An Unplanned Path to Discovering My Truth


What began as a story of self-discovery, spiritual awakening, and healing written only for family and friends evolved into a memoir reflecting my path towards liberation that other people might find useful on their journey of awakening to the person they were born to be.

A power greater than myself became a wind under my wings moving the creation of this memoir forward. The story was enhanced by the process of creative expression that deepened the intimate look at my experience of loss and grieving that were intertwined with my liberation journey. Finally, after ten years in gestation, I gave birth to a memoir, Living for Two: A Daughter’s Journey from Grief and Madness to Forgiveness and Peace. Here’s a brief glimpse at what it’s about:

At first I thought the purpose of the book was to let people know that even though my father died when I was 14 years old, his life and his death continue to have a significant impact on me. My father was murdered by a teenager with a handgun in an act of street violence. In some ways my life ended with his death. I needed to recreate myself, to find meaning in an unsafe and irrational world. This led to my being put in a mental institution at the age of 16 and labeled with chronic schizophrenia.

Yet the story is about healing, love and some of the bountiful gifts that are revealed when we look deeply at what our lives are, what meaning is to be found on our journeys. I often ask myself; Who was I born to be? Who do I want to be? Telling my story has been about standing firmly on the ground, deeply connected to the earth, naked, showing all of  my dimensions – my thinking, my strength, and revealing what I have learned.

Much of the journey has been about scraping, scrubbing and peeling off the effects of social conditioning and the impact of brainwashing that created who I thought I was but through the process of self-discovery and liberation I can see it has little to do with who I am.

Like so many of us, I had to work through and journey beyond layers of misinformation. I needed to revisit, remember, reevaluate, review, and pass through some experiences to finally feel at the age of 58, like I am now beginning to live more honestly and true to who I was born to be. The book gives an emotional flavor of my life and some of my work in the world.

This ten-year process of exploration and finding the right words to describe my journey has opened up new possibilities for me to explore. When I use words (instead of other forms of creative expression) those dimensions will come out as blogs. My most recent blog is an example of this new dimension opening up to me. I am still processing what happened by the pond in Auschwitz two months ago. I know that I am forever changed by my experience there. I feel more deeply connected to life, death and spirit – than ever.

The book is an invitation to look more closely at the meaning of your life. The Dialogues of Discovery tour that I began facilitating this year have validated for me how much people want to share where they struggle, their questions, their learnings and that when a safe space is created to do this – they courageously come forward. Many people have said that they showed themselves in ways they have never before done in public. The message I got at the pond in Auschwitz was to “go forward into the light.” And so, with the wind at my back I find new ways to create community. As a teenager I had a vision of a world that was peaceful, inclusive, and honored all life forms. That vision and my attempts to communicate it were labeled ‘chronic schizophrenia.’

It has taken me decades to deeply reclaim that vision and walk towards that peaceful place. I join with others, making heart to heart connections that allow us to co-create communities that sustain us and honor life for yesterday, today and tomorrow.

No matter what pain, oppression and suffering we go through, reclaiming our humanity is always possible.


Three Free Dialogues of Discovery to Share Our Collective Wisdom: 

Think, Listen and Share

Join me for three free teleconference Dialogues of Discovery to explore, investigate and discover together:  meaning and purpose, who were you born to be, who do you want to be, who you already are and how to embody that peaceful being, shining your light, creating inclusive communities, and other topics which participants bring forward.

All three free teleconferences are the 4th Tuesday of the month:  3pm-4:30pm ET/ 2pm–3:30pm CT/ 1pm–2:30pm MT/ 12pm-1:30pm PT. No reservations needed. Let’s keep it simple.

Dialogue 1:  Who are you?  Who were you born to be? 

In preparation for this topic it may be useful to:

* Imagine entering your childhood through your heart and remember your earliest emotions, images or thoughts; Tap into your pure intelligence, radiance, zest and whatever is revealed.

* Investigate who are you beneath your mask, your roles and your attachments.

Strive for the earliest memories, what was it was like to be curious, innocent, and fearless?

* Do you feel a sense of purpose and belonging? If not, what hurt, if healed, would make all the difference in the world?

January 27, 2015 3pm-4:30pm ET/ 2pm – 3:30pm CT/ 1pm – 2:30pm MT/ 12pm-1:30pm PT


Dialogue 2:  What is the relationship between our emotions and our soul?
Another way to ask this question is what is our essence and how do we express that essence? In preparation for this topic it may be useful to ponder:

*  Are emotions a pathway to the soul?

*  What is the relationship between our essence, hearing voices and the divine?

February 24, 2015 3pm-4:30pm ET/ 2pm – 3:30pm CT/ 1pm – 2:30pm  MT/ 12pm-1:30pm PT


Dialogue 3:  Envisioning and creating the world you want

What is your life’s mission and how are you embodying that day to day? How are you embodying inner peace and creating global peace?

March 24, 2015 3pm-4:30pm ET/ 2pm – 3:30pm CT/ 1pm – 2:30pm PT/ 12pm-1:30pm PT

Call 605-562-0020  Meeting ID: 639-365-821

For more information, see For future announcements check Lauren’s website or join her email list.

To purchase the book, click here.



Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


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Lauren Spiro
Lauren’s vision of social justice and mental health liberation focuses on developing our capacity for feeling deeply connected, appreciating the vast creative intelligence of the human heart and mind, and inspiring compassionate action. Her life’s mission is to embody inner peace to co-create global peace, thus she curates transformative learning experiences. She co-founded two non-profit corporations and Emotional CPR ( a public health education program that teaches people how to support others through an emotional crisis. She is a multi-media artist, a 20+ year practitioner of yoga and meditation, the first Director of the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery, has been featured on national media, and consulted on numerous federal projects. Her memoir paints a poetic picture of her journey into madness and her pathway home. She has an M.A. in clinical/community psychology. For more information see


  1. Lauren, you’re telling my story, not in exact terms, but so similar. Schizophrenia was my first diagnosis of many. We have a friend in common, someone who is supporting me in claiming/reclaiming the person I was born to be. I too, am writing. I’m inspired by the work you have done. I’m emboldened by it even as my decision to fire my psychiatrist and work my way off the drugs has people who love me looking askance and examining me for signs of pathology. The more of us who are strong enough to break free and talk about this, the more will be able to.

    Thank you SO much.

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  2. Dear seventhsense,
    Thank you for writing. I find it validating and meaningful when people like yourself find something useful in my writing. Congratulations for reclaiming your power and standing up to the oppressive forces and boldly saying “NO – I am going to reach higher and deeper” and embrace my genuine self amidst the fear-based misguided angst that people bring forth.

    Also – it is great that you have support. I think that is really key. Wouldn’t we all do better and feel more love if we knew we were surrounded by supportive people who truly BELIEVED in us. I can only imagine how very different my life would have been. It seems that relatively few people get that message- particularly amongst those of us who got caught (even for a short time) in the “mental health” system trap. I agree with you – the more who break through the propaganda, the more people will see that we can live without pretense and pseudo-attachments and without flooding our brains with toxic chemicals.

    I hope you join the Dialogues I am offering. I would love to hear more about your emboldened journey. The 1st of 3 Dialogues is: Who are you? Who were you born to be? January 27, 2015 3pm-4:30pm ET/ 2pm – 3:30pm CT/ 1pm – 2:30pm MT/ 12pm-1:30pm PT
    Call 605-562-0020 Meeting ID: 639-365-821
    (Please note – this is not a toll free call, long distance charges apply)

    I am inspired by your strength and courage. Please keep writing, sharing your wisdom and your successes. My web will have more information about the Dialogues and suggested exercises people may want to explore before each Dialogue.

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    • Another comment about people believing in us. YES! I started with 2. That number grew as I started to believe in myself. The rest of the people in my life believed in illness, doubted my judgment or at the very least said they wanted to “check in” with me more often. It has taken several months, but those who were benevolent skeptics are seeing the huge difference in my being present, calm, self-possessed and happy. Now I want to continue to be one of the 2 for someone else.

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      • Seventhsense, you have become one of the 2 for me! The value you add to my journey is such a blessing. I look forward to learning more and also will calendar the 3 dialogues with Lauren.

        Lauren, many thanks for offering your experience and a platform for positive discussion!

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