By Shawn McAndrew
Love and food are often mentioned in the same sentence. But how does the study of food culture and agricultural biodiversity translate to a story about one’s experience at the Hoffman Process? About finding self-love and compassion, and healing? We spoke with recent Process graduate Simran Sethi to explain.
Soon after she finished five years of research, traveling six continents, and writing her book, Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love, Simran signed up to do the Hoffman Process.
“My goal in going to Hoffman was to get very steady before the book launch date,” she explains. “What ended up happening a month previous was that my father passed away. Two weeks after I cremated my father, I was at the Process, not knowing what I was getting myself into.”
Though she says it was one of the hardest and most painful things she’s done, Simran acknowledges it was one of the most healing experiences, too.
“[The Process] has been my grounding through all of this,” she says. “It ended up being incredible because of the support by the teachers. The kind of energy that was holding me is what got me through, and it continues to hold me.”
As she points out, “The Process has enabled me to return to a somewhat grounded place through all of these really dramatic changes. Hoffman became more about healing a lot more than I had anticipated.
“What I think the Process does, and what I hope to do with my book, is to help us all return to ourselves – to build those connections to the spirit, to the heart, and to each other.”
Simran explains that the foods we eat and how we nourish ourselves are essential ingredients in taking care of ourselves.
“The one relationship that wasn’t getting enough care was the one I had with myself,” Simran affirms. “I thought self-love was brushing my teeth a couple times a day, and making sure I was fed and showered. ‘I do love my Self; I got her out of bed this morning, and put clothes on her! And I made sure she made it out the door. And look at her: Go, go, go!’ That was self-love.
“[Bread, Wine, Chocolate] is really a book about loving your Self. At the end of the day, that’s actually the story. I hope the book will touch a very tender place in people. Decisions are borne out of the heart, our values are borne out of our story, and I hope that I touch those places in people and trigger some of that audacious transformation.”
At the end of her Process, Simran discovered that the poem ‘Love After Love,’ by Derek Wolcott, was on the last page of the Process notebook. “That is the first page of my book. I knew that everything I had done in the Process was the right thing,” she exclaims.
“I’m so proud to be a graduate of the Hoffman Institute. It’s a testament to everyone who walks through that fire of our strength, of our courage.”
“Being vulnerable and taking that step into the unknown is the only way to know what’s out there. And the process is iterative: Our threshold of acceptance – our love – grows every time we take the risk.” Excerpt from Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love.