SCOTT EATON, MFT
ARTICLES

 

Overview of Hakomi
–from the Hakomi Institute Website

Introduction
The Hakomi Method of body-centered therapy originated in the mid-1970s, developed by the internationally renowned therapist and author, Ron Kurtz, and members of his Training Staff. In 1980, to promote the teaching and evolution of Hakomi, Ron and his Training Staff founded the Hakomi Institute. Today, Hakomi Trainings and Workshops are presented throughout the world, from Eugene to Europe, from New York to New Zealand. The Hakomi Method is an efficient and powerful process for discovering and then studying mind/body patterns and core beliefs as you experience them.

Hakomi Experience
Therapy is first about discovering. It's about who you are and about what your deepest emotional attitudes are. It's not just about who you think you are. It's not opinion. It's not something you can know with the intellect. It's about who you are in the very heart of yourself. That's the flavor of psychotherapy--discovering yourself, discovering your real attitudes toward the most important pieces of your life. It takes courage to look at yourself. It takes a real desire to know and a willingness to accept whatever is there. It helps to be playful too. At some point, you realize that the things you thought you were stuck with, your character traits, are changeable. You can be free of them. It helps if you don't take these parts of yourself too seriously. Courage, a desire to know and be free, and playfulness--these are necessary. The journey is from "Who are you?" to "Who you are!" At the end you have consistency and vision. You know your needs and direction. You can say, "This I will do and this I won't!". You have resolved many conflicts in which one part of you wants something and another part is against it. It's not a final place you reach. The journey itself becomes a way of life. If it ends at all, it ends in enlightenment. The self one is interested in is no longer the individual ego, but he unbounded self of the spirit. Because, finally, that is who you are.

Core Material
Hakomi helps people change "core material." Core material is composed of memories, images, beliefs, neural patterns, and deeply held emotional dispositions. This material shapes the styles, habits, behaviors, perceptions, physical postures and attitudes which define us as individuals. Our responses to the major themes of life--safety, belonging, support, power, freedom, responsibility, appreciation, sexuality, spirituality, etc.--are all organized by our core material.
Some of this core material supports our being who we wish to be, while some of it--learned in response to difficult situations--continues to limit us. Hakomi allows the client to distinguish between the two, and to modify willingly any material that restricts his or her wholeness.

The Method
In pursuing this material, the Method follows a certain general outline. First, we work to build a therapist/client relationship which maximizes safety, respect, and the cooperation of the unconscious. With a good working relationship established, we then help the client focus on and study how his or her core material shapes personal experience.
To permit this study, we establish and use a distinct state of consciousness called Mindfulness. Mindfulness is characterized by relaxed volition, a gentle and sustained inward focus of attention, heightened sensitivity, freedom from judgment and effort, and the ability to notice and name the contents of consciousness. The heart of the Method is the precise study of the client's present felt experiences, as a way to discover personal organizing material. These experiences are either naturally occurring, or deliberately and gently evoked by having the client participate in carefully designed "experiments". These might be hearing a statement about a key theme, or having the client change his or her physical position. It might be asking him or her to consider a certain possibility, or making a certain gesture. Through the "experiment", the client is invited to allow and carefully notice whatever responses happen inside of them, and ultimately to feel within their being the core factors that shape such responses. Once arrived at in this felt sense, the core material can be studied, evaluated, and transformed. The basic method, then, is this: 1) to establish a relationship in which it is safe for the client to become aware; 2) to notice or evoke experiences that lead to the discovery of organizing core material; and 3) to seek healing changes in the core material. All else that we do is in support of this primary process.

Hakomi Foundations
Drawing from a wide range of sources, Hakomi has evolved into a complex, elegant, and highly effective form of psychotherapy. At its most basic level, Hakomi is the therapeutic expression of a specific set of universal Principles: Mindfulness, Unity, Mind/Body/Spirit Holism, Nonviolence, and Organicity. These tenets inform every aspect of the work and all the special techniques come organically from the Principles.
Hakomi is a Hopi Indian word which means "How do you stand in relation to these many realms?". A more modern translation is "Who are you?". Some of the origins of Hakomi stem from Buddhism and Taoism, especially concepts like gentleness, compassion, mindfulness, and "going with the grain." Other influences come from general systems theory, which incorporates the idea of respect for the wisdom of each individual as a living organic system that spontaneously organizes matter and energy, and selects from the environment what it needs in a way that maintains its goals, programs, and identity. Hakomi Therapy itself is like a spontaneously self-correcting organism in a process of constant becoming. Hakomi also draws from modern body-centered psychotherapies such as Psychomotor, Reichian, Bioenergetics, Gestalt, Feldenkrais, Structural Bodywork, Focusing, Ericksonian Hypnosis, and Neurolinguistic Programming. Hakomi is a synthesis of philosophies, techniques, and approaches that has its own unique artistry, form, and organic process.

Hakomi Theoretical Base
Hakomi, as a method and as a school of thought, is participating in the huge change of scientific thinking in our time. The seeds of a new vision of reality are sprouting everywhere--in physics and in philosophy, in medicine, psychology, anthropology, economics. With minor variations, it is basically a shift away from matter as the only reality, toward the inclusion of consciousness and mind. It is basically a shift away from isolation and independence toward interdependence and mutuality, fields of influence, and knowing at a distance. It is the collapse of the absolute and the embracing of multiplicity and uncertainty.
If psychotherapy is going to participate in the new vision, it will have to enhance a whole new set of principles. It will have to recognize a clear distinction between living systems and mechanical ones. It will need to drop linear causality and the notions of separateness and external authority. For the qualities of living systems are those of internal authority, great sensitivity, participation in the world, consciousness, growth, and wholeness. Psychology will have to recognize the primacy of mind, information, and communication. All of these have had a deep formative influence on Hakomi Therapy. How better to understand than to let the principles and methods of Hakomi help you study the organizing of your own experience. You can discover a great deal about yourself using these methods, and in that pursuit of the knowledge of self is the key to whatever freedom and full human "beingness" we shall ever attain.

Applications
Hakomi is effective and appropriate in most therapeutic situations, including work with individuals, couples, families, groups, movement, and body work. It is suitable for crisis work and psychological maintenance, but it finds its full potential in the processes of growth, both personal and transpersonal, when we are committed to moving beyond our limits. Hakomi has been effectively applied to a wide variety of everyday activities: athletics, theater, parenting, business.... Because Hakomi attends to the very nature of being human, it is easily adapted to support whatever tasks and adventures people pursue.

 

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