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The Meaning and Origin of the Name “Hakomi”

In 1980, a group of people inspired by Ron Kurtz’s work collaborated with him to evolve his body-centered psychotherapy method into a teachable format.

After months of searching for a name for this body of work and their newly forming educational institute, one of the group’s members, David Winters, had a dream in which he handed a piece of paper to Ron that had the word “Hakomi” written on it. All who were present agreed on this part. Still, as is common with history handed down orally, there are differing memories about the other words that followed the word “Hakomi” on that dream paper. However, they were all words that indicated relevance for the name search. Some remember it saying Hakomi Institute, while others remember Hakomi Therapy or Hakomi Body-Centered Psychotherapy.

After seeking the meaning of Hakomi in several Eastern languages, David found the word in a Hopi lexicon. He discovered it was a greeting that meant, “Where do you stand in relation to these many realms?” The group was struck by how deeply and poetically this phrase captured their work – a healing method devoted to transforming limiting core beliefs that affected peoples’ relationships with themselves, others, and the world.

In 1981, David consulted his teacher, Grandfather David Monongye, a Hopi prophet, and elder, to seek counsel on the dream and the word Hakomi. The Hopi elder confirmed the meaning of the word and, after inquiring about the nature of this healing work, gave his blessing for the newly forming institute to use the name.

Read memories of this creative time from founding trainers and a trainer emerita.

Name and Method Separation

In 1991, Ron decided to separate from the Hakomi Institute to evolve the Method according to his vision and formed the Hakomi Education Network. The Hakomi Institute continued under the founding trainers’ leadership as an educational nonprofit. 

As both organizations have evolved, concerns have risen within our joint Hakomi communities about using the name Hakomi for our body of work. Some feel that using the name Hakomi is a form of cultural appropriation from the Hopi people and may have caused harm. Others hold it as a sacred transmission from a dream that a Hopi Elder gave us permission and a blessing to use. Still, others embrace some combination of these two viewpoints. What is clear to most in our two communities is that we need to honor the Hopi people’s authority over their language and its use and discover how to be integrity with this. 

In 2019 the Hakomi Institute (HI) formed the Hakomi Name Committee, and the Hakomi Education Network (HEN) formed the Hopi Reconciliation Group to address these concerns. In 2020, members of these two groups came together to explore these concerns jointly. The committee members now see themselves as “The Hakomi Reconciliation Committee.” Having been charged with exploring the question of the Hakomi name, this committee has come to recognize that whatever we ultimately decide about keeping or letting go of the term, what is essential for us now is to come into integrity with “how we stand” in relation to the Hopi people and to honor reciprocity for the use of the name we have carried all these years. 

Read actions the Hakomi Reconciliation Committee is taking to address these concerns.