“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” – Henry David Thoreau
Growing Humankindness is a womb of healing.
She holds three things in the chambers of her heart: to grow into the fullness of our humanity, to foster kindness for our vulnerability, and to deepen our inner and outer connectedness.
We help people bring understanding, compassion, and tenderness to the ways they self soothe with food. It’s tenderness that helps us soften painful coping strategies, tenderness that helps us grieve, and tenderness that reconnects us with our wholeness.
There’s a deeper story that lives underneath the surface story of your struggles, and this story is both more true and more merciful.
Together, we sing this story into being.
The suffering of separation
When we experience pain, trauma, and loss, we often blame ourselves, internalizing these ruptures as, “It’s all my fault.” The implicit, underlying belief – the story that lives in our bodies – whispers, “There’s something’s wrong with me.”
In the wake of this soul rupture, we erect self protections to care for ourselves. One of the most common protectors is food.
These protectors safeguard our functioning. They’re based in wise instincts to preserve our functioning, guard our safety, and keep our connections with others. For this may they be praised.
Feeling stuck in protectors
But our protectors often carry a high cost. There’s the suffering of the coping strategies themselves. And there’s the additional suffering, the shame we feel about ourselves for ‘not doing better.’ We may feel like we’re falling short, that we’re too much or not enough, that we’re broken, damaged or damaging.
It can be complex, and feel confusing – how our protectors are a place of both comfort and pain, how we long for them and loathe them. We tend to fear them, fight to ‘heal’ them, and often work really hard to overcome them.
We often think we are them.
Listening for the deeper story
Trauma and rupture rearranges our sense of self – how we see ourselves, how we see life, and who we think we are. It’s incredibly painful, lonely and disorienting. But underneath the surface story of the trauma there’s a deeper story, and this story is both more true and more merciful.
Your deeper story – gently, and persistently – invites you to look again at what you may label as ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’ about yourself and offers a more radical perspective.
Your deeper story knows that this place where you’re struggling is holy. As Rumi says, ‘It’s where the light enters you,’ a womb, a place of birth.
How Growing Humankindness began
I’m Karly Randolph Pitman, the founder and steward of this sacred space.
I struggled with eating disorders for decades, from my teens into my forties. Depression and anxiety have been longer companions on my journey, places I continue to care for daily.
I’ve also been a life long seeker, a lover of the Divine, and the entertwining of these two realities – my yearning for spiritual connection and my human struggles – never seemed to fit. When I found myself caring for years of chronic mental and physical health challenges, I felt such shame that my heart – so filled by the mystical and wanting to understand the human condition – couldn’t prevent my suffering.
I consumed spirituality, psychology, and self help, trying to find the ‘right’ teachings to help me ‘overcome my struggles.’ I’m naturally conscientious and earnest, and I tried so hard!
While many of these teachings carry tremendous gifts and grace within them, and while they gave me helpful practices, there was a subtle way I was using these teachings to silence the shame I felt about my trauma.
Over the years, through many rounds of frustration, I began to feel the futility that my attempts to ‘fix’ myself – no matter how transcendent the means – didn’t work.
I remember the day when I felt a gentleness stir in my being: what if my neediness is something that will never be filled? And what if it doesn’t need to be?
What if I never receive the healing I think I need to be ‘whole?’
These questions can sound harsh or despairing. But that January day I felt them as pure, utter relief. The self image I was working so hard to create – a ‘healed self” – shattered, and my body softened with a giant exhale.
I didn’t have to keep working so hard! What if, instead, I needed a different relationship with my pain?
Rather than getting rid of my pain, I slowly turned towards it. I grieved. Over time, as the shame softened, I began to see my trauma differently. I became more comfortable being ‘incomplete’ and clumsy in my mistakes.
I found safety in the very place I didn’t think it existed: in the mess itself.
I came to see that my most vulnerable struggles were the very place where the ‘unloved life’ within me longed to be heard, held, and cared for. I didn’t have to get rid of it. And I didn’t have to be scared of it, either.
What is Growing Humankindness?
One day, when I was trying to find the words for this path of healing – and what I wanted to offer as a place of support for others – my husband said, “What about Growing Humankindness?” And so this work, and this website, was born.
Since that time I’ve had the honor to sit at the hearth of other peoples’ stories, to receive their sacred stories with food. I’ve been awed by their caravan of loss, courage, healing, and renewal. It is to them that this space is dedicated and to whom it belongs.
Growing Humankindness means three things: to grow into the fullness of our humanity, to foster kindness for our vulnerability, and to deepen our inner and outer connectedness.
Kindness is a change of heart – a new way of seeing and relating – to our struggles. It’s a fiercely loving space that is the womb of growth.
The hand over heart is a symbol of this mercy, of bowing the thinking mind to the knowing heart.
How we help
If you feel frustrated and stuck in food, and you want a compassionate way of softening this protector, you’re in the right place.
We offer a gentle path to soften self blame, self criticism, shame and self soothing with food, with support at your side. We primarily offer group classes (as well as some do at home courses) because we value the power and beauty of joining with others: healing is not meant to nor should be done alone.
We offer help in three ways:
Overeating can soften, and here you’ll learn a relational, developmental approach to support this transformation.
Change how you relate, and how you see – rather than seeing your struggles as personal failures, we’ll help you embrace them as opportunities to deepen compassion: a call from the soul to grow into a full, rich human being.
Move from shame, isolation, and separation into relationship, community, and connection – The isolation of addiction can be so painful! As we heal, we reconnect with ourselves, life, and others. It’s a radical surprise how our vulnerability can be a place of connection with others rather than a place of separation.
Our approach is grounded in a few key areas:
- IPNB, interpersonal neurobiology
- attachment theory and developmental psychology, especially the work of Dr. Gordon Neufeld
- the trauma work of Bonnie Badenoch
- self compassion and mindfulness
- and contemplative practices from many traditions, including Sufism, Buddhism and RAIN practice, contemplative Christianity, and connection with the Divine Mother
We’re a good fit for people who want a holistic, soulful, and psychological approach to healing and who welcome all paths and faiths.
We tend to attract a rich variety of gentle, sensitive, passionate souls from across the globe – healers, doctors, therapists and coaches, mystics and ministers, mothers (and a few fathers), meditators and spiritual seekers, teachers, artists, poets and writers who come to and offer their unique wisdom at our hearth.
Where to start
If you resonate with our approach, we’d love to get to know you! Here are some ways you can get to know us better.
- Go here to find our free resources, where you can get a taste of our approach and see if we’re a good fit for you.
- Sign up for our mailing list here. You’ll receive newsletters 2-4 times a month as well as notifications of upcoming classes, course offerings, and special events.
- Go here to see all our offerings, including regular group classes and do at home courses that you can take any time.
- You can find upcoming classes on our calendar here.
The gift of embracing your struggles
It is from the feet of my personal journey that I greet you, and yours.
I appreciate that our addictions and struggles can feel like proof that we’ve done something wrong. One wise man described it this way: “We often feel like we got on the wrong bus!”
But what if what we see as ‘failure’ is a profound compassion, a way to belong to our shared human experience?
Through embracing our vulnerability, we join both those who’ve walked before us and those who come after who’ve also wrestled with the task of being human, who’ve failed to live up to their expectations and who’ve become better for it.
Through “failure” we come to rest, abiding in a deeper belonging.
Here, we learn how to open to the gifts of our journey, trust the deeper mystery that is being writ through our struggles, and allow growth to unfold through us, at its own timing, its own pace, and guided by our heart’s wisdom.
Since 2006, thousands of students from around the world have journeyed through our doors. May your heart be nourished here.
With warmth, Karly Randolph Pitman and the Growing Humankindness team
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