Sunday, 31 July 2016

The mind-body link with pain - the work of Dr David Hanscom

In his 26 years of experience as a spine surgeon, David Hanscom has made significant steps in clarifying the link between our brain and chronic pain. Having overcome

considerable chronic pain himself, after doing the Hoffman Process he felt he had the last piece of the puzzle, enabling him to finish his book, Back in Control: A Roadmap Out Of Chronic Pain. He has also finalised a program to help sufferers break the patterns causing their pain, including neck and back pain, IBS and migraines.

 'I came out of the Process with a laser-beam focus of what I wanted to accomplish in the world of spine surgery, and I have accomplished more in the role of surgical leadership in the three years since my Process than during the prior 25 years.'

As David explains, an operation can correct a structural problem, but if the neurological pain pathways are still active, the pain may not disappear - hence so-called 'phantom limb pain' after an amputation. Pain pathways are closely related to feelings of anger and frustration, so dealing with these emotional triggers can be just as important for reducing pain as physical treatment. Indeed David describes the Process, when introduced at the right point during treatment, as 'the end run for chronic pain' as well as a personal turning point. 


You can hear more in this fascinating hour long radio interview with Raz Ingrasci, President of Hoffman USA. The interview starts 1.24 minutes in. Listen here.
 You can read more about David's journey out of chronic pain on his website.
His book, Back In Control is available on Amazon here


Sunday, 29 May 2016

Against All Odds, by Aidan Campbell, Retired Business Consultant and Author

Aidan Campbell was a successful business consultant with a lifelong passion for self development. When he was diagnosed with a brain tumour he needed all his resources to bring himself back from the brink. Here's his prescription for a happy, fulfilling life.

Aidan CampbellAfter completing the Hoffman Process in 2002 I felt a bit like the Buddha after he'd spent 20 years sitting under the Bo tree in contemplation. Apparently his first words on re-joining the world were ‘This cannot be taught!’ – in other words you can read about it, learn about it, hear about it but at the end of the day you have to experience it. When I was diagnosed with a brain tumour six years later, aged 51, I was so very glad I had.
What took me to the Process was a passion for learning how to the make most out of life. Thirty years ago a friend, who knew I was going through a challenging time, gave me three books: How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie; a popular psychology book called The Road Less Travelled by Scott Peck and a more spiritual tome called Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda.
These got me thinking about life and where I was headed. I embarked on various ‘change your life’ programmes and courses. I read anything that could be loosely termed success psychology, self-development or consciousness expanding. To develop my spiritual side I became a ward volunteer at the Marie Curie Hospice, serving meals and talking to patients suffering from terminal illness.

Breaking the Cycle

By 2002 I was making good money, was successful, had status, drove a nice BMW, stayed in the best hotels when travelling but I was unhappy and unfulfilled. I'd been very messily divorced and then formed a happy new relationship with Christine, who's now my wife, but I was aware that my old destructive patterns were emerging once again. Determined to make a fresh start, I closed my business consultancy down and travelled from Belfast to Seaford on the Sussex coast to do the Process. The taxi driver who drove me there from Gatwick was called Moses – well, he certainly took me to ‘the promised land'! I came back from the course totally uplifted. I particularly enjoyed strengthening the connection to a more spiritual side of life which, though I didn't know it at the time, was to stand me in such good stead with what lay ahead.
In 2007 I began to lose weight, suffer from headaches and I'd forget things (like my ballroom dancing steps). There was a lot of mis-diagnosing by the doctors – ‘food poisoning, working too hard, not getting enough sleep, not eating enough vegetables, old age’ etc. So in true Hoffman fashion I became present to my experience and was able to spot all the guess-work in the health service and paid cash privately for a diagnosis - it turned out be a brain tumour! I would have to have surgery sooner rather than later so in short order I wound up my business, put my affairs in order and went under the knife.
I did not think I was going to make it – but I did. Christine says I'm stubborn and awkward but I prefer adjectives like focused, determined and responsible. I'm very used to setting objectives and what's known as ‘task orientation’ or in plain English – ‘getting things done’ and not taking ‘no’ for an answer. In tandem with what I took away from the Process, it was just the toolbox I needed to see me through

From Acceptance to Surrender

Aidan CampbellAt one point during my time in hospital I weighed only 9 stone, although I'm 6 foot 2" tall. Yet I survived! Looking back on it now I realise that I reached a point of surrender – it was not up to me whether I lived or died. Six weeks into my stay I met a couple of visitors, complete strangers, who made me think about my situation from a spiritual perspective. It seemed that, once I'd met them, in the twinkling of an eye I was discharged and sent home.
Many challenges still lay ahead: I had to learn to walk again, eat again and find a new way of living – Christine was a great support and took 6 months off work to look after me. I was determined to get off all the medication following my surgery, radiotherapy, physiotherapy and a plethora of clinic visits and associated paraphernalia.
I survived on rice pudding, soup and other soft foods for months until my swallow could handle solid foods and I could eat properly again. I missed the insertion of a tube into the stomach by a whisker!

A Change of Roles

The resulting depression was difficult – more pills from the NHS – but I knew this was not the answer – so I unilaterally stopped taking them and, using my toolbox, I worked my way through the side-effects. I still suffer from waves of tiredness and my balance and coordination centre has been damaged so that I can’t drive now and need to move around carefully.
I found that one of the most challenging side-effects was the loss of independence and mobility. I was used to a ‘get up and go’ mentality but now I was needy – I had to learn to rely on the support of others, friends and family. I remember that I took my watch off when I was discharged from hospital and didn't wear it again for 6 months. All the objective setting and success-psychology stuff was great and it worked too – as long as I was capable and independent. Once I was more vulnerable a different set of tools became important.

The Gift of Life - Passing it Forward

Aidan Campbell and ChristineNow my talking faculties have recovered I regularly give local history talks in Belfast, write local history books and press articles and contribute to local TV and radio. All this helps to raise funds for local charities such as Marie Curie Cancer Care, Guide Dogs for the Blind, MS and Missions to Seafarers. I'm inspired by a quote from Jennifer Worth of Call the Midwife fame: 'Great Spirits never rest on their laurels, there is always more to be accomplished'.
My wife Christine and I are now grandparents and my experience has deepened my appreciation of so many things. Hoffman helped to get me grounded, to realise that I am not my patterns, forgive my parents, live a worthy life and be an asset in all my relationships - to be part of the solution and not part of the problem. It should be on the school curriculum – as essential to living a good life as much as English or Maths – and lastly I realised that ‘the richer you get, the more expensive happiness becomes’.

Top Tips

  1. Invest in yourself. Get educated or trained. What do you read? Consider studying the lives of inspiring people who have done great things, overcome challenges or made signifiicant discoveries. What motivated them? What moment changed their lives? Who influenced them?
  2. Be aware of your purpose in life. What can you achieve? What are you getting out of bed in the morning to do? Is it something edifying, constructive or worthwhile?
  3. ‘You must have love’ as somebody said. A close relationship with your partner and family is an essential means of support and a source of good feelings and well-being.
  4.  Develop like-minded friends in a nurturing social network. Browse 'Meet Up' for a huge range of interest groups, get to know your neighbours, try attending your local church, history society, walking group or gardening club.
  5.  If you do experience a setback in life, such as major surgery or a life-threatening illness, then arrange for somebody in your circle that is trusted or a faithful witness to record events as they happen to validate your experience and enable you to reflect on it later. It may also be helpful to keep a diary yourself. When the Americans liberated concentration camps at the end of WW2 and saw what happened to inmates Eisenhower directed film cameras and photographers to record everything as proof. Otherwise, he said: ‘The day will come when some sonofabitch will say that this never happened’
  6.   Look after yourself. Eat well. Drink in moderation. Take exercise and get a good night’s sleep. Avoid addictive substances – there are no shortcuts to the good life.
  7. Experience an element of ‘self-transcendence’ – go beyond yourself to something greater. Volunteer for free with a local charity. Coach children to play sports. We live in a world where the currency of life is getting money and not giving of ourselves. Money cannot be eaten. 

Find out more about Aidan's books and see the results of his research into Belfast history visit: www.eastbelfasthistory.com You can contact him at: eastbelfasthistory@gmail.com
Edited by Nikki Wyatt

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Narcissism - It's All About Me! Article by author and TV Producer Eleanor Moran

Eleanor Moran's career as a TV Producer may have been an obvious choice for someone whose early life was full of drama. Rather less obvious was the impact this had on her relationships and her choice of romantic partners. In a bid to understand and heal her own story Eleanor found the voice for her most recent novel, A Daughter's Secret, which dramatically describes the dance of the Daddy's Girl. She also offers tips to anyone, whether male or female, living with narcissism or its legacy - because when it's all about me, it's never about you.
 
Eleanor Moran'I remember Christmas 1984 for three main things; Band Aid’s Do They Know It’s Christmas was Number One, it was the first year my age came in double figures and my father burnt our house to the ground.

An open fire was left unguarded, and the tiny house quickly filled with toxic smoke. It was me who woke up, me who screamed to him that we were in danger. He forced a window and we shinned down a drainpipe from the top floor, bare feet landing in freezing snow. It was traumatic, shocking, but I also experienced an intoxicating jolt of triumph. I’d saved him, I’d proved my worth, and for the child of a narcissist there can be no greater prize.

My father was dangerous. Dangerous to himself, and dangerous to those who loved him. He was charming and clever, with a quick wit that would have people in stitches. But the light was often obliterated by the dark - he was a classic narcissist, incapable of empathy or real connection. My parents separated when I was still a baby, and my father never had another serious relationship, so the time I spent with him was one to one, and as intense as a love affair.

Narcissism expert Dr. Robin Berman, author of Permission to Parent: How To Raise Your Children with Love and Limits neatly sums up this kind of parent/child relationship. 'Children learn when parents mirror their feelings and help them understand their experiences. When narcissism interferes, the mirror is reversed. Narcissistic parents need their kids to mirror them.'
My father was certainly incapable of recognising what I needed. He would leave me alone until the wee small hours of the night, forbidding me to tell my mother (even when he came home to find me sobbing down the phone to the operator, his main reaction was relief that I hadn’t managed to get through to her). He would share stories of gruesome murders or confide intimate details of their broken relationship. I would try desperately to respond right, to keep him interested, and to comfort him when he fell into one of his frequent depressions.

 Meanwhile, even the simplest aspects of parenting were beyond him. He never came to a parents evening and almost always forgot my birthday. None of this blunted my adoration: if anything it sharpened it, making me work even harder to figure out what I needed to do to win his unpredictable love.

 

Romantic Repeats

Cut to my teens and twenties. By now my father had become a very intermittent presence in my life, but the legacy of my childhood cast a long shadow. The men I was attracted to - no, obsessed by - were like living ghosts of that first defining relationship.

Older unavailable men were my catnip. The Irish rocker twenty years my senior, who would disappear for weeks on end before making one of THOSE late night phone calls. The charismatic writer who never invited me to visit him in Edinburgh - because, as it turned out, he hadn’t split up with his longterm girlfriend after all. Meanwhile, nice guys always finished last. I was callous and changeable, bored by their dogged affection, their bizarre tendency to call when they said they would.

 

 Saviour Behaviour - The Surrogate Spouse

Superman - BoyThese adult patterns are in no way restricted to fathers and daughters. John Bradshaw, a leading expert on Inner Child work, writes in his landmark book Homecoming about the distorted roles narcissistic mothers can impose on their sons. 'Mum’s little man, Mum’s surrogate spouse' - as Bradshaw points out, these roles are also a 'reversal of nature' and every bit as destructive for a man’s relationship 
 prospects in adulthood.

I think of a gentle and kind male friend who grew up with an alcoholic mother, who now suffers screaming abuse and frequent walkouts from a wife he could never countenance leaving. From his point of view, she ‘needs’ him, and his job is to take care of her.

As the children of narcissists, our template for love is like one of those distorting mirrors in a funfair. What we perceive as love is nothing of the sort. We’re used to feeling as if our needs are secondary and unimportant - that our partner’s love is something to strive for, rather than something to expect. We look for broken people to love and fix - for many years, I was a magnet for addicts and depressives, trying to heal them in a way that I’d ‘failed’ to heal my Dad. We can be exhaustingly mistrustful: we never had that early experience of unconditional love and support, so when it does come, we don’t know what to do with it

 

Healing the Legacy

I was 28 when I finally found my way to Hoffman. My father had died three years earlier after a short battle with lung cancer. One some deep, illogical level I felt responsible, like I’d abandoned my post as his guard dog and let death come and take him. Needless to say, my romantic life was still as torturous as ever. It was definitely worth maxing out my credit cards to do the Process and lying to work about an exotic last minute holiday. My Hoffman teacher quickly identified my key issue. “You’re a Daddy’s Girl” she said sagely. “There’s at least one on every Process”. 

The chance it gave me to really grieve my childhood - or rather the lack of a childhood - was incredibly powerful and I think an essential piece of healing the legacy of a narcissistic parent. I was able to stop mythologising my father’s memory, stop veering between adoration and hatred. Emotionally, he was always a child, but now I had the chance to grow up. And from that adult place, I could finally find compassion for him. The healthy kind, which didn’t involve me sacrificing my own life to ‘save’ him. 

Things are easier now. I talk to my Inner Child, hold and comfort her, but I don’t let her run the show. I particularly don’t let her run my love life! 

New Life Paper
I’d always harboured dreams of writing, but the fact my father was a frustrated writer himself would probably have held me back forever. Not now: I’ve published six novels, and the last one, A Daughter’s Secret, really explores what it means to grow up this way and come out the other side.

I know it’s possible, and the chance to share that message with other people has been invaluable.

Signs your parent is or was a narcissist:

  • You’re a chronic people pleaser.
  • You worry that if you assert yourself, you’ll be rejected or considered ‘unloveable’.
  • You’re consistently attracted to emotionally unavailable partners.
  • You often feel unworthy, even if there’s no logical reason to feel that way.

Signs your partner is a narcissist:

  • They're intensely changeable - charming and attentive one moment and emotionally distant/cruel the next.
  • They're hyper-critical of others, especially their ex-partners, all of whom seem to have wronged them.
  • They demand your complete focus on their needs (partners of narcissists often report how the relationship deteriorated after children).

Self care tips:

  • Allow yourself to grieve what you didn’t have. Hoffman’s a great way to do this, but one to one therapy can also allow you to experience valuable re-parenting. A therapist can act as a trustworthy, safe figure who can hold a compassionate space for you to express messy, difficult feelings without the spectre o0f being punished or ignored.

  • Brene Brown’s research on shame and vulnerability is incredibly helpful. There’s a reason her Ted talk on vulnerability has had over 24 million views! She reminds us that we’re not loveable despite our flaws and imperfections, but because of them - something it’s very hard to accept if you grew up with a narcissist. I love this quote. 'You’re imperfect and you’re wired for struggle, but you’re worthy of love and belonging'. Her book The Gifts Of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are explores this brilliantly.

  • Practice setting healthy boundaries and asserting yourself. As long as you’re not still surrounded by narcissists, you’ll quickly gain confidence and start to feel safer about expressing your needs.

A Daughter's SecretFor more about Eleanor visit www.eleanormoran.co.uk and follow her on Twitter @eleanorkmoran
Click to browse and order Eleanor's latest novel A Daughter's Secret
Listen to Jenni Murray in conversation with Eleanor Moran and Nikki Wyatt on BBC's Woman's Hour on the theme of Father-Daughter relationships and how childhood influences our relationship choices.
Article edited by Nikki Wyatt
Portrait Photograph by Manish Lakhani

Graduate stories: Michael Djuric - Lord of the Fries!

We love hearing our Graduates' success stories. It's endlessly inspiring to hear of the many creative ways that the Process inspires people to follow their dreams, whether by writing that novel they'd always planned, chasing the promotion they'd always wanted or changing career path entirely.

Michael Djuric's new venture is definitely a Hoffman first - from grooming parlour to street food vendor is a leap we haven't seen before - and perhaps neither has anyone else!

In Michael's own words;

'When I found Hoffman in June 2014 I was in a dark place. I had recently separated from my partner and was desperate to move on with my life. However, I had blindly followed his dream and had set up a pet shop and dog grooming salon with him. I knew when we separated that this was the wrong path, and that to be true to myself I had to get out of this work situation and start doing something for me. Unfortunately, selling a business doesn't happen overnight - and therefore I was stuck for a while in a situation looking for a buyer for my business. Finally, when I did sell the shop last May, I realised that I was used to being my own boss, but that this time I needed to follow my dreams.

Cooking has always been something I love, but in working long days I had kind of forgotten this and had been cooking for convenience, not fun. However, having some time off over the summer, I really rediscovered my love for cooking. Already knowing that I didn't want a 9-5 desk job, I thought 'Let's go for it!' I enrolled in a cookery school, taking a professional qualification at Ashburton Cookery School. 


I'd been following the London Streetfood scene for the last few years and it just seemed right. A way to get my food out there in a fun and vibrant way. So now I had my idea - I just had to decide what food to do. Lots of strange and weird ideas were thought up. Then suddenly I thought; 'Why not Chips? Everyone loves chips.' Simple, tasty with mouthwatering toppings and flavours. 
I also want to do private events such as weddings and parties - my Fries will work really well as that late-night evening snack at the end of a wedding, for example. 

Taking the idea from concept to a marketable product took longer than my impatient Dark Side would have liked, but by April I was ready to do my soft launch. I invited everyone I knew round and set up my stall in the garden. We had over 70 people trying the Fries, and from this I was able to create marketing material to launch to the various markets in London. That was two weeks ago, and the response has been pretty much immediate. I have just had my first trading day at Greenwich Market (which is one of the busiest in London) and the response was fantastic. They gave me more dates straight away and I now have other markets booked in Soho and Camden, as well as a 40th birthday party in August. The month of May is already looking very busy.

This is such an adventure and at each new stage I embrace I have to stop myself from panicking and thinking what the hell am I doing?! But one thing is for sure - without my Hoffman experience, I would never have had the courage to just go for it. The card I wrote to myself on graduation read 'stop being scared and just have some bloody fun' and I think back to that now and truly believe that I wouldn't be on this new exciting adventure now. Lots of hard work yes.. but an opportunity to follow a dream or an passion I had. I guess maybe finally finding the real me. 


Let's hope that as this builds, I can really make it a viable business. Who knows, maybe Lord of the Fries will be the next big restaurant on the high street in a few years? Either way, I am on an exciting journey following a dream of my very own. I really have to credit Hoffman for allowing me to unlock my  true self and just live life to the full."

You can read more about Michael - or book him for your private event! - at https://s3.amazonaws.com/lordofthefries/Lord+of+the+Fries.html
or search Facebook for: M'Lord of the Fries
Good luck, Michael!

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Creative Career Moves: Article by Denise Quinlan


For 23 years, Denise Quinlan's work included business development, marketing, sales and partnering roles for IT companies. Caught in a high-pressure corporate environment driven by quarterly targets, she began to question what it was all about. Two years and one amazing road-trip later, her days couldn't be more different.

 

Denise Quinlan'In my 20s, I was the enthusiastic hard-worker, very willing to put in way-more-than-necessary hours. By my 30s, I didn’t have the same energy to fling at it. With my Dad very ill, some of my original motivators fuelling the hamster-on-a-wheel lifestyle were no longer there. Then, to top it off, a long-term relationship came to an abrupt end.
I needed clarity, so in my early 40s I signed up for coaching and realised that what I was seeking was a job that I loved. The hunt for my personal Holy Grail led to me volunteering at the Prince's Trust, completing a 3 year part-time Shiatsu massage course and volunteering at the London 2012 Olympics.
Despite all these wonderful new experiences, I was still struggling to understand my underlying purpose. I knew something had to change - I just didn’t know what or how. At this point my coach suggested the Hoffman Process, so I enrolled on the week-long course in January 2011.
With hindsight I can see that I was ‘simply’ looking for happiness. However, that felt quite self-indulgent to admit - especially as I was in denial about how unhappy I was.


Getting a Fresh Perspective

Denise and MumOne of the biggest insights I got from the Process was a new perspective on my relationship with my parents. I appreciate that being a parent is probably one of the toughest jobs in the world. However, the Process emphasised, quite rightly, that the only change I can be responsible for is my own. With that awareness I knew that the onus was on me. The only way my relationships would change was if I changed the relationship I had with myself first.

I’d peeled back some layers on the course, and I needed to peel back a few more. So I booked one-to-one therapy to build on what I'd uncovered - something I'd never have considered pre-Hoffman.
The Process week itself is crafted fabulously and brought some tremendous revelations. It helped me develop new ways of relating and, although my father died before I did the course, my relationship with my mother is now much more harmonious. I'd describe the Process as the biggest catalyst ever. As they say themselves, it isn't a magic wand. For me, none of the changes happened easily nor without conscious work - we're all a ‘work-in-progress’.
Some of my Process friends found their lives changed quite quickly after the course. Typically, they already had an inkling of the changes they wanted and the Process served to crystallise it. My first steps were to make a lot of small changes at work and people noticed the difference. I was much less likely to get pulled into other people's dramas and more able to handle the stress of quarterly targets. But eventually, after much reshaping of my role to bring back my mojo, I realised what I enjoyed most about my working day: the beautiful 9 mile cycle commute through some of London’s most stunning locations.
I was at the end of the runway - so I asked to take a sabbatical.

Looking for Clues

Denise Quinlan Cycling As a keen cyclist and with my love of the outdoors, I volunteered to work in India on a model organic farm and to teach English in a Nepalese school.
As part of the trip I cycled 3,500 km from Mumbai to the southern-most tip of India and 1,500 km in the Himalayas. It encompassed the three highest motor-able passes in the world. One of the many highlights was a two week trek in Nepal to the Tibetan border across very isolated primitive terrain - a long way off the tourist trail.
While I was away I’d thought my new role might involve business mentoring because when I instigated a business SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats) analysis while on the organic farm I appreciated how valuable they found it. It occurred to me that my experience and knowledge was very transferable, both in a literal geographical sense and across industries.
Denise Quinlan FestivalThe Process had also made me even more self-aware and observant, so the cultural contrasts on my travels really stood out. For example in the west we’re typically rich in financial terms, yet often emotionally poor. In India and Nepal I saw how emotionally rich they are, even if they're not financially resourced.
Typically these nations live as a collective; they share easily with strangers. I noticed the way that they drink from a shared water bottle ensures they don’t spread infections, and they offer each other emotional support in a way that we generally don't in the west.
However, the biggest clue to my dream job came from the imagery of India. For the first week I found it hard to sleep with so many amazing pictures going through my mind. My visual creativity reawakened hand in hand with my love of photography. I returned with over 7,000 photos and a desire to tell a story through images from an original perspective.

Taking a New Path

Denise QuinlanOnce back, I left my job to go freelance as a photographer and visiologist. I self-published a photo journal called A Month in Rural India and enrolled on a photography course to top up my skills, while establishing my ‘Insightful Images’ business.
These days I help my clients tell the story of themselves and their business to their customers and prospects, through their profile photos, website and social media images.
When I look back now I realise how much I was at cross purposes with myself. Like a wind blowing at a cross current to the sea, with the constant low-level friction gently sapping my energy as well as eroding my sanity and happiness.
Spending so much energy trying to love my job without understanding that I needed to change a number of things, including the job itself, was a huge realisation.
And in a fabulously heart-cherishing way for me, my Mum is one of my biggest and proudest supporters. I’m hugely appreciative and grateful for all the work, energy and time that both my parents devoted to bringing me up alongside my brothers. A feeling that may have taken a lot longer to reach, if at all, without the Process.
Now - I've 'come out' as a creative and I'm loving it!'

You know it’s time for a career change, when...

Dream Job
1. Your commute is the best part of your day
2. You’re spending a lot of energy trying to get something out of your job that’s meaningful for you
3. You have a deep sense of just ‘going through the motions'
4. You know you need to do something different but can’t figure out what
5. Your head might justify your reaons for being at work but they don't sit well with your heart

For more about Denise visit insightfulimages.co and follow her on Twitter @insightfulphoto
Click to view Denise's photo journal A Month in Rural India
You can also pick up tips on branding from Denise's video interview on Business Connections Live - How to Stand out From the Crowd
Edited by Nikki Wyatt
Cycling Photograph by Manish Lakhani
Photograph of Tiji (demon) festival in Lo-Manthang in Nepal by Denise Quinlan

Monday, 29 February 2016

Taking the Drama Out of a Crisis: Interview with Jay Green, Director of Drama at Brighton College

Jay Green's teaching career began in a classroom in Surrey in 1989. Now he's the Director of Drama at Brighton College and in this interview he reflects on how doing the Hoffman Process in 2013 has affected work and family dynamics - with a little help from his teenage daughter, Stella.

Jay CookingOne of the gifts you say you took from the Process was being able to embody more of your own identity - to be more authentic, vulnerable and unconditionally loving. How has this affected your relationships and sense of connection, at work and at home?

There are two different sides of myself at work and at home but what's important is that they’re rooted in the same truths and identity. Mr Green and Dad remain on good terms but each knows where the other begins and ends.

Mr Green: My relationships with the children I work with have probably become more empathetic and good-humoured since the Process. The twin challenges to teenage identity remain the same as they ever were: priapic self-confidence hand in hand with existential angst. It’s either all thrusting out or turning inwards and there are no half measures. Teenagers either stalk the streets in packs beneath a full moon or sit in their bedroom dreaming of their place in the stars. Once you're aware of them, working with people on both those paths is enjoyable and rewarding.

Dad: There was a period after the Process where my kids would dread going out with me in public as I'd start conversations seemingly randomly. As I’ve moved on I still try to be self-aware but, like everyone, it’s a work in progress – I realise that’s why they call it a process.
I’ve calmed down a bit now, so that hitherto conscious changes sometimes occur subconsciously in those rerouted neural pathways but I can still drop into an old pattern or a vicious circle of emotional reaction with the best of them. My 17 year old daughter Stella is particularly adept at rerouting me to my Hoffman toolbox when I slip into old ways of reacting.

Jay and StellaStella: Occasionally the words "Dad get back in the Hoffman zone" are mumbled by my sister and I to a stressed or anxious dad (who actually seldom appears since the completion of the Process). A deep breath is then heard and lo and behold a seemingly calm and tranquil man returns. A man of great wisdom and little worry…although perhaps one with too much fondness for incense.

Do you feel your approach to teaching or your own parenting has changed since you did the Process?

For sure. The deconstruction of the ego that’s intrinsic to the Process and the separation of my identity at work and at home is really useful. Someone like me, who drew much of their identity from my father’s attitude towards work found it helpful in so many ways.
It’s especially key in the arts where the blurring between life and work can be problematic when transferred into a family environment. I mean no one wants a painter or a film maker or a theatre director sitting at the table with you in the evening, you want your dad.

The Process develops mindfulness and self-awareness, because as you review and integrate the past, you're able to bring more attention to the present. Has this helped you in dealing with teenagers who, as you say, tend to be absorbed in the now?

Mr Green: In short, yes, it has. Once you start to wrestle consciously with living in the present, having adolescents around whose instincts are to do nothing else but that is actually a great help. They pull you into the moment like nothing else. If you don’t follow, they’ll eat you!

Dad: When my own daughters are caught in the present to the detriment of perspective and general happiness, I find it helps to encourage them look back at what's gone before and forwards to what will surely follow. I've noticed this transition usually involves a cup of tea or occasionally chocolate.

You mention that some of the hallmark emotions of our teenage years are grief and the loss of the emotional innocence of childhood. Could you say a bit more about how the Process helped you to integrate those feelings?

Teacher CartoonMr Green: Again, in the studio or classroom it’s a question of empathy. Teenage years are a difficult time which seem very absolute, full of black and white moments. When you start to deal with adult ties and responsibilities you realize that none of us ever completely escapes doubt and uncertainty. They can certainly ambush me when I’m teaching. A school is a loaded environment full of possibilities for transference and counter-transference.

Dad: Seeing your own kids go through those hoops and teenage rites of passage is always the greatest trigger for your own past. I’ve found that the more you can integrate your feelings about your own childhood – and the Process is great for this – then the more your children's lives can be about them and not yours by proxy. And that can only be helpful for everyone.

As you say, teenagers now are facing a very different world to the one their parents grew up in. Faced with academic pressure, raging hormones and the myriad of options open to them now, the temptation to escape into a virtual digital world must be immense. What are some of the problems you come up against in dealing with them and do you have tips on how to keep teenagers anchored and interacting in the real world?

Mr Green: I think it was A.J.Ackerley who said 'unable to love each other, the English turn naturally to their dogs.' It’s still true today but you can probably substitute teenagers for the English and mobile devices for dogs. I’m lucky in that teaching theatre allows for very little virtual escape and relies on those communal moments when you have live humans dealing with being in the present. It’s a sort of a mini-Process if you get it right – one group of people telling another group their story and sharing an authentic moment.

Dad: Every family has their own variation of a cult, right? Ours is one where I’m now both outnumbered as a man and largely outdated as a social being (as I can tell by the regular deployment of icy irony when I manage a simple technical task.) My daughters have all the wisdom and vision they need. Occasionally I might point out that it would be great if they could empty the dishwasher but that’s about it. Otherwise, the only advice I could offer anyone would be to hug them, tell them you love them, hug them, tell them you love them and go see great art with them. This is my own particular thing, I know. See gigs together, go to the cinema and theatre together, try to cook and eat together…and did I mention hug them and tell them you love them. Unconditionally.

Masked Woman
There are some dramatic moments in the Process - for example you're asked to step into the role of a younger version of yourself or to imagine your parents' childhood. With all your professional experience did you have a different perception or a greater appreciation of the role of drama after the Process? Can it actually be cathartic and even insightful to make a drama out of a crisis in a controlled environment?

Mr Green / Dad: Here’s the thing. For me, I don’t think it’s necessarily about drama or theatre. It about why people are drawn to art. It’s a way of reaching in and expressing conflict. It’s why people go to the theatre, watch films and read books, why they paint, dance and sing – to experience and touch the conflict that's part of being alive.

The Process consciously delves down into those watershed moments but whether you’re a self-conscious teenager or a grown-up flailing through a mid-life crisis, experiencing an external expression of the conflicts and chaos in those moments is only ever enlightening and positive. Repression will get you in the end!

Top Tips for dealing with Teens

• Just because you did it, felt it or liked it, doesn’t mean they will.
• Common ground might include you but there need to be times when it excludes you too.
• You may know at some level that it’s all going to be OK, but, if you're the parent of teenagers, be prepared for nights when you're still awake at 4.48am gripped by fear.
• Listen. Don’t talk, or nod or uh-huh. Just listen and be present.
• Be there. Have moments when your time is for yourself by all means but be prepared to be there, unconditionally, always.
• Boundaries: hold the line. Sometimes you may need to be perceived as a neo-fascist jerk. It’s the job.
Stella: Let them make their own mistakes. Let them like and hate what and who they want to. And yes, you were that age once too but accept that sometimes you cannot understand them and that’s okay.

Jay Green is Director of Drama at Brighton College. He consults on educational matters for individuals and institutions and delivers various teacher workshops, including emotional dynamics in the classroom. He can be contacted at jjgreen@mac.com.

Edited by Nikki Wyatt

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Let Your Body Do The Talking: Article by Somatic Bodyworker & Holistic Therapist Anwar Ravjani

Holistic therapist Anwar Ravjani has trained in many massage styles and complementary therapies including homeopathy, acupuncture, NLP, counselling and energy healing work such as Reiki. His work is now an integration of all these different threads, working with what the body holds and how it holds it. As he explains here, somatic bodywork is essentially about allowing someone to feel supported and safe, so that the body can let go of patterns of holding which may be the source of pain and discomfort.

Anwar 'Our bodies tend to mould themselves around our emotional experience so that we develop habits of posture and areas of physical tension and guarding which reflect our perception of reality. In fact, if we can learn to listen, our body relays information to us about how we feel in a constant information loop.
Much of the time it's very subtle but when our feelings are more intense we may experience them as a tightness in our abdomen or a churning in our stomach; our lower back may also feel taut and vulnerable. Such sensations are often linked to stress and overwhelm and are our body's way of asking us to give our feelings acknowledgment and support.
When we have a healthy awareness of the connection between our body and emotions we're able to adjust to experiences; we can self soothe and move easily back into balance. However, the price of chronic stress is often a disconnection of our thoughts from our feelings. Because we're programmed to survive we may not notice stress levels building. If we integrate stress often enough it begins to feel ‘normal’ and we effectively fall out of relationship with our body. 

Once stress becomes your default setting you have to consciously re-learn how to regulate it. This requires a return to awareness which is essentially a mindfulness practice. The question needs to be posed directly to your body, not to your mind. In other words you need to ask yourself not ‘how do I think I’m feeling in my body’ but ‘how am I feeling in my body’. One is an actual physical experience and the other is an idea.


As you get used to noticing the language that your body uses to communicate with you, you can listen and respond. This may mean changing what you're doing so that you can support your emotional needs. For example you may notice that before you go into feelings of overwhelm you habitually hunch your shoulders and shallow breathe. Simply noticing those physical signals will prompt you to take a deep breath and adjust your posture. This allows you to regain space and feel safe, thus bringing down your stress levels.

BreatheSometimes one conscious breath can be enough to bring you back into a true relationship with the present moment as it is, rather than how you habitually perceive it to be. A new perspective can, for example, transform your critical partner into a stressed human being whom you can reason with or your impossible workload becomes something you can delegate.


As you increase your body awareness you are able to distinguish between a holding pattern which is so habitual it feels like the real you, and letting go of holding, which, ironically, can be so unfamiliar that it feels like a threat. The thing about habits is that, whether they are good or bad for us, they make us feel safe. 

The work of transformation and change is done by noticing the transition between a familiar learned pattern of reacting and a more relaxed way of being in the body. By physically reprogramming and nurturing a feeling of safety you'll know when you've moved away from that peaceful secure state. You can check in by simply taking a deep breath and noticing your feelings. Once you get into the habit of noticing you can trust your feelings more and make conscious choices rather than being on auto pilot and reacting blindly.'

Body awareness exercise

• Take a good 10 mins every day for a week to make contact with yourself.
• Touch your body part by part. Start by holding your own hands saying “Í love my hands”, then your forearms, saying “I love my forearms” then your upper arms, shoulders, head, neck and face.
• Make contact with your whole body and just notice what comes up for you.
• What does it feel like? You might notice that connecting to different parts of your body and showing appreciation brings up different emotions. Some parts may not bring up any feelings, there might just be a sense of emptiness, other areas might feel deeply nurturing as if you are being held by a lover.
• Simply do the exercise and notice how you feel without judging it and see what changes. It's by acknowledging your reality as it is, rather than an idea about how it is, that you can start a real grounded relationship with your body. It's the sensations you feel that allow you become conscious of who you really are.

My Hoffman Story

AnwarMy experience of the Hoffman Process was radical. My journey into therapy and bodywork was initially driven purely by my own need to heal and to understand who I am and why I am like I am. In the beginning I was hooked on an idea of achieving personal transcendence and liberation by discarding my history. I wanted to heal my emotionally wounded self and to be free of it. What I learned on the Process is that only through being able to stand my ground with my past and not run, and not hide could I be present with who I am now.

Over the course of the week I identified the patterns that I'd learned. I began to see what overwhelmed me and shut down my feelings. The ebbing and flowing between taking a risk and coming back to safety made me test the edges of what I allowed myself. Today I can see that there's no immediate threat in my life. The key to my freedom was actually looking at my wounds and acknowledging them as wounds rather than a history that I needed to bury or deny. The love I didn't get, the safety and protection I didn't feel was the drama that I kept playing out in my life, as Shakespeare said ' the world is a stage and all of us merely players'...I was playing out my wounds again, and again, projecting them on all my relationships.

The Hoffman Process was able to hold my hand and show me clearly what wounds I was carrying, what unconscious belief system I had set on auto repeat, replaying it time and again in my life and relationships. It allowed me to see my parents in a clean way, to wipe the grime off the looking glass and to see them for who they are rather than who I wanted them to be. Now I can have an honest relationship with them and give myself what they could not give me. I can see who they are, I can see their history, their wounds and their failings without going into an emotional over-reaction and I have enough self awareness to know when I'm responding from a place of historical wounds, so that I can make a different choice.

Anwar is based in London where he offers a wide range of healing and relaxation techniques. To find out more visit his website at: www.embodimentworks.co.uk