The Hakomi Principles
Hakomi is the therapeutic expression of a specific set of Principles: Unity, Mind-Body Holism, Organicity, Mindfulness, and Nonviolence.
Each principle translates into particular practices and ways of being that evoke clients’ innate impulses toward healing.
In the words of Ron Kurtz, “The principle of mindfulness refers to the understanding that real change comes about through awareness, not effort.”
Instead of guessing or interpreting, Hakomi uses mindfulness—a state of relaxed, nonjudgmental awareness–to study, activate, and directly experience the root causes underlying our habitual feelings, thoughts, and behavior. As both practitioner and client embody this deep state of nonjudgmental attention, unconscious material gently surfaces that’s typically inaccessible through conversation alone.
Hakomi practitioners gently guide the therapeutic process without imposing their perceptions or preferences. They adjust to the spoken and unconscious needs of the client. Another application of nonviolence in Hakomi is befriending “resistance.” Rather than confronting or breaking through resistance, techniques like “Taking Over” support defenses so they naturally soften and reveal the wisdom they carry.
This principle affirms that mind and body jointly reflect our beliefs about ourselves and the world, influencing how we experience and present ourselves. Hakomi offers many practices for working with somatic material (e.g., habitual movements, gestures, posture, and the body’s structure) to reveal and transform the limiting core beliefs they unconsciously express.
The unity principle views people as living, organic systems–integral wholes composed of parts. Hakomi sees healing as a process that supports separate and often disconnected parts of the system to communicate so they can function as a harmonious whole. Hakomi practitioners recognize and work with the interdependency of all levels of the human system, including the physical/metabolic, intrapsychic, interpersonal, family, cultural, societal, global, and spiritual.
The organicity principle assumes that when all the parts communicate within the whole, we naturally self-direct, self-correct, and self-actualize. Rather than imposing our agenda for healing, we support our clients’ organic unfolding toward wholeness and trust that this is the direction their system will naturally seek.
Ron Kurtz called the compassionate, open stance of the therapist Loving Presence. He emphasized this relational aspect of mindfulness after reading research indicating that the personhood or inner state of the therapist is at least eight times more predictive of therapeutic success than the methods used (Mahoney, 1991).
The practice of Loving Presence arouses the heart to see beauty in suffering and find grace and ease in being with uncertainty. It cultivates a state of appreciation for the inspiring qualities within each human being and, therefore, every client.
Although Ron never officially added it to his five original principles, we include it here to honor the centrality of loving presence in Hakomi.