By Lauren Palmieri
I’ve reflected a lot this past summer about my journey at the Hoffman Process in the spring of 2017, and even more recently as I’ve experienced many changes, realizations, and deep disappointment. I feel an immense amount of gratitude when I recall the memories created and lessons learned while I was in the Process. It’s now the foundation that I refer back to when things seem “off” in my life and need to be examined more thoroughly. I have permission and a safe place in which to be inquisitive about the most important person in my world – me.
What I’ve Learned
I was full of questions while a Process student, and continue to be as I integrate back into my life in busy New York City. What I’ve learned since being home is that the Process is ongoing, just as life is. It has pushed me to be curious about my feelings, and the choices I’ve made. Most recently, I’ve made some profound changes in my life to truly seek out the vision I know is in my soul and that I am meant to live. It’s been a painful but beautiful period in my life; I am so grateful for the power of choice, and my spirit who has guided me every step of the way.
For most of my 20s I struggled with anxiety and depression, which I believe stemmed from a traumatic loss while I was in college. I did everything I could to hide these conditions for a decade, and would tell myself that I was making them up. However, at 32, it became clear that they were my reality. One day at work, I broke down and realized I was burned out from neglecting to care for myself properly. It was years in the making. I knew that I needed to ask for help and to take time to heal. I believe that had I not gone through the Hoffman Process I wouldn’t have had the courage to reveal my needs. When I did reveal them, I was taken aback by how supportive and compassionate my employer was.
Friends & Family Step Up
My parents stepped up to the plate and allowed me to process and feel my feelings without judging me or trying to fix me. They loved me unconditionally and, many times, cried with me as they cheered me on.
My friends are my family and they are all jewels. I cherish them with all my heart. They were always available and ready with words of encouragement and love. My therapist helped me address difficult questions like, “How did I allow myself to get to this place?” I used my Hoffman tools, such as “hand on heart,” to lull myself back to sleep in the middle of the night.
Life Keeps Happening
I was feeling better, stronger, and more present. Then life happened, as it always does. Once again the investigation process began. From this recent experience, I knew that I really needed to make some difficult changes, and that by doing so I would be in pain. I reminded myself that I went to the Process for a reason – to uproot my negative patterns and to create healthier ones so that I could live a more fulfilled life. A life that included love, feeling all of my emotions, and opening myself up to wonder and magic and possibility. I was tired of being stuck, unavailable, and living life in a box as a “people pleaser.” I wanted to feel my heart beating again. I wanted to feel alive and to experience real love for myself and others. I knew I was capable of achieving all of this.
I went back to the drawing board and called upon my resources. My friends, old and new, Hoffman graduates and not, my Hoffman coach, therapist – they all carried me through. They took phone calls at 3 AM (thank goodness for West Coast time), laid in bed next to me and held my hand while I cried and talked it out, and sent me words of self-love and empowerment every day. I realized through all of these nourishing experiences that these are the people who care about me deeply. They know how to listen and give love freely. I was inspired and wanted to be like them.
Finding Self-Love and Acceptance
In order to do so, I needed to find the self-love and acceptance that I had while in the Process. I immersed myself in “The Class”, by Taryn Toomey. Through my continuous work, I have rediscovered some negative patterns and stories that I am clearing. Most importantly, though, I am finding my voice and self-worth, and feeling my physical power in ways I never have before. I resurrected the discoveries I made about myself seven months ago in California. I am love. I have a huge heart that beats strongly and love sharing it with others. Through the sweat and tears I allowed myself to feel in The Class, I know that my spirit is beautiful. It’s the strong voice that has always been with me and will forever be uniquely mine.
I am now at the place where, on a daily basis, I think quietly about my vision. I’ve edited it in places, which has been painful, but that’s okay because I am changing and hope to continue evolving throughout my life. Montauk, NY will always be in my vision. It’s a very special place to me – an environment full of energy, peace, and beauty.
Recently I stood at the foot of the Atlantic Ocean one early morning. With my coffee in hand, I stared into the choppy waters and remembered that my intention for visiting the beach was to go for a swim. As I contemplated my next move, I thought back to one of my last evenings at Hoffman, where a teacher congratulated me on my work. I said to her, with tears flowing down my cheeks, “I can feel my heart beating. I’ve never felt more alive or this much love in my life.” She looked into my eyes and said with confidence, “You’re ready.”
In that moment on the beach, I lifted my gaze to meet the water. It had calmed. This was my chance, and without another thought, my fear dissipated and was replaced by excitement. I was ready! I am ready to live my life as my authentic self, to embrace my feelings without judgment. No matter how messy and confusing things get, I will take pride in being the “beautiful crier,” as my classmates so lovingly described me. I will be a living, breathing human who has needs, and who wants to be accepted and loved for who I am, just like everyone else. With that, I looked up to the sky, threw my coffee in the trash, and ran into the waves fearlessly. As my friends at The Class would say – FREEDOM!
About Lauren, in her own words:
Compassionista. Virgo. Believer. New Yorker. Human Resources Professional. Hoffman Graduate, March 2017, CA. Instagram @lauren.n.palmieri