A Simple Moment

By Rob Fisher, MFT

Driving home from teaching a Hakomi training, I felt tired as well as deeply satisfied in the way that one feels after eating a delicious meal—an emotional meal that nourishes the heart, full of tears and joy, laughter, and the dark, creative elements of the shadow.

The sky in the late afternoon light was grey and hinted at rain. I saw by the side of the road an old upright piano covered by a torn cloth, seemingly abandoned by its owner.  

Not one to ignore an orphan of this magnitude, I was compelled to pull my car over to the side of the road, and to the rhythm of switching cars going by too fast, I uncovered the old instrument and begin to play it – standing up. It didn’t take long for a woman to emerge from the old house nearby to tell me that yes, indeed the piano had been sold and was awaiting pickup by its new owners. She was sorry.

Having just come from a Hakomi training, my senses were awake and available to notice small changes in the present moment in her experience, in mine and in the environment. I could see that her eyes had become slightly damp, and the tiny muscles at the corner of her mouth were beginning to pull slightly downwards during the course of our brief conversation. Internally there ensued a small battle between social propriety and my desire to make a simple connection with this stranger in distress.

I could not help myself.

"Something important to you about that piano?" I asked gently.   

“Yes,” she answered softly looking down.

“Sad, huh?” Why not contact what she was actually communicating, I thought.

She began to cry.

"It belonged to my father. My children are connected to him through the lessons he taught them on this piano. He died last year. Now I have to sell the house and there's no place for it where I'm going. "

“You miss him, huh?” I responded, speaking the truth underneath her words. She looked at me, surprised. So we talked person-to-person for a few minutes after which she offered to give me the instrument. She would pay back the people who had purchased it. She wanted it to have a home with me in the same way she felt like her experience had a home in my heart. (I couldn't fit the piano into my house, but her feelings still have a home in my heart.)

In Hakomi we teach students how to connect to others in the present moment on the level of experience underneath their words. We show people how to use mindfulness relationally: to be aware of others in high-resolution awareness, to track and respond compassionately with one's heart to contact and attune to what is going on deeper than the content people share. In a therapeutic context this creates an opening through which we can explore and transform people's’ working models of the world, the self and others that heavily influence the direction of their lives. This allows the individuals we support to gain the freedom to act in ways that are more congruent with their organic selves and less dominated by often outdated and limiting beliefs to which they often cling so tenaciously.  

But beyond all this, I have been touched by the idea that we can practice mindfulness and compassion not just in our therapy interactions but with human beings in general. We live in a world where many of us are trying so desperately to feed our parched spirits and fulfill our needs, potential and desires, that we forget the present moment, with all of its messiness and wonderfulness, and stray away from the possible depth in human relationships that is often sweet, nourishing and ripe for the picking.

I have taught Hakomi for almost a quarter of a century, across international borders and in many cultures. Wherever I go, I realize that I’m not just teaching techniques that can be used in the healing arts, but approaches to human interaction that evoke the best in us, make room for the shadows, help us remember who we are beyond the storm and fury of our lives, and midwife the gentle unfolding of our deepest selves.

Rob Fisher is a new faculty with the Shift Network and the co-host of the upcoming Hakomi Global Summit - click here (Sept. 29-Oct. 1, 2015).

Rob Fisher, MFT, is a psychotherapist who works with individual, couples and families, a consultant and a CAMFT certified supervisor in private practice in Mill Valley. He is an adjunct professor at JFK University where he teaches marriage and family therapy classes and case consultation seminars as well as the Co-Developer of the Certificate Program in Mindfulness and Compassion for Psychotherapists at CIIS. To learn more about Rob, click here.


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This article appears in: 2015 Catalyst, Issue 19: The Next Wave of Psychotherapy