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After overcoming self-esteem issues, Brisbane doctor Duncan Stewart becomes an Elvis impersonator

People often say to me, “Oh, I can’t sing” and I laugh and say, “I thought that too, once!” Now you can’t shut me up when I get on stage. I was a very shy child and most of my life; I had this great sense of inferiority. You can’t get up and sing until you’ve dealt with your self-esteem issues.
Brisbane doctor Duncan Stewart

I graduated as doctor from the University of Queensland in 1973 and after a few years working clinically with patients in western Queensland, I moved into hospital and healthcare management in Brisbane and Sydney. I then ran a successful consulting business in quality improvement and patient safety for 20 years. I travelled all over Australia and New Zealand and the US and would speak to thousands of people at conferences. I was successful on all external indicators but I always felt this great emptiness inside.

When I was 50, I stumbled across this thing called Hoffman Process, which was a one-week residential at Byron Bay run by psychotherapists, and it changed my life. It made me realise that my sense of feeling inadequate was just a story I had made up for myself and I’d believed it.

I had a great childhood but the problem for me was my grandfather was Duncan Thomas, a famous rugby league genius who played for Australia and went on to be a legendary coach and selector. Because of him, as a child I’d always felt this weight of expectation and felt I was hopeless in comparison. Hoffman sort of unlocked me. When I left, I felt like I was walking on cloud nine and I relaxed into myself and became the person I was meant to be.

I’d always been attracted to music and at university I’d organised the med balls and inter-college cabarets, but always behind the scenes. After Hoffman I thought, I wonder if I can sing? So, I found a singing coach and he said, “of course you can sing” and from that moment you couldn’t stop me. I kept working in health care – I was the deputy director of medical services at RBWH [Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, 2005-2010] and then director of of medical services for Fraser Coast Health Service [2011-2012], but singing was a huge passion I did whenever I got the chance. I’d go into cafes or restaurants on the Gold Coast and Brisbane and make them an offer they couldn’t refuse: “I’ll be your resident entertainer – you don’t have to pay me; just let me sing”.

doctor duncan stewart with mother joan

The doctor who prescribes embracing joy Duncan Stuart serenades his mother, Joan

I love performing ‘50s and ’60s music with a soft spot for Elvis, so I specialise in him. My mum, Joan Stuart, 96, is in an aged care service at Burleigh so I go down there every couple of months and do a [free] concert. Every Christmas Day I do a special Elvis concert for them and walk around the place with a portable microphone and give all the residents a gift. They love it and I love it. For the past five years I’ve also been one of the singers in Brisbane City Council’s annual Lord Mayor’s Seniors Cabaret, which gives seniors with an interest in singing free coaching and then we go around town doing concerts. It’s so much fun that it inspired me to start up weekly open-mic sessions at two Men’s Sheds I’m involved in. We have one at [westside] indooroopilly every Friday afternoon and another at South Brisbane every Tuesday. It’s open to the public and the only rule is that every performer gets the same applause.

I retired, then deregistered myself as a doctor six years ago. Now, the highlight of my week is when my wife, Alina Sarosiek, 65, and I babysit [Alina’s two-year-old biological grandson] Xavier. I don’t take any other appointments that day because he’s so much fun to look after. I never had children of my own because my first wife and I weren’t able to, so it’s a total joy to have Xavier in our lives.

Alina and I met when I was singing in a cafe at [Brisbane’s] Roma Street Parkland five years ago. She happened to walk in and I sang her a couple of songs and we just clicked. We got married by Elvis in Las Vegas in 2014. We thought, stuff this, [it’s our] second marriage, let’s have some fun! I love Alina dearly. I couldn’t have predicted the way my life has turned out. It’s a delight.

First appeared in: 23 June 2018 in The Courier Mail’s Q Weekend magazine

To learn more about Bob’s work, the theoretical underpinnings of the Hoffman Process, please read The Negative Love Syndrome and the Quadrinity Model© A Path to Personal Freedom and Love, by Bob Hoffman. Free download available here

There a few things you can do to find out if the Process is for you:
• Take our “Is the Process for me?” self-assessment test to learn if the Process if right for you
• Read our Frequently Asked Questions for more information
• Read what our Graduates have to say about their experience before and after doing the Process
• Take advantage of this great offer and book a free 1 hour consultation with one of our professional therapists

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Interview with ERICA GARZA on Addiction and ‘Ordinary Trauma’

US Hoffman Graduate Erica Garza and her new book ‘Getting Off’

Erica Garza struggled with the loneliness and shame of sex and porn addiction for two decades, during which she tried many self-help routes, including Hoffman. The Process helped her to connect with a key childhood event which proved particularly enlightening. Now happily married, Erica is determined to help others to understand the link between addiction and ‘ordinary trauma’ with the launch of her new book Getting Off.

Jeanette: Some people might consider sex and porn addictions to be comparatively ‘glamorous’ compulsions, as opposed to drug addiction, for example. What’s the price of a sex addiction, and do you have any insight into what sent you down your particular path?

Erica: I think the reason I chose sex and porn (beginning with chronic masturbation) was accessibility. I stumbled across softcore porn and started to explore my body when I was 12, and these were things I could reach for in secret behind closed doors whenever I wanted them. Then with the growth of the internet, accessibility was even better. In retrospect, I don’t think there was anything particularly abnormal about my sexual curiosity, however soon after I was diagnosed with scoliosis and underwent major spinal surgery including the insertion of two Titanium rods in my spine. As well as the pain and discomfort this led me to feel incredibly self-conscious and fearful of social rejection. I found that masturbation and porn were effective methods of escaping these big, scary feelings and I quickly grew to depend on them in order to cope. I often used sex or porn as escape methods to sooth me from emotional distress. Oftentimes this pursuit was fuelled by adrenaline and, post-orgasm, led to feelings of shame, a feeling of disconnectedness, and even emptiness.
Sex addiction is rarely sexy. When I think back, sure there were moments of exhilaration, but mostly there was desperation, lying, loneliness, and shame. The most significant price I paid for being a sex addict was feeling so alone and cut off from other people. I knew how to float through relationships, how to keep things light and easy, but when it came to love and to caring or being cared for—I considered those things too risky, which led me to feel like I was only living halfway.

Jeanette: Is abstinence a valid approach to the treatment of sex or porn addiction, in your experience?

Erica: Every addict must do the work to identify his or her own unique methods of acting out. My addictive behaviours consisted of obsessing about sex, bingeing on porn, having frequent unprotected casual sex encounters, lying, and sabotaging meaningful relationships. In the early stages of my recovery, I took a break from watching porn and settled into a committed, monogamous relationship and these were important steps for me because they gave me the time and space I needed to face all the emotional distress I’d been running from and to start integrating new, healthier habits in my life. But, over time, I started to feel like I was cutting off important aspects of my sexuality. I still wanted to be an open-minded, experimental sexual person, but I didn’t want sex to be the main driving force of my life. I didn’t want to lie or destroy my relationships or feel ashamed. These were important truths to consider and I realized that my focus had to be less on abstaining completely and more on achieving balance.

Jeanette: Have you found that acknowledging and working on recovery from your addictions has made sex less enjoyable for you?

Erica: On the contrary, sex is more fulfilling, intimate, and even empowering now. I no longer feel empty or ashamed after I have sex. I’ve been able to develop a new type of relationship with my sexuality—one that is guilt-free, open-minded, and connected.

Jeanette: You mention in your book ‘Getting Off’ that you tried other self-help courses before you did Hoffman, yet it plainly made a big impression. What made the Process stand out for you?

Erica: The Process gave me the time and space to reflect on how I’d learned my patterns—sexual and otherwise—extend compassion to myself, and make real changes. The Process was also extremely practical—I learned tools that I could take with me to continue learning about myself while cultivating healthier ways of living and thinking. If it weren’t for the Process, I probably would never have realised the significance of my sexual addiction coinciding with the trauma of being diagnosed with scoliosis and consequentially bullied—all happening at 12 years old. On the Process I was able to look back and reclaim the girl who wanted so badly to be loved and to care for her in ways she—and I—still desperately needed.

Jeanette: You say that ‘trauma can be ordinary’. So does that mean even someone who’s had a relatively ‘normal’ childhood could benefit from something like the Process?

Erica: Absolutely. Many people think that sex addiction, especially when it comes to a woman, must be preceded by a traumatic event like rape or molestation. But sex addiction can happen to anyone. I consider my trauma ‘ordinary’ in comparison to the kind of suffering many other people face. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a safe, loving home. I never went to bed hungry or faced abuse. Yet, I developed unhealthy patterns of dealing with not just scoliosis and bullying, but feeling left out when my parents had another child, feeling socially anxious in my teenage years, feeling insecure about my bodily changes, etc. These are the types of everyday problems or ‘traumas’ that many young people face and sometimes try to escape in ways that aren’t helpful.

What’s unfortunate is that most of us feel like our ordinary pain isn’t valid. We shut down and keep our stories to ourselves. We pretend we‘re happy and grateful and yet still live in pain or numbness. What’s amazing about the Process is that I was able to face these kinds of problems without judgement or criticism. My pain was just as valid as anybody else’s. My patterns were worth working on. The Process is beautifully inclusive.

Jeanette: Do you think that the Process principles could apply to other addictions?

Erica: I lean towards the definition of addiction given by neuroscientist and author Marc Lewis, in that it is a “developmental phenomenon.” He told the Guardian Australia, “You grow into addiction. It takes place in a sequence or a progression through repeated trials, through repeated exposure, repeated actions, and through practice.” If you look at addiction this way—as a series of repeated behavioural patterns—then it’s difficult to argue that something like the Process, which focuses on understanding and revising our patterns, can’t be helpful.

People sometimes feel it’s selfish to spend so much time and money on themselves. Do you think it’s been worth it? The Process gave me clarity and a compassionate outlook on my past, which can never be taken away. In addition to practical tools and connection to a growing community, it helped me to have more authentic and meaningful relationships with my husband, my family members, and my friends. I was also able to focus more on cultivating my career, which made the investment worth it.

Jeanette: What was your motivation in sharing something so intimate and how has that been for those around you?

Erica: So many men and women who struggle with sex and porn addiction do so in silence, feeling terribly ashamed and isolated. I wanted to help them feel less alone by sharing my story. The messages I receive everyday proves that I succeeded.

Jeanette: What advice would you give to somebody who feels they may be struggling with similar issues?

Erica: The most important thing is to know that you are not alone. I think talking about your issues is an important first step and a great place to start is Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous meetings. Even if you don’t do the twelve steps or don’t subscribe to a higher power, you’ll have access to a community of like-minded people who can offer support. Also, don’t be afraid to try a variety of methods to see what works for you. I tried 12-step meetings, the Process, yoga, meditation, kickboxing, writing, tantra, self-help books… the list goes on and on. Sometimes you find one thing that works. Sometimes you find it’s the combination of things that works. The important thing is that you don’t stop trying or learning about yourself. I know I never will.

To read more about Erica’s journey, visit: http://www.ericagarza.com

To read an excerpt from Erica’s book Getting Off: One Woman’s Journey Through Sex and Porn Addiction, or to order, click here.

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The Return of the Feminine – Interview with Jutka Freiman

In this interview Jutka takes us into the archetypal realm of the Feminine, and explains its meaning for women at different stages of life, and shares her experience of turning 60.

Since the mid-1980s, Jutka Freiman has guided women on the journey from self to soul. A psychotherapist and group facilitator with degrees in psychology and anthropology, Jutka has many strings to her bow. She is an expert in the fields of archetypal psychology, psychodrama, Gestalt, somatic psychology, art therapy and the Enneagram. Jutka is wise, deeply creative and an inspiration for any woman wanting to embark on the heroine’s journey.

KRIS MCINTYRE (Sacred Women’s Business): I think there is a kind of rising consciousness about the Feminine in our culture, where we are coming out of a period where the Feminine has been exiled not just in yourself, but in a broader sense. Would you agree with that?

JUTKA FREIMAN: Oh, yes. I think the Feminine was exiled a long time ago. I think in our parents’ generation – or my mother’s generation – she got sold the myth that if you just keep everything clean and hygienic and pop out a couple of kids it’s all going to be fine. That was less so in Europe where my parents come from, but it was still a pretty strong, pervasive myth.

I think my generation did all that liberation stuff. We cut our hair and burnt our bras and basically castrated a whole lot of men along the way. And absolutely lost sight of the Feminine and found a very strong political fierceness for equality and fairness. And God bless us for that because we need that too, but we let something slip by the wayside. And then we all started walking around asking, ‘Why are men so wimpy?’ and it was because we were strapping our balls on every morning and basically crushing everything in our path. But it wasn’t until we started to feel like we were drying up that we stopped blaming them. We started to get into the lament of the Feminine itself. It’s like, ‘Oh, where is my soul? And how am I going to survive if I’m going to prioritise my soul, without falling back into that submissive way of being?’

KRIS: So, how do you describe the ‘Feminine’? Because it’s not about being female, or being ‘pretty’? So how do you describe the Feminine and how it shows up in the world?

JUTKA: I would like to say in a nutshell, the Feminine is the relational aspect. I know that sometimes there are people who look like they are being relational, but they are being strategic and that’s not really the Feminine. That’s not to say it’s bad, it’s just not the Feminine. The Feminine in the purest form I understand is the open, the receptive. And the masculine is the operational, the directive operational. And we absolutely need both. Everything needs the polarity. If I break my arm, I can’t be open and receptive to healing, I’ve actually got to get some medicines and a splint. Time isn’t really going to heal it without the proper care. So I need to bring both in.

Our whole orientation in our first world culture is very much toward our Yang, or Masculine, or operational and directive self. We built that very well, which is great, but we also need to move into a healthy relationship with our relational self, which is enormously inconvenient for the operational ego. Because it has a different rhythm. If I’m going to connect with you, I’ve got to slow down, come into my body. I’ve got to just be with the function of being with you. And any man can do that, any woman can do that, and any other person in between can do that. It’s really a way of being that we are describing. And it is a particularly strong need and function in women and we miss it.

KRIS: Yeah, and many of us don’t know it, which is fairly unfortunate.

Turning 60

KRIS: So you’ve recently had a significant birthday?

JUTKA: I have indeed. I turned 60 and you know I was a little nervous because I have to say I was the most reluctant star at my party when I turned 50. In fact, I spiked a fever and had to go home – it was a moment of creative genius! And despite the endless rituals that my friends kept giving me to come into my wisdom, I just didn’t want to. I was upset! I didn’t want to be 50 and they thought it was very ‘un-together’ of me, but that’s what was going on. So I thought, “Oh no what’s going to go on at 60?” But it was absolutely not that at all.

As I approached 60 I was more and more curious about 60. For me it’s been just the most remarkable moment. I’ve taken a bit of a sabbatical and it’s a moment to pause and I think a privileged moment. I think in your 50’s you look around and go, ‘This is not my picture. I know I’m supposed to be grateful and I’m going to learn how to be grateful. I’m going to get a gratitude journal and do my affirmations, but really underneath it all, I’m not sure that this is my picture!’ But at 60, it’s like, ‘I am actually very grateful to have gone through my 50’s because there are some massive lessons there. I’m grateful to have gained some of the wisdom. I’m more invisible to those for whom I was possibly never visible to anyway, and much more visible to myself – because I have more capacity to be vulnerable and human’.

And my ego is kind of relaxing and it’s had a bit of help on the way of course, because you are more invisible, you’re a little more lined, a little fatter perhaps, much greyer. I think that what we learn as we get older is this capacity to ‘be with’ whatever. We talk about presence a lot, don’t we? And mindfulness. And I often think it is really the capacity to really be with right now, fully, soulfully.

KRIS: And a big part of that being with ‘whatever’ is yourself. I had my yoga teacher, Lisa Foster, in here earlier this morning and she said she’s in a space now, at 51 where she’s had her baby, she’s been of service continuously but now ‘it’s about me’ – so now it’s about ‘I’m going to make a cup of tea for me first, I’m going to do what I want’. Is that part of that knowing yourself as well?

JUTKA: There is definitely some part of me that is prioritising me, but I wouldn’t say so much that its about me. I think there has been way too much ‘me’ in my life anyway! I think it’s more about something to do around being present. I remember years ago, when I first heard about mindfulness, I used to practice mindfulness as a concentration practice. It was like, ‘right, now I’m going to be mindful’ and I’d be watching the breath. What I’ve realised now is that I was being very strict with myself from my super ego, from my critic.

Now what I realise is that if I just pull back and expand then it’s a relaxation to be mindful. It’s not a concentration practice. It’s actually an open, dissolving practice that requires all of my vitality and all of my being with, but it isn’t that harsh. And I think that is what 60 has brought for me anyway – it’s not that harsh anymore.

KRIS: So that’s a surrendering that feels very much like the Feminine that you were describing earlier. Where are the places that we find the Feminine, that we can tap in to understand it?

JUTKA: We need to be careful of allowing the ego to jump in again. I’m not about trashing the ego, but I think one of the great perils is this thing called our identity, who we take ourselves to be. If something called ‘Tantric goddess’ is getting a lot of action, then our ego can go, ‘right, that’s who I’ve got to be. If I’m lonely and I want a partner, I’m going to drop weight, put a ruby in my belly and gyrate. That’s not the Feminine. That’s the strategic aspect of us trying to attract a polarity, but it’s an identity that we are trying to put forward.

So the Feminine is again something more essential and it’s not an effort into anything. It’s moving from our intelligence to our wisdom or ‘big mind’ and big heart. So again it’s relocating in soul and I don’t believe that we really can do that on our own. We can’t really do it through reading, but we can start to open a portal to wanting that.

The whole interview between Kris and Jutka can be found at
http://www.sacredwomensbusiness.com/jutka-freiman-women-journeying/
and for more about Jutka, and
visit www.jutkafreiman.com.au

This article was first published here at: Living Now

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Can Kindness Be Taught?

By RICHARD SCHIFFMANDEC. 14, 2017

Prekindergarten students at P.S. 212 in Jackson Heights, Queens, observe their “belly buddies” — stuffed animals placed on their stomachs — as they rise and fall with their breath. The lesson is part of the Kindness Curriculum.Credit Jeenah Moon for The New York Times

Thanks to a challenge from the Dalai Lama, a number of preschools are trying to teach something that has not always been considered an academic subject: kindness.

“Can you look inside yourself and tell me what you’re feeling?” Danielle Mahoney-Kertes asked a class of prekindergarten students at P.S. 212 in Queens recently.

“Happy,” one girl offered. “Sick,” said another. A boy in a blue T-shirt gave a shy thumbs down. “That happens too,” Ms. Mahoney-Kertes, a literacy coach, reassured him.

The exercise was part of the Kindness Curriculum, developed by the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in which preschoolers are introduced to a potpourri of sensory games, songs and stories that are designed to help them pay closer attention to their emotions.

“Our world is kind of a scary place,” Ms. Mahoney-Kertes said. “We can’t always control what is happening outside us. But what we’re teaching them is that they can control how they respond.”

Since the curriculum was introduced in August, more than 15,000 educators, parents and others from around the world have signed up for it.

P.S. 212, which is in a neighborhood in Jackson Heights that is home to many new immigrants, was one of the first public schools in New York City to introduce mindfulness-based practices like yoga. The Kindness Curriculum, which incorporates mindfulness, was a natural fit.

“A child can come in and say, ‘My father was deported last night.’ How do you deal with that?” said the school’s principal, Carin Ellis. “We give them tools to cope with their hurt and pain.”

Ms. Ellis believes the Kindness Curriculum has also helped kids manage the stress of standardized testing and cut down on interpersonal conflicts.

Danielle Mahoney-Kertes leads students at P.S. 212 in an exercise in mindful listening. The school was one of the first public schools in New York City to introduce mindfulness-based practices including the Kindness Curriculum. CreditJeenah Moon for The New York Times

“When you’re unkind to another, it’s usually about ourselves and how we are feeling,” she said. “If children can take a moment and just breathe, they can avoid acting out against others.”

There appear to be other benefits. Research led by the clinical psychologist Lisa Flook has shown that youngsters who received the kindness training become more altruistic in tests that measured their willingness to share with others. It also strengthened children’s ability to focus and modestly boosted their academic performance.

Some argue that emotional skills are better taught by parents than by teachers. But Dr. Flook points out that when kids come to the classroom anxious, angry or fearful, they are often too distracted to focus. “Children who have positive relationships with their peers and teachers do better in school,” she said.

They may also fare better later in life. One 2015 study that tracked kindergartners to young adulthood found that individuals with good prosocial skills — behavior that is positive, helpful and friendly — tended to be more successful as adults than those who did well in subjects like reading and math but lacked the ability to get along with others.

The Kindness Curriculum is part of a growing global movement to teach emotional intelligence in schools. Advocates of this approach say it’s shortsighted for teachers to focus narrowly on intellectual learning and ignore the cooperative emotional skills that enable learning — and learners — to flourish.

Still, some question whether personality traits like kindness can be taught.

Richard Davidson, the founder of the Center for Healthy Minds, believes that ancient Buddhist wisdom provides clues. He was inspired, he said, by a request from Tibet’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, who asked him to take insights from contemplative practice out of their religious context and use them to develop strategies to help improve people’s lives.

Continue reading the main story

Buddhist meditators observe their bodily sensations and feelings to create a sense of calm that is meant to foster compassion. Dr. Davidson said he used that concept as the basis for teaching children to watch how their bodies move and feel.

In one practice, children observe their “belly buddy,” a stuffed animal placed on their stomachs, as it rises and falls with their breath. Belly breathing has been adapted by the children’s program “Sesame Street,” which consulted with the University of Wisconsin team and made kindness the theme of its latest season.

The program encourages children “to identify their feelings and to put a label to them,” said Rosemarie Truglio, senior vice president of curriculum and content at Sesame Workshop, which produces “Sesame Street.”

“Children who have positive relationships with their peers and teachers do better in school,” said Lisa Flook, a psychologist who has studied efforts to teach kindness. CreditJeenah Moon for The New York Times

“When you help a child do that, they feel validated — it helps them to understand that feeling.”

Dr. Truglio observed that the more aware children are of their own emotions, the better they are able to empathize with the feelings of others and to respond to them in a helpful manner. Initially, many of the children they worked with didn’t know what the word “kind” meant, she recalls. Parents and teachers were always telling them to be “nice.” “We wanted to give them the word ‘kind,’” she said, “but to define it not so much in words as through behaviors.”

On “Sesame Street,” the characters model a variety of kind actions. For example, Big Bird’s friends help him conquer his stage fright; Elmo patiently waits as Zoe learns to use his scooter. The program then cuts to its “kindness cam,” which shows real children engaging in similar behaviors.

Sesame Street’s own research prompted its focus on kindness. In a national survey of 2,502 parents and teachers, over three-quarters said that they often worried that “the world is an unkind place for children.” Roughly the same percentage said that it was more important for children to learn kindness than to get good grades.

Dr. Davidson said that the period between ages 4 and 7 is a critical developmental window when the brain is reorganizing and particularly open to learning new information (like foreign languages) as well as developing lifelong psychological habits.

In order to have a lasting impact, he said, the emotional lessons taught to preschoolers need to be reinforced as the kids grow older.

One program working on kindness with older students, the Los Angeles-based “Kind Campaign,” founded in 2009, organizes middle and high school assemblies that target the problem of bullying between young women. The girls are invited to write a “kind apology” and hand it to somebody who they have wronged.

Another group, the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, has developed lesson plans for all age groups through high school. Students are guided in classroom discussions and asked to come up with positive actions, like sitting with someone who is alone in the lunchroom and writing imaginative thank you letters to their future selves.

“Kindness to oneself is a key,” said Brooke Jones, the foundation’s vice president. “When let’s say you fail a test, do you say to yourself ‘I’m stupid,’ or do you say to yourself, ‘I have more to learn?’ We focus on the importance of kids believing in themselves.”

Ms. Mahoney-Kertes points out, however, that, educators must practice what they preach for their lessons to be truly effective. “Teachers need to work on themselves. They need to become examples of the kindness that they are trying to teach.”

Rick Ingrasci M.D., M.P.H.
StoryDome Director

www.storydome.org

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50 YEARS LATER

50 YEARS LATER, BOB HOFFMAN’S DREAM LIVES ON

By Hoffman Institute

Robert Hoffman, founder of the Hoffman Process, had an innate and highly gifted ability to listen to deeper truths and wisdoms. It became his mission to figure out how to have more love in the world and in each person’s life and heal the rifts we have in our beings as a result of not being unconditionally loved as children. Bob understood that, during childhood, we imitate our parents to win their love and attention by copying their moods, attitudes, beliefs, spoken expressions and even body movements and this is how fundamental aspects of our characters are formed. By copying these elements, we are also seeking their love – “If I do or saying anything you do or say, now will you love me because I’m just like you!”

The Hoffman Process began its evolution in Oakland, California, in 1967. Bob began by asking clients to write emotionally charged autobiographies of their lives from birth to puberty. Then he looked at the negative emotional traits of each of their birth parents and started to develop an intuitive understanding of the emotional history of the client’s parents; this he termed ‘Negative Love.’ He could see that parents, when they were only children, had unwillingly adopted ‘negative traits’ from their parents and were driven by their own emotional history and this is how ‘Negative Love’ is passed ever onward down the line in our families from generation to generation. These deep understandings led to the experience of forgiveness and compassion for one’s parents. Bob stressed that “everyone is guilty, and no one is to blame” throughout his life.

In the early years, Bob led his clients through a series of 8 to 10 two-hour sessions. These sessions involved a variety of techniques and expressive exercises designed to help them heal their pain and reach a place of unconditional love. They learned tools to break the habit of negative love behaviours and were taught self-awareness exercises. Bob, together with the the Chilean Psychotherapist Claudio Naranjo coined the term ‘Quadrinity’ to describe the whole self, which is comprised of four aspects: the Intellect, the Emotional Self, the Body, and the Spirit. Process participants realize true healing and wholeness by engaging all these aspects and helping them to work in harmony. A structure of Awareness, Expression, Compassion & Forgiveness and New Behaviour was born and to this day remains the foundation of all Hoffman Process teaching around the world.

His book, No One Is to Blame, was first published in 1978 as an introduction to help people understand how to change self-destructive habits.
Over a period of 20 years and with the help of a variety of therapists, educators and doctors, Bob slowly built the structure of the Process as we know it today. Claudio Naranjo, the Harvard-educated Psychiatrist, also helped him transform the Process from the 13-week, non-residential setting to the week-long, in-residence format. Bob believed that providing a retreat setting would allow participants to deepen their insights and personal changes. In 1985, the first eight-day residential Hoffman Quadrinity Process (as it was then called) was held in Sonoma, California.

The years that followed saw the work of the Hoffman Process spread from the United States throughout the world, with Hoffman Centres opening in Brazil, Germany, Switzerland, Australia, Argentina, Canada, France, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom. This, in turn, led Bob, in his last years, to form  Hoffman Institute International (HII), which was created to regulate and monitor the standards, safety, and delivery of the Hoffman Process around the world.

Though Bob Hoffman passed away in 1997, his enduring vision – to heal families, bring back love into our lives, and to heal the world one person at a time – lives on. “My dream,” he said, “is that this work will eventually be recognized by scientific communities, that it will be recognized by educational leaders, and that it will be placed into educational programs.”

Bob and his Process team came to Australia in 1989 and during a two year period trained the first Australian teachers. Volker Krohn and Amanda Ahern were in the first Facilitator training group and are still teaching today. There have been over 7,000 people who have completed the Process here in Australia. In 1995, Volker bought the Process to Singapore and every year since then, many participants have come here to complete the Process.
Over 100,000 people world wide, have benefited from Bob’s vision and work. I think we can safely say that Bob’s dream has been realized, and continues to expand.

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Hoffman Process 1st Anniversary Love Letter

I approached undertaking the Hoffman Process one year ago with the strong belief that this was a life raft for a drowning girl. I felt at the time completely hostage to my deeply dysfunctional relationship with food, had what I felt was a damaged and untenable relationship with my mother, and generally knew that I was doing this all to myself and couldn’t stop. While I had all of the visage of success with strong career achievement, high levels of education and a long and loving relationship, I was deeply unhappy and unsatisfied and always striving for something else that would be the magic bullet to calm down my inner anger and hurt.

The Hoffman Process comprehensively delivered on its promise. Like many participants, going into the Process, I was questioning the cost, its efficacy, and whether it could fix me. By the end of day one, I knew that no amount of money could adequately cover the changes that were beginning, and I had already filed it away as one of the best investments I’d ever made in self development work. (And over the years, I have spent tens of thousands on retreats, workshops, detoxes, therapy, diets etc). While I had concluded that the answer to my problems was locked in early childhood, and all the treatments I had been undertaking were fixing symptoms not causes, the Hoffman Process proved that, and went directly to the core. I feel as though the change began as soon as I committed to go, and was deepened by the pre course work, and then the 10 days and re-entry days afterwards was where the action happened.

12 months on, I feel I have a completely different sense of self. As soon as the Process was over I was able to have a relationship with mum as an adult, not as an adult child reacting and acting out long held patterns. This was transformative, and we have a loving, close and most importantly happy time together now, and are safe and strong in our love. Mum changed nothing about who she was – and nor should she, but I love all of who she is and what made her that person. When any niggles come up between us as they do, I see what patterns I am reacting to and make a note to self to work on those a bit more.

My surprising big revelation from Hoffman was to pursue a spiritual life, which I had always repressed as that was mocked in our family of intellectuals and sceptics. By embracing my love of Hinduism, Buddhism, bhakti yoga, my spiritual teachers and finding ways to undertake service to the community has given me the deep well of happiness that was just waiting for me to stop looking outside to other stimulus. I’m happy, calm, less striving to achieve for the sake of others thinking I’m worthy. I’m working from a different place, and that allows me to bring joy and devotion to everything I do. I’m not trying to fix the world, I’m fixing me and giving my best to everyone.

My relationship with food and my body is changing. Its not an overnight transformation, but it is loving and accepting and its no longer a battle, more like deeper levels of awareness and recovery as I release habits, addictions and patterns and replace them with consciously better options. And it doesn’t have to happen any faster than it is. It’s perfect rolling imperfection.

At the crowning of 2016, my resolutions for the year were to keep following my instinct, to keep exploring the joyful and painful parts of me, and keep using the tools I learned at Hoffman which are in play everyday in my post process life. The group I went through with has remained connected, we chat daily on WhatsApp and have created a beautiful space where we share out triumphs and disasters, and have a Hoffman family to hold us and allow us to work through each one without judgement. That is one of the most magical parts of all, to have found so many friends to love and be with, and I am almost as grateful for what happened after Hoffman as to what happened at Hoffman.

So, Happy Anniversary teachers and guides, thank you for creating this Process, and bringing your all to it, I remain deeply grateful to you for your part in my healing and happiness.

With much love and light, oms and fishes,

Polly xox

Dr Polly McGee
write + advice
www.pollymcgee.com