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Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Hakomi Method and Mindfulness

Descartes made a significant error when he ignited the philosophical revolution of intellectualism as he informed his peers “I think therefore I am.” We are not our thoughts; we may at times be prisoners to our thoughts, but they do not create our state of being. Rather, our thoughts are the descriptive responses to our states of being. There are peaceful moments of thoughtlessness where we still exist. If your mind clears, and no thoughts pervade but you are still present, then obviously you must be more than the product of thinking. Your consciousness, your ability to exist within this moment, your divine spark of life, continues whether or not you fall prey to the manipulative narrator that is your inner dialogue. Even if you grab that chattering little monkey-mind by the tail and duct tape its mouth shut, you are still a human that is being. This state of being that is free of mental banter, allowing us to focus on the non-verbal experience of the “now”, can be achieved through the practice of Mindfulness.

If one reaches a state of peace in the time-space of now, and frees themselves from the imprisonment of being trapped in the displaced experience of “past” and “future” through taming one’s mind, how is that a product of Mindfulness? To understand the outcome, we must understand the tool we are utilizing. There are no bells or whistles swinging from the rafters of Mindfulness; its values and properties are so easy to understand and employ that all human beings have the privilege of accessing them. Mindfulness places emphasis on looking inward while honoring the present moment. While we are in the present moment, pay attention to what is occurring within your body and mind in a receptive, open manner that minimizes your mind’s ability to interfere with the nature of your experience. By being cognizant of our mental activity and participating in our own experience of the present moment, we allow the noise ricocheting through our systems to quiet into a peaceful din of fluidity. Now, our process may proceed with ease rather than with the barbaric bombardment of mental blabber.

In the Hakomi method of Mindfulness, which is usually used in a therapeutic setting, there are principles one employs to aid in the effectiveness of the process. When working with clients, a practitioner must always be aware of their own internal state. As a practitioner applies the Hakomi method of Mindfulness, they must first check in with themselves, and engage in the principle of Beingness. We honor Beingness when we become open, calmly attentive, receptive, accepting, and in contact with both our self and the client. In this state of consciousness, the practitioner goes within and simply observes what is occurring in their being. Remain open to what may arise as you calmly attend to the sensation of existing in the present; be receptive to thoughts, feelings, or senses that may surprise or inform you. Accept your experience of your internal self exactly as it is without complicating its nature through explanation. Lastly, be sure to come into contact with all parts and aspects of yourself that wish to be expressed without forcing the interaction. Above all, just be. Revel in the process of Beingness as you are introduced to your self’s experience of the moment at hand; you may find that your internal wisdom knows you better than you think it does.

This ritual of going within to experience ourselves broadens our perception of where our senses are within the moment of the present. When attending to the present moment, either with ourselves or the client, we must welcome the unpredictable, and not place judgment on the process or the outcome. Through this non-judgmental stance we show compassion for ourselves, and in turn are capable of having authentic compassion for others. In embodying this Beingness, we create a safe environment for others to accept human being rather than human doing. When checking in with yourself, do you find that you can accept your Beingness rather than you compulsion or ability to do?

Once the practitioner is aware of their state, they must review their experience of the client to prevent their interpretation from interfering with the phenomenological experience of the “now.” For this, the practitioner must retain the Hakomi principle of Organicity. Organicity is the belief that organisms have the capability to self-organize and reform in their growth process just as a seedling grows into a plant which renews itself through spreading seeds that grow into new plants. With this principle, the healing and expansion of the client is infinite; the possibility for regeneration and renewal becomes not only possible, but absolute.

As Ron Kurtz says, “Life is its own authority. Life is creative; it tends to jump around and come up with new ways of doing things.” In other words, though a behavior or thought process may appear to have maladaptive properties, in reality there is an immense amount of room for adaptation and reformation. In this interaction between practitioner and client it is imperative that the practitioner hold this belief for the client, even if the client is not yet aware of their own potential. In the way of Organicity, the practitioner is not a leader but a companion on a journey where the client becomes the guide and educator. The principle of Organicity implores the practitioner to trust the inner wisdom and abilities of the client on the path to wellness.

Along with the principle of Organicity, the Hakomi principle of Non-Violence also helps to create and support a safe and self-empowering environment for the client. When utilizing the principle of Non-Violence, the practitioner supports the defenses of the client while allowing the process to flow freely, respecting the clients feelings toward the process. The therapeutic experience is not forced or streamlined, change is not presupposed nor imposed, and the principle of Organicity is honored and observed throughout. The principle of Non-Violence is aptly named because a safe and nurturing environment is created through the willingness to yield to the inclinations and needs of the client.

Now that we’ve established what the Hakomi method of Mindfulness is, and the principles that support effective utilization of the process, how can we be sure that we are being authentic in our Mindfulness? Remember to maintain an internal focus on the present moment; as long as we do not allow our concepts of our past or future selves to dilute our experience of the present, then we remain authentic in the understanding of our self and others. Always observe what is, rather than speculating; so long as we are true to our experience of something without distorting its existence with our own speculation then we are privy to its natural essence and authentic meaning. Welcome the unpredictable; when we open to the unpredictable, we are less likely to shun a valuable learning opportunity by presupposing its nature or meaning. Embody a receptive state, allowing for the expansion of awareness; when the practitioner is an open vessel for knowledge, the client is awarded the freedom to flow in the process of exploration and conveyance. Allow feelings, senses, and information to arise while remaining passive until it subsides; by remaining passive until the entirety of a moment has been experienced allows for a complete or whole acquaintance with that moment. All of these steps lead to the authentic expression of the present moment, creating a safe environment where free expression may openly occur.

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