Hakomi is the evocation of experience
It is possible to set up a specific pattern of interaction between two or more people which enhances the probability of healing. When healing is possible, it is a spontaneous unfolding from within the person who heals. A significant influence on any healing process is the context in which it happens. When one person sets the context for another person’s healing, the most significant aspect of that context is the state of mind of the person creating it.
What is Hakomi?
Hakomi is a method that was created and developed by the late Ron Kurtz. He originally called it Body-centered Psychotherapy. Hakomi was originally referred to as “body-centered” because the information about someone’s present experience and how someone is organizing experience is more available from nonverbal expression than from what the person says in words. As the method developed and expanded beyond the psychotherapy setting, he began to call it “mindfulness-based assisted self-study and self-discovery”.
What do we study?
Hakomi is interested in studying the organization of experience. To do this, Hakomi uses mindfulness – a kind of quiet, non-interfering attention to present moment experience – and little experiments to evoke experiences to study. The attention in Hakomi is on present experience.
The Hakomi practitioner pays attention to two things about present experience: first, what it is (i.e. what is happening now); and secondly, how it is being organized. So, we are tracking signs of the client’s present experience and looking for indicators of how the client is organizing their experience based on habits and beliefs.
Experience is Organized by Habits
Some habits create experiences of unnecessary suffering. If someone’s present experience is painful because of difficult life events happening in present time, in Hakomi we offer compassion and comfort. We also offer comfort when the person is experiencing emotional pain related to a past experience that has come into conscious awareness. We also support the person to become awake in the present moment and aware of the possibility of a new nourishing experience.
Hakomi is grounded in wisdom gathered from Taoism and Buddhism. Only the present moment is real. This is wisdom. However, many of us continue to experience the present as if in a dream. We are not fully awake to life as it is. When our minds are filled with imaginings full of fear and hurt that do not match the present state of things, this causes unnecessary suffering. In Hakomi we assist someone to study present experience for clues about their implicit beliefs and the reactions that organize their life experience.
Emotional Nourishment in Hakomi
We want to help people discover nourishing experiences that they are not having in present time because of how they are organizing their experience. There is a significant connection between implicit beliefs, habits and the inability to receive certain kinds of emotional nourishment. With genuine emotional support, old pain and its negative effects on the organization of experience have a good chance of dissolving. We are looking for what kind of nourishing experience the person needs now and is ready for, one that is missing only because the person’s own habits and beliefs are in the way.
Painful emotions are evoked in Hakomi only long enough to give us information about what kind of nourishing experience is needed. The focus of attention and time in Hakomi is on providing and integrating the new nourishing experience.
As Hakomi practitioners, we accompany someone on their healing journey. There has always been an awareness of the importance of what we call the healing relationship. Th particular state of mind that creates the best context for a healing relationship is called loving presence. Loving Presence is seen as the key to the whole method. It means, first and foremost, that we see each person as a source of inspiration and nourishment. This is felt by the person as a reminder of their own strengths, resources, and wholeness.
Characteristics of Hakomi
The four characteristics of Hakomi are:
the practice of loving presence
a constant focus on present experience (nonverbal expression, emotion, memory, etc. as sources of information about present experience and indicators of habits)
the use of little experiments in mindfulness for assisted self-study
and a movement as soon as possible in the direction of the nourishing missing experience.