Exploring the Map-Maker
Hakomi: A Mindfulness-Centered, Somatic Approach to Therapy
The body-centered approach I use in my therapy practice draws mainly from Hakomi Somatic Psychotherapy. It is an experiential and body-centered approach that works well for many concerns, such as depression, anxiety, early childhood neglect and trauma, attachment issues, relationship stress, and much more. In a therapy session you will often be invited to study your present experience and uncover your “map” of how you relate to your world- how you perceive, interpret, and respond/react to experience. And, you will have the opportunity to experiment with new ways of thinking, feeling, and being in order to change patterns that feel limiting and unfulfilling.
What does Hakomi mean?...Hakomi is a word that comes from the Hopi language that means “How do you stand in relation to these many realms?” and was chosen because it aptly fit the intention of Hakomi - to assist individuals in an exploration of the self and how the individual creates their own unique map of meaning, belief, and behavioral patterns that they use in daily life. Hakomi, as an approach to psychotherapy, was developed by Ron Kurtz in the late 1970s and integrated many elements from eastern philosophy, Buddhism, Taoism, Gestalt, Bioenergetics, Rolfing, Feldenkrais, and Systems Theory.
In Hakomi, the initial focus is on a particular present experience, like a muscle tension pattern, a thought, a feeling or an image. This present experience serves as a current example of experience being organized and is a route to the core material behind it. The Hakomi Method regards people as self-organizing systems, organized psychologically around core memories, beliefs and images. Through gentle, guided self-study you will be able to find how present thoughts, feelings, and behaviors connect to early, formative experiences and memories. Interesting, huh?!
How do we study our present experience? In Hakomi, mindfulness is used to explore implicit beliefs that organize our response to life. What does this mean? Implicit beliefs are unconscious, yet powerful, beliefs that impact our habits, behavior, perceptions, and attitudes. “Implicit” refers to the belief being out of conscious awareness, meaning that it is a belief that is rather automatic, embedded in how you view and respond to your world. An example of an implicit belief would be a person who lived in a household that was loving, nurturing, and supportive…the implicit belief for this person may be “I am supported and loved”. A contrasting example is a person who lived in a household of violence and threat… this person’s implicit belief, and the way they respond to their world, may be “the world is unsafe and harsh”. Can you see how these differing beliefs would change how the person moves in their environment and in relationships?
Why do we pay attention to the body? Somatic psychology teaches that the body reflects and stores memory, beliefs, and information that is often out of our conscious awareness and it is through the body that these formative memories, beliefs, and patterns can be examined and changed. Do you ever wonder why you react automatically in certain situations? It could be that your body “remembers” an experience or situation that left a mark in the psyche and created a certain belief that influences you in the present moment. For instance, an adult, who as a child was bullied in school, may enter groups or social situations with a belief that they will be humiliated or hurt, which causes them to withdraw from certain experiences. And, this withdrawal may happen without any conscious thought… it has become a pattern of how the person enters groups. Accessing the memory or belief, giving it light in a supportive therapeutic relationship, while noticing how the body, mind, and emotions respond, allows for the belief to be re-patterned and changed. New belief = new options for current behavior and thought. Sounds empowering, huh?!
Hakomi is a gentle approach that allows you to study the underlying beliefs that influence current behaviors, thoughts, and feelings. To gain more access to our inner world, including our thoughts, feelings, emotions, beliefs, and memories, we do much of our therapeutic work in mindfulness. This means that as a therapist I will invite you to tune into minute details of your experience: physical sensations, feelings and emotions that bubble up, thoughts, images, or memories that pop into awareness. In this way, we study your internal experience to access how you organize around your experience of relationship/connection/intimacy, conflict, stress, career goals, and so much more!
Once we have identified the negative thoughts and beliefs we have greater possibility in freeing ourselves from their limitations.
If you are curious about this method or would like to schedule an appointment or phone consultation, feel free to contact me at 720-924-1155 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Or, for more information about the Hakomi Method, visit the Hakomi Institute website.