Masters among us: the concept of shuhari & the learning process

Recently I had a conversation with friend and hypnosis colleague Steve Dodson. We discussed the teachers we had learned from in the last year – that we’d been inspired by some, nonplussed by others … and, let’s say, ‘challenged’ by one or two. We agreed there was something of value to take from each learning opportunity we are presented with.

Shu - ha - riDuring the conversation Steve introduced me to the concept of shuhari. You can read a more erudite explanation of shuhari here, but as I understand it shuhari is a concept in Japanese martial arts training in which one is first taught the rules of engagement by one’s master (shu – to abide), then one adapts the rules to one’s own requirements (ha – to break), and finally one attains mastery, and originates new ways that may then be taught on (ri – to depart). The process is an exercise in agility. Shuhari strikes me as a concept applicable to any teaching or learning opportunity.

In thinking about hypnotherapy teaching presentations that really don’t resonate for me, I find that what bothers me most is when a teacher or presenter acts as though they have invented the wheel, when what they’ve done is more akin to modifying the existing wheel design to suit their requirements.

In our profession of hypnotherapy I think that most of what we are exposed to in our teachers are people at the second stage of shuhari – people who know the rules, and have found new ways of interpreting them. By and large I think we’re all mostly teaching the same thing, we just have different ways of interpreting the truths of our work, and in doing so we expose different wisdom.

That’s not to say there aren’t masters among us, but I think mastery can more often be found in the therapy chair – that is, it is our clients’ higher wisdom that will guide us, and be the key to their healing. Holding to this idea can help keep us humble, and helps keep our focus on our clients rather than being preoccupied by theories and protocol. And perhaps this, and not learning yet another new process, is what will best facilitate our own mastery.

In this new phase our School’s existence, we intend on continuing to train people in applying the essential skills of hypnosis that all good hypnotherapists need to know. We hope to continue to show you ways we’ve adapted hypnosis principles into processes that are effective for us and might be for you, too. Mostly, we want to show you how you can make them your own, and improve upon them for yourself and your clients, so that you can practice agile adoption.

Rachel – January, 2020