Today I rode my bike to get to a meeting. It was farther than I would have usually ridden my bike and any other time I have come to this place in the past I have been in a car.
I didn't really want to do this, in fact I noticed some internal messages about not being able to do this and even felt anxious about it. It was new and different and a far ride and a hot day. Part of me did NOT want to ride. I just wanted to get there in a car- like I always do! But another part of me (encouraged by my husband) knew I could do it and would be glad I did.
While I was riding it struck me how much this experience speaks to the Hakomi method.
Our brain likes to be efficient when it can be. As we are developing we quickly create neural (brain) and somatic (body) pathways to ease the effort of our daily activities. For instance, once our body/mind learns how to tie our shoes- we rarely even think about it while we do it. When we experience a certain situation or stimulus it only takes a few times of responding a certain way for a pathway to be laid down in our brain. This makes it easier, when faced with any similar situation, to respond - unthinkingly- the same way.
This can be helpful and wonderful- it can be great to be able to tie your shoes or chop an onion or drive your car without thinking about it. But, often we get stuck going mindlessly down the same pathways, behaving the same ways - especially in relationships or with ourselves- without feeling satisfied. We want to take a different path but we don't know how.
Today as I rode on a bike path right next to the road that I usually drive on I was so aware of how different an experience it was. I was curious, I was alert, I was paying attention and there were so many different and new things to notice. I heard the frogs and birds and the chipmunks scurrying through the dry leaves. I saw the trees and the river and the berries and I felt the subtle shift of temperature on my skin as I went through patches of sun and shade or near a river. I felt wonder at all of this beauty and depth being so close to and yet so far removed of my normal experience of this commute.
All of this information and experience is always available to me- it's right there- but I had to chose to slow down. It took me much longer to ride than it would have to drive and I had to decide to arrange my day differently- to prioritize slowing down.
This difference is one of being in ordinary consciousness rather than being in a state of mindfulness. The same experience is so different depending on what state we are in. This is why Hakomi prioritizes mindfulness, because we can access and repair and learn so much more readily from a slowed down and mindful state. It's the difference between speeding down the highway or meandering down a bike path. And when we engage in this exploration mindfully we are creating a new path- one that we can strengthen by riding down again in the future.