Sitting in a large room in 1977, watching Ron Kurtz, the Hakomi Therapy developer, demonstrate his craft to a class of his first ten students – I was mesmerized. It was as if I was watching a science fiction movie. Ron gently whispered into the woman’s ear as she faced the group. Within two minutes, the woman was on the floor sobbing.
As he explained and demonstrated his magic over the next few weeks, I hungered for the formula – the precise steps that would allow me to do what Ron did in some small way.
To Ron’s credit, he never gave us a formula. Instead, he gave us experiences. I didn’t develop any proficiency in my first year of training with him. Yet, the seed of connecting to my own experience to connect to another was planted and later germinated.
Slowly over the next four decades of Rolfing, teaching, and men’s groups, I began to embody what Ron taught us back in 1977. I put my skills to the test when I created the Healing Journey for my new men’s group in Sandpoint, Idaho in 2005. Knowing we needed a process that took men deep into places of disconnection to reconnect lost parts, I created a process that incorporated much of Ron’s work.
I spent a weekend laying out an elaborate thirteen-page process. That following Wednesday, I asked if a man wanted to go deep. A brave man volunteered. In the middle of my living room with ten men watching, I methodically proceeded through my process; despite the rigidity of my execution, the man connected to his old, disconnected parts.
Over the next several years, we would do one of these Healing Journeys every week – some nights twice during our four-hour meetings. Once I had it down, and men had experienced it themselves, I began training other men to lead these journeys.
This process was a collective journey of letting go of a set formula for a framework that allowed for spontaneous interaction and connection for the men and myself. Rather than being connected to a rigid method, we learned a set of principles and skills. Like me with Ron, at first, men wanted the manual. I would bring them back to their experience and the principles. As we kept surrendering to this new frame, our skills became intuitive.
Recently, I watched Apple’s series, Ted Lasso. Ted is a low-level successful football coach hired to coach a UK football (soccer) professional team. He knows nothing about soccer; all he knows is connecting to people and having fun. During two seasons of the show, Ted and his crew create a winning team by becoming a team.
Ted Lasso is one of the best models of creating a powerful EVRYMAN group. The chaos his team experienced when he began coaching was not much different than the chaos my first group experienced, or I imagine all EVRYMAN groups experience when they start.
We all resist chaos. We all want a plan.
Working with many groups who had a step-by-step plan over the years, I learned initially that having a detailed plan is easier and quicker. Yet, that plan becomes a box. Men learned the techniques and steps. They didn’t learn the core principles or skills. How could they? They were focused on learning; not experiencing and experiencing means not knowing, stumbling, making mistakes, embodying the process, and connecting.
Ida Rolf, Ph.D., the developer of Rolfing, was my other teacher in surrendering to something beyond techniques. Rather than a set of moves, I learned how the body worked and how to bring order back to the body. Once I learned it, my Rolfing became easier, more effective, and more fun.
When you have time to sit down and reflect, answer the questions below and see what comes up.
Where in your life have you held on to a set of behaviors?
What is the fear that has you risk letting go to allow a journey of self-discovery?
What price have you paid for being attached to learning a formula rather than a framework?Drop-in GroupHakomi Therapyhow to accept emotionsmens mental healthmens workTed Lasso