The Client’s Commitments: Mindfulness and Honesty

An excerpt from Readings in the Hakomi Method by Ron Kurtz.

The adaptive unconscious operates on the basis of assumptions, expectations, habits and implicit beliefs about ourselves, others and the world of which we are part. These assumptions were created by our earliest and strongest formative experiences. They are not available to consciousness through the usual processes that retrieve memories. They must be accessed using special techniques. The Hakomi Method employs unique techniques, developed over more than thirty years, to accomplish just that.

The Hakomi Method is not about talking out your problems.

The Hakomi Method is not about talking out your problems. There won’t be long, speculative conversations about your troubles or your history. This method is designed to assist you in studying the processes that automatically create and maintain the person you have become. It is a method of assisted self-study. It requires that you enter into short periods of time where you become calm and centered enough to observe your own reactions, as if you were observing the behavior of another person, a state called mindfulness. The therapist assists your self-study by creating “little experiments” while you are in mindfulness. These experiments are always nonviolent and are designed to evoke reactions that will be reflections of the habits and beliefs that make you who you are. The implicit beliefs and relationship habits with which you meet the world automatically shape your present behavior. Aspects of your behavior, the aspects that reflect your deepest beliefs, are what the therapist uses to create the experiments.

The process works best:

  1. if you can follow and report on your present experience
  2. if you’re able to get into a calm inward focused state and are relaxed enough to allow reactions
  3. if you’re willing to experience some painful feelings and speak about them; and
  4. if you have the courage to be open and honest about your experience. That courage will be your greatest ally.

I also tell clients about the rewards that are there for those who practice self-study. Zen master Dogen said, “To study the Buddha Way is to study the self, to study the self is to forget the self, and to forget the self is to be enlightened by the ten thousand things.”

To study the self is to forget the self…”
— Zen master Dogen

Of course the work we do is only a small step on that journey. And though the method is different, the attitude and direction are the same. Release from unnecessary suffering is release from an identity that includes habits and ideas which are not only old and outworn, but fundamentally flawed as descriptions of reality.