H.O.P.E is 30. What now?

We move into its fourth decade… a certain (and uncertain) adventure!

Here are some welcoming thoughts from Ken Hamilton, MD, H.O.P.E’s founder: As I look back over our first thirty years, I see a steady process of development that began with a study of how to help my surgical patients identify a core passion which they had in their earliest memories and then nurture it. To put it simply, my patients taught me to listen to their story because it always revealed their core passion, no matter how hidden it had become in the unfortunate circumstance(s) of their lives. Thus, I became a human development coach! Then in the 1980’s I learned about support groups and guided imagery, and incorporated those skills into my practice. What began for cancer patients benefited a host of other challenges. This process grew and evolved, reaching maturity earlier this year (2017).

H.O.P.E’S Board of Directors has recognized that they are ready to take H.O.P.E. as far as it could go, building on a motto that first appeared in 1988: “H.O.P.E. is everywhere for everyone”. With our development solid and virtually complete this July, we were called to become marketers and promoters of that for which we stand: our commitment to that principle Hamilton learned as a second-year medical student in the McGill University Faculty of Medicine, to promise that we would do everything in our power to help (people) “get on with their lives.”

The full meaning of a 2014 dream about the wreck of a driverless train off its tracks crashing into the waters of Penobscot Bay with the loss of all on board became clear earlier this year… it was our oh-so-strange political executive and legislative branches that were off the tracks and headed toward a catastrophic disaster. In the dream I found my way through the smashed undergrowth into a dark, dark forest. With the help of the trees in that forest, I found my way onto open land and a large railroad terminus with trains at platforms waiting for all those humans who were coming out of that dark forest. When full, their engineers closed the doors and headed out on converging tracks becoming a single track leading to a lovely light on the horizon.

What H.O.P.E. has learned during its developing years is to help people find their way through that dark forest, which is likely to confront just about every one of us humans, and “get on with their lives”. This comprises all of us who began their journey by working their way through the wreckage left by the train wreck.

We need your help in experiencing and sharing what we have to offer. There is not one human being who can not benefit from this support. We’ve shown you how to do this work. Your personal initiative in convening H.O.P.E. groups that rely on the H.O.P.E. Goldbook to keep the group headed toward that lovely light of our potential in a living, loving Universe, in which all human beings are created equal with individual dreams and core passions. Yes, we are all one. Please feel free to contact us, and we’ll keep looking for you.

Looking for support in your healing process?

A H.O.P.E. Group is a safe place in which we come together to find wellness by sharing our story and listening with open heart and mind to the other stories in the room. In our H.O.P.E. Groups we learn the practice of compassion and the release of suffering — the engine of forgiving. Join us at one of our four locations in Maine to see for yourself what a difference a H.O.P.E. Group can make.

Join A H.O.P.E. Group

Welcome to H.O.P.E. where you find out who you really are…

where we know that at the core of our being all humans strive to be healthy and whole: the process called healing. In addition, all of us are persons; and because no two of us are alike, we are all exceptions to each other.

Moreover, an intense, indomitable curiosity about life, health, and our spirituality has brought us to see that we are alive because the whole marvelous Universe is alive, and It’s not in the business of repeating Itself… we are, as Pierre Teilhard de Chardin told Jean Houston just before he died in 1955, “spiritual beings having a human experience!”

No H.O.P.E. Group near you?

Do you work with a therapist?

Invite her/him to go over these pages with you and see if there is a group that is available for you. If there isn’t, invite your therapist to talk with/message me through this website to see how we might get a H.O.P.E. Group started. Therapist referrals are a very important way to get a H.O.P.E. Group going. We in H.O.P.E. work to support both you and your therapist. I’m delighted to share 30 years of guiding over 5,000 H.O.P.E. Group meetings, keeping in mind that my personal devotion to all of my patients, going way back into the 1970’s was, and still is, to help them get on with their lives, and the best way to do that was to help them remember and serve that core passion with which they were born… and may have been discouraged from ever realizing. The life work of my great teacher, Earl Nightingale (probably the world’s best at helping humans succeed), focused on that as the essence of all success.

Be your own H.O.P.E. Group. Here’s how a personal life plan unfolds – stepwise!

1. Pencil and paper in hand, get comfortable and give yourself permission to know that you, like every other human, were born with a “worthy ideal,” a “dream,” a “fantasy,” a “divine assignment”. Take a few deep breaths, relax your eyes and let thoughts of achieving that “worthy ideal” come to mind as an action. Write out every one that comes up now, even if there is but one.

2. Patiently relax into an intention for every worthy ideal you wrote down. An intention is more than a goal… a line to cross is something you’d like to have happen, or something you’d like see come out of a particular circumstance. Take mine, for instance: “My worthy ideal is to become a doctor like my grandfather and one of his nephews.” It is already in your imagination, and the work of your life is to make that image real.

3. Now, you’ve just remembered why you are here, haven’t you? Good! Now write out the answer this question: “Who am I?” Well, let’s get clear that you are not just a body, you are a spiritual being – a Soul, just as the Source made you – immersed in your human body, and promised this life at the beginning of time.

4. Alright then, journal what comes up in response to this question: “How am I going to get what I came for, and exactly what am I to do with it when I have it?

5. Now you need a context in which all of this works: An attitude of service: “First of all, do no harm; second, do some good; third, benefit someone.” Promise that you’ll do everything in your power to help people get on with their lives. Be aware that in making this promise, you’ll be a beneficiary of it, too. This is called “The Law of Returns”, also heard as: “What goes around comes around.”

6. Now, I strongly recommend that you download a copy of the H.O.P.E. Goldbook that we read at the opening of every H.O.P.E. Group meeting, and participants take home with them to help them keep their focus on care, wellness, kindness, forgiveness, health, and love in the face of so many harmful thoughts that seem to find their way into our lives.

There you have it. Start with yourself, and if you find others along the way who want to do more of this work, your group will grow. Please know that we are always at your service, and we welcome your participation it the process. Just go to the menu bar at the top of the page and click on “Ask Us”. It will get you in touch with a senior H.O.P.E. Guide. Blessings thoughts come and abide….

Recent News

Tao Te Ching; Book of Changes; or, simply, the Tao

Come with me on an exploration of the ancient and classic Chinese text known as Tao Te Ching. The text, which is laid out in 81 sections, is often enigmatic, which, to the Western mind, can be very confusing. Over centuries, much time and thought has been spent exploring this work, creating a confusion of interpretations. The version created by Stephen Mitchell and published by HarperPerennial in 1988 appeals to me because Mitchell studied many translations of the text in several different languages and came to the realization that he could express this in a contemporary version. This has received both praise and criticism from scholars. However, he does not claim that this is a translation; it is a version and I happen to like it. It still leaves me with many challenging, contradictory thoughts that stimulate my creativity.

I will simply say that this work excites my love of the Mystery that I have never been able to explain; nor have I wanted to. I only spend time appreciating the profound Mystery of the very existence of the entire universe including you and me. [click to continue…]

Hate, Compassion, and Tonglen

Freeing oneself of hatred by practicing compassion…

You may well ask how hate, compassion, and Tonglen could possibly relate to each other… a single word will do… fear! Hate is a simple, animist, survival response to fear. Compassion transforms that response to peace. Tonglen is a specific practice of the breath that comes from the Tibetan Buddhist traditions, and which makes that transformation a physical process.

Now, you may well ask how I might be familiar with all of this… my answer… my healing traditions; my choice to become a physician; my fascination with physiology (the study of bodily functions); and 40 years of helping myself and others with what can well be called “attitudinal healing”, especially that aspect which makes it possible to become peaceful inside regardless of what is happening outside. I have been shown in many ways that compassion is the attitude which makes the action of cutting attachments—forgiveness—possible. [click to continue…]

Love, honor, and respect all women

I invite you to come with me on a journey to love, honor, and respect all women. I share with you a segue of two quotes, the first from Carl Sagan: “The old appeals to racial, sexual and religious chauvinism and to rabid nationalism are beginning not to work. A new consciousness is developing which sees the earth as a single organism and recognizes that an organism at war with itself is doomed.”

The second comes from Archbishop Desmond Tutu: “It is by standing up for the rights of girls and women that we truly measure up as men.”

I began working on this post, “Love, honor, and respect all women” shortly after I had posted the one concerning our evolution from violence through nonviolence to peace. [click to continue…]

My December 31, 2014, blog post, Shame, Blame, and Guilt is a segue to this one: Violence, Nonviolence, and Peace: our past, present, and future. That first triplet, which I call “the cruel offspring of judgment” is the primary cause of all violence. In it, I pointed out that all harm comes from the misapplication of knowledge. From that we can imagine a beneficial application of knowledge. What then might the future look like were we to find a way to describe a beneficial application of knowledge and then to use it? I call that second triplet “our way home”. I invite you to explore this with me.

We cannot change anything unless we accept it.
Carl Jung

[click to continue…]

Shaman, a healer of soul wounds

A shaman is a healer of soul wounds. S-he is a human being who is able to travel to the realm of the soul of an individual or a community and heal the deep spiritual wounds of trauma—soul wounds—by retrieving the fragments of soul that have fled trauma to hang out in another realm, draining the host of life energy—Chi. By simple ritual(s) the shaman instills the fragment(s) back into their true home, restoring that energy to the rightful host. This simple description of a remarkably diverse set of healing practices found in virtually every corner of the earth comes to me from two masters of shamanic work here in America: Michael Harner, PhD, author of The Way of the Shaman, and founder of The Foundation for Shamanic Studies www.shamanism.org
and his protégé, Sandra Ingerman, MA, author of Soul Retrieval: Mending the Fragmented Self.

Sandra grew up in New York City, a chronically depressed New York teenager whose depression disappeared quickly when she went to work with a New York shaman. She was already familiar with Harner’s work, and in one of her deep depressions, a friend reminded her of her familiarity with him, saying (if I remember Sandra’s words correctly, nearly twenty years later), “Sandy you know Michael Harner… for G—d’s sake, go and get your soul back!” She did; she healed; she became active in his organization; and now has her own rich experience to share at www.sandraingerman.com/. I suggest you pay her a visit there to see how broad and rich her shamanic experience has become. [click to continue…]

Shame, Blame, and Guilt

… the cruel offspring of judgment.

Shame, blame, and guilt are cruel expressions of the practice of judgment that have been with us for many thousands of years… just look at the Old Testament to get an historical perspective of the ways through which we have sought to control self and others. Just look around you today… the cruel triplet is virtually everywhere in practically every news broadcast, and not uncommonly with several examples in a single broadcast! History tells us that the longer we spend focusing on this the more we are going to find of it and it’s evil stepchild, violence. Let us keep in mind that the more we focus on something, the bigger it becomes. This is a situation that is crying for change. I have the strong sense that today we are changing our addiction to believing that we can control our violent nature by more violence. I ask you to look at the harm that this practice has produced over these eons. We are so addicted to judgment and punishment that we have a difficult time even considering that there might be an alternative. There is… perceiving rather than judging and restorative justice rather than punishment… and I think it helps to know that we already know the alternative to violence—peace. [click to continue…]

Kindness

Kindness has been with me for most of my life, growing in my appreciation of its healthy power all that time, and especially of late. Kindness came forward with a bang when I learned that Anne Herbert, writer and peace activist from Marin County, California, had scribbled this on a paper napkin in 1982: “Practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty.” I first met this wise piece of advice very soon after it first appeared, five years before the first H.O.P.E. Group meeting. It caused a tingle then, and the tingle reappears still, given the occasion. This is one such occasion, comprised of four parts: human stories of very different situations that all came to me within 24 hours, giving me cause to get a shiver up my spine and see how powerful kindness becomes today.

The first was learning of the assassination of Abdul-Rahman (Peter) Kassig, 26 year-old US aid worker murdered by an Islamic State militant. He was known for his kindness and devotion to helping humans in Syria. The following day, the evening news contained a segment about the Dr. Martin Salia, a surgeon who had gone to Sierra Leone to help treat people caught by the Ebola epidemic there, became infected with Ebola, and died shorty after coming to the US for treatment. His words in an earlier TV interview came from a human whose facial expressions were those of a kind and caring Human. The third was the TV interview of Daniel Menz, a Cape Elizabeth (Maine) High School senior student, president of his class, and known for his kindness. He is kind to everyone without exception and never appears to be above any of his fellow students.
http://www.wcsh6.com/story/news/local/morning-report/2014/11/18/kind-kids-week-daniel-menz/19207265/ [click to continue…]

PTSD is Soul Loss

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an extremely challenging mental disorder that has reached high levels of human interest because of its frequency in combat veterans. It truly is Soul Loss… marked by nightmares, hallucinations, and behaviors destructive of self and others. In short, though, it has been with us for centuries, triggered by participating in or observing horrifying events. It is associated with changes in the brain that can be found with today’s sophisticated technologies. Its effective treatment has seriously challenged the mental health community. However, it has not been recognized as a psychospiritual condition, even though it has been recognized for centuries in indigenous nations that see its expressions as “soul wounds,” especially, “soul loss”.

Lately, though, Edward Tick, PhD, a psychologist working with veterans of all of our current wars, starting with the war in Vietnam, has written a groundbreaking book about this called, War and the Soul: Healing Our Nation’s Veterans from Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. (Quest, 2005). He is Founding Director of Soldier’s Heart, “(whose) goal is to prepare families and communities in supporting and healing veterans—both those returning from current wars and those who fought in past wars.” . I have read the book and find myself in deep sympathy with, and appreciation of, his thesis that PTSD is a misnomer for what is really soul loss. Meet Dr. Tick at http://www.soldiersheart.net/index.shtml.

I use that word, “soul” deliberately, knowing that it is commonly confused with “spirit”. We, in the West, have the confusion because the philosophers of the 17th century Age of Reason decided that the soul’s existence could not be scientifically proven, and, for that reason, the soul does not exist. Prior to that time, we tended to believe that we were made a four–part being comprised of body, mind, soul, and spirit. It is easy to to see an ascending order to this rising from the body to the spirit. In this order, the soul can be seen as the bridge between the material body–mind and the immaterial spirit. [click to continue…]

Are H.O.P.E. Groups “therapy” groups?

Are H.O.P.E. Groups therapy groups? This is a question that has come up in various ways over time, and my answer has always been, “Not in the conventional ways of looking at ‘therapy,’ which implies the treatment of a disease condition by a professional. We consider it important to know that the ancient Greco-Roman meaning of ‘therapy’ is ‘healing’ or ‘curing’. H.O.P.E. Groups are not “focus groups” either, because they are confidential and keep no records that could be used as “data” for research (unless professionals conduct them for the study of their effectiveness; in these cases we require the research group to be professional and transparent as regards its purpose, and to apply for our approval of the study.) H.O.P.E. Groups are, quite simply, “Attitudinal Healing” supportive groups. [click to continue…]

When is a H.O.P.E. Group not a H.O.P.E. Group?

When is a HOPE Group not a HOPE Group?

Simply put: when it is not a safe place in which to share your story and your concerns… to be who you really are. Has this ever happened? Sadly, yes, but rarely… to the best of my knowledge, less than ten times in a total of over 6000 H.O.P.E. Group meetings. And because it has happened, I publish this blog post to help you recognize danger and how to respond to it. I am very healthy because of H.O.P.E. and H.O.P.E. Groups, as are hundreds of other human beings, and it is my desire to share this rich experience with you. [click to continue…]