A review of a two-day journey into the self.
Story: Andy Roman
Personal growth is my thing. As a therapist, I love to bring it to those who seek it, those who need it, and especially to those who choose it. This is my review of a self-development class called The Living Course, or TLC. I consider it a natural extension of the emotional work we do in the ongoing Healing Circle at Hippocrates Health Institute in West Palm Beach, and I refer guests to it. At Hippocrates, we know that unlocking emotional blocks frees up energy to unleash full recovery.
What is personal growth?
Personal development means connecting with parts of the self that have gone long unattended, expressing deep feelings long untouched. Good inner work helps a person encounter her deepest yearnings for loving relationships, finding purpose, loving the self, and then helps undo whatever keeps her from having them. The Living Course weekend is like a therapy pressure cooker. The work is personal, and we do it together. I tell people I love TLC.
Hippocrates staff and guests are doing the TLC weekend, and graduates of TLC are signing up as guests of Hippocrates. The Hippocrates and the TLC communities are co-mingling, because we belong together, healing on all fronts.
Why do inner work?
We all accumulate “baggage” from unresolved issues from our own history. We often unwittingly continue with life strategies on how to get the love and acceptance we need, that we formulated when we were little. These strategies often have a “victim” quality to them because, in fact, we were victims when we were kids. We didn’t have any boundary-making skills and ended up carrying on the suffering or the “wrongness” of our family’s dysfunction.
To protect ourselves from pain, we build defenses. We shut down our expression, we hide our feelings, we avoid conflict, we struggle to please. Before long, that’s who we become: our limitations. Ironically, those same defenses keep us from the closeness and intimacy we really want. And worse, they make us sick.
Logistics of the weekend
The weekend starts with some didactic or theoretical material, including the Circle of Belief, the Spectrum of Feelings, and the Victim Triangle. Good, insightful stuff.
Then the “redirect” begins: students take turns presenting themselves and why they joined the course. Then, the instructors, using finely tuned intuition, sensitivity, and coaching skills, guide each student to a place of feeling.
Next come the emotional “stations” or “pods” where each student gets a chance to explore each color of the feeling spectrum experientially. The anger and fear pods tend to get loud, the energy intense. Finally, it’s possible to feel feelings at 100 percent. No more driving with the brakes on!
TLC helps us, through challenging and fun exercises, navigate beyond our core beliefs and defenses that no longer serve us into the realm of choice and love.
The TLC family
Although emotionally corrective, loving experiences as adults don’t in and of themselves heal our childhood wounds, but they sure help.
More than a substitute “good family” to replace or supplement our original family, TLC stands as a community of fellow travelers supporting fellow travelers. Each student in the course has three or four “angels”—volunteer TLC graduates who attend as assistants—to follow her through the weekend every step of the way, even during lunch. That kind of love and attentiveness makes it harder to retreat into self-isolation or checking out. We all need angels in our lives!
Let the fun begin!
Sunday is the day of celebration of the hard work of Friday and Saturday. The group celebrates the students; the students celebrate themselves. “I finally got to the root of things, and I feel like I can take on the world!” one TLC graduate says. “When it comes to suffering, I know I have a choice now,” says another.
And we dance. Did I mention we dance? We dance, a lot. Work hard, play hard.
Welcome to The Living Course. Drench yourself in self-love. Choose to change. Choose to heal.
About the writer →Andy Roman, a licensed mental health counselor, has served as a psychotherapist at Hippocrates Health Institute since 1990, using and teaching feeling-centered, body-focused awareness tools to help guests and health educators. He conducts private sessions with individuals, couples, and families, and facilitates the ongoing Healing Circle Therapy and Support Group. Visit deepfeeling.com.