The Way of Hakomi: Cruising the Inside Passage

I’m writing this reflection in memory of Hakomi at sea. Seabear, our beloved 37 ft motor vessel served as home for me and my husband three to four months every summer for the past dozen years. Many of you reading this have met my husband Jeff and some of you have traveled with us in those wild places, exploring your inside worlds and the outside world, learning to love both. Jeff is currently struggling with terminal cancer and as we go through this journey together, we are both grateful for the memories of our travels at sea and our Hakomi journeys aboard Seabear.

jeff and georgia on seabearEvery summer we would travel to the Inside Passage of British Columbia to lose ourselves, to locate ourselves and each other again, to enter the deep quiet of the ocean in a way that would feed us throughout the coming year. One morning we came into dock at Lagoon Cove, a little bay in the Broughton Archipelago. After we had tied the lines, I looked up to see a woman with a warm glint of recognition in her eyes coming toward the boat. After she said hello, she reminded us that we had met five years earlier in another remote spot.

I remembered then how we had spent hours together, talking on the dock about her young son with Downs Syndrome. I had attended to her story in the spirit of loving presence that I have cultivated in my Hakomi practice, appreciating this mother’s courage in facing a tough situation. Since that time, she had been looking for us, noting every time Seabear was hailed on the VHF.

Without working at it, or even thinking about it, and certainly without doing any therapeutic interventions, I had connected to this woman on a deeply human level. Hakomi, which can be understood as assisted self-study with the potential for therapeutic healing, is not just a job for me, something that begins and ends at an appointed time. It is my path, my mission, and my life’s calling. It affects all my relationships, however fleeting. Most of all, it affects my relationship with myself.

Hakomi helps us make sense of our experience, helps us make meaning and wholeness of our lives.

In order to be fully available to help others, I must first be at home in my own inner wilderness. As a Hakomi practitioner, I cannot help others unless I also study my own internal world, learning to befriend the many parts of myself—however contradictory they seem at times—and also learning, over time, to make sense of my own journey. In his work, The Neurobiology of We, Daniel Siegel reports a powerful finding: that the best predictor of a child’s integration is the ability of the parent to make sense of her own life. How do we make sense of the pain and the suffering in our lives? How do we make sense of suicide? How do we make sense of a decision to stay with an abusive partner? How do we make sense of the emotional barrenness of a birth family, of the deep mistrust and separation that exists in families? How do we make sense of deep loneliness we may have experienced in childhood, young adulthood, or in our long-time marriages? Hakomi helps us make sense of our experiences, helps us make meaning and wholeness of our lives.

This is a special thanks to those of you who have joined us on Seabear – for those who have flown in little planes to Bella Bella, who have taken inflatables to the southern islands of Haida Gwaii, who have bathed in the wild hotsprings of Dean Channel and fished for salmon in Queen’s Sound – thanks for sharing this wild and beautiful journey of Hakomi and life.