By Julia Corley, Certified Hakomi Teacher, NC LMBT #2123
Hakomi Mindful Somatic Psychology is centered on five principles inspired by ancient wisdom from the East and modern concepts from the West. These principles guide a session’s flow and outline a path toward wholeness. When we approach ourselves or our clients more like a gardener or a midwife, as a support rather than a mechanic, we can rest in the unfolding mystery of life itself.
The unity principle is informed by ancient Buddhist concepts of nonduality and interbeing and by the work of Gregory Bateson. Each person is a whole made up of various parts. Individuals are part of the larger wholes of our families, communities, subcultures, cultures, world, and universe. Humans are ingeniously designed to grow towards greater wholeness, a capacity we share with all living things. We are inextricably connected to all of life, ever-evolving as is the entire universe. Sometimes we just need to discover how to get out of our own way, to trust that growth and change will occur in our own time. Resting in unity helps us relax and not strive so much for progress, knowing it is bound to happen anyway.
The organicity principle, also informed by Bateson, is another way of trusting our inner wisdom. An acorn knows how to become an oak tree. It also somehow knows how to deal with the wind and weather that will shape how the tree grows, having an innate intelligence about being itself. When a branch splits off in an ice storm, it knows how to heal. The twists and turns in our bodies and minds are natural adaptations to the forces that have shaped our lives. We are adaptable and often stronger than we imagine. Resting in organicity helps us trust our capacity to weather the storms of life and continue becoming who we are.
The principle of mind-body holism is another way of understanding our integral nature. Just as our mental state can be impacted by our body sensations, the state of our body is impacted by our thoughts. These experiences are forever entwined. Mindfulness researcher Dan Siegel describes the mind as “an embodied and relational process that regulates the flow of energy and information.” We can mindfully sense and observe our emotions, sensations, thoughts, and impulses to inform us about how we are doing and what is needed now. Resting in mind-body holism, we can enjoy a more integrated sense of the living intelligence of our whole selves.
The mindfulness principle invites us to cultivate our internal observer, to stay with and study our experience as it unfolds. We can practice classical mindfulness, strengthening focus and self-regulation by observing our breath. Hakomi uses applied mindfulness to look inside ourselves to see how we are impacted by various stimuli and how we automatically respond to our environment and relationships. We can pause, slow down, and tap into the full spectrum of our experience. Resting in mindfulness, we can be awake to what emerges from the embodied depths of our being.
The principle of nonviolence is informed by the Tao. We need to feel safe to look inside ourselves. We can only transform our resistance when we can meet it with curiosity. Nonviolence tells us to approach ourselves as a kind friends rather than as a conqueror. Resting in nonviolence, we can be gentle with ourselves and others, creating a safe space to visit the dark places most need our love and attention.
These principles are fairly simple to understand but not always easy to practice. When working with clients as a psychotherapist, coach, or other helping/healing practitioner, it can be easy to stay caught in the spell that we have to DO something, when so often simply bringing present with another person is much more effective in helping them along their own path.
To learn more about Hakomi Mindful Somatic Psychology, please visit the Hakomi Institute website: http://hakomiinstitute.com.
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