For more than 40,000 years, the Aboriginal Australian people have carried on a shared tradition of cultural and sacred knowledge, the Dreamtime. Dreamtime, according to Aborigines is a story of the relationship between humankind and the Earth, the story of creation, and a story of how to live in harmony with one another and our environment.
Aborigines believe that every activity, event, life, and death that occurs in a particular place leaves behind a vibrational residue – or jiva, meaning seed power. This seed power is responsible for everything we see in the natural world. Gayle Heron, founder of Li’Tya skincare, explains “they [Aborigines] view everybody, everything, all time and space as intimately linked to the sacred seed of creation, from which everything has grown and continues to grow.” Aborigines use the term “dreaming” to refer to the relationship between the spiritual and natural elements of the Earth, thus emphasizing living in harmony and balance.
There are four main tenets that Aboriginal Australians believe teach an individual how to conduct one’s life. Aildt, which means everything is one, explains that every person and thing are linked inextricably as part of one creative force or aildt. Adtomon, or truth is the path, states that every person must live their truth and has a right to be what their truth is. This tenet further states, that when one fails to follow adtomon, illness and disease will occur. Dtwongdtyen, which holds that a varied perspective is the key to perception, instructs one to look at things from as many different perspectives as possible. This tenet emphasizes respecting one another’s truths. And lastly, Linj’dta, or now is the moment of your being, emphasizes the importance of living in this moment in time – where the energy is.
Aboriginal healing techniques therefore follow these basic tenets by offering individuals a glimpse at truth and highlighting man’s connection with the earth. Treatments focus on sustainably harvested local ingredients, indigenous techniques that have been passed down for centuries, and Dreamtime.
Some of the ingredients found in Australian healing centers, spas, and skincare lines have been used for more than 40,000 years by Aboriginal Australians. “We believe that using native Australian ingredients in conjunction with traditional healing modalities not only brings a unique and enriching dimension to [the spa]industry, [which is]already focused on holistic healing principles. It also creates an opportunity to generate greater awareness of the value of our earth and the beauty of the people that have learnt from it and lived with it for thousands of years,” Heron explains. Jurlique skincare founder, Dr. Jurgen Klein, further explains, “I have a deep respect for the native people of Australia and what we can learn from their ancient remedies.”
From the native pepperberry used in my Jina foot treatment at Daintree Eco Lodge and Spa to the Munka quandong hair masque I received at Silky Oaks Lodge & Healing Waters Spa, Australian skincare lines and spa treatments focus on healing ingredients found in nature. Pepperberry, frequently used in foot treatments, is a stimulating and warming ingredient that has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties; quandong is a vitamin-rich berry, which contains oils that are used to stimulate hair growth, add lustre to dry hair, and soothe a dry, itchy scalp.
Blue Cypress oil, said to be a lymphatic stimulant, muscle relaxant, and even an insect repellent (which is necessary if you’re experiencing an authentic treatment in the Australian rainforest) is combined with rosemary, horse chestnut, lavender, chamomile, calendula, and birch in Jurlique’s Blue Cypress Massage and Body Oil. The Mapi rare earth clays used in Li’Tya’s treatments include a white clay, which involves a connection with spirit; a yellow clay, which is associated with joy and welcoming; and a red clay, which is linked with grounding, heart health, and initiation.
But beyond these native ingredients, you’ll find a true appreciation for nature and ritual in Aboriginal healing treatments. Heron attests, “All Li’Tya treatments commence with a traditional sacred Aboriginal burning ceremony that calls upon the healing energy of the earth to enter the treatment space. Performed by the therapist (with permission from Aboriginal Australian elders), a selection of dried aromatic native [herbs]are ignited in a native Australian mallee wood vessel known as a coolamon, and the aromatic smoke is gently wafted throughout the space to purify the air and disconnect the client from the outside world, bringing her/him into the present to focus on their treatment time.”
In the Healing Waters Spa at Silky Oaks Lodge in Queensland, Australia, I had the opportunity to experience their Lowanna facial (Lowanna translates to “beautiful”) as well as the traditional Kodo body massage. This rhythmical massage incorporates smooth circular massage techniques as well as pressure point therapy to completely relax and restore tired muscles. The Healing Waters Spa takes advantage of its prime rainforest location and pays homage to the Ku Ku Yalanji Aboriginals of the Mossman Gorge region. The spa is aptly named as the Aboriginals were known to gather medicinal plants in the area and then bathe in the river or “the healing waters.”
Much like Eastern cultures that emphasize living in the moment, meditation, and the mind-body connection, Aboriginal healing places a great importance on energy flow and harmony of the body as a whole. Upon emerging from my treatment, I not only felt the typical post-treatment bliss (or blur in some instances) but also a great sense of clarity. I’m not sure if it was the Kodo massage, the unique indigenous ingredients, or the environment, but something magical occurred in the Daintree rainforest. And, although it may seem like a great distance to travel to experience Aboriginal healing treatments, you’ll find that if you go, you’ll find yourself closer to home than you’ve ever been before.
Where to Find Aboriginal Treatments:
Daintree Eco Lodge & Spa, Far North Queensland, Australia, +61 7 4098 6100, www.daintree-ecolodge.com.au
Lilianfels Health Club Blue Mountains, Echo Point, Katoomba, New South Wales, Australia, +61 2 4780 1361, www.lilianfels.com.au
The Mandarin Oriental Spa, Macau, Macau, Asia, +853 567 888, www.mandarinoriental.com
Observatory Hotel Day Spa and Health Club, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, +61 2 9256 2229, www.orient-expresshotels.com
Silky Oaks Lodge & Healing Waters Spa, Mossman, Far North Queensland, Australia, (07) 4098 1666, www.poresorts.com
The Spa at Torrey Pines, La Jolla, California, (888) 777-6690, www.spatorreypines.com
The Spa at Turnberry Isle Resort, Aventura, Florida, (305) 932-6200, www.turnberryisle.com
There are several main skincare lines that focus on Aboriginal healing, using local ingredients and authentic techniques. Founded in 1985, Jurlique is a line of more than 400 all-natural plant-based skincare products grown on Jurlique’s own biodynamic and organic herb farm in Australia. Treatments combine aromatherapy, herbalism, and Aboriginal, Swedish, and Indian healing techniques. Their new Dreamtime Signature Facial includes a warm footbath during which the esthetician begins to work in a meditative state, or tooranook. This bath is followed by a Kiradjee massage using their Blue Cypress Massage oil. The treatment concludes with a Moor mask and a head and foot massage. For more information call (800) 854-1110 or visit www.jurlique.com
Founded in 1997 by Gayle Heron, Li’tya’s treatments are adapted from a traditional Yabung healing touch therapy, which according to Heron, is traditionally performed lying naked on the ground. However, Heron has combined Aboriginal wisdom with Western knowledge in creating a spa experience that relies on the beliefs, techniques, and ingredients of the Aborigines and intertwines this knowledge with aromatherapy and color therapy. Anne Warren, Li’Tya’s national training manager is also an Aboriginal leader of the Ya’idtmidtung people of the northeastern alpine Victoria and the Kosciusko region of New South Wales. Warren has incorporated her knowledge of medicinal and spiritual properties of native plants as well as her experiences with Aboriginal healing techniques into Li’Tya’s treatment menu and bodycare line. For more information call or visit www.litya.com
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