“When we begin, we imagine that someday, if we practice long and hard enough, all our problems will be gone. Every aspect of our conditioning that gives us trouble will disappear, wiped out by the power of zazen. Our problems don’t disappear. If they did we’d lose touch with humanity. They don’t go anywhere. But we know them well. We know all their tricks. We don’t act on them.” — Hank, Jake Fades, David Guy
A Little History
Ron Kurtz was an avid reader with a scientific mind. Over a span of about 40 years, he guided Hakomi through its evolution, making many refinements to the method over time. Traditionally, Hakomi was called “body-centered psychotherapy”. Although the method has always maintained a focus on the body, as time progressed, Ron thought the words “assisted self-discovery” more accurately described the method, and the refinements he made to it. The word “psychotherapy” implies a medical model, as if there is something wrong with the person who is the client, and it is the job of the therapist to fix it. An online dictionary defines psychotherapy as “the treatment of psychological disorders or maladjustments by a professional technique…”
The term, “assisted self-discovery” expresses the subtle non-violence inherent in the method in its most refined form. To practice Hakomi is to practice humility and profound trust when we sit with another person. We are grounded in understanding that this other person is whole and complete, even if they are experiencing distress, or believe themselves to be in some way “broken”. Each of us has our own self-healing capacity. At best, as Hakomi practitioners, we view ourselves as skilled assistants, who may influence or support the activation of the self-healing capacity of another. The use of the phrase “treatment of a disorder” implies a subtle violence, potentially labelling the person seeking assistance as maladaptive, and denying their capacity for self healing. The assistant is equally misrepresented as having the power to heal another.
When put simply, Hakomi is just a couple of people sitting together, each honouring the vulnerability of being human in this moment. One person compassionately, generously assists the other to discover and embrace this human vulnerability more fully, thereby assisting the other to open to their own inherent potential to self-heal.
Of course, being human, it’s never quite that simple. To be this kind of practiced assistant asks for a state of loving and radical presence, and a willingness to drop old habits and agendas. But this way of being with one another is something that is natural. It is in our bones, hardwired in our brains to assist each other in this way. Hakomi helps remind us of this, to draw out of us what we already know, and how we already are.
We consulted with our dear friend and mentor, Donna Martin, Ron’s most senior Legacy Holder and Hakomi trainer. As a result, we have decided to stop using Ron’s traditional labels for the training, originally called Level 1, 2, and 3. The content of the training remains unchanged, only the titles have changed. We feel titles for training modules most accurately reflect the principles inherent in the Refined Hakomi method when they offer descriptions of the skills practiced instead of descriptions which suggest sequence or hierarchy. Hakomi skills can be learned in any order and are learned cyclically, not linearly. We want our training to honour and reflect the uniqueness of each participant’s life experience and the personal skills and qualities they bring to the training.
Why Train in Hakomi?
Hakomi training runs on two simultaneous tracks. The first is our own self-discovery, the second is to learn to assist another with their self-discovery. We start with using experiential, mindfulness-based practices to facilitate our own self-awareness. We cultivate and embody a state of mind infused with curiosity, generosity, and kindness. We apply this attitude to ourselves to discover our own self-limiting beliefs and strategies. Later, we develop a finely attuned state of mind based on radical presence and deep empathy and compassion toward another. We embody this state Ron coined as “Loving Presence”, along with an attention to present experience and nonverbal signals. This information is used to create experiments to assist another to discover and heal how they are generating unnecessary suffering.
Hakomi training offers a gentle and profoundly life-changing opportunity. Participants on the training nurture community with each other, take risks at their own pace, are loved by each other, and are supported to experience personal growth. Participants often experience enhanced connection with themselves and within their relationships with friends, family and co-workers. The training also offers skills to enhance our professional relationships with clients. Counselors, social workers, body workers, yoga practitioners who have completed Hakomi trainings have expressed experiencing enhanced body awareness, insight into their own transference reactions, and a “paradigm shift” that allows them to rest in their role as “professional” while deeply trusting the healing capacity of their “client”.
Here’s what some of our students have said:
I have experienced remarkable changes in myself in the time I have been studying with Bob and Marcia. Being a therapist for twenty years before being introduced to Hakomi practice, I found that my previous training and experience both enhanced and interfered with my ability to practice in a Hakomi way. I am grateful for the challenge and the gift. Hakomi has helped me to experience far greater compassion and loving presence with clients and myself. Bob and Marcia are gifted teachers and model their skills within their humour and humility. Learning and practicing in their presence is a gentle, affirming experience. J.S. PhD, RCC
I think the difference for me between other workshops I have experienced over the years and this one was that “loving presence” is a given – everything takes place within that crucible so it is far less daunting to be vulnerable than other process oriented therapies. JM
The workshop was great for its gentle welcoming inclusiveness. It is wonderful, and I think ‘so Hakomi’, that the highest level practitioners and an uninitiated non-therapist looking to ease his or her way in life could equally share a training circle. Without a doubt I will recommend trainings to my clients. MT, RCC
Here’s what our teachers have said:
Bob and Marcia are two of the most amazing Hakomi practitioners and trainers in the world. They totally embody the work individually and as a couple. I highly recommend any Hakomi workshop or training they are offering to anyone wanting to experience the essence and spirit of Hakomi as well as the practical application of the method.
–Donna Martin, Ron Kurtz’s most Senior Trainer and Legacy Holder
Who Would Benefit from Hakomi Training?
Hakomi skills include a way of being and a way of doing. We learn to embody a calm sense of appreciation for ourselves and others that is palpable. As we use this appreciation to attune to others, we can support the unfolding of another’s healing, whether they are a friend, a neighbour, or someone who comes to us in our role as a professional. Many people attend our trainings because they are counsellors, psychologists, youth workers, social workers or body workers who are seeking to apply Hakomi skills to their practice. Others attend because they wish to help others, they wish to learn some communication skills, or because it just “feels right”.
There are no prerequisites for our training. We recommend bringing an open and curious mind, a heart willing to feel a little, and an inner wisdom that, however quietly, says “Yes” to life.
Recognition of Training
After 42 days of Hakomi training, participants will receive a Certificate of Completion of Training in the Hakomi Method. On completion of 42 days of training, a person can call him/herself an Advanced Student of Hakomi. The completion of 42 days of training meets the minimum requirement to allow a student to begin working towards Certification as a Hakomi Practitioner, if they wish.
Certification as a Hakomi Practitioner is granted when a student has integrated and embodied a level of competence as a practitioner of Hakomi, as displayed in a videotaped session. We offer Coaching Skills days and individual supervision, working closely with students to support the continuation of their learning and application of the Hakomi Method.
On recommendation of a peer supervision group or a trainer, a student may submit a videotaped session to a Certified Hakomi Trainer for review. The video will also be reviewed by a second trainer, who does not know the student.
Islands Hakomi Education Network’s trainings are on hold until the pandemic social distancing recommendations are changed to allow in-person events.