3 signs your mind needs healthy rest

Indicators you may have a defense barrier to completion according to Hakomi's Sensitivity Cycle

3 signs your mind needs healthy rest


Scrolling repetitively through social media feeds, losing your patience, feeling judgemental and perfectionistic or simply overwhelmed, but too anxious to rest. These are early indicators that you may have a defense barrier to completion.

The signs of a barrier

Most of us find ourselves doing these things in fleeting moments throughout our work day: scrolling repetitively through social media feeds without really paying attention. Losing patience with ourselves, colleagues, friends and family about things we’ll forget in a day or so. Feeling judgemental about our own or other’s responses, actions or job performance, allowing little room for error. Or simply overwhelmed, but too anxious to actually sit down, take a breathe or take a break.

The primary signs that your mind needs a rest include:

  1. Tuning out
  2. Impatient, irritated or judging
  3. Sense of overwhelm

But even more, these signs are all early indicators that you may have a defense barrier to completion.

man behind fence | completion barrier | hakomi

Photo by Mitchel Lensink on Unsplash

How can I tell I have a barrier?

Ask yourself: are these experiences fleeting for you? Or are they starting to impact your work and personal life?

Let’s visualize some example use cases to help clarify behaviors that are impacting your work and personal life versus just fleeting behaviors:

Co-workers, friends, children and romantic partners have started to comment about your time spent on your phone. You have your phone with you at all timesfrom the toilet to the dinner tableand you notice an unexplained loss of minutes and hours while scrolling blankly through your phone. The object of your tuning out could also be a television, cocktails or beers or other substances that create distance between you and the racing feeling in your mind.

You’re noticing a critical voice in your head more frequently, and you may even speak the words aloud: “Geez, nice move, idiot.” Or, “did you REALLY have to drop that, again?!?! Ugh.” Losing patience with others typically starts with a loss of patience, and grace, for ourselves.

Feeling judgemental and perfectionistic, no one else at work—or at home—can “do it the right way.” So, you either end up re-doing a task or not allowing others to help you. You’re cutting off collaboration and delegation because you frequently believe others can’t complete a task to your expectations.

You frequently have so many things to do weighing on your mind, that you’re starting to feel a sense of overwhelm—like they’ll never get done. But, instead of stopping and doing something to calm your thoughts or nerves, you refuse to sit down, lie down, take a walk or even take a few deep breathes for fear that all of the burdens will come crashing down upon you.

woman tired in office shadow | completion barrier | hakomi

Photo by Xavier Sotomayor on Unsplash

What’s a defense barrier to completion?

So, the above examples sound like you, a co-worker, or someone you know. But, what does it mean to have a defense barrier to completion and why should anyone care?

“The emergence of a defense is related to existential needs, which were poorly met, often early in life. These core life issues, show up as typical barriers within a … process,” writes Jaci Hull in the first edition comprehensive guide to Hakomi Mindfulness-Centered Somatic Psychotherapy.

The process being referred to is a four-stage cycle of human experience the founder of Hakomi method, Ron Kurtz, conceptualized in order to provide “a theoretical map of optimal life functioning emphasizing the need for sensitivity to one’s internal experience in relation to four essential stages.”

The Sensitivity Cycle Hakomi Method Stages of Experience

INFOGRAPHIC: The Sensitivity Cycle | Stages of Experience | Hakomi Method

The four stages create a cycle that Kurtz terms The Sensitivity Cycle, “which suggests that for a satisfying life an individual needs to:

  1. (Awareness / Clarity) be aware of, or sensitive to, one’s own essential situations and needs,
  2. (Effective Action) take appropriate action based on this clarity,
  3. (Satisfaction) experience satisfaction as a result of successful action, and
  4. (Healthy Rest / Relaxation or Completion) be able to rest and regenerate in order to become aware and clear about what is needed next (start over at Step 1).”

But, “when sensitivity is impeded via a barrier, the loop is either stalled or becomes a shallow or unsatisfying journey,” describes Kurtz in his 1990 book on Hakomi Method. “The sensitivity cycle is a process and barriers are its interruptions.”

Kurtz describes a barrier as a habitual way we block increases to sensitivity in each stage of the cycle. And what might blocking this look like? Let’s compare a healthy rest / relaxation stage to one that involves a barrier to completion:

The Sensitivity Cycle | Stages of Experience - Healthy Rest and Barrier to Completion | Hakomi Method | Infographic

INFOGRAPHIC: The Sensitivity Cycle | Stages of Experience – Healthy Rest and Barrier to Completion | Hakomi Method

Easing into healthy rest

If you’re feeling stuck, struggling with a barrier to completion of your own, a simple first step is getting out of your head and coming back into your body. The simplest way to practice reconnecting with your own body is to breathe mindfully. Next, try scanning your body for sensations like tightness or pain. Begin to notice the microcosm of sensation within yourself.

For those who want to connect even more deeply, begin noticing the connection of the micro to the macro. The Sensitivity Cycle is a reflection of the macrocosm, or larger cycles and rhythms of the planet. In the norther hemisphere, we are just moving out of the satisfaction stage, which is symbolized by Autumn, the harvest, the waning gibbous moon, the color red.

As we move into the rest stage (symbolized by Winter, repose, the new moon, the color white), it’s the perfect time to understand where we are in relation to The Sensitivity Cycle and our connection to the macro cycles of life including:

The Four Directions: East, South, West, North

The Four Seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter

The Four Stages of Life: Birth, Youth, Adult, Death

The Four Times of Day: Sunrise, Noon, Sunset, Midnight

The Four Elements of Life: Earth, Fire, Water, Wind

The Heavenly Beings: Sun, Moon, Earth, Stars

– Jamie Oxendine, Native American Liaison and Education Consultant for Ohio University and author of “Native American Medicine Wheel Comparison to Life.”

Now, ask yourself:

What is preventing you from resting?
What stops you from completing things in your life?
What can’t you consistently let go of?

Want to explore a healthy resting phase, or your own barriers to completion?

Curious to work with someone who can help you explore where you are in The Sensitivity Cycle? Want guidance on getting familiar with your relationship with you, your barriers and how you organize the phases of your experience? Schedule time for a Consultation or a ReConnection™ session with me.

Enjoyed this content?

Like this article below and Follow me on LinkedIn at Conscious Content.
Or Follow Conscious Content on Facebook.

Writer, Sr. Technical Program Manager, Sadhana Consultant and Inner Realm Guide at Conscious Content
Carolyn (Koa) Elder is a published writer and Senior technical program manager who’s been writing and consulting for more than a decade with startups, nonprofits and conscious businesses, digital agencies, and fortune 50s to 500s in the Top 50 list.

Beginning in 2011, she invested more deeply in her own mindfulness exploration and education as a Sahaja yoga/meditation guide and two-time apprentice of spiritual teacher and humanitarian, Vanessa Stone. Carolyn is an Ayurvedic Sadhana Consultant, having completed training in 2018 under her teacher, Maya Tiwari. Maya served for two decades as a Vedic monk belonging to India’s prestigious Veda Vyasa lineage and is the founder of Wise Earth School of Ayurveda.

Carolyn is currently immersed in her practicum after graduating from a two-year comprehensive Hakomi Mindfulness-Centered Somatic Psychotherapy practitioner training through Hakomi Institute Southwest.

Founder of Conscious Content, a mindfulness movement for business that serves the greater collective good, her intention is to bring ancient mindfulness technology first to individuals, and then their teams and organizations to connect them more authentically with themselves, one another, and their tribe.

Conscious Content’s guiding inquiry is: what would business look like if work became our sadhana—our personal growth practice?

Her chosen name, Koa, is of Hawaiian origin and means fearless and courageous.

Her given surname, Elder, is of Scottish origin and signifies one who is wiser, older and quite possibly born near the Elderberry tree.
Carolyn Elder

You May Also Like

5 1 vote
Article Rating

Share your voice. Comment below:

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
2 years ago

[…] completion barrier to rest puts you in constant […]

3 years ago

[…] seems like an obvious choice, but not an easy one when dealing with pain. With this OST, I practice The Sensitivity Cycle from Hakomi Therapy, which is on a continuous loop of Clarity – Effective Action – Satisfaction […]

3 years ago

[…] feeling overwhelmed with responsibilities and like there’s just no time for anything–especially you! Instead, you’re […]

3 years ago

[…] of rebirth is also the first cycle in Hakomi’s Sensitivity Cycle, which I talk more about in 3 signs your mind needs rest. This awareness/clarity begins the cycle. The Sensitivity Cycle is a four-stage cycle of human […]

4 years ago

[…] Hakomi Therapy this process is described as The Sensitivity Cycle which is on a continuous loop […]

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x