Life Coach Adam How is a recent addition to the New Life family. He is affectionately known around the community as Dr Kleenex for his uncanny knack for guiding residents towards uncovering emotions that have been deeply buried for a long time. He is able to do this gently as his grace and skill provides a safe and reassuring space for those he works with. In this interview, he talks about the journey that brought him to New Life.
How did you get in to life coaching?
First I was involved in yoga and then from being around different types of bodies I became interested in the language of bodies. This led me to read things like Alexander Lowen’s Bioenergetics. As I understood more, I realised that people’s emotions and emotional histories were not separate from their bodies and that they were interestingly interweaved. This led me to take part in a Bioenergetic intensive in the early ’90s, which changed my life.
In what way?
During the intensive I experienced how different types of work could really bring stuck emotional issues up to the surface and help resolve and release them. I wanted to do more of that because I had a lot of stuff that needed sorting out and this led me into various other approaches, both as a client and a student, such as Gestalt counseling, contemplative psychotherapy and Hakomi, which fitted everything together in a really beautiful way for me and is what I mainly use now.
Can you tell us about your Hakomi journey?
I did a three-year training in Hakomi in England in the ‘90s then another three years training in Australia during which time I was going to Oregon in the USA where the founder of the method, Ron Kurtz, was still refining the work and had six summers studying with and assisting him.
What is it you like about the method?
Hakomi is a very good way of accessing our ‘core beliefs’, which drive aspects of our behaviour. We learned early on certain messages about ourselves and our world: e.g. “If I behave like this I will/will not be loved” or “I’m not good enough” or “The world is not a safe place” and developed ways of dealing with these situations. Then because these ways more or less worked we kept then as a basic “operating system”. Unfortunately what served the child often imprisons the adult.
So how does Hakomi work?
We can evoke this child part who still feels the hurt of the situation and offer them a good taste of a different outcome. This helps the nervous system to reorganize differently, by challenging the power of the original belief. We also can use humour and sometimes just explaining in age appropriate language can finally release confusion the person has held for years around a situation. This frees up the adult to be at ease with themselves in the present.
Can people be cured?
If learning to accept yourself, to like yourself and to be happy is ‘cured’ then yes, definitely!
Have you any inspirational cases that stick in your mind?
So many. To meet somebody initially who confesses to having no real reason or desire to live, then to hear from them a few weeks later that they are feeling happy, at least some of the time, this is major. This sort of thing happens a lot.
People realizing that they are human beings, ‘messy miracles’, just like other people are with joys and sorrows and that they are not uniquely fated to be unhappy – that’s huge. And that they realise that they belong and want to give of themselves, instead of being alienated, needy, angry – that’s priceless.
What does it take to be a good life coach so you can guide people towards that kind of experience?
Firstly having worked through a lot of our own issues. If we are scared of areas in ourselves then we will not feel comfortable accompanying others to these painful places.
Secondly, learning compassion. Realizing that people’s difficult behaviour is driven by their pain but they are not their behaviour. If we can see the suffering then compassionate is the only way to be.
Thirdly, having your own practices: mindfulness that helps keep you aware moment to moment; body practices that help keep you grounded and centred.
Fourthly, having teachers and supervision to help stay “on track”.
What do you love about New Life and what do you think it offers?
It comes from the heart and that can really be felt. Nobody’s making a profit from people’s suffering. The staff, the residents, the volunteers, they all give of themselves and we all benefit.
To have a place in this world where you can go and work with your issues, to spend time, months often, looking into yourself in a highly supportive and affordable environment with others doing the same is as far as I know unique. A bit like an ashram but with more opportunities to learn lots of things, more avenues to discover yourself and turn your life around.
Do you have any words of wisdom for future residents?
Trust that the program works and that all its components works synergistically for best efficacy. Commit to the program and make the most of your time here.