ITP Spotlight on Rachel Hamilton

1. How did you become involved in ITP, and are you currently a member of any ITP group?

The Universe gave me the gift (synchronicity?) of meeting Pam and Max on the deck at Esalen in 2011. They were there teaching an ITP workshop, and I was there getting my heart broken by a "bad boyfriend" who was on the staff. I had been feeling sad and alone, and here were these two beautiful humans who were so kind and loving to me, and they were wise and hilarious to boot. I loved them both from the moment I met them, and I still do. So it was a case of “I’ll have what they’re having." I wanted to be as open-hearted and wise and lit up as they were, and I definitely wanted to hang out with them more, so I continued to pursue ITP.

2. Within your practice, what insights have you experienced that have made the biggest impact in your daily life? 

The integral approach allows me to check in with myself: mind, body, heart, and soul. Paying attention to sensations from my body and feelings from my heart allows me to honor the needs of those parts of my being, which before ITP, were mostly drowned out by my busy and loud thoughts. And listening to my soul: that’s a beautiful invitation from ITP as well and new territory for me. I love the depth of ITP practices and where they take me inside of myself.

3. What ITP practice resource/exercise/quote has been most helpful in your transformative journey?

Resource:  The Community -- the support, accountability, and human connection of practicing in a group up-levels my capacity to do the work.

Exercise:  Ground and Center -- so simple and yet so powerful. My mind gets to remember that I have a body and a heart. This helps me bring myself into full presence.

Quote:  “Take the hit as a gift.” The hard parts are where we learn the most about ourselves. Looking for the gift as a general orientation helps me stay positive and optimistic.

4. Have you participated in any ITP programs and if so, what resources or teachings have benefitted you most from the experience?

Yes, lots! I have taken all manner of ITP courses and programs. The compassionate community is what I sign up for. The topic of the program is a secondary consideration for me. First and foremost, I sign up for ITP programs because I want to immerse myself in the ITP vibe; good people working together to explore and discover more about this wild ride of being a human being, in a beautiful container that is skillfully and tenderly held. That’s what I am there for: being in any ITP container feels nourishing to my integral being. I’m currently enrolled in the Experience the Extraordinary program and, like all ITP content, it’s so intentionally and thoughtfully curated. The topics we get into are often in the realm of the ineffable, and each of the instructors is unpacking questions like “How does your soul speak to you?” for which they are designing curriculum. It’s amazing the way that ITP takes on these topics -- Cooperation, Awe, Presence -- and breaks them down into modules of study. Where else is that happening? So yes, I sign up for lots of courses and programs and will continue to do so. It’s the antidote for loneliness.

5. What is one affirmation you currently have/or had that has been particularly helpful in realizing your own extraordinary capacities?

Affirmations have been one of the more elusive ITP practices for me. I can’t seem to land on affirmations with clarity and commitment the way I would like to. Often, I hear other people’s affirmations and I think, ooh, that’s a good one, I should make that one of my affirmations! But really what I want are my own affirmations that feel specific and true and generated by me. I think of an affirmation, and then I overthink it and rewrite it again and again and end up without anything solid because nothing seems quite right. Goldilocks syndrome. My most consistent affirmation so far has been "I am calm, intentional, and connected." And I am very aware of my self-talk in general, and I will do pop-up affirmations on the fly all day long -- "You got this girl!" That sort of encouragement from myself for myself, in The Little Engine That Could style: I Think I can, I think I can. I’m much kinder to myself in general than I used to be, and I imagine that ITP practices and the awareness they bring to my inner world have a lot to do with that.

6. Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or newsletters that align with and support your practice?

I read a lot these days, both fiction and non-fiction, and I am an official podcast and documentary film junkie. I have a hungry brain that always wants something to chew on. I love that one of the ITP guidelines is to keep learning, which gives me all kinds of permission to curl up with a book and read for hours. Currently, I’m reading about the history of the color blue.  

7. What does the word generosity mean to you? Is there a meaningful example of generosity in your life?

Generosity is the impulse to share what I have with others. I particularly love to share my spaces and my energy to create sweet gatherings. Vitamin C(onnection) is something we all need, and I love being the person to create the space for us to be with one another and be alive with one another, whether it be to share joy or to process grief. On my best days, I am generous of spirit, giving the benefit of the doubt to others and stepping in to help or support where I can. I keep my antenna up for where I can help.

8. Any additional comments you would like to add about ITP?

Of all the things I love about ITP, my very favorite is the Community. I love the people I meet in ITP and have made many close friendships with the most marvelous, sparkly, interesting, and interested humans. It’s such a great club to belong to. ITP is a gift in my life, and I am ever so grateful for that "bad boyfriend" for bringing me to the goodness of ITP. Take the hit as a gift indeed!