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Ron Kurtz, founder of Hakomi, dies

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Kurtz, Ron Mail Tribune Photo / Jamie LuschJamie Lusch
 Posted: 2:00 AM January 06, 2011

Hakomi founder Ron Kurtz died Wednesday morning of a massive heart attack in Ashland, friends and colleagues said. He was 76.

Kurtz was known nationally for developing Hakomi, a body-centered psychotherapy that incorporates the principles of Buddhism with traditional psychology to heal long-standing emotional wounds.

Kurtz founded his Hakomi training center in Ashland after suffering a heart attack a year ago. He pulled back on traveling for his seminars and began organizing four decades of writings and videotapes.

Kurtz called Hakomi "applied Buddhism" because of its emphasis on gentle mindfulness, nonviolence, honesty and the oneness of mind and body.

His work and the trainings posted on will be continued by his longtime associates, Marina McDonald and Adama Hamilton.

"Ron was a quiet, under-recognized prophet who somehow brought forth this incredible, magical method of going into a state of such intense, loving presence, embodying a father's love that anyone touched by it was inspired and changed," said McDonald, who understudied with Kurtz for 14 years.

Kurtz wrote his book on Hakomi, "The Body Speaks Its Mind," early in his career, saw the therapy through its evolution, and had completed a book defining a simpler and more direct "legacy version" of Hakomi, which will be published soon, said McDonald.

Hundreds of trainers of Hakomi, a Hopi word for "who are you," practice around the world, she said.

Hamilton worked eight years with Kurtz, calling his body of work "clear, wise, profound — and it will help humanity long into the future."

"He was a courageous rebel and innovator who changed my life and countless others," Hamilton said.

Kurtz, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., was educated at the University of Indiana, had taught at Esalen at Big Sur, Calif., and learned from many psychology pioneers there early in his career.

He is survived by his wife, naturopath Terry Toth, and their grown daughter, Lily Kurtz.

Toth said Kurtz's family and work were the passions of his life. "He never stopped learning, expanding his theories and helping people, teaching them to heal," she said.

A viewing is planned for friends and colleagues, and a memorial service will be announced at a later date on the Ron Kurtz Center website, McDonald said.

John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. E-mail him at

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