This week we e-release a new free booklet, Pathways to Enhance Well-Being. The evolving story of its creation provides an example of how we can follow the life pulse that moves through us — in this case, it moved through the three co-authors and manifests something new that we hope will be helpful for many people. My co-creators and I, and seemingly the stars too, were aligned on this project. For each of us, our life story has in large part been about finding pathways to enhance our own well-being and to assist others in doing the same. We came together with heart-based and soul-based intention to share some of the practices that have transformed our lives, opening our bodies and minds which allowed joy and passion to flow through us. We don’t write about our transformative process in the booklet but make no mistake, this is the energy that flowed through us and we hope that you, the reader, can feel it in yourself as you expand or deepen your use of body/mind/spirit practices.
Our work, and our lives, give us many opportunities to recalibrate our steps to remain aligned with our deepest intentions. It is delightful to share with you one of the first responses to releasing the booklet. A senior manager in a large behavioral health organization stated, “Right now I am envisioning it being used in our Recovery Education Centers. I am going to present it to the team leaders and have them develop a class around it. Once this is done we will facilitate a class (usually 12 weeks long) in each center.”
The pre-birth of the booklet began with my colleague Linda Lentini sharing with me some of the barriers she experienced as she moved towards bringing alternative approaches such as meditation and breath practices into state psychiatric institutions. Perhaps, in part, it was because she was a peer, a person with lived experience of a labeled mental health condition, that she and her “techniques” were not taken seriously. Knowing that Linda had for some years been successful in bringing these approaches into the peer community, I suggested we ask Peggy Swarbrick to look at the research on the effectiveness of these approaches on people labeled with a mental health condition. Perhaps if there was hard data that Linda could present to the “professional” clinical staff it would help her make inroads to bringing these practices to a resistant institutional culture.
Peggy did a thorough review of the research literature on 13 different alternative approaches. Six approaches had the most significant data: breath practices, meditation, mindfulness, guided imagery, yoga, and tai chi. We created one-pagers that shared the data. Linda’s Advisory Board said they wanted a back page to have a specific example of each approach. All this was done, edited, printed and we were finished — at least we thought so.
Some months later we came up with the idea of putting the 6 one-pagers into a booklet. Now, around this time, one of the state psychiatric institutions where Linda had been trying to expand Toivo’s Healing From Within program very suddenly fired and/or put on administrative leave 50 of their staff due to very public allegations of abuse and neglect. Understandably this increased the stress level of both people working in and incarcerated in the institution. Linda continued reaching out to them to allow more people (patients as well as staff) to participate in the alternative approach healing sessions that she offered (at no cost) weekly on-site. This lead to them contracting with Toivo, Linda’s employer, to offer Healing From Within groups on their inpatient units to both people receiving services as well as staff.
Over some months the co-authors continued editing, making formatting and graphic decisions. Peggy brought in Patricia Nemec to put it all together into the booklet format you see (looks great on 8″ X 11″ paper, landscaped to a 4″ X 5.5″ booklet stapled in the middle). We share it here as a gift, and we hope you will find it helpful on your journey and share it with others who might benefit from information on alternative approaches.
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.