I spent just over a week in Bilbao at an international Hakomi conference. It has been a profound experience for me on so many levels and it is difficult to put into words what it all means.
To join so many people from all over the world and connect with them through our humanness, not just our shared practice of Hakomi, feels such a privilege. To go to the conference as a practitioner and an organiser, made it all the more special, and it was great to be a part of discussions about the future of our Hakomi community and how we might shape it and support those who have been carrying so much of Ron Kurtz’s legacy since he died in 2011.
It was a great learning for me to see the difference between our Hakomi practice and the Hakomi Education Network (HEN), and I felt like I came to a new understand of HEN as a vehicle that allows us to share Hakomi with the world, as well as maintain and develop our quality of practice that is so relevant to our deeper purpose of changing the world. These may seem like high aspirations, but when you have seen how Hakomi touches and transforms a human being… when you have been that person who is touched, it becomes easy to understand this feeling of a deeper purpose.
We talked a lot about leadership and what we would want a HEN leadership to focus on for the future. Our work in this was facilitated by Ross Gilchrist who brought so much to our community from his expertise in leadership development. When the call went out for volunteers to support this development work, I was reticent to put my name forward and at the same time curious, enthusiastic about what the community wanted to do, and feeling like I had something to offer from my own skills and experience. It wasn’t until some precious people in my life also suggested I put my name forward, that I actually did! Hearing something of my own inner hopes and ideas about myself echoed through others is such a beautiful thing, and to have them see in me the potential to contribute in this way gave me the confidence and affirmation to volunteer.
A turning point in the week for me was to hear about our new ethical framework, and how much of the heart of Hakomi it carries. I felt so much gratitude towards those who worked so hard to produce this beautifully crafted piece of writing. Unlike other ethical frameworks I’ve read, this came across as so much more than words on a page; it feels to me like a living thing that can create and hold space for the difficulties we have in relationships and with imbalances of power. It gives us a framework and support for having courageous conversations about the difficulties we might face, and to help us resolve them or manage them where this is not ppossible, recognising that not all all conflict can be fully resolved. This ethical framework is an invitation to a spiritual practice of returning again and again to our best selves and a position of self study. A beautiful quote that was shared in this part of the conference was from Miller Williams; “Have compassion for everyone you meet, even if they don’t want it. What seems conceit, bad manners, or cynicism is always a sign of things no ears have heard, no eyes have seen.” This feels so poignantly true and not always easy to hold in the face of those behaviours, and helps me recognise the need for compassion with my own conceit, bad manners and cynicism.
Seeing our process unfold as a community, in distilling down to what we really want and what is the real essence of what we want to bring to the world as the Hakomi Education Network was such an interesting experience to be part of. I enjoyed the creative aspects of creating a vision board in a group together, and the joy of being able to share my own ideas and what is in my heart for the community and I also felt my edges in the frustrations of not having my voice heard, or giving way to others’ ideas about things. Being able to hand four words to the new Leadership Team that would act as a guiding light of what we cannot lose felt like a rich experience, and both unbelievable that so many of us could come to those words, and also not enough. Conscious. Responsive. Heart-centred. Community. These are the things we cannot lose.
Alongside this precious time in Bilbao, the experience of traveling on my own to another country had its challenges for me. By chance I met someone on the journey that I could travel with which really eased my mind. The practicalities of settling into a different culture, finding my way around, having more time on my own, not having the usual things to do and navigating being vegetarian in another country had both its highs and lows, and was made so much easier having shared accommodation with some amazing people. These were precious times indeed. The significance of meeting in Bilbao and this being a symbol of transformation, paralleled with each of us, symbols of transformation, and with the practice of Hakomi, itself a way of transforming and which has been so much a part of my own experience of transformation.
For the last few days of the Hakomi conference, the doors were opened to anyone wanting to experience Hakomi. Contained within this for me, were moments of beauty and connection that felt really powerful and are still with me to this day. From a practitioner perspective, it was so interesting to see how people work all over the world, how practices are different and yet they are to me, so recognisably Hakomi. This reinforces again how creative a practice this is, one which holds space for everyone. From a personal level, to be with people that I love from this community, and to get to know people I haven’t known as well, to meet new people and feel so connected, is so heart opening, so moving and so precious. To be able to be vulnerable in my introversion, feeling at times overwhelmed by the enormity of what was happening; over a hundred people, gathered in a room, practicing Hakomi together, is a truly amazing experience!
There is a William James quote that was shared during our time in Bilbao: “we with our lives are like islands in the sea, or like trees in the forest. The maple and the pine may whisper to each other with their leaves. … But the trees also commingle their roots in the darkness underground, and the islands also hang together through the ocean’s bottom.” This feels such a beautiful representation of how I see the Hakomi community and what happened in Bilbao.
I wrote this poem in response to my experience and it feels like it captures some of what it felt like to be there:
I move in the ordinariness of my life,
Still moved by the touch of your love;
Carried in a bubble of warmth and tenderness.
Steeped in human poetry; seen and heard, felt and carried in my heart.
My world is not the same because of you;
You that have carried so much for so long, for me and for others,
You that taught the steps to gracefully dance in courageous conversations,
You who saw me when I thought I was unseen,
You who carried the tender of our meeting,
You who saw my courage,
You that I know and yet you showed me more of you; you dared to share something precious.
You that I did not know at all except through the words of another;
On your face I saw my pain, and you shared the magical flame you saw me whisper in the dark.
You that met me in my shame with your gentleness.
You that saw me with new eyes and heard me with new ears.
You, my guide light from afar, guiding me in to land each day.
You that shared your pain, up close and from a distance.
You that I did not speak to at all, that travelled from near and far,
All of you that I shared time and food and space and words with; precious meetings.
All these lives, touched and touching, moved and moving.
Too many moments to fit in these small words.
Too many moments that move me still so I try to fit them in these small words.
Now I am left, transformed by you,
Holding such gratitude and love for you.
Two small words that hold so much in this moment: