First of all, I would like to express immense appreciation for Ron Kurtz and his Hakomi Method, which has been the focus of my practice and teaching since 1990 when I first met him. Working closely with Ron during the last twenty odd (pun intended) years of his life was a blessing and a gift. I feel a huge debt of gratitude to him and to the legacy of Hakomi that he bestowed on me.
“Tantra” refers to an ancient text describing a practice that involves yoga, meditation, mantra and ritual. In Sanskrit, “tantra” means to stretch in order to transcend. We could understand this as a way of using our practice to transcend our limiting ideas of who we are, our false or small self.
Our emotional brain governs our stress levels, our capacity to recover from suffering in general and trauma in particular, our ability to relate to others, our self-esteem and confidence, and the degree of happiness and sense of fulfillment we experience in life.
Hi! I’m Donna Martin and I teach an integration of yoga with Hakomi which is a method of somatic therapy based on “assisted self discovery” using little self study experiments done in “embodied mindfulness”. This approach is what I call psoma yoga therapy (psoma comes from soma, body, and ps, as in psyche, mind/spirit; psoma = body, mind, spirit)... the style comes from over fifty years of practicing and teaching yoga and thirty years of practicing and teaching Hakomi.
Here is more information for those of you who are interested in psoma yoga as a personal practice and/or as a therapy method. Stephen Porges has developed what he calls the Polyvagal Theory to give us a new understanding of how our nervous system is on automatic and determines the kinds of experiences we can have depending on which state we are in.
The practice of yoga has become for me, over the years, one of deep self reflection. What began as an enjoyable way to move my body and relax tense muscles has evolved steadily into an increasingly profound and liberating meditation practice which helps me to cultivate more and more capacity for self awareness, and for a more conscious appreciation of others.
If you can observe your own experience with a minimum of interference, and if you don’t try to control what you experience, if you simply allow things to happen and you observe them, then you will be able to discover things about yourself that you did not know before. You can discover little pieces of the inner structures of your mind, the very things that make you who you are. (Ron Kurtz)
Be at least as interested in what goes on inside you as what happens outside. If you get the inside right, the outside will fall into place. (Eckhart Tolle )
When we’re lonely, it is said, we are in bad company. In solitude, the company is fine. Being alone and enjoying it is nearly a lost art in our culture. In Tantra for the West, Marcus Allen writes, “To be alone is to tune into the sacred being of yourself.”
Hakomi has been called applied Buddhism. This is partly due to the way Hakomi uses a state of mind called mindfulness as a way of cultivating more self awareness, more compassion, and the capacity to be present in a calm and loving way, for oneself as well as for others. Hakomi is an approach that uses mindfulness in a very unique way which is the basis of the self discovery aspect of the method.
Yoga practice as prayer is one way that this ancient body-mind art is, for me, a spiritual practice. Especially if I can take the experience of moving as a prayer from my asana practice into my other daily movements and activities. I want to bring the essential qualities I experience in my yoga practice – of joyful surrender, of gratitude and appreciation, of oneness and wholeness – into my whole life.
Loving Presence is a state of mind, an attitude which provides the secure attachment which is the basis for a healthy emotional life. It offers whatever is missing from the person’s implicit reality based on their emotional and relational history. When a person is with someone in loving presence and perceives it, that person will take in the kind of emotional nourishment they need and are ready to believe in and receive.
There’s nothing more satisfying for me than to bring this ancient practice to more people in a way that makes them feel good about themselves and more open, and open-hearted, towards themselves and others and to life… to be nourished body and soul.
My life has been gifted and blessed with the opportunity to spend time with many amazing teachers. I cannot write this book without making it a tribute to them. What I have learned and will share with you here is a culmination of insights and experiences that come from many sources, or maybe from one Source through many channels. Any wisdom here can be attributed to my teachers… any deficiencies are my own.
Here is an excerpt from a poem called Wild Geese, by Mary Oliver (from her book, Dream Work, 1986.)
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.
In therapy, adult clients have an opportunity to work through the feelings from past events and thus heal much of the trauma. Unfortunately, if the therapist and client don't move past this wounded inner child to the deeper level of the wonderchild, the opportunity for full healing and empowerment is limited and the client may remain at the level of victim.
My friend and co-author Paul Brenner has a new book out called Buddha in the Waiting Room (Beyond Words Publishing). It is a moving and inspiring autobiographical book filled with stories that reveal the clarity and wisdom of patients and of what they have to teach doctors, and us, about health.
As a yoga teacher for over thirty years, I became aware that my students and I were making transformational changes in our emotional ways of being, as well as in our bodies, through the practice of yoga. It became apparent to me that one of the benefits of yoga practice was the ability to stay calm even in the midst of chaos and crisis.
In Buddhist tradition, the three jewels of the path are buddha (the enlightened nature), dharma (the teachings) and sangha - the group or community of like-minded people with whom we travel the path. More and more, in our western culture, people are coming out of their sense of isolation and discovering that they are not alone· in their pain, in their fears, in their needs and hopes, and in their need for a sense of belonging.
The words 'healing' and 'wholeness' come from the same root. My yoga practice has brought me to an understanding of intrinsic wholeness. This has required a new definition of healing, not as a journey to wholeness, but rather as wholeness-in-action, or the unfolding of wholeness (which, as Patanjali wrote, is always present).
Love is a calling. Love is called forth from within us by certain circumstances and special people. When it emerges, it opens us. Love expands us and shapes us, like a pregnancy. We are so much in the habit of doing that we may imagine we are loving when we are doing something for our beloved. And we may imagine we are loving successfully when our doing accomplishes something.
Healing can be thought of as the process of our innate wholeness unfolding. There is wholeness and perfection in every moment of that unfolding, just as there is perfection and wholeness in the seed, the bud, the blossom, and the death of the flower. To be truly healthy is to have an acceptance and appreciation for Life.
...requires that the therapist:
- is balanced and relaxed (relaxation)
- is receiving as much as giving (nourishment)
- has good boundaries (codependency)