H.O.P.E.: Finding meaning, value and purpose

By Deborah Train

Dr. Ken Hamilton, founder of H.O.P.E. (Healing of Persons Exceptional) Groups, was fascinated by health and healing from the time he was a young Maine boy. His experiences set him on a course of self inquiry and investigation that led him to study medicine at McGill University in Montreal in 1956.

It was there that he was taught the seriousness of how to advise and support patients physically, as a surgeon. And equally – if not more importantly, he gained valuable insight into how his willingness to listen to his patients’ stories resulted in positive effects on their recoveries.

In 1975, Hamilton was introduced to the teachings of Earl Nightingale and the principle that everyone is born with a “worthy ideal.”
Nightingale’s lifetime of teaching how to acquire success taught him that health and well-being were related to the inner-core passion of a person, often buried beneath childhood trauma, cultural expectations and other unfortunate circumstances of life.

He believed that to remember these passions and to align with an individual’s core values – no matter how deeply buried beneath circumstance – is the key to health and success. After years of sharing the wisdom of Nightingale’s insights with his patients, Hamilton was introduced to the Rev. Barry Wood, M.D. A psychiatrist from Portland, Wood was active in 12-step recovery and introduced Hamilton to that style of group work.

During Hamilton’s apprenticeship with Wood, Wood was diagnosed with cancer. At the same time, Bernie Siegel’s book “Love, Medicine, & Miracles” came out, detailing his Exceptional Cancer Patients support groups. Hamilton attended Siegel’s workshops and others. Insights gained from these workshops as well as from other mentors and teachers led Hamilton to start groups for his own cancer patients.

He went on to form the first H.O.P.E. Group with five cancer patients in 1987, ultimately opening up the groups to all who suffer from disease, whether it be physical, mental or emotional.

H.O.P.E.’s premise is that we all have the capacity to heal within ourselves – that healing is the integration and balance of body, mind, emotion and spirit. The spiritually based philosophy of H.O.P.E. asks participants to focus on four key questions:

1. Who am I?
2. Where do I come from?
3. What am I doing here?
4. Where am I going?

“H.O.P.E. encourages an intimate connection with self and the individual’s own unique expression of values inherent in well-being. They build the organization and structure around certain words, images, and concepts that join the members in a set of values,” explains a 2019 H.O.P.E. booklet.

The philosophy is that a person is not broken, in need of ‘fixing,’ but rather suffering from disease and the injury of painful experiences. H.O.P.E. contends that wellness comes with the discovery of peace of mind, meaning, value and purpose in life.

For more information, including about attending H.O.P.E. Group meeting, visit www.hopehealing. org. Or call H.O.P.E. senior guides Ken Hamilton (207-890-3673) or Liz Holder (727-420-2964).

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