Tag Archive 'Hakomi'

Sep 21 2011

Compassionate Witness On Board – #80

When I was in my early twenties, I read an article in Parade Magazine about Liza Minnelli, who had just emerged from rehab. Something she said in that article has stayed with me all these years. It was very simple, yet so vastly profound that it helped change my life forever. She said that she was developing a new relationship with herself and throughout the day would check in, asking, “How are you doing honey?”

That blew my mind! The thought that I could talk to myself that way opened up a whole new way of being with myself. I started checking in with myself and calling myself “honey’ and ‘sweetheart’.  Gradually, over time, the critical voice that was always beating me up became a loving voice. My chronic, internal judge was being replaced by my Compassionate Witness. This is an on-going process that continues to this day.

In my forties I fortified the voice of my Compassionate Witness by doing a two-year training in Hakomi, a healing, therapeutic approach that brings mindfulness, curiosity, and loving presence to whatever is present. Strengthening the energy of presence was building a mighty muscle that would carry me through tough times.

I flex that muscle now whenever I’m haunted by horror thoughts of possible cancer carnage…I take deep breaths and become very present. This invites in my Compassionate Witness, who says, “I know that you feel scared right now honey. Let yourself feel it.” I reassure myself that when and if that time comes, I will be present with what’s present, breathing into it, fully feeling and facing it, putting on my Big Soul panties and dealing with it. (And…if it gets too bad, LOTS of powerful, kick-ass painkillers…because saint I ain’t!)

I know that healing happens in the light of awareness. The glue that binds our painful patterns together is soluble in awareness, which is much like water: “Nothing in the world is as soft and yielding as water; yet for dissolving the hard and inflexible, nothing can surpass it.”(Lao Tzu)  Awareness is very potent stuff!

When I bring my Compassionate Witness to everything I think, do and feel, something astonishing happens…I gradually BECOME more the witness than the thing that I’m witnessing! Bringing all my shadows into the light, I become whole – welcoming every part of me to the party. My Compassionate Witness throws a great party! Every shadow, every guest who shows up (and they are quite a motley cast of characters!) is welcomed with open arms. Even the biggest shadow of them all…death.

Facing our death is something we’re all going to have to do eventually – it is the big fat elephant in the room. Buddha said, “Just as the elephant’s footprint is the biggest footprint on the jungle floor, death is the biggest teacher. Death or Yama Raja, death personified, drove me to the peace beyond birth and death.”

I want to be in that peace beyond birth and death; therefore, I’m intent on facing my fear of death, and death itself, and making friends with it. That way I am embracing it, rather than bracing against it. Leonard Cohen wrote, “If you don’t embrace the ocean you’ll be seasick every day.” When I come into harmony with all that floats and flounders about in my ocean, I am at peace.

What I resist persists; in that case, I’m hoping that now that I’m no longer resisting, maybe death won’t be persisting! Not any time soon anyway. Hopefully, I’ll have many more years to practice being fully present with my fears about the big “C” and the big “D” — bringing me more into union with the big ME, my true oceanic self!

Byron Katie said: “Life is simple. Everything happens for you, not to you. Everything happens at exactly the right moment, neither too soon nor too late. You don’t have to like it…it’s just easier if you do.” With the loving support of my Compassionate Witness, my greatest intention is to face whatever happens, and all my feelings about what happens, with an open mind, an open heart, and open arms.

Do you have a Compassionate Witness? There is no better traveling companion on life’s journey…it will help you get through ANYTHING!

In Love,

Jan Jacobsen

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Aug 27 2009

My Ego, My Funny Amigo – Issue #25

In the past I have been appalled by the embarrassing antics of my ego. I’ve felt like a mortified mother in a supermarket with a little monster who was acting out. To that little monster, the mortified mother was “the Momster”, trying to control and subdue it with criticism and shaming. I used to wonder, “How is anyone ever going to love me when I have all THAT going on inside me?” I tried to hide and get rid of these parts of myself, but that was futile – it was like pushing down a Jack-in-the-box; when tension built, POP goes the weasel, and all hell would break lose, again! I wondered what to do about this motley, menacing menagerie within me.

Fortunately, along the way, I discovered the miracle of mindfulness. In 1990 I participated in a two-year Hakomi training where we were taught to develop a compassionate witness – an inner Jane Goodall who sits in the expansive field of awareness, observing the monkeys in our mind, and all their shenanigans, with non-judgmental curiosity.  Through the magic of mindfulness these manic monkeys calm down. Instead of seeing them as malevolent beasts, I learned to see them with compassion, to befriend them, and understand that they came into being to help us cope, be safe and survive in this jungle called life.

Several years later I discovered Gay and Katie Hendricks’ Conscious Loving Foundation workshop. There we were encouraged to not only befriend our ego defenses and life strategies (Personas), but to play with them and give them names. I met my husband Tom in an advanced Hendricks training. We danced together during the breaks, playfully moving like wild chimps, making monkey faces and noises at each other. We were having fun letting the other see our most contorted, ugly faces. Instead of being uninvited guests, we welcomed our defenses to the party. When defenses aren’t invited to the party, they crash it.  So we might as well welcome them, play with them, and put the fun into fundamentally flawed!

Gay and Katie created an ingenious tool for getting to know these parts of ourselves, called the Persona Interview.  You tell an interviewer the name of the persona you want interviewed. (Some of Tom’s persona names are Professor Reason A Bull, Mona Lott, and Mr. Oh Oh – some of mine are Goody Two Shoes, Chopped Liver, and The Incredible Sulk). The interviewer invites you to get into the posture and character of that persona, and then ask the persona the following questions: (I’ll use The Incredible Sulk as an example):

(Picture my Incredible Sulk persona standing with arms folded, head down, lower lip protruding).

 

Welcome, Incredible Sulk. What’s the most important thing to you?

I want people to pay attention to me.

 

Incredible Sulk, what are you most proud of?

I Do get peoples attention.

 

Incredible Sulk, when did you make your first appearance?

When I was a little girl, maybe 3 or 4.

 

Incredible Sulk, who did you learn your style from?

My mother.

 

Incredible Sulk, what are you most afraid of?

I’m afraid that no one cares about me and how I feel.

 

Incredible Sulk, what do you most want?

I want to matter and be important to someone.


Thank you, Incredible Sulk.


This is a great way to gain insight into our personas, to feel compassion and understanding for them and discover the essence qualities at the heart of them. 

After the workshop Tom and I spent the week together, mostly at my house on the Santa Barbara Riviera. During that week, every day, all day, there was a slow, steady, metronomic sound in the distance, a pound, pound, pounding of pilings being installed for the foundation of a new building downtown. That was the perfect background sound for the beginning of our relationship – we were building a strong foundation by being fully present and authentic with each other, revealing all our personas, defenses and life strategies, creating a space of acceptance, a vast playground where everything could show up. I would ask myself, “Can I reveal THAT to him?” Yes, I could. I’ve always felt a deep desire to be All of myself, to be real, to take the girdle off and let it all hang out. I longed to find someone who would hang out with me in that space of ungirded openness, curiosity and exploration.

Ten years later Tom and I still live and play on that playground. We are allies in mindfully witnessing and sharing our ego defenses, revealing our inner tribe of chimps. From the perspective of the big open field of awareness, our egos are very funny – our egos are our funny amigos. Tom and I are partners in wholeness, welcoming and learning from all of our ego amigos. We are actually much more than partners…we are wholeners…becoming whole together by loving and accepting the whole menagerie of inner selves! One day I asked Tom, “Do you love all of me’s?” He smiled and said, “One of me’s does.”

Do you love all of you’s? Or are there some who mortify you and make you cringe? Invite them to the party and give them a party hat! When we welcome all parts of us, the party transforms into a wholely experience.

 In Love,

Jan Jacobsen

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