As well as doing many years of his own personal development, Ajay has trained in a number of different modalities of somatic therapy and embodied mindfulness approaches, including Hakomi psychotherapy. These approaches inform how Ajay works, and he aims to adapt a session to the individuals’ needs.
For those interested in psychotherapy we are likely to start by learning some coping strategies (similar to brief therapy – link) to give some immediate help and relief from the stresses of life. Then we will work deeply on how core beliefs have been formed and how to change them. These beliefs have probably been held since early childhood. The beauty of working with mindfulness and somatically (experiences felt in the body) is that we do not have to painfully relive past events or tell our whole life story to resolve things. Instead, we can safely get in touch with wounded parts of ourselves and with unresolved experiences. We do this by finding how they are held in the mind, body and emotions NOW, in the present.
Cutting edge psychological research shows that we hold trauma and negative past experiences in our bodies (somatically) and that mindfulness and somatic therapy can be helpful to resolve these experiences. This research underlies Hakomi psychotherapy which Ajay is trained in, attending over three years of in depth training in Perth. Hakomi is a mindfulness based somatic psychotherapy.
Mindfulness in therapy
“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” Jon Kabat-Zinn
Mindfulness helps us to stay centred and grounded in challenging situations, so that we get less triggered. This helps us enormously as then we can find much better ways of responding to life’s challenges. Mindfulness can be easily learned through counselling as a coping strategy to use in your day to day life. It can also be used within a therapy session to access difficult material in a safe and easeful way. We will talk and identify an issue to work with, and Ajay will then guide you in a mindfulness exercise, focussing on the breath and bodily awareness to become more present. From this place what may have felt too painful to look at can seem a lot easier. We will use mindfulness as a foundation to access the core material that needs working on, which we will usually do somatically, or through the felt sense in your body.
So what is somatic psychotherapy? In body centred or somatic psychotherapy, we will talk about what is happening in your life NOW that you find difficult, and how you feel it in your body NOW. Since we hold our past in our body and emotions, this felt sense can help us to access past experiences that are still affecting us now. We can find out what limiting beliefs were created by these experiences and how that feels. When we experience our limiting beliefs in a felt way, as well as intellectually, it goes much deeper. We can see how those beliefs have been shaping our lives in a certain way. We can find out where the belief originated from and what it was in our lives that created it.
Perhaps you feel stressed or angry, so we will find out how that feels in your body. It might be that the stress or anger is a way of staying safe or getting your needs met that you learnt a long time ago. By staying with the feeling, we can learn what is at the root of those feelings, beliefs and behaviours. We might access the felt sense of a hurt child and deliver a sense of safety to that child, if that is what they are lacking. Or perhaps they need to know that their needs can be met. When we meet the parts of ourselves, in a mindful state of awareness, that feel hurt or lacking we can provide a new experience to that part. In fact we can give new information to our whole nervous system that we are safe and can get our needs met. This is a very powerful way of changing our beliefs about ourselves. It is a very different process from intellectually understanding our past. That can give us insight into what happened, but insight alone is rarely enough to change things, we need to feel differently about things. That is when the real change happens.
We come to know how it feels to be safe, to be loved, to have our needs met and to know that we are good enough, simply as we are. That can feel like a huge relief and something we have wanted our whole lives, often without even knowing it! Then we go out into the world with new information and a new understanding of ourselves. Our core beliefs change. When we feel differently about ourselves, we can also see events and other people with more clarity. That clarity helps us to make better decisions, to act in new and more useful ways. When our actions change, our life changes and we start to feel more nourished and satisfied by life, to finally be able to relax and feel fulfilled by events.