I kissed a light post. What happened to my mental health?

I kissed a light post. What happened to my mental health?

The year 2020 was approaching its end and I had been waiting six months to attend The Hoffman Process. I knew nothing about it other than the fact that someone I had met online highly recommended it.  The tagline on their website read “When you’re serious about change” and that was all I needed to read in order to dive in head first. It wasn’t only that I was serious about change, I knew with certainty that I needed to change.

Fast-forwarding from that very moment to day three of the retreat: How did I end up shirtless, completely alone, in the middle of the woods under the cold pouring rain?  What had happened to my mental health? That’s when I understood why The Hoffman Process had been around for over 40 years. 

Let’s backtrack for a moment. I was one of the first of a group of 30 to arrive at the retreat site, and the deep silence I encountered wasn’t exactly the warm welcome I had been waiting for. It was the first “process” that had been held since the start of the pandemic, and the masks were already contoured to each of our faces. 

Little did we know that we were all about to take our masks off.  Not the masks that protected us from Covid-19. I am referring to the masks that we had each been wearing for our entire adult lives. The masks that we hide behind, that we use to “protect” ourselves, the masks that we use to portray not who we are, but rather how we want to be perceived in society. 

Was I ready for this? Absolutely. The mask I had been wearing for decades no longer fit me.  I was in totally new territory during the first couple of days of the process. What was all this talk about emotions and my spiritual self? I had been an incredibly efficient intellectual do-er my entire life and that had gotten me very far, but now I was starting to realize that it had also left me very empty inside.  In fact, throughout my life I had looked down upon people that were emotional, which in my view, held back their ability to operate more efficiently, like a robot, which is how I operated. Feelings and emotions were for the weak, I was strong and could plow through anything, or so I thought.

It was during the third day of the process that it hit me, it was time for me to evolve from intellectual do-er to something that is very rare these days, a human being. To learn how to be, to feel, to realize that my worthiness had nothing to do with my net worth. Slowly but surely the process helped me start peeling away the layers of the onion and begin to reconnect with my true essence, my spirit.

We are all born beautiful, unique souls, and yet, while we are still in the crib, the layers start to develop. From the inherited patterns of our parents, to our friends' influence and society’s expectations, the list goes on and on. Eventually, that beautiful, unique soul is buried under such thick layers that we lose complete touch with who we really are.  That’s where I found myself, I had no idea who I really was. However, at least in that exact moment I became aware of the fact that I was completely lost, and became fully committed to the journey back to myself.

The third day of the process was approaching its end and we were asked to step one-by-one to the front of the room and complete the following sentence: “I am ready to…” I immediately thought: “I am ready to fucking roar.” I felt such empowerment as a result of my newfound connection with my true self, and I wanted to scream it out loud. But wait, is that an appropriate word to say? I began looking for more appropriate alternatives as I awaited my turn to step up to the front of the room. At the end, I decided to simply remove that one word. 

Eventually, my turn arrived, I slowly walked to the front of the room, looked at each of the faces in front of me and screamed at the top of my lungs: “I am ready to fucking roar.” It felt so good, it felt authentic, it was me, expressing myself without any regard whatsoever for what others would think of me, perhaps for the first time in my life. I wasn’t able to sit back down on my chair, intense energy was flowing through every cell of my body, I felt my true inner strength.

I grabbed my winter jacket and started running towards the door that stood between our comfortable warm room and the cold and windy darkness outside. As I approached the door, I realized that it was not only extremely cold and windy out there, it was also pouring rain. I grabbed my jacket, and as I was putting it on, my spirit said: “No, not this time. You are now ready to step into the wilderness without any layers.” So I threw my jacket away, took off my shirt, pushed the door open, and started running at full speed into the wild.

There was no destination in mind, I was going to run until I felt like stopping. Breathing heavily, I stopped in the middle of a meadow surrounded by tall trees. The strong winds ruffling the leaves added all sorts of sounds to the stormy night, and made the trees look as if they were dancing. I just stood there and time stood still. The scene was eerie and beautiful all at the same time.

There was deep darkness, but as I turned back around to head back to the retreat site, there it was. A tall and bright light post. That’s when I realized that even in my darkest moments, the light had always been there. I had simply been looking the wrong way. Completely drenched, I slowly started walking up to the light post, hugged it and gave it one big kiss. Thank you for always being there for me, even though at times I couldn’t see you!

With Gratitude,