Teaching in the Spirit of Hakomi

You know your teaching is coming from the spirit of Hakomi when there is what Chogyam Trungpa called “warmth and wakefulness”, along with a relaxed, patient, calm, authentically compassionate and respectful demeanour.

A Hakomi teacher has a clear intention of what aspects of the method can be presented and explored in a particular learning experience, but also pays attention to what wants to happen rather than coming in with a too rigid agenda. This kind of teacher trusts that by following the signs of what shows up, along with remaining clear about the point of the lesson, the process will go where it needs to go, whereas leading or directing the process too much could limit the process and learning opportunities – an overly directive style can result from a lack of trust in the organicity of learning, and can miss the opportunity for something unknown and unplanned to inform the learning experience.

Hakomi is a method of discovery. The teacher who is coming from the true spirit of Hakomi is comfortable with uncertainty, with not knowing what will happen, with being creatively responsive on the spot, with improvising, with adjusting to what needs to happen, with allowing the learning/healing experience to have its own natural flow and form – all the while staying true to the intention and integrity of the lesson plan – to the theme of the workshop or training module. There is a balance of containment and flow, of planning and spontaneity, of intentionality and creativity. There is also a balance of experiencing and reporting, of the teacher presenting information and the group discussing and sharing learning discoveries.

A Hakomi teacher trusts that there is enough time, that there is never a need to hurry or force things to happen because of working within a certain time frame. This teacher is relaxed and attentive enough to see humour wherever it shows up, to enjoy the time together, to feel as much the recipient as the giver, to appreciate everything that occurs as an integral part of the whole experience.

A Hakomi teacher is comfortable with silence, with waiting to see where the energy or flow of the group process wants go next… with having spaces for simple togetherness… with every moment as an opportunity for the experience of relating that offers the true healing and that is the real learning.

Humour, patience, spaciousness, no hurry, comfortable with not knowing where it is all going, at ease with whatever shows up, trusting, perceptive, inclusive, going with the flow of the process, non-directive, creating a space that feels safe – these are some of the qualities and behaviours of the teacher who is coming from the spirit of Hakomi. When someone wants to be a good therapist the starting place is being able to be a good client – able to be vulnerable, curious, willing to look within.

When someone wants to be a good teacher, the foundation is to be a lifelong learner – constantly opening to new ways, to new perspectives, to feedback about performance, to suggestions and models that offer newness and creativity to the whole experience of learning and to supporting the learning journey for others.

Here is a passage from Buddha by Karen Armstrong, the Buddha, edited by Tom Morgan (page 52)

The Buddha was always quite clear that his Dhamma could not be understood by rational thinking alone. It only revealed its true significance when it was apprehended “directly”, according to yogic methods, and in the right ethical context. The Four Noble Truths do make logical sense, but they do not become compelling until an aspirant has learned to identify with them at a profound level and has integrated them with his own life.

Then and only then will he experience the “exultation”, “joy”, and “serenity” which, according to the Pali texts, come to us when we divest ourselves of egotism, liberate ourselves from the prison of self-centeredness, and see the Truths “as they really are”. Without the meditation and morality prescribed by the Buddha, the Truths remain as abstract as a musical score, which for most of us cannot reveal its true beauty on the page but needs to be orchestrated and interpreted by a skilled performer.