The Hakomi Process


Hakomi Therapy is experiential, body-centered, emotional healing. It’s incredibly gentle and respectful, and highly effective.

It teaches you how to love yourself.

What it looks like

Hakomi is a beautiful dialogue process that uses creative experiments in present-moment awareness to reach the parts of you that have been hidden from your conscious knowledge. We generally begin by sitting and talking, but it’s not “conversational” talking. It’s a slow, mindful descent into the rich tapestry of your present-moment experience, following the lead of your own natural curiosity. When we bump into something interesting, we then find a way to deepen your understanding of it. This may involve standing, grounding, moving, or exploring sound, touch, eye contact, posture, or any number of other ways to understand what’s trying to make itself known. All of these explorations help you engage in a gentle yet powerful dialogue process between your mind (the conscious part of you) and your body (the unconscious part of you). By teaching your mind and body to communicate with each other, this work helps you clearly understand how you’ve been unconsciously creating pain in your life, and gives you powerful tools to change these unconscious patterns and create a more beautiful life.

The first secret of this work is its exquisite care.

From our very first session, you will be met with the understanding that you are a richly complex being moving toward wholeness, not a problem to be solved. It’s understood that everything you have done in your life has been your best attempt – given your resources at the time – to bring about greater balance. Some very important things may have been sacrificed in order to find safety, or love, or some measure of control over your world, and you may still be living with the consequences of those painful sacrifices. This process, by going slowly, and mindfully, and with such exquisite care, makes it easier to be gentle with yourself, and to begin to recognize how much wisdom has been at work in your life all along.

The second secret of this work is that it deals directly with the body.

Everything we think, feel, experience, and remember is expressed somehow in the body. To understand this, think about the posture and body language of someone who is depressed. Then think about the posture and body language of someone who is confident and engaged in life. Both are expressing mental and emotional patterns with their physical bodies. Hakomi addresses these otherwise abstract patterns in a very concrete, here-and-now way by working directly with the way they are expressed by the body.

The third secret of this work is that it helps you “change your filters.”

We create unnecessary pain in our lives because we unconsciously filter out many experiences that would nourish us – emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually, and sexually. This filtering process is mostly set up in early childhood to avoid pain or make sense out of baffling situations. As we mature, we outgrow the need for many of these filters, but they’ve become so automatic they still operate without our awareness.

This is why adults sometimes behave like children. It’s also why people sabotage their relationships, their careers, or their personal lives. And it’s why people develop destructive patterns like addictions, eating disorders, and co-dependency. This is all done unconsciously, and is totally at odds with the rational thinking of the conscious mind. The mind has to create elaborate and distorted thought processes to avoid recognizing the absurdity of these unconscious habits.

The Somatic difference

This is where the somatic approach differs from traditional talk therapy. Psychological counseling, in general, is a “top-down” approach. It addresses the distorted thought processes and works on a conscious, rational level to sort out clear thinking from faulty thinking, and the emotions and behaviors that arise from these thoughts.

Hakomi, on the other hand, is generally a “bottom-up” approach. It works directly with the unconscious habits, by addressing the ways they manifest in the physical body. The work is very intuitive, and very “here and now,” as illustrated in the following example.

Transforming anxiety

A client has been repeatedly passed over for a promotion for which he is perfectly qualified, and he senses that he’s somehow sabotaging his chances of getting it. Rather than examining his thinking process, and trying to puzzle this out, I invite him study what his body is telling him in this present moment. I help him notice his posture, his breathing, his voice, his movements, and the patterns of tension or ease in his body.

As he brings attention to these things, he becomes aware that his body is turning slightly away from me. Again, I don’t try to figure this out with him, I simply help him stay present to it, and together we keep studying it. Through various experiments with touch, eye contact, posture, and movement, he becomes increasingly aware that his body’s impulse to turn away is connected to a gnawing anxiety.

The anxiety is extremely uncomfortable for him, and when he tries to stay with it and study it, he feels even more anxious. I help him interrupt this vicious cycle by returning his awareness to his physical body. Experiencing the anxiety as a physical sensation helps something abstract become concrete, and he notices it settle a bit. More importantly, he’s now able to stay much more present to it, which gives him greater and greater access to what’s causing it.

As we continue working with this over the next several weeks, he begins recognizing these unconscious patterns when he’s at work. He’s fascinated to notice when, and with whom, his body feels the impulse to turn away. Because he’s able to stay with the anxiety, he gets more and more insight into this pattern.

Eventually he’s able to change this pattern, and stand or sit squarely facing other people with little or no anxiety. In fact, he begins to feel something entirely different when he interacts with others: confidence and joy!

Are you ready to change your life?

This work is remarkably effective because it’s so direct. It bypasses the “trickiness” of the mind – which is sometimes too clever for its own good – and works directly with the body. The mind can trick us into believing or ignoring all kinds of things, but the body doesn’t lie. The body speaks in a very simple and straightforward way, and reveals (once you learn how to listen) the truth of who you are, what you need, what’s good for you and what’s not.

Hakomi Therapy is truly life-changing work. It dramatically increases your self-awareness, teaches you how to safely face things you previously found terrifying, and guides you to a place of deep self-acceptance. To accept yourself is to love yourself, and once you start loving yourself, nothing will ever be the same.

Schedule a session by emailing me or by calling me at (616) 262-3848.

Back To Hakomi Overview.