Karena DragoKarena was working in business development for CAFOD when she decided to apply for a Hoffman Process scholarship. We interviewed Karena to ask what brought her to the Process and how the benefits of the scholarship have played out in her life.

What prompted you to do the Process?

During and after the pandemic, I was having trouble handling the challenges life had dealt me and was going through a particularly rough patch when I first heard of the Hoffman Process. My brother-in-law, who had done the Process in Australia about 10 years previously, recommended that I sign up. After doing some online research on the Process, I decided to attend a Hoffman UK information session over Zoom, which helped answer some of my questions and was the catalyst to me signing up.

How did you hear about Hoffman scholarships? What impact did it have on your decision to sign up for the course?

I heard about the scholarship (enabled by the Earth Community Trust) at the online information session. I looked up details on the Hoffman UK website and found that the Earth Community Trust was founded by Polly Higgins, a Hoffman graduate who was an ecological lawyer and environmental campaigner. At the time, I worked with a charity that focuses on alleviating poverty brought about by environmental and climate change. I saw that the Process could benefit my work as well as my personal life, so I decided to apply.

How did you feel just before going on the course?

Before doing the Process, all participants are asked to complete pre-course work which covers lots of questions around your upbringing and childhood. Answering these questions gave me some insight into the areas that the Process would explore and subsequent conversations with the Hoffman team gave me pointers on what to expect. I felt nervous of the unknown aspects of the Process, but was also very excited and hopeful for change, as I’d seen the lasting impact of the Process on my brother-in-law. I was looking forward to doing something that would have a significant and long-term impact on myself and my life.

Can you recall day one of your Process? What were you feeling?

I remember it well. I arrived at the venue the night before after a nightmare journey and was warmly welcomed by the Hoffman staff who made sure I was comfortable and settled in. The next morning I recall waking up early and lying awake in anticipation. I wondered about the other participants – Would we get along? Were they also as nervous as I was? I’m an introvert, so I knew I would have to push myself during the week and I was readying myself for the challenge. During and after breakfast, we got to meet the other participants which really helped calm my nerves and I felt myself relax a little. The facilitators also introduced themselves and the Process which eased my nerves.

What sticks in your mind about the week?

What impacted me the most during the week was awakening to the understanding that the spiritual self is not within the intellect – spiritual wisdom is more powerful than intellectual ability. The understanding that I did not have to defer to my intellect to make all the important decisions in my work and personal life has been a game changer for me. Since doing the process, I have been able to consciously explore emotional agility during challenging situations – allowing the intellect to collaboratively work with emotions – which has been rewarding in having difficult but productive conversations both in my personal life and at work.

How did you find the group nature of the course?

On the first day of the Process, it became evident to me how powerful it is to share deeply human stories and vulnerabilities within a group setting. Feeling the love and support of the group creates such a special bond. Group work during the Process played out in so many different ways, from sharing and empathy, to learning from the feedback that my group provided, to seeking out a companion for a warm drink before bed.

As well as working in the larger group, there was also an opportunity to work in smaller groups of eight which helped create even stronger connections with people on the course. The group nature is not just limited to the week, it can help to create bonds for life. I began the Process feeling raw and exposed, but left feeling comforted and supported by my group.

Is there anything that surprised you during the week?

Karena DragoThe whole week was full of surprises – I learnt more about myself in that week than I ever thought possible. Every new exercise or technique brought new insights with it. Prior to doing the Process, I had underestimated the impact that certain events in my life had had on me and, through the holistic lens that the Process offers, I am able to see things differently now.

How did you feel by the end of the Process week?

The initial days of the Process week were spent understanding my patterns and how to break out of them. By the end of the week, I had the realisation that I could use techniques to be free of my patterns, which felt very liberating. I spent time with parts of myself that I hadn’t properly acknowledged since childhood and this was both emotionally and spiritually fulfilling.

What has happened in your personal and professional life since attending the Process?

Since attending the Process, I have noticed a few changes in myself:

  • I have a stronger awareness of my behaviours and how these are connected to my negative patterns
  • I can ‘troubleshoot’ any unhelpful behaviours and persistent patterns, using some of the techniques taught on the Process.
  • I am better at controlling my stress levels and generally feel calmer and more at peace.
  • I’m able to understand and communicate better with my partner and my family.

I have taken a break from work to focus on things which I did not make enough time for e.g. family time, recreation/fun and a backlog of life admin that had previously taken a backseat. I’m slowly re-introducing work into the mix, staying mindful of my goals and being true to myself in my choices.

What do you find useful in your day-to-day life now?

As well as the tools and techniques I use, I found the reading list that was provided for after the course is an extremely useful resource. I initially selected three books to read from the list, as they looked relevant. Those books have led me to other books, podcasts and courses that continue to challenge me in the best possible ways.

What would you say to anyone thinking about going on the Process? How would you describe it to them?

The Hoffman Process will probably be the best gift you can give yourself. I see the Process as a tornado that challenged and shook up how I view myself and the world –  it has the ability to challenge the negative and leave a trail of love and happiness in its wake. The Process has shown me how to free myself from negativity and shame, be empathic instead of confrontational and chart a path towards my goals. I’m now more grounded, empathic and hopeful for the future.

If you’ve been inspired by Karena’s interview and would like to find out more about our Scholarships, click here