Adam Douglas and David Ward did their Processes sixteen years apart, but both attended their first Q2 in March this year. On the course, a Dark Side story from teacher Matthew Pruen set in London’s Victoria Station struck a chord with them both. Realising they each passed through there most days on their way to work, they decided to meet one evening and compare their experiences.
How was the Hoffman Process for you?
David: It was life changing for me. I did the Process a year ago and since then I’ve been in regular contact via WhatsApp, text and email. I’ve been a guest at Closure celebrations and attended Information Evenings. I am always struck by the energy, ranging from the feel-good buzz of a lunch or meet-up to the pure electricity of Closure. I’m focusing more on my relationships and making progress. Step by step, day by day. Trips and stumbles, bumps in the road, but I make progress.
I’ve had bad times. I can recall one time when I felt I’d only been fooling myself that I had changed. My Dark Side was smiling knowingly and whispering delicious poison in my ear, ‘I told you so. We don’t really change. Why have hugs, expressions of love, generosity and openness when we can be alone, protected, calm in safe isolation?’ I can recall the exact circumstances, standing in a busy street in the City of London in the rain, my mind spiralling into doubt. I was desperately searching for a way out of the feelings; old destructive behaviours were hovering in the wings. What should I do, withdraw? That sounded inviting. Retreat to inferiority, and take a childlike approach to life? That sounded nice and safe. Or route one, alcohol?
So the year after my Process is a story of highs and lows, but always progressing.
Adam: I’m one of those old-timers who did the Process so long ago, it’s all a bit of a blur. I did get one massive piece from it—reconciliation with my father, who I’d been blaming angrily for all my troubles and insecurities. When he died ten years ago, I felt proud to be able to deliver the eulogy at his funeral with my heart full of love. So I knew the Process changed me hugely for the better, but the details how that happened were hazy. If I did still have my Toolkit somewhere (under the stairs maybe?), the tools were pretty rusty.
Why do the Q2 now?
David: It wasn’t fear of losing the magic that led me to the Q2; it was hunger for more. I decided to go on impulse. In fact, I’d forgotten there was such a thing as the Q2. I saw a post on Facebook and decided that the time was right.
Adam: In the days before social media, post-Process support was not quite what it is today. Immediately after the Process, I set off for a wild adventure in rural Ireland (another story!), which meant I didn’t keep up with my fellow Hoffies as much as I’d have liked. Now that I have more intimate connections and friendships in the wider Hoffman circle, I’ve been attending Closure, Welcome Homes, and support groups. I had a major health scare last year and started therapy again after that, which is very helpful. The Q2 was one piece obviously missing from the picture.
Arriving at the venue
David: On the day of arrival at the Q2, it was snowing heavily, which gave me the perfect opportunity to back out of going (hello again, Dark Side!) But I was committed. With my car loaded with shovel, food, boots, sleeping bag and two litres of water, I was off to Hoff!
I arrived early and was immediately blindsided by patterns. The owner of the venue, Alasdair, invited me in to an open fire and a cup of tea while I waited for the others to arrive. I declined, citing the need to stay in my car and work through some emails and messages. Alasdair smiled and said I was welcome to do all that inside the house. I declined again.
What emails? What messages? I had succumbed to an all-too-familiar pattern of withdrawal and isolation. I’m not sociable, right? Within a minute of sitting in my cold car in close to zero degrees as the snow continued to fall, I recognised this as an embarrassing and utterly illogical response to a kind offer of hospitality, and, crucially, a self-defeating one. I rang the doorbell, and within minutes I was sipping a cup of tea next to the AGA, having realised just how ready for the Q2 I was.
Adam: Yes, the snow. It gave us a wonderful feeling of being cocooned for the long weekend, and melted away in sympathy as our hearts opened up. Grey and freezing when we arrived; sunshine as we parted.
David: Once the others started to arrive, I was struck by the brief nature of introductions and social pleasantries. The ‘getting to know you’ stage that might have taken a day or two at my Process was reduced to ten minutes. Then the openness, engagement and sharing of experiences, hopes and fears began with people with whom I shared the one glorious experience. I had come home.
Matthew Pruen and Holger Dick were our teachers. Matthew had been a teacher on my Process, so that continuity added to the homecoming feeling. It’s always good to see Matthew anyway. We share a sense of humour that could, if allowed to, derail the most serious conversations. I love him for it.
Adam: I didn’t have the same initial reaction as David. I’ve got teenage children, and I often have conversations with them about their social anxieties meeting new people. That’s the lovely thing about Hoffman for me—enter a roomful of Hoffies and I know I can start interacting with people without worrying about any of that.
But I had forgotten the projections that meant that so many faces seemed familiar. Look, there’s my sibling, or someone almost exactly like her. We all had name badges, so I could see that there were three women in the room with my sisters’ names, and one of them was a dead ringer physically. There was my grandfather, a lot younger than when I knew him, but somehow back in the room with me now.
David: I made connections with people similar to those that I made on my Process. Again, this was only three days and I found those connections within five or ten minutes of conversation. Those connections are still with me, more Hoff buddies to whom I reach out, and who – most gratifyingly – now reach out to me too.
Adam: Our fellow Q2ers proved to be a mixed bunch in every conceivable way, with many different reasons for being there. Some were popping in for a refresher between social engagements; some had saved up for months to be able to come.
What was the work like?
David: The Q2 is accurately described as a mini-Process. There are some new approaches and activities, but it’s unmistakably Hoffman; speaking from ‘I’, rituals, physical expression, written work.
I think the major difference for me was my approach. I arrived at my Process more than nervous, more than scared; I was terrified and closed off, bordering impenetrable. At the Q2, I was all-in from the outset and I wasn’t apprehensive of what might come next. Absent from that apprehension, I could engage fully from start to finish.
I found I could share thoughts, feelings and fears immediately and with little or no reserve. I allowed my thoughts and decisions to flow. As a result, I got ever-greater insights into myself. What was I bashing, which patterns needed work? More surprisingly, I was able to identify what I didn’t want to focus on in the various activities. Right, let’s get after those little buggers first!
Adam: I had a brilliantly acerbic friend from my original Process who did the Q2 shortly afterwards and said it was ‘just the Process for dummies who didn’t get it first time around’. She did make me laugh, but I have to disagree. Yes, it would be pointless doing the Q2 immediately after the Process, but to me, after a seventeen-year interval, it was familiar and fresh all at the same time.
How was it for you?
Adam: I remembered the sheer physical effort of all that bashing from my original Process, and I hadn’t expected to be doing it again so quickly. But I loved the physicality, the quieting of the intellect, and the moments when the group energy swept us all up with a second wind that made me feel invincible. As we shook our bodies out after the bashing, I reminded myself to make some space in my life for movement and physical expression—next stop, 5Rhythms!
I valued the chance to reconnect to my vision, reset my goals, and make some pledges to my Q2 buddy. That worked for me straightaway. For a year before the Q2, I’d been struggling to finish a long piece of work. Within a few days of vowing to my buddy that I would finish it in the next six months, I had the whole thing done. (Mind you, if you knew my buddy . . . )
I think it’s an incredibly powerful piece of work. It’s reminded me of that feeling that I can turn round almost any situation with an open heart and it’s put a permanent smile on my face. And I can see from our WhatsApp group that similar breakthroughs have been happening for several of the others.
David: I left the Q2 with my awareness sharpened, my faith in myself reinforced, and my determination to keep striving towards the life I want – and undoubtedly deserve – refreshed. I have a renewed commitment to caring for myself; to be the real me. What’s more, I can knock my Dark Side on its arse at the drop of a hat!
A huge thanks to Adam and David for sharing their Q2 experiences. For a schedule of upcoming Q2 dates, click here