When many people hear “psychotherapy”, they still have the image of Freud analyzing someone’s words as they lay on a couch. While information is helpful, ‘knowing why’ something happens does not make it go away or immediately change it. Sometimes it even makes things worse, as we get critical and judge ourselves if we don’t suddenly change something!
In my own personal experience, I knew why certain events in my life made me unhappy. However, knowing the logical reasons around the events did nothing to change my unhappiness or my beliefs about myself! I was drawn to Hakomi from my first introduction to its power: my body responding to a simple, serious statement with a fit of uncontrollable laughter. This was a strong, undeniable message about my beliefs around anger that I hadn’t known about! Since then, through Hakomi, I’ve been able to develop a new relationship with myself that is much less critical, more relaxed, and more fulfilled. With increased awareness, I can better take care of my own emotions and needs, so I’m happier with myself, as well as in my relationships with others.
What is Hakomi?
Hakomi is a mindful approach to therapy that facilitates change in an experiential way. It works with what is present, without always needing the story. It invites the wisdom of the body and emotions in a more holistic way than simply ‘talking about’ the problem.
Hakomi trusts in the innate tendency toward healing. Even after a doctor performs surgery, much of the healing process comes from the body – white blood cells battle infection, platelets create a scab, and new cells grow to heal a wound. Similarly, emotional wounds can find their own path to healing if given enough of a safe environment where they are welcome to show up as they are, without having to “make sense”.
Hakomi invites compassionate curiosity to explore and change the core beliefs that get in our way. Having the embodied sense of what feels ‘right’ and true can create a big shift in our ability to create lasting change and freedom. We can’t control others, we can only practice being the self we want to be. Thankfully, that doesn’t mean having to change everything around us!
Hakomi involves the use of mindfulness in order to increase awareness of ourselves and our ways of interacting. Especially in our busy ‘doing’ society, the mere experience of this level of attention can bring some healing. By listening to the deeper messages of what is needed, new experiences can be created to heal old wounds. Acceptance, emotional safety, being good enough, the ability to trust, are all common themes that can grow and improve through Hakomi.
What does Hakomi look like?
Since Hakomi is an exploration, there is a lot of room for creativity in sessions. What comes up can be surprising, and sometimes fun! As much of the work is done in mindfulness, many clients opt to work with their eyes closed, so they can be attentive to their own experience, rather than distracted by conversation. Maybe we start by exploring the color, shape, or temperature of your pain. Maybe we explore the sensation of protection and safety with a pillow fort. Or maybe we simply study that subtle gesture of raising your shoulders ever so slightly when someone asks you for something. The body shares information like this with us all the time; I can help you slow down and listen to the messages that want to be heard, and create new experiences to feel more whole and at peace.