Hakomi is a method of assisted self-study that can bring unconscious beliefs, memories, habits and emotions into consciousness gently and efficiently where they can be examined and modified to provide a more realistic, whole and satisfying way of being.
This work requires you to enter into periods of mindfulness to become calm and centered enough to observe your own reactions.The presence of a caring, non-judgmental person develops a very safe environment to support this.
Your emotional history which has created the unconscious beliefs and habits with which you meet the world, is written in the way you do things in the here and now. I pay very close attention to your nonverbal behaviours, such as your tone of voice, movements, gestures, posture, facial expressions and micro expressions. When I get ideas about what unconscious material is controlling your automatic, behaviours, I create little experiments that are done while you are in a mindful state. These little experiments elicit reactions, often emotional, which are links to the unconscious mental processes that create them. Often, memories, beliefs and associations emerge which will help you make sense of the reaction. The Hakomi method uses experiments because we are more interested in your own, unique experience than any psychological theories or analysis. We trust in your own process which unfolds in its own time and way.
You can also expect the work to bring up intense emotions at times. At those moments, your therapist will work to contain the process, provide comfort and help you understand what’s happening. Because the method is based on this very direct route to unconscious material, it is faster than most other methods. Something significant usually happens every session.
It helps if:
(1) you can stay with and report on your present experiences;
(2) you can study your reactions to experiments in mindfulness;
(3) you can stay focused on your present experience;
(4) You’re able to get into a calm inward focused state and are relaxed enough to allow reactions;
(5) It also helps if you don’t need to ask a lot of questions or feel like you must solve problems, explain yourself, justify your actions, have a conversation. And you’ll need the courage to be open and honest. That will be your greatest ally.
Relief from persistent painful emotions and behaviours is probably the greatest reward. And you will gain a much deeper understanding of yourself and with that, more freedom to choose what you’ll be able to feel, greater pleasure in everyday living, and to engage in fuller richer more rewarding relationships. Assisted self-study can achieve all that.
The Hakomi Principles
Hakomi is a present-centred, graceful, powerful method for support, growth and healing. These guiding principles inform the Hakomi method, from the healing relationship to each technique.
The unity principle states that the universe is fundamentally a web of relationships in which all aspects and components are inseparable from the whole and do not exist in isolation. Unity is about belonging, being part of, about hearing and being heard. The notion that we are separate entities is an illusion. Psychotherapists work toward wholeness, integrity and harmony between parts, whether it’s members of a family, the body and mind or parts of mind. This drive to unite is a healing force. We embrace unity when we bring attention to aspects of ourselves and others that are in isolation or conflict. We embrace it when our way is acceptance and curiosity, when our goal is to bring together all aspects of the person, when we know that we are connected to each other and the world. That is the healing power of this work.
Mindfulness is a way of being conscious. It is a state where one observes what is, rather than trying to change it. It is marked by the distancing of one’s intention from one’s experience. That is... one is following one’s experience, without trying to control what happens next. In this way, we begin to recognize and understand how our beliefs and habits organize our experiences. When that happens, we have a chance to challenge and change them. By quieting the mind and dropping one’s management behaviour (sometimes called defences), mindfulness is a receptive state which allows for the flow of process to come into awareness. By evoking experiences while the client is in mindfulness, beliefs, sub selves and management habits come into consciousness.
Mindfulness supports the mobilization of our essential self, which has a presence, compassion and wisdom which transcends the limitations of our wounds and historical experience.
This principle is simply the rejection of any force that does harm to another sentient being. In terms of the method, Hakomi therapists make every effort to avoid controlling the client. They wait and let the client unfold his or her own process. Non-violence is an honouring of life's innate intelligence. Non-violence means that the therapist is ready and willing to abandon agendas if it goes against the grain of the client's process. It means having a higher agenda to serve the client and to honour the client's freedom to choose what he or she will do and what direction he or she will take.
Organicity assumes that when all parts are communicating within the whole, the system is self-directing and self-correcting, that it has an inner wisdom or mind of its own. Likewise, people are self-organising with natural impulses towards growth and change.
As part of the Hakomi method, organicity allows us to realize that the client's unfolding can be based upon the client's organic wisdom, that what happens in therapy is supported by evolution
Mind and Body are integrating subsystems of a metasystem. The mind reflects the body and one’s beliefs influence one’s physiology. The Hakomi therapist is interested in the influence deeply held beliefs, images and significant early memories have on behaviour, body structure and all levels of physiology. Body also has influences on the mind. These influences are often circular and complexly determined. It is knowing that there is a connection between mind and body that allows this method to use the body as part of the search for organizing beliefs.
Founded on these principles, the Hakomi method is a way of being in the world as well as a specific therapeutic techniques. Hakomi embraces the wisdom of the Tao and the spiritual values of Buddhism, uses techniques such as Mindfulness, and provides a coherent methodology that is supported by cutting-edge discoveries in western neuroscience.
The Hakomi methods are appropriate and effective in all kinds of therapeutic situations, including couples, families, movement and body work. It is suitable for crisis work but is finds its fullest potential in the process of personal and transpersonal growth.
Hakomi is a body-inclusive method that places a emphasis on developing the therapeutic relationship to support the experiential and organic unfolding of being that has been interrupted by developmental or traumatic events.
The Hakomi client is encouraged to study the organisation of their experience – how they meet the world, what kind of world they perceive, what beliefs they hold about themselves and so on.
Hakomi facilitates true transformation of inner processes rather than a management of symptomatic behaviours, thought and emotions. Hakomi is grace unfolding, a skilful, non-violent evocation of the organismic wisdom of the individual