Gloria Coppola Her journey in the healing arts
My life in the healing arts has been a journey to say the least. Leading me through a vast exploration of massage and healing across our planet I could’ve never imagined that it would enhance my life and others in so many ways. As a child, I had an obsession with everything Hawaiian. Growing up in NYC in an Italian family, they couldn't really make sense of this from a 5 year old who had never been to Hawaii. I also loved to dance and sing and I wanted to be a doctor and teach too! How could I possibly do all of this? My mom would tease me as I grew up and say “Do you have to bring home every stray cat?” I was always helping a friend who was having a bad day.
As I grew older I started to study everything about health and wellness. I even thought of working with handicapped children or started college to become doctor.
Of course I fell in love and had two children and life took a very different turn.
Eventually I became a business manager for a neurologist. Something that wasn’t in my plan, although later in life I would understand I needed this experience and knowledge to run the business I would own and to find my chosen path.
One day the doctor said to me ‘Find out everything you can about holistic medicine’. I had no idea what he was talking about. However, put me on a mission and I assure you things will happen!
Soon we were attending classes with Bernie Siegel and courses on Iridology , homeopathy and Touch for health. Months later I decided to enter massage school and drive 90 minutes after a long day as a single mom raising 2 kids.
To be quite honest I have no idea how I ended up in massage school. It was also one of my biggest challenges in life to complete. I was tired after a long and busy day at work, the drive was long, I worried about my kids and I didn’t quite understand the whole spiritual aspect way back in the 80’s when schools were more apt to be teaching more esoteric healing.
I still recall sharing in our circle at graduation that the 1 thing I received from this training was that I did learn how to receive. That was huge for me.
I continued to study everything. Myofascial Release, Neuromuscular therapy, Aromatherapy, Structural Integration, Cupping, Reiki, Cranio Sacral Therapy ! I even took a second massage course in medical massage for an additional 300 hours. You can call me a workshop junkie for sure. You could also find me at every Body, Mind, Spirit Expo that was available across the country.
I met and studied under Dr. Deepak Chopra, Anodea Judith, John Barnes, Caroline Myss, Dr. John Upledger,, Dr. Andrew Weil, Brian Weiss, Marianne Williamson, Shakti Gawain just to name a few!
I was intrigued with everything! I wanted to travel to sacred places and would eventually get my wish. Egypt, Peru and yes, Hawaii!
Several years after graduating from massage school I opened a holistic center. Back in the early 90’s not many people knew what that word even meant. We had classes available in yoga, tai chi, meditation, crystal therapy and more. The clinic was a multi disciplinary center that included massage, chiropractic, bio feedback, naturopathy, hypnotherapy and counseling. Our doors were open to do volunteer work and research on Aids patients as well.
In a time when licensing was not offered in our state of New Jersey, I still continued my education because I wanted to learn. It was fascinating to explore healing on many levels.
My practice built rapidly and referrals from orthopedic physicians, chiropractors and other medical professionals supported our team of therapists quite well.
If I had to tell you want I remember most about this time it wasn’t the classes I took, it wasn’t the knowledge I gained, it wasn’t the money I made. It was the look on people’s faces, their expression of gratitude for having a place to heal without judgment.
Several years later I opened a massage school by popular demand. It really wasn’t in my plan I can assure of that. However, I soon realized my childhood dream of teaching was manifesting, very quickly. I had a natural talent it seemed to be present and supportive of the learning and healing process students were about to embark upon for the next year of their life.
The success of the massage school was phenomenal. Our classes were small and I was extremely selective of the quality of student I wanted to accept. Our staff instructors and assistants were the most dedicated and passionate I could find.
I found myself living part of my dream, teaching and helping people . How awesome is that!
Soon life took a major turn and due to a tremendous loss, I found myself in severe depression. For nearly a year I could not leave my bedroom grieving the loss of my 2nd husband. I eventually had to sell my home, lost my business and my sense of self. I thought at the time I would never teach or do massage again. This series of events divinely led me to the island of Kaua’i. It was here that my heart went through healing and I learned more about myself than I could have ever imagined. Healing took on a new depth and understanding.
I realized that the dimensions of healing and the paths of energy were beyond comprehension in our human intelligence. However, I was soon guided to a healing art that would open me to a greater understanding of why I was chosen to be in this profession.
It was here that I learned about the depths of healing through Lomilomi.
A New Path:
Lomilomi is more than massage. It is a way of life! It includes everything I ever studied in my life, from herbal medicine to massage and more. It included martial arts similar to tai chi or qi gong. It included dance, as we practiced hula daily in our training. We learned chants that were prayers before or after a healing session. And one of the most important was learning to live and share as community (‘Ohana) , taking care of each other.
It all seemed so natural. So familiar. I was already doing most of it and just didn’t have a name for it. The level of heightened awareness and intuitive skills were things I was already teaching in my school. Taking the time to ground and center and focus with prayer (pule) was a part of my life and my sessions. But there was more ~
There was Alo~HA.
The word aloha has many meanings from hello and good bye. It also means compassion and friendship and humility. It ‘s deeper meaning is the essence and breath of Akua aka Creator or God.
It was this spiritual depth that changed my life. It enhanced my teaching skills and my massage sessions. It was all encompassing and I didn’t have to give up anything all I had to do was deepen the connection to let higher wisdom take over and believe it. It was the part of my original training in the ‘80s that I most likely tapped into but did not fully develop.
So we dance to build our energy, we breathe to gain our mana, we chant (oli) to our ancestors and we help our community. Everything I always wanted as a child had manifested!
Lomilomi Training and Retreat Kauai October 2012
Today, it brings me joy to teach people more presence and how to live Aloha! It is not about the technique in lomilomi. It is the spiritual foundation! It is the healing depths and it is the prayer (pule).
By listening and following this path , my life is enhanced. I love what it has brought to me, including thousands of beautiful souls who want to fill their lives with something more!
I even teach some of the principles to my grandchildren. This includes learning about nature (aina) and being more aware. I have taught them about the Bowl of Light and how the Hawaiians believe we are all born as beings of light. Each time we have a negative thought we take a stone and put it in a bowl. At the end of a day we can see how much negativity has dimmed our light. With grace, we huli our bowl (turn it over) and begin each new day full of light. It is these gentle reminders that build our character and make us a better person, more consciously.
Everything in my life has become a part of my healing work! If you understand the nature of energy, you understand everything is connected. No modality is of its own entity if you are treating the body, mind and spirit holistically.
The kahuna I have met will tell you that you provide what is needed to help someone heal. You look at the whole picture. Perhaps the massage is the last thing you do, because you must clear energy blockages or they may need nutritional coaching or provide Ho’oponopono (Forgiveness and making it right). You will find there is no one way to perform lomilomi. It has been told to me the ‘hidden’ meaning is to ‘shift’. In order to create shift one must trust a higher wisdom to provide the information in the moment for the person . In other words, I cannot treat your headache the exact same way I treat someone elses. The underlying cause and energetic components will be completely different. My tools and techniques cannot be totally effective unless we address what is needed. The issue at hand is related to the lack of Lokahi (balance and harmony). This balance is between nature, spirit and community. ‘Aina, Akua and ‘Ohana. As in the symbol of the triangle or trinity these 3 create a balance when we are in harmony. The space between is the Ha breath. When any one of these is absent or limited in our life, there is no Lokahi. Illness and disease have the opportunity to come into physical manifestation as a result of these energetic imbalances.
In another words, if the deep tissue treatment you are utilizing doesn’t seem to work, there is a deeper imbalance in the tissue and by listening to everything you may find the root cause of the physical manifestation.
What can I tell you: Trust your intuition! Believe in yourself! Manifest your hearts desire! Work smarter not harder.
Recognition and Affiliations:
Inducted into the Massage Hall of Fame in 2010
Oakworks Educator (with Lisa Severn)
Bon Vital CE Team
NCBTMB CE Provider # 336538-00
Created and Divinely Inspired : Aloha Message Cards
Graphic Designed by Candy Widmer
What’s in my plan:
Writing a book on Hawaiian healing to be released in 2013 is my mission. It will be fully illustrated and include contributions from several of the kumu (Hawaiian teachers) on their art handed down by their ‘Ohana (family)
The Divine Plan:
I am the founder of a non profit organization “Massage Without Borders”, inspired by answering the call of an angel, literally. When hurricane Sandy came through New Jersey, my former hometown, one of my students called me. She asked if I could help another former student get a new table that had been damaged in the storm.
From one phone call came outreach from our community (‘Ohana) with donations to help more! I would have never imagined that this was going to happen.
Within one month a group of amazing colleagues brought together this non profit and raised over $10,000 in equipment donations, gift cards and funds for a campaign to help our massage therapist colleagues.
So my path to help others continues and will never cease as I see it is in the Divine Plan.
Gloria Coppola, LMT, currently a continuing education provider lives a life of Aloha sharing her gifts and wisdom from 30 years in the healing arts. She teaches across the U.S. and Canada. Gloria is also the mother of 2 and grandmother of 4 and lives with her maltese named Lomi.