A Hakomi Perspective on Mental Health Awareness

EMDR Therapy for Couples

by Sara Moshenrose, Clinical Psychologist, Accredited EMDR and Hakomi Practitioner

Hakomi is a mind-body psychotherapy that takes a holistic perspective on emotional and mental well-being. There are key underlying principles to the Hakomi framework that can provide a unique perspective on mental health awareness. These are: Mindfulness, Unity, Non-Violence, Mind-Body Holism, and Organicity.

Mindfulness: Mindfulness is a cornerstone of Hakomi Psychotherapy and acts as the foundation for awareness. Our lives are becoming increasingly fast-paced, distracted, and disconnected, leaving little time and space for contemplation, reflection, and digestion of all that life brings and asks of us. At its heart, mindfulness is an invitation to come into open, curious, non-judgemental awareness of the present moment. This might be for a few mindful breaths, choosing to be mindful in everyday tasks, or even taken up as a deeper practice. Even one intentional mindful moment in the day can make a difference, allow for some awareness, and bring us back to a sense of who we truly are.

Unity: The unity principle states that all elements of any system are interconnected, and no part can be isolated from the other.  What is unfolding in the inner world is also reflected in the outer world – over and over – as if the world is a mirror.  Each part of the whole is an integral part.  We are all waves of one ocean. As we experience poor mental health, we can often feel deep suffering, disconnection, isolation, and conflict with ourselves and the wider world. As we look outside of ourselves into the collective, we may also see these themes of suffering, isolation, disconnection, and conflict emerge at every level and in every system – both small and big. The unity principle can also act as a balm of healing. As we become more aware and heal what feels dis-unified within ourselves we can then see the potential of this occurring in others and the outer world.

Non-Violence: Non-violence in Hakomi is acting in a way that does not cause harm to another sentient being, including ourselves. So often we viciously attack, condemn, criticise, and judge ourselves.  As we do this, it spills over into the same acts towards others or the world, and a chaotic spiral keeps perpetuating. For many of my clients experiencing mental health difficulties, there is often a deep core of self-neglect, self-condemnation, and even self-hatred. As we begin to build awareness and consciously take account of our actions and thoughts, aligning them with principles like non-violence, we can move towards more compassionate, intentional, heart-centred responses towards ourselves and others. A small practice might be to begin to become aware of your thoughts and self-dialogue.  What is the emotional tone of these thoughts? Are these thoughts compassionate and loving? What might it be like to allow yourself to think one thought of compassion towards yourself?  

Mind-Body Holism: In Hakomi, the mind and body are interconnected. We often hear about the mind-body ‘connection’, but the reality is that all of our experience is through the body and held in the body.  We often think of our brain and mind being separate from our bodies, but biologically speaking we literally have an embodied nervous system that interconnects the brain to every organ and extends throughout the whole body.  When there is poor physical health, often mental and emotional well-being suffers. When our emotional and mental health declines, our physical health often declines as well. And equally as our physical, emotional, and mental health improves, even a little bit, this also has a positive parallel effect on our other systems. Just one small step in the direction towards wellness and health can begin to move things in another direction.

Organicity: The organicity principle rests on the idea that all beings will organically evolve towards higher levels of complexity and organisation, and this is what has been happening for billions of years on this planet. All living systems have natural and innate impulses towards healing. With a little bit of presence and awareness, human beings are naturally self-directing, self-correcting, and self- actualising. We will organically move towards more wholeness, refinement, and integration and we can trust that the process of therapy, healing, and life is moving us closer to this.

Sara is a Clinical Psychologist who has been integrating the Hakomi Principles into her work and life for the past nine years. She is a trained Hakomi provider and Accredited EMDR Practitioner. If you are interested in working with Sara, she is available for one or two-week EMDR Intensive Programs through Mindful Living.