Understanding The Enneagram: a doorway into the psychology, emotions, and behaviour of ourselves and others

“Senior Hoffman Facilitator and Director of Hoffman Program Design, Jutka Freiman is a highly sought-after psychotherapist and group facilitator, based in Sydney, Australia. For over 30 years she has worked extensively both locally and internationally using an integrative, expansive approach including Inner Child work, Attachment Therapy, Enneagram, Gestalt, Somatic Experiencing, Bereavement Therapy and Psychodrama to guide her clients toward healing. She brings to her work a passion for the creative individual and collective experience, believing both to be an expression of the inner being and a magnificent tool for healing.”

What is an Enneagram Type?

As an internationally accredited Enneagram therapist and trainer, here Jutka writes about the transformational potential of the Enneagram when used as a system of spiritual enquiry.

The Enneagram system has a broad range of applications being used as both a practical tool in any context and a tool of spiritual enquiry with the depth to offer transformational insight like no other.

We are all born with a unique temperament. Those of us who have had more than one child or have been close to different children from the same family will know that each child is born with their own unique gifts, sensitivities, needs and basic temperament.

This basic temperament is known as our essential nature. When attuned to under optimal circumstances, our essential nature will mature, flourish and reach its potential. However, most people did not experience optimal attunement and all of us were subject to challenges in our environment, some to a much greater extent than others. These challenges may have compromised our physical, emotional, intellectual or spiritual development or they may be reflected in security, social or relationship challenges. What then occurs is that the aspect of the original essential nature goes into the background and our personality (our Duality – Intellect and Child) develops patterns as a coping strategy for survival and satisfaction. This compensated personality is called the Type Structure.

The Type Structure veils the potential of our essential nature by having us focus on certain aspects of life and not others, distorting our thinking, feeling and behaviour. It creates in us, often unconsciously, a state of mistaken identity in a biased world, corrupting our sense of self and the attitudes we hold towards others.


Dr J.W. Wilson discusses how the Hoffman Process creates positive long-lasting changes in brain structure

For over 30 years, the Advanced Learning Institute (ALI), Canada have been doing neurological and genetic research on the basis of learning and behaviour change. Executive Director Dr J.W. Wilson, was been asked to explain the science behind the Hoffman Process; how is it, that by being exposed to in such a very short period of time, that people can experience such dramatic and profound transformations in their lives. How is it, that someone can enter the Hoffman Process feeling frustration, anxiety and pain in their lives and in 7 days, come out feeling such high levels of joy, peace, clarity and fulfillment.

“At the Advanced Learning Institute, our research shows that there is about 7000 genes that direct all of your brain’s functions. In addition, there’s over a hundred neuro modulators interacting with eachother in very complex ways. All this complexity comes together to direct all your thoughts, all your actions, feelings and behaviours.

…from the scientific viewpoint, do you know why you behave the way you do? At the Institute, we call it ‘structure – function’. That is, the structure of your brain dictates the functions of your brain, like your actions , your feelings and your behaviours. What did you have for breakfast this morning? Probably something very similar to what you have every morning. Why is it that no matter how much you try, even though you have told yourself over and over again, you won’t get upset when your boss, your kids, your significant others, when they say or do that ‘special’ thing that upsets you, you still flip out. It all has to do with the existing structures of your brain. You change those structures in your brain, and your feelings and behaviours automatically change.

The bright lights are the neurons, and the branches coming off them are called dendrites and on those dendrites are what are called receptor sites. When those neurons, dendrites and receptor sites change then your behaviours change. There is no change in your life unless those structures are changed. But we have a problem; those structures that are laid down by the interactions of your history, your past experiences with your family, your friends, your relationships, your environment are very very resistant to change. In fact these structures, that direct all your actions and your habits and your feelings are made out of fats and proteins, sticky gummy stuff, pretty much the same stuff that cheddar cheese is made out of. So how do you change this sticky resistant stuff so you can change your life?

Through a process. Let me explain, think of all the books you have read, the seminars you’ve gone to; all the people that have told you how to change your life and how little of that information really changed you. Why didn’t all that great information create profound change in your brain structures so you could have dramatic change in your life. Well from a biological perspective, information alone does not cause transformation. Think about this for a moment, in the US where I’m from, over 75% of the population is overweight or obese. Don’t you think that 100% of those people know that too many calories make them fat? Yet what good did that information do to help them lose weight? It had absolutely no long-lasting impact on their habits and ultimate behaviour. The same thing happens to you; you have the information that you should feel and act differently yet this information alone does not quickly or profoundly transform you.

You read, you listen to audio tapes, you go to seminars, you watch videos, but you still feel the way you do, you still act the way you do. This is because, as I said, from a biological perspective, information does not cause transformation. So, what does?

It can be said that there is absolutely no transformation in nature without a process. Let me explain a very complex biological process in a very simple way. Think about seeds transforming to flowers, coal transforming to diamonds, caterpillars transforming into beautiful butterflies. How did these wondrous transformations take place? All of them took place through a process. Let us understand that if you want to change those neurological structures, the ones that control your feelings, your actions, your life, just like seeds to flowers and caterpillars to butterflies, you have to enter a process.

Understanding that all transformation in nature is a process, allows us to create processes based on science that actually allow people to experience profound transformations in their lives and this is the power of Hoffman. It’s not just information, its a 7 day process meticulously and elegantly designed to transform your biology so that you experience dramatic transformations in your life, which in turn transforms how the world interacts with you.

How does the Hoffman Process do this? Again, I’m going to over simplify greatly here using metaphors for quicker understanding. The Hoffman Process changes your brain in two ways.

First the Hoffman Process targets the existing brain structures that are sabotaging your happiness, your relationships and your serenity. Remember these networks, that are limiting your joy are like cheddar cheese; solid sticky gooey stuff. The Hoffman Process helps dissolve these negative structures; these old structures that sabotage your success, relationships and fulfillment start to dissolve and in effect, they melt away and as they melt away, they have less power over you and your life’s direction. At the same time the Hoffman Process is helping free you from these structures laid down by your history, its doing something else that is just as important. Its helping your biology lay down new structures. These new neurological structures then give you a new way to be, feel and interact in the world.

Think of new branches and leaves being added to a tree doing the rebirth of Spring. This is what the Hoffman Process is doing in your brain – laying down new connections so you can not only access your true self you’ve always known was there, but also in effect, helping to create a new you.

For over 30 years, I’ve been researching the science of transformation and I can say, if you are ready to make a change in your life and your relationship with the world, I can think of no better opportunity than to explore the Hoffman Process.

Watch the full video of Dr J.W. Wilson explaining the science behind, how is it, that by being exposed to the Hoffman Process, in such a very short period of time, that people can experience such dramatic and profound transformations in their lives…

How is it, that someone can enter the Hoffman Process feeling frustration, anxiety and pain in their lives and in 7 days, come out feeling such high levels of joy, peace, clarity and fulfillment.

Watch the full video of Dr J.W. Wilson explaining the science behind, how is it, that by being exposed to the Hoffman Process, in such a very short period of time, that people can experience such dramatic and profound transformations in their lives.

Dr J.W. Wilson, Executive Director of the Advanced Learning Institute (ALI) explains that the neurogenetic science, what the ALI refers to as the learning code, is completely transforming how people learn, market, build businesses, retain customers, transform cultures and change behaviours. The science is having such a profound and dramatic impact on those that come in contact with it, that once they see it, they never go back to trying to get people to learn or change behaviours in the old ways.

The ALI has worked with world leading organisations such as The Mayo Clinic, Turner Broadcasting, The Rich Dad Organisation, the Deming Institute; the group that conducts leadership training for Nasa, the UN, The USA National Institutes of Health and seminal organisers for speakers like Tony Robbins and Richard Branson aswell as the governments and educational institutions in Nigeria, Estonia, Brazil and Spain.

…the neurogenetic science is completely transforming the paradigms of those of us in education and business development

The ALI is using this groundbreaking science with their partners Imaginal Education and Masters Academy in Canada to develop the first school system in the world to base their learning systems on neurobiology of how the brain naturally learns. Because of the scientific approach, not only is learning more natural, exciting and joyful, but standardised test scrores have now risen to an amazing 400% higher than the province average, learning is completed in 20% less time, and because the learning fits with how the children’s brain naturally encodes new knowledge, behavioural problems have been virtually eliminated.

Another example of where the Learning code is being applied is at Gordon Park School in Kansas, where ALI are creating the first school system in the world that supports and helps heal children with post traumatic stress disorder.

Visit Dr J.W. Wilson’s website Cracking the Learning Code

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


Dylan Jones’ Remarkably Honest Account of the Hoffmann Process

Advocate for men’s mental health, GQ Editor Dylan Jones raises awareness on men’s plight with mental health issues in his candid account of his personal experience of the Hoffman Process and repressed childhood memories as he reveals the life-altering release and healing that comes from speaking out.

Since the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, women are finding a voice to express themselves and champion equality across all walks of life. But where has this left the men of the world? Right-minded men everywhere are thinking: “Am I really that bad?” We’re feeling sorry for ourselves, not because we feel as though we’ve done anything wrong, but because a media-driven kangaroo court has deemed us all guilty as charged.

Dylan Jones, Editor of GQ and fashion biannual GQ Style states he had no intention of ever writing about the Hoffman Process. “My wife had been encouraging me to try it for years – apparently my behaviour was becoming so impossible (I was emotionally detached, never ‘present’ and unable to empathise or emote) that the family were walking on eggshells – and when I finally relented, I vowed to keep it a secret.

Like many people I know, I had been seeing a therapist on and off for years, but had never seen the need to shout about it or indeed discuss it with anyone. The older you get though, the more the past starts to catch up with you. Mine had probably never left me. I spent most of my childhood being hit by my father – when he wasn’t hitting my mother, that is. I was beaten relentlessly and repeatedly (daily, in fact), hit so hard that for years it was difficult for me to speak without stammering, finding it impossible to repeat my own name. For most of my life, all I could remember about the violence came in abstract, fuzzy images and I think I managed to pretty much blank most of it out. When I became a teenager, I began treating it almost as badge of honour, like having a criminal for a father, advertising what a tough time I’d had, an excuse for delinquent behaviour and appalling results at school. And then I just buried it, for years, just put it into another box, one I rarely even looked at.

When I first spoke to Serena Gordon who, along with Tim Laurence, bought the Hoffman licence from Bob Hoffman in 1995, I enquired as to whether or not anyone ever wrote about their experiences – and then immediately dismissed any idea that I might want to write about my own. Not only would it compromise me, it could compromise others on the course. I felt almost as though Hoffman was a bit like Fight Club (the first rule of the Hoffman Process is you do not talk about the Hoffman Process), because whenever I discovered that one of my friends had done it, and so far they number seven – that I know of – all I got was a knowing look and a big smile. Not one of them had anything but complete praise for the course, even if they wouldn’t tell me anything about it.

The Hoffman Process is a personal development course with a difference, one that involves a variety of therapeutic techniques, including Eastern mysticism, deep meditation, a form of group therapy and a lot of physically expressive work. The Process has a unique recipe, drawing ingredients from various well-worn modalities, including Gestalt therapy, neuro-linguistic programming, cognitive behavioural therapy, bioenergetics and some fairly extreme psychodynamic work. Examples include journalling, meditation and guided visualisation. It has become, for many, a life-changing experience that can clinically remove negative habits.

Many who finish the Process become evangelical and it has been compared to a form of rehab. The practitioners tear you down then build you back up again, teaching you tools and techniques to help change old behavioural patterns that may be preventing you from feeling fully alive and freeing you to make conscious choices that will improve your relationships with the people around you. It is intensive and often transformational. Even Goldie is a convert. ‘In the Nineties, Goldie became this mad character and I sometimes went a little too far,’ he says, referring to himself in the third person. ‘I’d gone to rehab, I was getting beaten up for my sins three days a week, and it didn’t f***ing work. It wasn’t until I did the Hoffman Process that the whole process of reinventing myself began.

The salient belief of the Process is the importance of childhood or, more precisely, the emotional discovery of the truth about the unique history of our childhood. This is what the psychotherapist Alice Miller calls the drama of being a child. ‘In order to become whole we must try to discover our own personal truth,’ she says, ‘a truth that may cause pain before giving us a new sphere of freedom.’ This is now a popular psychological belief, fast-tracked by John Bowlby’s attachment theory, which holds that mental health and behavioural patterns are largely attributed to early childhood.

The Process is designed to help the unmoored identify negative behaviours, moods and ways of thinking that developed unconsciously and were conditioned in childhood. Its aims? ‘To help you become conscious of and disconnected from negative patterns of thought and behaviours on an emotional, intellectual, physical and spiritual level in order to make significant positive changes in your life. You will learn to remove habitual ways of thinking and behaving, align with your authentic self and respond to situations in your life from a place of conscious choice.

At the end of last year I went along to an introduction evening at Regent’s University, in Regent’s Park in London, to see what all the fuss was about. I sat at the back of the room looking for all the world like a broadly drawn secret agent from the Fifties, with my collar turned up and my hat pulled down, adamant that no one should notice me. And as I listened to half a dozen Hoffman graduates get up and discuss the course, telling us all how good it had been for them – and they were nothing if not passionate in their espousal – we heard time and time again that it’s best if you don’t know too much about it before you go, principally in case it scares you off.

How right they were. Six months later, I turned up at a small country house hotel on the south coast along with 23 other nervous inductees. To say that we were all wary is a massive understatement and while a few kind souls went out of their way to be nice to each other, most of us were grunting and staring at our shoes. We were then encouraged to walk into a room and take our seats, ready to embark on a metaphorical journey that I imagine none of us on the course will ever forget. And why would we want to? After all, the Hoffman Process is one of those once- in-a-lifetime experiences that will leave you changed forever. I should know, because I myself have changed.

As I say, if you knew what the course involves you probably wouldn’t want to have anything to do with it, but rarely have I found a week so fulfilling as the one I spent at Hoffman. It is difficult to describe the intensity of some of the group work, and out of courtesy to the other people on the course I’m not going to tell. Suffice it to say that you are encouraged to go back into your childhood – deeply into your childhood – in a way that I didn’t think was possible. Yes, there is a fair amount of expressive work, but there are also techniques for delving into your memories so precisely that the trauma of childhood is scooped out of you – where it is examined, recontextualised and eventually sent on its way. Even though it is a process driven by emotion, intellectually it is fascinating.

On the final day, I came back to London something of a different person. As I drove up the M23, with a car full of fellow Hoffman graduates, the world seemed different too, slightly lighter, though slightly fractured and not without its challenges. A crowded motorway was perhaps not the best way to re-enter civilisation (in fact, it is recommended that you actually squirrel yourself away for a couple of days by yourself in a hotel, advice I stupidly ignored), but it helped contextualise the extraordinary journey I’d been on. This wasn’t an X-Factor journey, though. This was real, a genuine sensation. That sensation is still with me; the pulse is weaker now, but it’s definitely there, reminding me forever that the Hoffman Process is real too, a psychic tattoo that you can’t easily remove.

I loved my week by the sea. And you know what? I want to go back.

Dylan Jones is the editor-in-chief of GQ and fashion biannual GQ Style, chairman of the Hay Foundation Trust and menswear chairman of the British Fashion Council. Follow Dylan on Twitter

GQ Article by Dylan Jones, Sunday 24 September 2017‘The Hoffman Process: Seven days to change a lifetime’, published in GQ UK September, 2017

Dylan Jones interview with the Guardian, Sat 11 Aug 2018

Learn more about Dylan Jones on Wikipedia

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


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
and for more about Jutka, and

This article was first published here at: Living Now


Can Kindness Be Taught?


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


Eleanor Moran Talks About History Repeating in Love Until the Process

A moment that changed me: group therapy stopped me falling for versions of my dad

Why was I attracted to charming, older and unavailable men? The Hoffman process showed me I had placed my unreliable, dangerous father on a pedestal.

The hotel function room was packed tight with tables, drunken voices raised to cut through the hubbub. It was a TV awards do, guests all dressed up and the booze flowing like a river bursting its banks. As I manoeuvred through the crowd, my eyes met his. The older writer I’d been seeing – and obsessing about – for the past few months.

I’d convinced myself that the reason he was so unreliable, so hard to track down, was because he lived at the other end of the country. Now I had a freeze frame of the real reason he was so reluctant to commit: his hand intertwined with a woman’s, the girlfriend he’d sworn he’d broken up with months before. The fact he’d told me he was still looking to move out of the house they shared together, and was “staying in the spare room”, should have been a clue, but I hadn’t wanted to heed it. Now denial was no longer an option. I turned on my heel and fled into the night.

That was the moment I knew something fundamental had to change. That the men I was attracted to – charming, older and inevitably unavailable – were living ghosts of the first man who’d fitted that description. The father I’d never lived with, but had spent my childhood idolising, and pining for during his frequent absences from my life. He’d died a few short years earlier, and my complicated grief about it was casting a long shadow over my whole life.

My father had so much promise as a young man – he was witty, academically gifted and handsome, and I can absolutely understand why my mum had fallen for him when they met at university. But he struggled to deliver on that early potential. They had me young, and I think the responsibility was too great. He left when I was still a baby, and proceeded to drift through life, never finding a meaningful career or remarrying. He drank too much, and was always broke.

As a result, his life was precarious – there were times when he was even homeless – but I would still long for the school holidays when I could visit him. These times were intense. He’d confide in me about his adult problems, read to me from novels and let me stay up until midnight watching films with him. I loved feeling like a grown up, too young to realise how confused and damaging our relationship was.

I was 28 that night I fled the party, and something in me knew that if I didn’t change the way I was living, I’d spend the rest of my adult life in a prison of my own making. It was the Hoffman Process that handed me the keys to get out – a week-long intensive group retreat where you identify the childhood patterns that are still running your life. Hoffman has been widely praised by celebrities – Sienna Miller is its most recent vocal fan – but it’s more than a fad. It’s tough and profound, and offers a real chance to make your life better. Having heard about it from an older friend, I maxed out all my credit cards, lied to work about a last-minute holiday, and set off for a big house deep in the Sussex countryside.

Before the process begins, you write reams of notes about your early life and your current issues. My teacher, motherly and tough all at once, identified my core issue the moment I met her. “You’re a daddy’s girl,” she said. “There’s always at least one on every process.” Soon I was sitting in a circle, peering suspiciously at the rest of my group and wondering what had brought each of them here. With no phone or email, they were going to be all I had for the rest of the week. As they started to speak, my inner critic reared up in judgment of the corpulent banker whose marriage was on the rocks, the stern German woman who seemed to have had a sense-of-humour bypass. Why hadn’t I splurged my hard-earned cash on a holiday when I still had the chance?

What I came to learn was that working in a group can be incredibly healing. I’d had plenty of therapy before, but now I was peeling back my defences with 20 people who were feeling equally vulnerable. When I showed them who I really was, they didn’t run away screaming. Perhaps I didn’t need to be perfect to be lovable after all? I had a busy, high-profile career, and the grief that dogged me often felt like something to hide or be ashamed of. It was such a relief to know I wasn’t the only one feeling like I lived a double life.

Over the course of that week I came to understand why I’d put my father on such a pedestal as a little girl, even though he’d been at best unreliable, and at worst downright dangerous. I couldn’t afford to question his behaviour, because I was too frightened that if I made demands on him, he’d disappear from my life again. Instead I’d rationalise it, and take the blame on myself. He would leave me alone at night, petrified, and I would wish I was grown up enough not to bother him with my petty terror. When he burned the house down when I was 10, forcing us to shin down a drainpipe to escape, I experienced a strange kind of triumph about the fact that I’d been the one to wake us up and save his life. Our roles had always been reversed, with my narcissistic father the child and me a miniature adult: unable to cope, but valiantly trying.

All of this had taught me that relationships with men involved winning their love; that their affection should be something to fight for. So it was the men who offered the biggest challenge who stole my heart. The reverse was true too – I could be harsh and callous with the kind of “boring” men who called when they said they would and made it clear they wanted to be with me.

The Hoffman process is shrouded in some secrecy, as it’s very experiential. You revisit the pain of early life in a way that’s safe but also visceral. I’d read enough self-help books to fill a library, but when you’re on the process, there’s no hiding behind your intellectual understanding of what’s made you the way you are. You rage and cry, and regress to some very early experiences.

Over the course of that week I was able to really feel the anger that it was too dangerous for me to express as a child, for fear of triggering another of my father’s long, agonising disappearances. As an adult I still tried to be no bother with the older, unavailable men who invariably stole my heart. I knew instinctively they had little to give me, and tiptoed around them, a meek, bland version of myself. It meant part of me was still that child, frozen in time; Hoffman gave me the chance to grow up.

Now I could parent that child, move through the anger, and find compassion for my damaged, broken dad from an adult place. He too was a product of his upbringing, and I could end a cycle that had probably stretched back through generations.

In one visualisation exercise, imagining how my own life would turn out if I carried on acting from those early hurts, I felt a proper change. I knew in that moment that I was absolutely committed to living a different life from the short, painful one he had experienced.

Hoffman is a long time ago now, but I still feel grateful for the shift it gave me. I don’t believe our early life ever leaves us, but I certainly think we can relate to it in a very different way once we have awareness of its patterns. I can even see positive sides to the start I had in life. I treasure stability and kindness now. I also know that most of us have secret hurts that we’re trying to conceal, which hopefully makes me more empathetic.

And all that therapy gave me a heroine for my novels – a psychotherapist with a screwy past who ends up advising the police on their most emotionally complex cases. Definitely a bigger win than a week in Tenerife.

By Eleanor Moran | Published in “The Guardian

Too Close For Comfort, by Eleanor Moran, is published on 22 September by Simon & Schuster

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


Off to the Hoff – Wellbeing Article by Danielle Kirk

We experience the Hoffman Process, a little known but fascinating personal development program. As you identify and deconstruct these long-held patterns of feeling, thinking and behaving in relationships, you learn to develop deep compassion for and understanding of others and yourself.
By Danielle KIRK

As I write this I’m listening to Johann Pachelbel’s Canon in D. This Baroque masterpiece has been played innumerable times at weddings and in movies (perhaps even overplayed) but it retains a core beauty and never fails to work its emotive magic. It inspires nostalgia and sweet sadness, yet also leaves me feeling uplifted, hopeful, in awe of the power that we human beings hold within us to create, connect and bring joy and peace to the lives of others.

I say this because that describes how I feel after undertaking the experience I’m reviewing for you: a week-long intensive therapeutic retreat that forms the cornerstone of the Hoffman Process, a comprehensive three- month personal development program costing AU$5340. (Some scholarships are available for people in need who have sparse funds).

Haven’t heard of it? Neither had I, until an email landed in my inbox to outline “the process” and invite me — and so you, the reader — on a journey. Intrigued, I read testimonials and information online, read as many independent media reports as I could find (overwhelmingly positive) and, yes, also read stories about the process being part of a cult, a point my journalist’s inbuilt radar agreed may have validity.

It’s part of our job to be wary, to know the flow-on effects that untruths and lack of transparency can have for readers. Yet, it’s also our job to act on instinct; to do the research to satisfy the intellect but then suspend judgement, trust our gut and dive in. On the premise the Hoffman Process was legitimate and potentially valuable for others, I went along for the ride.

What a ride it was. There’s not a lot I can share about the specifics of the process, as that would ruin its impact for those of you who choose to experience it. However, let me tell you, the six-and-a-half days I spent at Sangsurya — the Australia/Singapore Hoffman retreat base in the hills beside Byron Bay in northern NSW — exhausted me physically and mentally. I participated in large and small group work, physical activity and visualisations from 8.30am to 9pm most days and I shared my deepest, most intimate experiences, thoughts and feelings with total strangers in a very safe, supportive space.

On the flip side, I left feeling empowered by the potential I discovered within to unfurl into my essential wholeness, to relate to other people as their true selves rather than an externalised version of my negative thoughts and beliefs, and to claim the space in the world that’s always been there for me — I just couldn’t recognise it.

To the sceptical and the scoffers among you (I know you’re there, I used to be one), bear with me. The process has a solid grounding in theory, its success as a treatment is backed by academic studies and it is run by supervising facilitators who have, at minimum, a postgraduate degree in psychotherapy as well as an extensive background in mental health practice.

They’re also trained in the Hoffman method: a legacy of the late Bob Hoffman, who devised the Hoffman Process in 1967.
Hoffman was a US psychotherapist who built his own framework for understanding human behaviour and development that incorporates all four interlinked aspects of the self: spiritual self, physical body, emotional self and intellect.

The non-profit Hoffman Institute now operates centres in 13 countries and has helped over 90,000 people around the world. The process works on the premise that our relationships with our parents and caregivers when we are children shape our relationships with ourselves and others as well as how we perceive the world. Regardless of whether you view your parents as “good” or “bad”, as kids we all responded to their behaviour and nonverbal communication towards us — their “negative love” — by internalising their responses: by taking that outside world into our inner world.

The theory goes that, as you identify and deconstruct these long-held patterns of feeling, thinking and behaving in relationships, you learn
.to develop deep compassion for and understanding of others and yourself. You can then start to heal with the assistance of constructive, practical tools, such as nonviolent communication techniques.

As for my own process, I feel that there’s been a fundamental shift in how I view, respond to and act in the world. Where there was once a withdrawn, scared, self- loathing, overly self-sufficient little girl, a confident, flourishing, authentic woman is unfolding. She’s still quiet and observant but she owns those qualities, and is living her one wild and precious life.

I’ve been privileged to meet 13 spirited, courageous people — from all walks of life and with all manner of baggage — who accompanied me on the process, who know more about me than anyone else does and who I plan on being friends with for a long time to come. I’ve made great inroads to further healing my fraught relationship with food and my body, which was for a long time tempestuous and often dark.

And I’ve learnt that beauty, lovability, the ability to deeply connect with others — whatever the qualities are that you think you lack — all lie within. You just need to be brave enough to see and destroy the dark dungeon you’ve been living in, hightail it out of there and immerse yourself in light.

The writer was a guest of Hoffman Australia.

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


Janine di Giovanni tells why she tried the Hoffman Process of Psychoanalysis

The combination of 20 years of reporting conflict, together with scars left by her upbringing prompted Janine di Giovanni to try an intense week-long form of psychoanalysis.

Many years ago I went to an isolated village in Switzerland to report on a renegade Freudian psychiatrist and analyst called Dr Silvio Fanti. Fanti, now deceased, had developed a controversial technique – micropsychoanalysis – that was highly criticised at the time, but in retrospect, makes a huge amount of sense. He believed, quite simply, that life was too short to spend in analysis. So he cut the time frame drastically.

Fanti would have two patients stay in his sprawling home for several months. There, they had analysis three hours a day, three days a week, rather than the traditional Woody Allen-style analysis of lying on the couch talking about one’s mother for 40 years. He reported that nearly all of his patients emerged “cured” or at least relieved of their symptoms.

The Hoffman Process, which has become more and more popular in Britain in the past five years, takes the Fanti approach without the Freudian spin. It has been going since the 1960s but has grown drastically in the UK, especially since various celebrities have come out and said they did it.

The Hoffman uses various techniques, from Eastern mysticism to deep meditation, Gestalt, group therapy, visualisation, and allegedly condenses a lifetime of analysis to eight days. It has become, for many people, a life-changing experience that surgically removes their negative habits. Many who finish The Process, as it is known, become evangelical, as with Alcoholics Anonymous.

But proselytising, in fact, is not the intention of the American founder, Bob Hoffman, who started teaching in 1967 to help people lose their “negative love patterns”. Negative love is all that bad stuff those two people (“They fuck you up, your mum and dad . . .”) pass on to you, intentionally or unintentionally.

I found myself on a freezing train platform in Sussex very early one Friday morning with a clear personal goal: I never want to pass on to my six-year-old son all the dysfunctional stuff my own parents had generously passed on to me. Also, to address the unrecognised trauma of 20 years of reporting conflict, which occasionally manifests itself in my life in unexpected ways. I was sceptical, to say the least. I resist any “reaching out” and I am not good at “sharing” my problems.

But a writer friend, who had gone through The Process, kept prodding me. “It works, it just works,” she said. Over lunch, she talked me through it – although like all Hoffman graduates, she could not tell me details of what goes on. I guess if you knew what was going to happen, you probably would not go. You sign a confidentiality agreement promising not to disclose others’ private stories. The one thing she told me was: “Listen. Don’t intellectualise everything. They will ask you to do stupid stuff. Your brain will say: I am not doing this. But just do it. There is a reason. And, remember, it works.”

Another friend’s 22-year-old daughter with “issues” had come out of it “totally and utterly changed”. I did not need utter changing – but I did realise where my traumas lay, and thought it would be nice to shed them. Long fascinated by psychoanalysis, I also wanted to go as an anthropological exercise.

So off I went with my little backpack. I thought I was prepared, having spent hours filling out forms about my emotional and psychological life, my family history, my history of trauma. I thought I was prepared: I had “done” boot camps before – yoga boot camps, ashrams, detox (of toxins, not drugs) boot camps, even SAS military boot camps to prepare me for hostile environments.

But the thought of The Hoffman and all that sharing left me unnerved. AA regulars say there is nothing more powerful than a group to guide you through difficulties, to make you stronger. But I come from a long line of deniers. My mother’s father died of alcoholism in his 40s and she has never once uttered the word alcoholic in connection with him. She says, “Darling, Daddy liked a drink or two.” As for me, only my tiny band of intimate friends ever know what is really going on. The rest get: “Life is wonderful.” It’s just how I was brought up, like Scarlett O’Hara: lie about what you feel and what you think. It’s not very feminine to do otherwise. Or, as a young Hoffman colleague said: “I lie to everyone. Even the taxi driver who brought me here.”

Inside the house where I was to spend the next eight days, I met my 23 “comrades”. We sized each other up. There were businessmen and women, poets, playwrights, writers, students, an actress, a mother of five. My roommate was a quiet, northern red-headed businesswoman, who looked as freaked out as I was. There were days when we were meant not to utter a word, but both of us burst out laughing and decided to bin that behind closed doors.

That first day, we sat in a circle where we would spend a lot of time that week. I looked around the room – here was a “buttoned-up public school boy”; there was an “attention-seeker”; and that woman in the corner was “a woman who does not like other women”. This is part of the learning curve too: nothing was as it seemed. The readiness to judge is so linked with the negative patterns all of us had come to lose.

The women on either side of me both later admitted they loathed me on sight. One, whom I grew to love dearly, said: “I thought you had no sense of physically boundaries, you kept wiggling in your chair and knocking into me.” The other – a fierce-looking poet who scowled but who ended up making me laugh and laugh – thought me aloof. “But I love you now,” she said. Three seats down was another woman who, like me, did not utter a word more than she had to for the first 48 hours.

Later, I would realise that everything was intentional – where we sat, who our roommates and teachers were. Our teachers – we were each given one who would guide us through the week ahead – had carefully read our histories. So carefully, that when I was not “getting into it enough” during a Gestalt exercise, my teacher came over and whispered something so painful in my ear that I responded, uncharacteristically, like a maniac. Which is exactly what he wanted: to push my buttons, or to break me down, so to speak, in a controlled environment, and then to rebuild me. I think I actually saw him smile as I went nuclear.

We worked long hours – from 8am until 10pm. There was no time for reading, walking or DVDs. We were meant to hand over computers, magazines, sleeping pills and telephones. I lied and kept my BlackBerry and my sleeping pills. After three days, guilt took over and I went to Matthew, my teacher, and handed them over. And that was the end of my contact with the outside world.

Most of the work is in the form of powerful meditation. Visualisation plays a strong part in it; as does journal-writing and drawing, and, of course, the group sessions, which grew less painful but more challenging: admitting transference, it seems, is important.

The first four days were excruciating and exhausting. No getting around it. Then it got – while not exactly easier, because every day unearthed some new layer – lighter. The final days were spent on how to deal with the outside world. By that point, I wanted to get out.

It is advised that you spend the weekend after The Hoffman by yourself, listening to tapes and meditating. I knew that was not going to happen. I decided to stay with my best friends. So I got a ride with one of my comrades but when she dropped me off in London, I suddenly felt incredibly shaky. The noise was so much more potent; the people shoving and pushing on the pavements more menacing. I wished I had listened to their advice and stayed holed up in a B&B in Sussex.

Months on, can I say my life is drastically different? No. Partially it is my fault. I would like to say I followed the instructions and did my meditations; checked in with my emotional, physical and spiritual self every day; and stayed in touch with my comrades. I tried, but found it another techno burden, like checking Facebook, BlackBerry and email. I don’t meditate as much as I would like to. I did not go to follow-up meetings.

But I did maintain something that is hard to describe. Peacefulness, more awareness, and, very specifically, the very thing I had come to lose, I did. It was – as my teacher Matthew told me – surgically removed. Or more to the point, spiritually removed.

And, stranger still, on the train back home to Paris, I thought of that trip 20 years ago to Dr Fanti’s mountain village. I was a young girl at the time, and not very self-aware. The analyst had grown attached to me and, at the end of my stay, we spoke for a long time. Even though I was not a patient, he had whispered some advice to me about the life that lay ahead of me: “Until you address this about yourself,” he had said, about a certain “issue” of mine, “you will never find true peace.” When I got home, he had sent me three dozen roses for my birthday with the message written out again in his careful script.

On the train home, I realised I had at last got over the issue Dr Fanti had talked about all those years ago. So, as strange as The Hoffman is – as the devotees say, whatever works.

Published in “The Guardian

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