolving into something uniquely Hawaiian over hundreds of years, Lomi Lomi’s very essence, which is rooted in seven shamanic principles, can be found within the word aloha. The secret for attaining true health, happiness, prosperity and success is woven into its syllables – the joyful (oha) sharing (alo) of life energy (ha) in the present (alo). Sharing the spirit of aloha is believed to attune one to the universal power called mana, or “all power comes from within,” as defined by the seven Hawaiian shamanic principles. Conducted with prayer, intention and the power of love, and practiced from a position of sacred respect and honor for the other person, the art of Lomi Lomi is one of the “secrets” the native Kahuna lā’au lapa’au healers used to release the powers of the body so that physical, mental, emotional and spiritual healing could take place more quickly and completely in their patients.

Ritualistic, somewhat primitive in nature, and performed with the receiver basically nude, Lomi Lomi was scorned as heathen when the island chain was converted to Christianity in the early 1800’s. Once practiced within family units by everyone from child to chief, this healing art of weaving love, light and spirit into the body to reawaken harmony and balance has never lost popularity among island natives, foreign-born residents and visitors as a form of restorative massage, even though many old-world native healers using the art as part of their medical practice, such as the Kahuna lā’au lapa’aus, were forced to go underground for nearly 200 years until legislation passed in 2001.

Described as “soul-touching,” “beating heart,” “sacred” and “life-changing” by some of his Lomi Lomi receivers, McDowell’s work is an extension of his heart. “I went to my first Lomi Lomi training in 2006,” the now-master of the art recalls. “My work took on new form after my wife, Kathy, passed last fall. The spiritual journey we made together during her illness was a precious gift. It was a gift of love. Love and its power are meant to be shared with others.”

One of McDowell’s newest clients tells of her Lomi Lomi experience:

“I’ve never felt love like that before,” explains the Wilmington professional. “It was as though I were flying through outer space encapsulated in a protective cocoon of security constructed with unconditional love. I’d leave and climb inside myself, surfacing periodically only to be reassured by Michael’s continuous weaving of love around my body before climbing back inside myself. I was nervous going into the session because I am pretty modest about my body and only a couple of small towels were used for draping. Looking back, my nudity was insignificant. During the session my body was the last thing on my mind. My re-entrance into the world toward the end of the session was a bit of a shock, though. Not because I was lying there naked, but because I realized where I had just returned from. Now, days after the session, I can still feel this place and am able to visit it at will. It is a place that should be returned to often.”

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Soul Tribe Bhakti Immersion with Narayani and Amah Devi

June 2, 2017, 7:00pm - June 4, 2017, 3:00pm

Join local Narayani and Amah Devi from Asheville, NC for another bliss filled weekend- a Soul Tribe Bhakti Immersion! ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Friday June 2: 7-9:30pm: Myths of the Deities: Bhakti Story Time with Amah Devi and Prasad Potluck There is a vast pantheon of Gods & Goddesses in the Hindu tradition, and in the Bhakti Yoga practice of Kirtan, we celebrate by singing to them! To start off our weekend of Bhakti Bliss, Amah Devi will share stories and songs of Shiva, Ram, Ganesh, Durga, & Lakshmi to help us build greater context for understanding the colorful mythology that is the underpinning of the Bhakti path. Cozy up and settle in for an evening of stories and snacks that will set the stage to deepen our connection to this rich pathway into the Heart of Devotion. **Please bring a snack or beverage to share Suggested donation: $10-20 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Saturday June 3: 10am-12pm Mantra Workshop with Narayani Let's gather to discuss the “mind liberator” called Mantra and how creating a daily chant practice can enhance every aspect of your life. We will discuss the benefits of the practice, the pronunciation and translation of select Sanskrit mantras, and how to create a daily practice. We will experience different ways of Chanting- Vedic, Melodic, and Kirtan styles. No previous experience or musical talent is needed, and this workshop is open to all. *Suggested donation- $10-20 ------------------------------------------------ Satruday June 3: 2:00-4:00pm Harmonium Workshop with Amah Devi Join Amah Devi from Asheville, for a unique opportunity to learn to play Kirtan chants on the Harmonium! If you have ever wanted to learn to play harmonium, lead Kirtan, or just sink more deeply into your Sacred Chant practice, join us for this unique opportunity! Together we will create a totally safe space to explore and engage the harmonium. Bring your own instrument or play one provided and come ready to deepen your Bhakti yoga practice. NO prior musical experience required! Harmoniums are available for purchase if interested. $25- pre-register here: --------------------------------------------------- Saturday June 3: 7:30-9:30pm Kirtan with Narayani, Amah Devi and Friends Join Narayani and Amah Devi for a collaborative Kirtan! Graced with a full band including Stephen Bellm on Bass and Tablas, Perry Smith on electric guitar, Oud, and percussion, and Kim Henry on response vocals, Narayani and Amah will create a sacred space for our Bhakti community to dive deep into meditaton as one Tribe and One voice. No musical expereince or a "singing voice" needed. *Suggested donation- $10-20 ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sunday June 4: 10am-12pm Slow Tribal Flow with Live music and Kirtan with Narayani Join Narayani for Slow Tribal Flow Yoga--an all-levels, full-body Vinyasa class. You will be guided through movement suggestions to groovy music by Amah, Perry, and Stephen, but you'll be invited to move in any way that you feel inspired. Let the music and your breath be your teachers. The class will begin and end with mantra meditation with the harmonium, and will conclude with an extended savasana with live music and light Thai Yoga assists for deep relaxation.Some Yoga experience and a moderate level of fitness is helpful but not required. All are welcome to explore this movement experience. View a sample of the type of movement and music in this class by clicking here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=_u5INIxI9L0 $25- pre-register here: --------------------------------------------------- Sunday June 4: 1:00-3:00pm Breaking Down the Bliss: Bhakti Discussion Group with Amah Devi & Narayani To complete our weekend exploration of the Bhakti path, we will gather as a Sangha (spiritual community) to illuminate our experience of the practices we have shared. What does it mean for each of us as individuals to identify ourselves as Bhaktas in the world, and how can we share the beauty of this devotion with others? How do we bridge our identities as predominantly white Westerners with our dedication to this East Indian Hindu spiritual tradition? How do we both benefit from and contribute to this exquisite state of Bliss? Please bring your journal and a pen, or any other supplies that support your own creative self-expression, for this final gathering as we collaboratively explore and document our expanded awareness. Suggested donation- $10-20

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