By Tami Tack
In August 2003, the Portland Hoffman Graduate Group was born, and has been meeting monthly ever since. Gatherings have been held in private homes, churches, and community centers. Participants have come and gone, leaders have changed, but the group remains and continues to evolve. In 2009, I was asked to take over the role of leadership, a task that excited and daunted me. Fortunately, the Hoffman Institute provided training and materials, and I began my journey as facilitator.
Grad Groups Are A Safe Place To Share
The Institute also provided community-building guidelines for the grad groups; these help create a setting where it is safe to share from a place of vulnerability. Our meetings are structured around programs that have been developed by Hoffman staff and teachers, and cover a wide variety of topics including gratitude, forgiveness, self-compassion, the Cycle of Transformation, Left Road/Right Road, and many more. Each program utilizes Hoffman tools such as visualization, elevators, recycling, dark side stomp, writing, and sharing.
When Hoffman graduates return to their daily lives after completing the Process, there may be no one in their circle of friends and family who knows what a Quadrinity is, or speaks the language of Hoffman. This is why graduate groups are so valuable. As new grads come into our gatherings, they find a community of people who have done the same hard work and are committed to continuing their personal growth. While there is great comfort in this, there is also inspiration and support, giving each person the courage to identify and transform dark side patterns.
At our most recent meeting, the topic was “Quieting the Chatter.” We utilized the tool of recreating the truce between Emotional Self and Intellect. Everyone was encouraged to select an area of concern in their lives where they were experiencing conflict within themselves. Then they wrote out the complaints that the Emotional Self had about the Intellect, and vice versa. After this, they wrote a dialogue between the Emotional Self and the Intellect. Using this as preparation, each grad stood and embodied first the Intellect, then the Emotional Self, expressing the complaints and frustrations toward each other, similar to what was done in the Process. This practice is very much like the Gestalt Therapy tool of the empty chair, and is extremely powerful when body and voice are used freely and fully. Once the accusations were spoken and the energy changed, graduates sat down and continued the dialogue, this time speaking words of appreciation between Intellect and Emotional Self. Then they recreated the truce, each aspect stating what it will do to support the other. Grads were encouraged to write down these agreements, and share with a partner. We closed by standing in a circle and saying out loud what we appreciated about our Emotional Self and our Intellect.
This exercise can become a powerful practice that any Hoffman graduate can utilize, and generally produces a sense of calm and centeredness. The exercise also promotes a heightened sense of awareness, which is the first step in the cycle of transformation, and is essential if we are to live our lives fully. When our sense of well-being is threatened by dark side patterns, ideally we can be grateful for this awareness – instead of resisting or denying the unsettling thoughts and feelings – and be curious about what we need to know and do, and to know we have access to guidance from Spirit. We may churn a bit before reaching this place, and that is a wonderful time to practice self-compassion.
Honoring Our Work
In this time of uncertainty, political divisiveness, and examining what does and doesn’t work, it is more important than ever that each of us remembers that we transform our world by first transforming our selves. When our Spiritual Self guides our Quadrinity, we know what is ours to do, and we live in Light and Love, rather than in fear and reactivity. Let us honor each other for the transformational work we do.
Click on these links for Hoffman tools and practices. To find a graduate group in your area or for more information, check out the list here; or call us at 415-485-5220 to find out about starting one in your area.