David, Thank you for letting me know that my response to your comment was not sufficiently clear. I deeply respect your work and congratulate you on your successes, accomplishments and for making your approaches accessible to people. However, your path and my path are somewhat different. My intention is not to imply any polarity – that one is better than the other, etc. I believe that I am reaching for something different. While I am familiar with most of the techniques you mentioned in your first comment, my path and the invitation of this blog is to STOP the techniques and strategies and BE with the person. I have learned that every person has the capacity to find their own path forward. And yes, there are some ways of BEING WITH that support this process. Peer-run respites often have an overarching philosophy and specific skills at BEING WITH which is the major reason I wrote the blog. If I may be honest with you, given your comments I am not sure you understand or agree that exploring the unknown together might be something you are willing to consider or even try! It is quite a different approach – to see yourself as an equal to the person in distress. We are both (supporter and person in distress) travelers on this journey to discover, perhaps, new truths, deeper truths about ourselves and our relationship with others. The truths I am referring to are those that bring about deep connection, trust and create a genuine safe space where people feel they can let go of beliefs they have held on to; beliefs that no longer serve their original protective intention. In that space where people are seen, heard, and validated is where I, and many others, have experienced healing. By healing I mean a deeper level of freedom or transcendence which elevates our awareness and deepens our sense of liberation. Crisis is often, if not always, an opportunity to try something we may not have done before, like for example, a major shift in our perspective. And if we are fortunate enough to be part of co-creating a space of co-regulation of our nervous systems and co-sensing then the healing transformation may be even more significant. I offer more specific information on this process below, giving attribution to Thomas Hubl as this is my learning edge. Creating a safe space (e.g., peer-run respite, Honoring Circles) invites us to be deeply grounded allowing trauma to be healed. The more trauma that is healed, the stronger the space becomes thus allowing the nervous system to open up and release the overwhelming feelings that are often underneath the numbness. Ethical transgressions (rather than the term “perpetrator”) is when someone interferes with someone’s right to be, become (to flourish) & belong (part of a healthy network where we can express our gifts and contribute to society). These rights are also responsibilities; it is something that is asked of me. We all have the responsibility to preserve the process of being, becoming, and belonging not just for ourselves, but for others. The more we illuminate the aftereffects of the ethical transgressions, (e.g., antisemitism, racism and the many varieties of hurts and abuse we experienced, and/ or our ancestors experienced and transmitted it to us) the more we create integration. The after effect of ethical transgressions are often disembodied information. The energy was cut off as it was too painful to integrate, so it is passed on to others. The energy needs to be embodied to be integrated; otherwise, it stays as social fog, social fragmentation, and polarization. The more we integrate the ethical transgressions and trauma of the past the more the quality between us, the data flow between us gets upgraded and improved. The fog between us is miscommunication, misunderstanding, conflict, re-traumatization- all based on the disembodied information. When I see more clearly through the fog by deepening my awareness of the past and the disembodied parts of me I can make different decisions based on the present, because I’m free from the past. Integration is liberation. Restoration is the beginning of opening our heart to the dimension of the hurt. I let myself fully feel that again and again in the wholeness or entirety of my being including looking at what leads a person to inflicting harm. In the west, we created a hyper-individualistic conversion of a human being who projects unresolved, unintegrated trauma on to others. A lot of information is unsaid and unseen, because it is below the radar of perception and that is where the aftereffects of trauma are working. However, my healing journey has begun to allow more information to flow including in my nervous system so I am more perceptive, open and resonant. The more I am in the flow of the river of life the more it allows me to sit more in life (including the constant polarization, oppression, and violence in our culture) and what I experience. The more I integrate the more I develop the capacity to integrate. So, I am not sitting in the overwhelm; I am creating more safety so that I and others can do the healing work and speak the language of that which is not visible and is not being said. Where trauma sits in me, I cannot facilitate a process. Part of healing work and transformational work is dismantling power-over structures & building competency-based relational systems that are mutually respectful. While I respect the numb places (and all the defense systems our intelligence creates to protect ourselves) I also set an intention to look at those places and sense into them. Transformation is always embodied transformation. The path I am walking is towards deeper healing and integration so that I may be a creative force in co-creating the world I want around me. Report comment
David, Thank you for letting me know that my response to your comment was not sufficiently clear. I deeply respect your work and congratulate you on your successes, accomplishments and for making your approaches accessible to people.
However, your path and my path are somewhat different. My intention is not to imply any polarity – that one is better than the other, etc. I believe that I am reaching for something different. While I am familiar with most of the techniques you mentioned in your first comment, my path and the invitation of this blog is to STOP the techniques and strategies and BE with the person. I have learned that every person has the capacity to find their own path forward. And yes, there are some ways of BEING WITH that support this process. Peer-run respites often have an overarching philosophy and specific skills at BEING WITH which is the major reason I wrote the blog. If I may be honest with you, given your comments I am not sure you understand or agree that exploring the unknown together might be something you are willing to consider or even try! It is quite a different approach – to see yourself as an equal to the person in distress. We are both (supporter and person in distress) travelers on this journey to discover, perhaps, new truths, deeper truths about ourselves and our relationship with others. The truths I am referring to are those that bring about deep connection, trust and create a genuine safe space where people feel they can let go of beliefs they have held on to; beliefs that no longer serve their original protective intention. In that space where people are seen, heard, and validated is where I, and many others, have experienced healing. By healing I mean a deeper level of freedom or transcendence which elevates our awareness and deepens our sense of liberation.
Crisis is often, if not always, an opportunity to try something we may not have done before, like for example, a major shift in our perspective. And if we are fortunate enough to be part of co-creating a space of co-regulation of our nervous systems and co-sensing then the healing transformation may be even more significant.
I offer more specific information on this process below, giving attribution to Thomas Hubl as this is my learning edge.
Creating a safe space (e.g., peer-run respite, Honoring Circles) invites us to be deeply grounded allowing trauma to be healed. The more trauma that is healed, the stronger the space becomes thus allowing the nervous system to open up and release the overwhelming feelings that are often underneath the numbness. Ethical transgressions (rather than the term “perpetrator”) is when someone interferes with someone’s right to be, become (to flourish) & belong (part of a healthy network where we can express our gifts and contribute to society). These rights are also responsibilities; it is something that is asked of me. We all have the responsibility to preserve the process of being, becoming, and belonging not just for ourselves, but for others.
The more we illuminate the aftereffects of the ethical transgressions, (e.g., antisemitism, racism and the many varieties of hurts and abuse we experienced, and/ or our ancestors experienced and transmitted it to us) the more we create integration.
The after effect of ethical transgressions are often disembodied information. The energy was cut off as it was too painful to integrate, so it is passed on to others. The energy needs to be embodied to be integrated; otherwise, it stays as social fog, social fragmentation, and polarization. The more we integrate the ethical transgressions and trauma of the past the more the quality between us, the data flow between us gets upgraded and improved. The fog between us is miscommunication, misunderstanding, conflict, re-traumatization- all based on the disembodied information.
When I see more clearly through the fog by deepening my awareness of the past and the disembodied parts of me I can make different decisions based on the present, because I’m free from the past. Integration is liberation. Restoration is the beginning of opening our heart to the dimension of the hurt. I let myself fully feel that again and again in the wholeness or entirety of my being including looking at what leads a person to inflicting harm.
In the west, we created a hyper-individualistic conversion of a human being who projects unresolved, unintegrated trauma on to others. A lot of information is unsaid and unseen, because it is below the radar of perception and that is where the aftereffects of trauma are working. However, my healing journey has begun to allow more information to flow including in my nervous system so I am more perceptive, open and resonant. The more I am in the flow of the river of life the more it allows me to sit more in life (including the constant polarization, oppression, and violence in our culture) and what I experience. The more I integrate the more I develop the capacity to integrate. So, I am not sitting in the overwhelm; I am creating more safety so that I and others can do the healing work and speak the language of that which is not visible and is not being said.
Where trauma sits in me, I cannot facilitate a process.
Part of healing work and transformational work is dismantling power-over structures & building competency-based relational systems that are mutually respectful.
While I respect the numb places (and all the defense systems our intelligence creates to protect ourselves) I also set an intention to look at those places and sense into them.
Transformation is always embodied transformation. The path I am walking is towards deeper healing and integration so that I may be a creative force in co-creating the world I want around me.
if you are interested in experiencing some of my current work (deep listening), See http://www.globalcommunityhub.com; the 5 minute video gives an overview of the larger project. I co-created the Honoring Circle and co-facilitate those free offerings. I also co-facilitate the Coaching Circles using a format created by the Presensing Institute of MIT. When we did Coaching Circles in a project lead by high school students they re-named it Caring Circles which I think more accurately describes the process.
Birdsong, Eric and David- thank you for taking the time to share your best thinking. I have been letting your comments marinate as they stirred up a number of issues in my mind.
I offer 4 points of reflection. Let me know if this is helpful or not, and of course, any further comments you have are welcome.
1. “Restrict negative content consumption (fear, war, etc.) my mind becomes what the world is” (Shivani). I heard this a few days ago and it hit me powerfully. I don’t want my mind to become what the world is so it is no wonder that my life’s work the past few years has focused on deep listening. And in much of the blog I have tried to reflect on the impact of deep listening in the peer-respite context. That listening can be done anywhere, anytime with anyone especially if one of the people in the dyad is present in the moment (not stuck in the past).
2. I am learning to more deeply embody the practice of taking responsibility for everything I think, feel and do and shift away from blame which keeps me in a victim role.
3. While I am familiar with a number of strategies and techniques that people have found useful, the invitation of this blog is to STOP our supporter strategies and see the person as whole and having the capacity to find their own path forward. The magic begins to happen when we explore the unknown together. This is where I believe peer respite gets the extraordinary outcomes cited in the blog.
Here are dialogue participant quotes that address this:
a) At Soteria the staff never judged us or tried to guide us to any particular therapy. A part of myself knew what I had to go through …I was very blessed to have been in an environment where I could have that experience and come out the other end and learn who I am”.
b) In peer respite, the question is how do you make sense of it and what is the context of your distress. There is a belief that no matter how unusual the experience or belief is somehow if you look at someone’s life experience it makes sense.
c) we tend to make sure to not go down the slippery slope of control and power over
d) In peer respite we walk alongside, we are a lot more open to people being able to experience their lives the way they want to be defined and how they want to experience it.
e) Peer-run respite/Soteria house supporters engage emotionally and invite mutual learning, including sharing their crisis experiences and what has helped them if the person in crisis is interested and finds it helpful.
4. We can count on change as a constant in our lives. When we close our minds and our hearts, we hurt others but we also hurt ourselves and our community by letting fear and the past control our thoughts, emotions and our actions. Where does rationality reside? How do we measure our love, our ability to let the world into us, our inclusion of all people and our health as a community, as a family, as a world?
Every human being has a right to BE, BELONG and BECOME (Thomas Hubl). If we do not respect these rights we are committing attentional violence; We are judging people based on our own past and not believing in the tremendous potential, beauty and power within every human being.
The invitation is to listen more deeply, explore what we don’t already know and have the courage to let the world into us. This is my path.
thank you Birdsong for your 2 comments. Thomas Hubl (one of my teachers) says each of us has a right to BE, to BELONG and to BECOME. Otto Scharmer (also one of my teachers) who is a global leader in systems-based change writes about the impact of open mind, open heart and open will to creating the world we want. I mention this because collaboration might keep us in our head or in our heart. I am learning that there resides a deeper level of listening that opens up my ability to sense into the other person, or sense in a larger field when we practice this listening in large groups.
Our body has tremendous capacity for listening and sensing and healing. This is a new frontier for me (and for the 1,000 others in Hubl’s current class). It tells me that when I quiet my mind and listen to myself or listen to others there is a giant reservoir of potentiality that few are tapping into. When one can say “I feel you feeling me” one can begin to understand this concept. Anyway, I am amazed at what is transpiring within me as I learn to listen more deeply which is why I host several ‘deep listening’ spaces on zoom.
Your points are well taken. Collaborative, cooperative relationships is what changes the world.
Beautiful and powerful blog. I have already emailed you to find out how I can support the manifestation of the nation’s first LGBTQIA+ peer respite in the amazingly progressive “mental health” peer community of MA.
The importance of this blog is still being absorbed in my body and mind, especially since I re-read my most recent blog (on peer-run respite) prior to reading your blog. Your vision and leadership here is so desperately needed not just in the US but globally as peer respites spread.
We can count on change as a constant in our lives. The blog gives the reader specific examples of how we are hurting and oppressing not just the LGBTQIA+ community but each other as well. When we close our minds and our hearts, we hurt others but we also hurt ourselves and our community by letting fear and the past control our thoughts, emotions and our actions. Where does rationality reside? How do we measure our love, our ability to let the world into us, our inclusion of all people and our health as a community, as a family, as a world?
Every human being has a right to BE, BELONG and BECOME (attribution to Thomas Hubl here). If we do not respect these rights we are committing attentional violence; We are judging people based on our own past – or might I say our unresolved trauma histories- and not believing in the tremendous potential, beauty and power within every human being.
You blog is a siren that screams for us to remember our humanity. Please keep writing.
I grieve, like so many others for our sister who has transitioned. Yesterday the zoom link maxed out with people coming to celebrate the life, the love and the legacy of Celia Brown. Since hearing of her passing I have gone quiet, feeling a sadness deep inside. My heart was overflowing hearing the many accolades and stories of Celia, her infinite reserve of strength, tenacity, determination to leave her mark in this world. To never give up moving us forward in the many ways and many projects she inspired, co-founded and supported. And she has left BIG shoes to fill but no one can fill them the way Celia did it. People shared so much I can’t begin to capture it here but knowing her and working along side her we will always have her laughter and deep passion in our hearts and minds. Her gutsy and unstoppable march towards justice, inclusion and human and civil rights will live on in all those who had the privilege to work along side her and benefit from her legacy. With her tenacious and loving embrace she crossed many divides, brought diverse people together and improved countless lives.
My relationship with Celia was similar in some ways to the advocates and leaders who spoke yesterday but it also felt different. Celia and I shared a mentor- Janet Foner. (The blog David Oaks & I wrote about Janet Foner in posted on MIA). My last “project” with Celia was getting through Janet’s sudden and unexpected passing about 4 years ago. We cried together for many hours over many phone calls and coordinated zoom sessions to honor Janet, very similar to the zoom sharing that occurred yesterday for Celia. Celia’s honoring was filled with so many diverse people celebrating her “out there”, visible leadership and the passion with which she embraced life and blazed new trails of liberation and transforming many lives along the way.
The work of an advocate is never done. One of the many loves that Celia had was continuing the legacy her father started. She completed the building a home and education center in Ghana. Her work there resonated so deeply in her soul and the souls of her ancestors – and in me. Celia’s family welcomes us to “Send your love through the link below”. https://donate.stripe.com/7sIbLBfX819s0jSdQQ
The Brown family wants to keep the dream alive. In ending, I say, thank you sister for giving so generously, so lovingly, for so long. I will hold you close to my heart,, always. And maybe I will go back to Ghana and see the fruit of the Brown family legacy.
I had no intention of reading a blog at the moment. I was reading the criteria for writing a blog since I am beginning to write one and clicked on “past blogs”. Scrolling down I saw your name and had to open it. When our paths crossed briefly quite a few years ago I was impressed with your intelligence, moral fortitude, your character, your work, your ethics…
Thank you for writing your edgy, pissy, thoughtful and thought-provoking blog. You make me proud to re-embrace my label of “psychiatric survivor”.
Let’s keep stirring up good trouble.
Great question. Grace Silvia (the visionary of the 1st virtual International Peer-Respite / Soteria House Summit) and I are almost finished completing a table comparing Peer-Respite Emergency Crisis Response to the Conventional Crisis Response which I think will address many of these questions. I will post the table here. Please join the Summit; that is a great question to pose for the panel of experts. After the Summit condensed videos will be created which will be a rich resource of information from peer experts with a lot of years of experience starting and working in respite and Soteria houses. Creating these professionally edited videos and sustaining the work of the Summit are 2 reasons I got involved in FUNdraising for them. Stay tuned. We’ve raised just over $14,000 of a $20,000 goal
I will add that Peer-Run Respites are voluntary. That means that a certain level of safety is required in order to be there. They define safety very differently than the conventional approach. The term “Respite” is getting cooped by “the system” so I can not address what approaches some use. Respites are generally funded by County or State dollars so that means their policies and procedures may vary depending on the funding expectations.
I didn’t need to read very far into The Coronation to get the most poignant line for me. It came in the 1st paragraph of the article. Thank you for providing the link.
“For years, normality has been stretched nearly to its breaking point, a rope pulled tighter and tighter, waiting for a nip of the black swan’s beak to snap it in two. Now that the rope has snapped, do we tie its ends back together, or shall we undo its dangling braids still further, to see what we might weave from them?”
My greatest lesson from my Covid 19 experience were:
1) Letting go of everything, every attachment I have, and realizing in every cell of my body that I didn’t know what kind of quality of life I would have in the weeks and months and years ahead. So much unknown, could I heal and be well again. I didn’t know.
2) My connection with my people (Jews) and all people who have experienced starvation, weakness and death from thousands of years of torment in the history of life on this planet at least once male energy has dominated as of about 2.500 years ago. (When cooperative, female energy dominated the planet there was no evidence of war).
3) I was surprised at the fierceness with which I decided to fight for my life and for a return to my very good health, and
4) The power of love and connection that I received from and gave to my support network
As a result of this, I drove 800 miles to get home and took a deeper look at the “dangling braids still further, to see what we might weave from them?” A story is bubbling up, please indulge me.
A couple days ago, under my leadership, we completed the largest ever EmotionalCPR (www.emotional-cpr.org) training. The training team of 7 people worked with 46 participants from South Asia and Africa. For me it was very stressful training but I knew that each member of the training team was a mirror for me to better see myself. I believe the biggest lesson I needed to learn (thank you universe/spirit/what ever you want to call a high power or higher level of energy) was to let go ever MORE!!!! I saw more clearly than ever how intergenerational trauma left me with undigested and therefore unhealed collective trauma. On top of that terror was a layer of needing to control – so the training would be the best it could be. I stood on my white, middle class colonized soapbox and tried to dictate some things. I was appropriately knocked of my pedestal which I had not realized I was standing on. That is how internalized white racism, classism and sexism work – we don’t see it till we see it. I spent several months preparing for the training, mostly working with our hosts who were also eCPR apprentices; one from India, the other from Kenya, Africa. A week before the training I did a drawing which I titled “Mwe evolve… beyond the colonization of our minds”. I had been pondering how colonization would impact the training, for each person on the training team.
A related lesson which Onyango told me yesterday as I debriefed with just myself and the 2 apprentices, was ‘You don’t have to know everything’. Learning to be comfortable with discomfort is part of learning of letting go and let in. I will continue to ponder (and breath deeply) how to embody that, particularly as a leader on a project. Onyango had previously said regarding the training team and the participants, “we are all equal”. As the self anointed moderator during the 15-hour training (3-hour training sessions spread over 5 days) he ensured that the voice of the participants was seen and heard more than any other training I have been in. Our mindset was very much learning from and with them. In some ways their world was very different from our mostly American training team and meeting them where they were was the hallmark of success of the training. I very much let go of how I thought the training should be.
A whole different lesson, again part of letting go is – the words spoken by one of the first US astronauts sent into space in the 1960’s. When asked what it felt like to be in space looking at earth, he paused for a long time and then said, “It was like watching a baby about to be born”. I ponder what kind of world we are co-creating. I chose to a light, one amongst many, bringing love, compassion, open-heartedness, hope, and a vision of an inclusive and just world and universe. Uni-verse, we are all one.
Eight years ago I went to my first international Healing From War 8-day workshop in Poland (with 2 days at Auschwitz). At the end of the workshop I had a new life mission, To embody inner peace to co-create global peace. Since then the invitation has been to figure out what that looks like day-to-day, moment to moment. That is the world I am weaving from the dangling braids.
thank you for writing. Good question; imagine a world where we would not need Peer-Respites nor Soteria Houses. Here is my soap box of thoughts. In an inclusive, socially and economically just, cooperative, democratic, non traumatized world we probably would not need them. Our world is a result of cumulative collective trauma and if we continue to not recognize our individual, group and societal wounds we will continue to have closed hearts, closed minds and limited or no will to change our conditions.
The good news is that increasingly people are taking the time to breath into their wounds so the frozen places can thaw and we can digest the traumas, integrate them and heal. I share my thinking about this specifically in the blog “eCPR: A Tool and a Process of Peacemaking”.
Also, I copied some words from the current blog here which addresses some medicine to move towards a rational world.
“In peer respites, they hold a lot of space for listening so we may digest, reflect, and integrate formerly unintegrated trauma information and thus become more able to meet the world as it is instead of how we would like it to be. We can unravel our own intelligence. Trauma brings fragmentation—my real self gets disconnected from the social mask I must wear to survive in the traumatized waters that the world swims in. My trauma response is the intelligence that saved me. I need time and space to honor it and bring love to the places that have been exiled so I may bring about unification, releasing past attachments that no longer serve me.
I hope this makes sense and is helpful. The most significant lesson I learned from my Covid experience is to STOP, BREATHE, look at my life and look at the world. I am becoming more sensitive to the constant barrage of aggressions all around us 24/7 and I am taking steps to do more to co-create the world I want.
Sorry, but I am not recalling Charles Eisenstein’s “The Coronation” so you will need to help me understand your point or your question.
Thank you for adding some important points. When I was replaying the tape in my mind while writing the blog I wondered if I would have received the same good attention if I was a person of the global majority, or trans, or… fill in the blank. It is hard for me to speculate on that. Three EMTs arrived with the ambulance. The woman in charge was a large-bodied white nurse whose warmth was palatable. I later thanked her for her compassion and her beautiful smile. The two men who assisted me and stayed with me in the back of the ambulance were of the global majority one of whom was an apprentice. Montgomery County, Md. where this took place is politically and culturally liberal/progressive and about 5 miles outside the Washington D.C. border. Not only was I a weak and vulnerable white woman but I am gray-haired also!
I resonate so deeply with your words, “It’s time for breathing together, being-with in the most fundamental ways. Peer Respite and Soteria are examples of bringing us together as humans being together and in and with environments and contexts that expand possibilities for all, including our planet”. In many ways the Peer Respites and Soteria’s around the world give us a clear model for how we can be the medicine for one another and co-create the world we want.
I often ask myself, What else can I contribute towards creating the world that I think (deep down) we all want? One step I am taking is creating on a simple table that summarizes Emotional Crisis Response: Peer-Run Respite/Soteria House Compared to Conventional
A draft line from the table is below.
Comparing the ‘Emergency response team (911)’
Under Peer-Run Respite it states: Completely focused on embodying trauma-sensitive approaches to engage the person including consideration for physical, environmental and emotional safety
Under Conventional it states: Typically focused on controlling the person, using intrusive and violent interventions up to and including lethal force.
Focused on crisis containment, everyone’s physical safety, often not focused on how this impacts the person in crisis and those witnessing the entire emergency response.
(the table has several lines of comparison, this ends the line on the table.)
Our language, as you know because you write eloquently, needs to reflect reality and not conform and condone oppression. I’m specifically referring to those shocking words “intrusive and violent interventions up to and including lethal force”.
Our beloved Judi Chamberlin fought hard to get insurance to cover her home based alternative treatments in the last few months of her life. What a bar she set for NEVER, NEVER giving up on advocating for what is right, rational and humane.
It is a bitter way to learn of Darby’s passing but your eloquent piece warmed my heart deeply. She set a high bar for us peers working for state and national change. I had the pleasure of working with her a bit in the early years of the National Coalition. She was a brilliant and passionate force to be reckoned with. What a mind – clear as ice. What a heart – fierce and dedicated to advancing our values, priorities – our voice on all levels of the system. She moved mountains and inspired me to also hold a high bar when, for example, setting policy priorities and making sure that ever single word of the document was accurate and grammatically correct.
Sometimes she was rough around the edges – which I understand all to well – but she had a heart of gold and a deep compassion to make the world – and our dysfunctional “mental illness” system better. And she succeeded big time.
Thank you Darby for making a difference in the lives of so many people.
Thank you Celia, Ron & Peter for this informative and moving tribute to her.
YES!!!! Let’s hear about these life changing experiences
Sam, I am sorry you had trouble signing in to the International Peer Respite/Soteria House Summit. This works for me https://www.alternatives-conference.org/peerrespitesoteriasummit
i just checked to see if there were any more comments. I am too tired to write but wanted you all to know that I am here. [email protected].
I am in awe at the miracles all around us. Being part of the MIA Blog community (and MIA generally) does give me hope, it reminds me about the sanctity of our 1st amendment rights and it reminds me that there are kindred souls out there and here at MIA we can tune in and share our wisdom. Thank you for being YOU and helping to make this world a better place.
I love what Marrianne Williamson said before she spoke to a large audience; she said, “there is only one of us here”. I believe God/Higher Spirit/whatever you wish to call the energy is all of us. It is all around us. I feel it.
It reminds me of when I lived in a remote village in Senegal, West Africa and my brother (a marabou) made me a charm. He explained that the mirror he had sewn into the leather necklace charm was so that when people looked at me they would fall in love with me because they saw themselves in me.
Yulia, thank you
we are the change we have been waiting for – Ghandi (I believe)
I feel your pain and the pain of hundreds of thousands of beautiful souls who have been abused, tortured or murdered within the “mental health” system. Humanity has gone so far off course one wonders if we can turn around the rusty, sinking ship! I am hopeful. It takes all of us to shine our light of truth and listen to the pain and accumulated trauma in others. It is the main reason I co-created Emotional CPR, http://www.emotional-cpr.org
thank you for sharing your insights.
I like to ponder the concept that “mental illness” does not exist. It is a concept we made up to ‘other’ people who we don’t understand particularly when they show big emotions which is a way of asking for help/support. The richness of this invitation is that we are creative and brilliant human beings with many generations of accumulated trauma heaped upon us. And we do the best we can. My spiritual emergency was my minds way of reaching for deeper meaning, purpose and understanding. I am grateful that my experience of other dimensions of reality have graced my life with doorways for deeper and further exploration. And deeper compassion for myself and for others.
Thank you for writing. The longer I live the more I appreciate the uniqueness of our paths, our choices. My path leads me deeper into discovering all that I can be. It brings me joy and liberation, though it is not always a walk through the rose garden.
I very much enjoy disrupting our illusion of “normality”. Agreed – We need to educate people about our different perspectives, otherwise it is easy to stay stuck in a glass box (not seeing the edges). Thank you for writing about this important subject. I look forward to reading your blog!
kindredspirit- thank you for writing. The “mental illness” industry taught me that spirituality was “mad”. It took me decades to rediscover my spirit. I deeply relate to what you wrote.
One major reason our group was so special is that I dont believe a space like that every took place before within the RC community. Many of us in the group have known each other for decades. We meet again in a couple days because there is more learning, exploring and revealing to come.
I agree – religion & spirituality are different. I see religion as one (amoung numerous) portal to spirituality.
Leah – GREAT job!!! Very thorough. Hundreds of thousands of people who have experienced trauma, humiliation, abuse, torture – the small people- are working to educate others about the REAL changes, the genuine changes, needed to build a system of mental health care – as opposed to building the well-funded “mental illness” industrial complex. Let’s not forget the many people murdered in the name of “mental health care”. The system is so broken and causes so much damage how do we shift the perspectives of those who only see a need to control, limit human rights and not listen to those of us with wisdom from our lived experienced of being locked up, drugged up, etc.
The damage that has been done to us, I believe, is in large part what makes it extremely difficult to come together and form a big coalition that IS HEARD and taken seriously – with the funding, policies, trainings, research that are all part the change we need.
thanks again Leah Harris.
Please keep writing
great minds think alike
great minds also resonate
many great minds coming together create a wave
a big wave creates big change
Thank you Someone Else for your comments especially the question you pose. I have come to realize that the journey never ends, its infinite. Our bodies die but not our spirit. The vibration of that energy continue to exist and have an impact. The LOVE AND PURITY OF THOUGHT (intelligence and vision) that Janet Foner communicated (see my previous blog) is still very much alive and thriving in hundreds of people whose lives she changed. I am compiling the tributes to her for a future publication (blog, I hope but it is long!)
I wish you continuing peace and happiness too.
Thank you for your kind words Alex. Our thinking/perspective in how we find balance is very aligned.
After I wrote the blog Deepak Chopra defined spirituality (in a brief introduction to a meditation) as pure awareness. I LOVED that definition. I like things short and sweet! Pure Awareness – woow. How deep can we take that!? I am learning; deep, deeper, deeper and in that depth I find bliss, enlightment, harmony, synchronicities, boundless love and acceptance and so much more.
Thank you for thanking me about this transformation process. Sometimes the path feels a bit lonely and when I find fellow travels – my sense of belonging DEEPENS.
I like the term restorative stillness, it feels warm and fuzzy, cozy!!!!
I feel blessed now but I never felt that in the vast majority of my life. Most of my life felt engaged in battle, climbing a mountain while fending off attackers – augh – the life of a mental health advocate!!!
Years ago, knowing that something was missing from my life, the hole in my core never seemed to fill, I started to carve out time to do self-care differently and at a deeper level than I had ever done. I was fortunate that a raised-poor co-worker suggested I check out a resource. Engaging and committing myself to do the work offered by this resource (rc.org) has been the hardest work I have ever done in my life. Cleaning off the dusty mirror allowed me to see more clearly and eventually to find more & more freedom – liberation. RC is practiced in every state in the US and over 100 countries. You will not see it advertised though we are doing more visable work around the world particulary in areas of care of the environment and eliminating racism. My area of focus has always been mental health liberation. If you read my last blog you will understand a bit more about that. RC is the most inclusive, diverse group of people I can imagine.
I invite you to consider the notion that freedom is a choice. Nelson Mandela modeled that perfectly well. You can put a man in a cage for 27 years but it didn’t stop him from changing the world.
I give thanks for your comment,
Thank you for writing in kindredspirit.
feel free to email me at [email protected]; I would be happy to dialogue with you about resources that you might find useful.
I am grateful,
Thank you for writing. The brilliance of Janet was that her profound understanding of the liberation process and how to learn to trust our unique abilities to think well about ourselves and the world around us. Her suggestion that I say “there was never anything wrong with me” didn’t work for me in my situation either. It was so radically counterculture and it was not what I believed about me.
It took me many years of emotional release work to consider the possibility that this might be true. It meant looking at the personal, social, economic, political implications if in fact her direction to me was true. I was highly skeptical but I had tried everything else I knew available to people in order to feel more fully alive and have a clear sense of meaning and purpose in my life. I knew something was missing in my life but I didn’t know what it was. The “There was never anything wrong with me” contradiction was an idea for me, individually to work on, to use as a springboard for thinking differently and for bringing up emotions that I needed to feel and release. And I only took Janet seriously and looked at this contradiction because I wanted freedom, I wanted more genuineness and something different in my life which I couldn’t quite put my hands on. I didn’t know what I was missing until I began to taste liberation, that is, to learn to separate my genuine self from my patterned way of thinking which I was taught by my culture. Her direction and the enormous amount of support I found in the RC community was essential for me to learning to believe in my own thinking, to believe in myself. And that process took me many many years, however, it was the most important work I have ever done. It changed my whole life. It put me on a course of learning how to clean my perceptual lens and see reality more clearly. Janet also taught me a lot about how to have a vision of an inclusive and cooperative world and how to build it step-by-step and not alone but with the support that I built around me.
It’s a process that I continue to use regularly because it keeps me on a path of liberation. Last night several of us who knew and loved Janet met to share our feelings about her passing. Doing so was very healing for me. I felt the closeness of others who are coming to terms with her death. It’s such a profound loss for so many of us. And I could feel the depth to which I am not alone in grieving our loss as well as remembering the profound impact she had on so many of our lives.
I just learned that Janet passed in her sleep, quietly, no suffering. Her passing was completely unexpected. I thought I would share that in case you were wondering. It was reassuring or comforting to me to learn that.
Thank you for writing and sharing. Please know that you are not alone, as lonely and hard as it may feel. YOU are not alone. You matter. Remember your strength, it has gotten you this far!!!!!
Thank you for adding your thoughts. It is hard to find words to introduce Janet to people who didnt know her or of her work. I have never known anyone like her in the multidimensional way she so eloquently lived her life- artist (master quilt maker and former painter), always FUN and funny, highly strategic in that she was spent at least 30 years putting her vision of the world into action and she was a master at doing so effectively. What she did in the RC world (www.RC.org) is nothing short of heroic. She single-handedly brought mental health liberation (MHL) to the diverse leadership of the RC organization. In doing so, she spread grass roots MHL deeply across this planet. Typically at Janet’s international MHL RC workshops and conferences (held in Pa or NY) large contingencies of people came from Europe, the Far East, some from Africa, across North America, always growing our RC MHL community. That community remains very active and alive. She had a strong, smart group of leaders in her inner circle and I look forward to see how they step up and no doubt will continue the bedrock foundation that Janet started.
David, I love you and have from the day I met you about 12 years ago when I began working for the National Coalition of Mental Health Recovery (www.ncmhr.org) . You and Janet were quite a team and I am privileged to have had the honor of working with both of you, in separate contexts, that is, her in the RC culture.
What comforts me in these hazy days in coming to terms with her passing is, well… I feel her spirit looking down on us all. She is enjoying seeing what will happen, who will step up – and she will always be there as a guiding light, comforting and cheering us on.
Thank you for sharing some of your journey and the benefits of deepening your consciousness, finding your truth and embracing your genuine self found beneath the brainwashing/ damaging conditioning so prevalent in our culture particularly the misinformation dispensed by the mental illness industry.
I wish you joy, health and healing as your blossoming- your liberation – continues to unfold. I continue deepening my own conscious evolution and practice what I preach so to speak.
Thank you for writing. I dont believe I posted about sexist duality. I dont take dualistic viewpoints. I know the high tide lifts all ships. Women will change the world to the extent that they work collaboratively with men and vice verse. We are not islands. We dont do it alone. Sure we can influence and be great leaders but ultimately we need everyone. We need each other, so I dont separate people into boxes which is part of creating war. I want peace peace. I work hard at creating it in my mind and creating it in all of my relationships. It is the hardest work I have ever done.
I gave up TV and fast food long ago. In fact I have made a lot of changes to live more aligned with my vision of the world. I am sure I will continue to make more changes, much of which is about opening my heart and my mind and reaching for connection and peace. It is there for those who seek it but it is not an easy journey. Well worth it though!!!!
Thank you so much. I try to plant seeds, to share what I have learned – and I am always learning!!!
peace to you J
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. If you don’t mind me making a suggestion, I would love for you to read my blog “When the war in our mind ends, peace emerges”. Also, I question whether “good” and “evil” exist or if it is a story we keep repeating. I look through rosy glasses. I REALLY believe in empowerment – on so many levels. Our world is what we create it to be. No Limits – except the ones we impose on ourselves.
I hope you have gotten some rest. I do not look through a lens of illness, nor do I believe this blog is about illness.
The quote from the blog (copied below) came from a Pulitzer prize-winning author and journalist with The New York Times. I happen to agree with him.
“How ironic, we are the most technologically connected generation in human history, and yet more people feel more isolated than ever. The connections that matter most and that are most in short supply today are the human-to-human ones.”
I also believe in the vast power of the human mind to heal, to create connections, to create peace.
Thank you for writing
The article does have practical information on enhancing our connection to self and others, and therefore feeling more tuned in to the human web – the universal human tapestry. I suggest you re-read the blog with a hopeful perspective, perhaps an open-hearted perspective and definitely read the blog “When the war in our mind ends, peace emerges”.
Are you ready to feel connected? It is not an easy process. In fact it is some of the hardest work I have ever done. Feeling connected, more than anything else, has changed my life. There is a lot of free information out there (web) on it. Clearly, you need to find what best resonates with you. I wish you well. Feel free to email me if you want more info.
Right! Finding peace in our own mind is, I believe, the key. It is about changing our perspective. It is about being hopeful. It is about feeling connected – to self and to others which I think go hand in hand; they reinforce each other. The more deeply I feel connected within myself the easier it is for me to connect with others – to respect them, their perspective- and to build bonds. It is the human bonds after all that change the world.
Great article Will. I wish it was easier to tweet out & post on FB- I will work on doing that after I post this. I am, after 8 years with the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery working for MH reform on the federal, state & local level, rethinking how to best use my resources/my life. I agree, our efforts as a national MH “movement” are largely failing and cooptation and not working at a deeper and more fundamental level of change is leading to massive destruction of minds/lives, of the possibility of an inclusive culture that respects all forms of life.
My community building work in FL is expanding and in large part, has taken a deep dive. I am looking for the “right” movement – for me – to commit to. For now I am doing more quality meditation and opening up to how I can best bring light to community. I will be training the local police force in Emotional CPR (Spring 2018) which is a significant step forward but more to come! Please keep writing, keep leading. You are such a gift to the world.
Thank you so much for sharing your insights and the danger that lurks. I envision an international peer support certification process perhaps built upon the peer-developed and peer run national Canadian Certification model which as I see it is completely aligned with the values of peer support. Might I add that peer competencies have already been developed by INAPS and then expanded upon by SAMHSA and published on SAMHSA web. These competencies are aligned and consistent with the Canadian peer to peer support competencies. Would it serve the US peer support community to develop competencies that unlike the fear-based, pathology MHA competencies would be Trauma Informed, socially inclusive and respectful of the wisdom gained by those of us who have been through the mental health system, understand the impact of Menal health oppression and are skilled at supporting people through emotional distress and into a full life in the community ?
I am committed to create such a US or international certification. if anyone else is interested let me know via email, [email protected] or email INAPS. I hope that INAPS will step forward to coordinate a certification that will genuinely enhance our ability to support each other on our healing journey’s.
Exquisitely written, powerful. Thank you.
I am considering signing up for the class.
And I feel inspired to write a blog about my own torture as a 16 year young person locked in a psych ward. If enough of us shine the light on the sugar coated torture the prison guards might think twice about the pain they are inflicting. We get to use our battle scars as teachers.
And we get to lift those whose eyes are still blinded – or blurry – as you have lifted me
Great article. My heart, my passion, my intentions are aligned with you. I look forward to donating to helping make the (Soteria) house thrive. Please contact me to discuss fundraising. I have Hungarian roots.
I enjoyed the blog. The more I learn to embody the process of IPS the more deeply rewarding my relationships and my life are. I don’t realize how judgmental I am until I slow down enough to observe my mind using labels (eg, “that’s crazy”, “that’s stupid”) in an attempt to feel in control. What I am actually doing is reacting based on old learned fear in an effort to protect myself or to feel powerful – as in I am right, you are wrong. When I open my mind and my heart to be loving and non-judgmental I feel a spaciousness. In that space of collaborative discovery the relationship deepens and I learn so much about letting go and “being with” – being present in the moment with myself and “with” this other person. I find that it opens up a deeper dimension of living. I feel freer, more authentic, more genuine. The impact it has had on my life is that I feel much more peaceful and I notice the beauty and miracle of being in the NOW. One important aspect of my approach is to observe the words I use because each word has power. The more I use only positive words the better I feel. For example instead of saying or thinking – OH What a hard conversation this was or what a difficult person to work with, I now think – and thinking leads to feeling – What an interesting conversation and I see the tremendous strengths in the person I am working with. The result of seeing each person from the highest vantage point and using the best of intentions is that I communicate with a positive energy and that creates a shift in the relationship. It changes the words I use, the thoughts I have and enhances the caring and welcoming tone I broadcast. I hope this makes sense, I have so much more to figure out but I am loving the impact my intentional approach is having on myself and others.
I am enjoying meeting more and more people who are embodying IPS.
Thank you for writing. Your post gives much food for thought. I address what I can in future blogs. My intention these days is to live the best and highest I can possibly be as a spiritual being in a human life span. The deeper I go into peace-building in my mind the more effective I am at peace- building in the world – in all my relationships, my writings.
Thanks for sharing your insights. I think we live in a traumatized culture and no one escapes being impacted by it- even if they are not aware of its impact. The new normal and day-to-day culture for most of the world is generally dehumanizing, violent, exploitive due to irrational greed, human & civil rights violations and ignorance. I am dedicating the rest of my life to embodying inner peace to create global peace. As I cleanse and purify my body, mind, spirit, emotions I am discovering deeper and deeper levels of peace and that by itself impacts all of my relationships and the way I live. Its been a huge learning curve. I hope you stay in touch. I would like to hear about your pathway towards healing. Practicing and training in Emotional CPR (www.emotional-cpr.org) has been a tremendous tool in my awakening.
Thank you for writing. I am just now finding your comment. Everyone is impacted by war whether they are aware of it or not. It destroys so much – as you know – and touches every life form on this planet- including damage to the environment. Working on healing from this damage has profoundly changed my life. The hurts to me personally, my family, friends, community – and our entire world society are deeply embedded in our individual and collective psyche. I think a lot about our current fear-based society which I believe is one outcome of so many wars in the last 3,000 – 5,000 years on this planet.
Wars began on this planet when we shifted from matrilineal to patrilineal societies and competition became the dominate approach rather than prior to that when cooperation and “getting along” dominated human life on this planet. The more we find peace in our own minds the more we create peace in our relationships and in the world. Outer war is a projection of inner war.
Thank you for this powerfully written piece. You eloquently point out so many critical points.
1) With love in our hearts – we must be the change we want to see in the world.
2) As we move forward it serves us all if we are always mindful of an inclusive framework- how do we include all voices everywhere. Those of us privileged, like myself – being white- we need to take a hard look at and work on healing from our internalized racism. There is no escaping racism particularly if you grew up in America. It is sold to us a “normal”. There is nothing normal about it.
3) It would be helpful if there were opportunities to work on this within the movement. Frankly, the work I do on this is outside “mental health”. I will join the Forum this evening 8-3-16 – you have the call in info at the end of your blog post. It is also offered 8-9-16, same time.
4) I would like to do more within the movement so we can create a safe space for white people to work on healing (being free from) our internalized racism and make people of the global majority more central in our movement.
I could go on but will stop after adding that my MIA blog of last week was about some of my plans to address racism in my community. This issue is so important to me that I am making it more front and center in my life. I invite other white people to do the same. Imagine a world without racism and live your life that way.
When you see it interrupt it and correct it. If you dont feel like you can at the time then do the work (internal and with other white people) so you can take steps towards ending racism in your life time.
Taking action to end any form of oppression (rasicm, sexism, classism, able-bodyism, etc) affects all other forms of oppression. The invitation which Iden offered is to change our thinking and behavior, to be hopeful and move towards the lifting upward (higher) of everyone. How else can we build a genuine village where everyone is included. It starts with each of us as individuals – making a stand and a clear intention and then getting support to stay on track.
Thank you Iden.
Thanks for writing Jen. We are all going to die one day – at least our physical body dies. I contemplate the notion of – What lives on? I think we all live on, our energy, our essence, our spirit – what ever you want to call it or whatever you believe. I respect whatever you believe. We get to choose, right? The older and wiser I get the more I find myself believing that life is a lot more than we were taught it was. On a dense level it is physical, what I do concretely day to day. Is that what I am? No.
I, and I propose that every human being, is much more than what we do and how we act/behave day to day. Are we the observer? If I separate myself from ego and the theatre of day-to-day life (fear-driven, dualistic) then deeper levels of consciousness and awareness are revealed. THAT is where I find meaning and purpose. Who was I born to be? Why I am here? Why take up space & oxygen? I am finding DEEP meaning and purpose as I explore embodying inner peace to create global peace. What would that look like for you? Can you imagine it? I needed to go to Auschwitz and study the death camps of WWII and release rage, terror, fear – with other people doing the same inner work – to find my calling.
Yesterday I sat eye to eye with a sea turtle that had just laid her eggs and buried them on the beach. Exhausted, she headed back to the water. I sat on the beach with her. We exchanged glances – eye to eye, me and this beautiful creature. At that moment, nothing existed for me but pure bliss, energy, love. I was not in my head. I was on another level – I dont even know what to call it. I have no words to describe it. My experience was so much deeper than words – a peak experience, sacred, Divine…. when she disappeared into the Gulf I stood there and said Thank you, Thank you, Thank you and I cried. I was so deeply moved to be a witness and a participant.
I am glad I have lived long enough to OPEN to my heart to love, to life, to what is beyond beyond. Life is a series of endless miracles. The fact that I have survived and become what I am is sufficient proof of that for me. How we all survive is nothing short of a miracle!!!!
insert smile here!!!!
Imagine a world of peace, of cooperation, of inclusion and live your life that way.
I hope my words make sense. They came more from my heart than my head.
I too, am a graduate of the School of Hard Knocks. I think of myself (and many other survivors of the wounds of living today) as tenacious. strong, tolerant, compassionate, having a thirst for life, for truth for meaning and purpose.
I had to walk through the fire to begins finding what I am. What is being revealed is far beyond my imagination.
I am a student of the Universe. I have many teachers. 12-step says when the student is ready to learn the teacher arrives. OH They have arrived and I am grateful. Thank you for writing again Deena. I look forward to connecting.
I am glad you enjoyed the piece. I would not be alive today were it not for others loving me, teaching me, holding out hope for me, It is an honor to be able to return the gifts I have been given.
thank you for writing Deena. I would love to have a conversation with you someday to get to know you better. I would like to better understand how and why you put yourself in these – as you say “horrible” situation. I admire your courage, your passion.
My cell 703-862-6512.
One thing I will write here is that my understanding is that guilt is not a feeling, it is a judgement. Perhaps you think differently. I any case, I would like to connect.
I always enjoy reading your posts and savoring your wit and your sharp mind. The MHFA article did not disappoint. Although I have not gone through the training I knew a lot about the original US curriculum that they starting using, e.g., 3 smiley faces next to the recommended ECT intervention (UG, promoting brain damage!!). I don’t know if that is still in the training manual. I see from your blog that MHFA has taken language from Emotional CPR (eCPR) which they have been doing for years and perhaps they have “integrated” others trauma-informed language. Based on your article it appears that the MHFA approach is the same-old-same-old fear-based, linear pathology-think that actually makes the world a less safe and less compassionate place.
Thank you so much for sharing your experience.
Thanks for writing Frank. I agree with you – social media and expanding technologies are bringing people together in unprecedented numbers to connect and exchange resources, ideas, projects. It totally rocks!!! We are changing the world and that is exciting to see. Visionaries are lighting the way as tens if not hundreds of thousands of people are accessing free or low cost information that gives hope and saves lives. Many of these classes and information exchanges are the foundation for social justice, enlightment, liberation, healing and moving us into a new era.
Personally, I am moving away from anything that is ANTI-anything. MIA is a collection of bloggers critical of psychiatry – my opinion, my words. Focusing on the positive, the connections, the partnering of values and philosophies, where we can get sparks of insight from the friction of diverse ideas moves change more quickly and seemlessly. No need for duality in a light filled world. We have more in common than we may realize. Ask and yee shall receive.
B, Thanks for writing. I loved hosting the dialogues and hearing from diverse people about issues so central in our lives. I am doing more (yes continuing and expanding) in various formats. My website calendar page has information on that (www.laurenspiro.com). I am involved in planning a dialogue that will bring together students from 2 different high schools. As much as possible I want them – the students- to define the issues they wish to explore further but they will most likely be related to mental health liberation, creating peace and social justice.
Perhaps the most damaging tyranny is that which dwells in our minds. The invitation, I believe, is to envision a relationship, a community, a country, a world – you fill in the blank – where all people live harmoniously. As I take the time and do the internal work (consciousness raising, radical honesty, paradigm shifting) and the external work (bringing compassion into engaging in harmonious dialogue which deeps and improves relationships) I find it easier to envision, embrace and embody a collective shift in consciousness. I am working on this every day and finding not only that I am changing but that all my interactions and relationships are changing towards more positive outcomes.
I remember to never underestimate the power of a hand reaching for another, the power of compassion, of caring and letting people know I care and that I want to understand their view of the world. In that way we may investigate other possibilities, other solutions together. I don’t know a better way to create the world the way I want it – peaceful, inclusive, respecting all life forms. Some may think it is impossible but that is an indicator of the damage of tyranny. In order to manifest our vision we must intentionally believe it, speak it, and live it.
Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts Matthew and in particular for pointing out – and I agree with you – what can easily be interpreted as my being naïve, ignorant and colorblind- which I don’t think I am but words and context matter. I offer a bit more context and explanation below and I have copied your comments of concern for ease of following this discussion.
Matthew wrote “I want to express some confusion and concern about your repeated suggestion that we “imagine a world without racism and live your life that way.”
To my eyes, this could be taken as support for liberal “colorblindness” where we pretend racism does not exist and think that merely by working to treat people of color with respect on an individual basis, we are contributing to ending racism”.
I would like to explain that quite a few years ago I was so concerned about the rampant racism I saw operating in “mental health” settings (and elsewhere) that I wanted to create opportunities to address this head on. One action step I took was to provide training in cultural competency/attunement with an African American partner and we created this phrase “imagine a world without racism and live your life that way” as a means of inviting people to transcend their social conditioning and think and act differently – in non-racist ways. Our interactive trainings addressed racism head-on particularly on a personal and interpersonal level and at this level and in the manner we did the training there were always clear implications for both policy and systems level change that was needed.
The intent of the invitation is to take the time to ‘be’ different. Our trainings created a safe space to explore racism. Each participant shared rich information including their cultural heritage, who they are, what they think, how their family came to North America, etc. The space that was opened was one in which everyone could show their caring for each other. Typically the trainings were provided to organizations or programs within organizations so people knew each other to varying extents. The process involved engaging our innate curious inquiry and heart-felt compassion to reach for a deep connection, for deeper understanding. In this way we experienced individually and collectively an opening up of our minds which allowed for more honestly, cultural sensitivity and authenticity in our professional and personal relationships.
What I see pervasively practiced in our culture is people wearing a protective perceptual lens based on their illusion of fear and separation. Racism is one part of the multi-oppression based fear and separation. That learned (not innate) perceptual lens gets fueled by our increasing out-of-control capitalism including the exploitation of all things human and environmental which contributes to the increased violence and disrespect for humanity that currently exists. Sadly and ironically I find that much of my work in the world is about re-learning how to be human and humane and I often do this by facilitating dialogues of discovery. Dialogues create opportunities to evolve our consciousness forward by creating a space where our hearts and minds are open, there is no application of judgment and everyone’s thinking is accurate based on the individual’s perception. Ideally what is created is a synchronistic and harmonious coming together which is hard to describe unless you have been there. The ideal outcome of dialogue is that it lifts us to transcend our cultural conditioning and become aware of the following processes:
– Sometimes (probably more often that we like to admit) we notice that our thinking gets stuck on a particular belief (e.g., based on racism, mental health oppression, etc.) or ideology that we have not thoroughly examined and let go. It may indicate that more reflection may deepen our awareness or self-knowledge.
– We see other ways of thinking and being in the world as valid and good – and that means that more possibilities and relationships open up. Our heart and mind expand, our perceptual barriers dissolve. We see life more clearly.
– When we transcend our social conditioning we become more open to co-creating a new paradigm. In this fertile ground of openness, we think more creatively and therefore can more effectively co-create the communities we want. When the war in our mind ends, peace emerges. And yes, racism in one of the ways we wage war in our mind.
Practicing this process (opening my heart and mind in a process of liberation) allows me to envision a world without racism – or any oppression for that matter. Embodying hope, I can see a world made up of culturally rich and inclusive communities where every one is respected and valued and given the dignity they deserve.
On a separate note, I think the excellent article which you cited has many important actions that people can take and should select some of these actions to take if they want to work towards racial justice and perhaps to begin to work on the edges of their own white racism.
There was one action step in the article you cited that I thought was particularly interesting and relatively easy to do so I copied it below. Can you imagine how we might contribute to ending racist police policies and actions if a lot of white people started filming these injustices?
8. If You See Injustice Occurring, Do Not Stand Silently or Walk on By. Do you see police officers engaging in a stop-and-frisk interaction? It turns out that it is entirely legal to film police interactions without interfering. Hold police accountable. Watch them. They may be less likely to engage in outright violence if they are being filmed. If not, the video can be critical evidence as police can claim that they were being assaulted, or charge disorderly conduct, when video evidence clearly refutes these claims. There are apps and organizations that accumulate these videos and data. Use them.
What the article did not mention, however, was the internal work – the emotional and perceptual work we can do to embody justice not only in our minds but in our hearts. How do we genuinely heal from the damage of racism and internalized racism, as well as mental health oppression, adultism and all form of oppression? We can change all the laws in the land – and we have changed many laws (civil rights laws, employment laws via the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Americans with Disability Act laws) but that doesn’t change attitudes. I hope I have sufficiently planted a seed for future conversation that will address the emotional and perceptual or attitudinal issues and how we can come to truly embody justice for all – in our laws and in our hearts. It is good that we have opened this conversation to speak more honestly about oppression and particularly racism. All oppressions are linked so as we clean up the damage done by the internalization of one form of oppression we are cleaning up or freeing ourselves from the damage from other forms of oppression.
Matthew – thank you for writing. I am working on my response… stay tuned!!!
Yes B, the world does need a civil rights overhaul and that change begins with us. Each and every one of us make choices every day. I dream of approaching the tipping point where we see that every person is treated with respect and dignity and included in the entire life flow of community- all levels, always.
I see the day when our children, our grandchildren, and our great grandchildren will look back on history and say – Can you imagine a world where events such as Ferguson occur and a world where police officers get away with murdering people who are in acute emotional distress and when homeless people are left to freeze to death on the streets? And the resounding answer is “NO!!! It’s unimaginable”. The world must change and we are the ones to change it. I am grateful that we have this opportunity on MIA to share our thoughts and inspire one another to reach higher. I continue to imagine a peaceful world where everyone is included and concepts such as ignorance and fear-based oppression are far behind us.
I agree whole heartedly Ted. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
Thank you for writing chrisreed. I am deeply touched and hopeful that many people continue to demonstrate and get arrested for doing so one week after the verdict. People’s heart-strings are touched and their righteous indignation is spilling onto the streets and the news media. Yeah!! Let the cries for rationality and humanity be heard, let us end these oppressive and clearly racist actions. Thank you for the reference to Sonali’s broadcasts, I have not yet seen them. The Grand Jury (per Rachel Maddow) was given inaccurate and confusing instructions. They were using law that many decades ago was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. Let’s call it what it is – oppression, racism and yes the understatement of the decade – over policing.
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.
Ms. Empowered – I just watched the video
Thank you for the link and for your heart felt reflections . The words “sorrow of the souls” which first came to me while I stood in the gas chamber of Auschwitz last year, comes to me now. Human history is filled with holocausts. People left Europe for the New World and unawarely brought their corrupted minds and concepts which they forced on the native people of this beautiful land. My heart continues to break for the destruction we bring to all people, all life forms and the environment of this planet.
Finding peace in times of war is very challenging but we must never lose sight of what is possible. It is always possible to reach for our shared humanity. It is always possible to show love and respect and to do our very best to take responsibility for creating the communities we dream of. What helps me hold on to eternal hope is remembering the whispers of the souls of the past. When I feel their presence and their undefeatable will to survive I remember love. And I feel the radiating light and the wind at my back and I know what I must do. Elie Wiesel (in Night) teaches us great lessons. When I finished reading Night I painted and what came out was a flickering flame amidst darkness. I believe we all have that flame, that chi, that life force – the will to survive. We are born with it just as the blade of grass that finds its way through the cement.
What is the wind under your wings? What does your soul say in the abyss of darkness? Where is your light, your passion?
May we find peace together
PS I am still intrigued and wondering about the dragonfly. I didn’t see it in the video but I know it is there.
thank you all for commenting. Fred, I have not seen the movie, do you mind sharing what you found to be poignant about it? I find myself integrating so much information currently that I can not find words to properly respond to some of your comments. I will say, however, that yesterday while facilitating a dialogue at Boston University, I shared my experience and learning from Auschwitz. With the wind at my back I am drawn to share my lessons learned (via dialogues) as I deepen my healing from trauma and oppression and to do so in a heart-felt manner that invites others to share their wisdom, experiences and questions. How can we inspire people (especially those who do not follow MadinAmerica) to think holistically about the power of our mind and our body as intelligent resources on our path to liberation. In response to the 1st comment (by B) I wonder how we can build alliances with people whom we perceive as different from us. I think it takes courage, compassion, and a foundation of forgiveness and love to genuinely reach for others and build bonds and connections that can lead to further healing and peace making. I don’t believe inner peace and outer peace will occur unless we intentionally focus on creating it. And embody it every day. If we want to be effective change agents then we need to not only envision but embody the change we want to create.
I write these words from the MadinAmerica International Film Festival 2014, Arlington, MA.
Laura Delano (festival organizer) Rocks BIG TIME!!!!!!
thanks for writing a post on ECT Philip. Personally I find the procedure barbaric and unnecessary. There are many less invasive approaches that do not cause harm. Unfortunately we live in a society where many want – and are desprite for quick-fixes that in the end aren’t fixes at all.
And don’t get me started on the massive misinformation taught to medical students and the brainwashing done by big Pharma and the media out of fear, ignorance and greed
thanks for writing Ted. I find it very helpful to hear from the ends of the continuum of opinion – and I say that as a compliment. You, having choosen to work outside the system – are free to express yourself with complete transparency of your best thinking. I admire your tenacity, intelligence and passion. When I chose to attempt to represent the ‘national’ c/s/x voice in my working with the NCMHR – I understood my job to be that of navigating through tumultuous waters stirred by many diverse and often opposing view points. My personal opinion, when more radical or far from center – was not communicated publically as that would, at times, conflict with navigating the center of the NCMHR.
Unless I am completely deluding myself – I chose trying to unite this country in order to strengthen our advocacy voice and win some battles. NCMHR public policy priorities by the way have always been voted on by our national statewide membership.
I think the most effective way to effect change on the federal level is to get consensus from your constituency and advocate your ground. We win some battles but we don’t win the war for the hearts and minds of the people of America. While that saddens and unfuriates me sometimes – I think we give it our best shot.
We have won some important battles including NOT having ECT machines down graded to be considered more safe.
I am glad you will keep speaking your truth. I think it helps to keep us honest. At least it always gives me reason to pause and look at what I am doing and what the cost is of navigating the middle ground. Now that I am no longer working for the NCMHR I feel freer to speak my truth and do so in blogs, my memoir & other venues.
thanks for writing. I am not sure what happened to the ECT blog – I hope you have access to it. I did not change it after it was posted. Today is my last day with the NCMHR. It has been a great 8 years working to bring the c/s/x community together behind public policy priorities and raising our voice on the local, state and federal level. You can find me on http://www.laurenspiro.com and I continue to work to expand eCPR (www.emotional-cpr.org) as well as travel the U.S. on my Dialogues of Discovery book (memoir) tour.
Susan, Thanks for writing about the Alternatives Conference. I think it is pretty amazing that our federal tax dollars fund a large annual conference where diverse voices are heard. And Alternatives has had particularly big successes – a giant step forward for humanity I may add- to have had controversial speakers recently. I am thinking of keynotes by Robert Whitaker and Will Hall. I don’t think anyone can accuse them of conforming to the establishment.
I agree with Oryx – it is the people who make the conference great. I learn just as much if not more by networking. While I understand some of the objections of colluding with the US Government to throw a big party – opps, I mean conference – I think more progress can be made with the conference than without it BUT we must continuously advocate for visionary speakers who can move our thinking outside the box. It is a slippery slope to navigate inside- outside advocacy but as a peacemaker I do believe in collaboration and many paths that allow the individual to find his or her truth. I envision that if we spent more time respecting every voice and coming to a better understanding of perspectives different from our own that we would more effectively create inclusive and healthier communities. The Alternatives Conference is one of many ways we walk towards a more hopeful and informed future.
Brilliant piece Maria. I am sorry for your loss and our loss. I am glad however that you have gathered great evidence to propose a refreshingly rational DSM 5 diagnosis. I must say however, that I do not believe that the arrogance and ignorance of psychiatrists is inherent. My understanding is that they go a grueling and dehumanizing training that leaves then brainwashed, and pressure-indoctrinated into a ‘world as pathology’ and ‘me as God’ mindset. Nothing inherent about that! It is a symptom of an irrational world ignorant of the impact of oppression and trauma and one that has lost its moral bearings.
I am glad you have a fine-tuned moral compass and a mighty pen!
Thank you for taking the time to strike an engagingly sarcastic blow to the naked souls hiding under white coats!
OK I plan to grab a friend and buy the 2-ticket discount to the film festival. The excitement is building. I am wondering, however, if there might be a place or some space for authors of books to dialogue about our human rights and liberation work and sell our book? My memoir was recently published
Thank you for sharing your thinking. I agree with you that we have very intelligent and creative ways of protesting ourselves. These ways may look odd to others who are too quick to judge. Yes, we can and do heal. Occluded memories are revealed when we are ready to process them and find meaning and liberation. I have found that as I go deeper into the abyss of pain and suffering I am able to let go of what I am unnecessarily holding on to – fear, anger, rage, sadness, etc. I find freedom as I walk through the fire – meaning as I use self-inquiry and emotional expression to explore what my mind holds out for me. There is so much to learn.
I disagree with your statement that trauma is the source of our differences. I believe that we have no differences we only think we do. And we get stuck in thought. We are not our thoughts. We are much deeper and more complex than any thought we could have.
Trauma and the impact of trauma is a great common denominator. I believe we live in a traumatized world and no one escapes the impact of living in a world so full of hurt and trauma. We think it is normal – and there is nothing normal about the trauma that many people experience. It is a result, I believe, of living in a irrational society that values production, greed, and superficiality over humanity and healing.
My mission is to find my deepest truth and speak it. My mission is to envision a world where healing and love, inclusion and compassion are commonplace. I believe we can imagine the world the way we want it to be and live our lives based on that dream – that vision. We co-create the world we want.
thank you Corinna. You have inspired me for a long time too. Your huge success with Poetry for Personal Power is so innovate, inclusive, thoughtful and forward thinking/ forward being really!!!
Our bodies, these amazing vessels and ally’s that share our lifetime are full of wisdom. I am learning to more deeply listen to my body. PLease listen to yours and take all the time you need to heal. What could possibly be more important that that?
Our culture teaches us to compete but what does that mean really? I dont believe in winners and losers. We all win. You have already won. I have already won. Now we get to take a deep breath filled with the sweetest rosey fragrance and deepen our wisdom, share the gems we have learned and build a cooperative, peaceful planet. Now that is fun!!!!!!
I am just now discovering your blogs. Please keep writing. We are a growing in numbers, working to transform consciousness, build greater understanding, alliances, and peace. I mean do we have anything better to do?
The deeper I go into the darkness where radiance resides, the more clearly I can embody forgiveness as a portal to the Devine. I continue towards letting go of everything I have ever embraced or thought of as mine and seeing impermanence in all and understanding that this life stream flows eternal. How deeply we are connected.
In scanning over my life it gets clearer how my ‘psychotic’ journey was actually an invitation to a spiritual path and finding meaning, purpose and community. At the age of 16 I lacked the resource to help me navigate the intensity of a higher power (God) suddenly reaching for me and then speaking directly with me. I was, understandably, overwhelmed and confused trying to navigate this uncharted territory. The map is clearer now, forty years pass in the blink of an eye.
This next chapter of my life stream appears to be directed towards engaging in intentional dialogues of discovery. I started one yesterday spontaneously while amongst a group of people. (And might I mention that having a recently published memoir as a springboard is not a bad starting off point) And those who came as believers in the brain disease model left with their eyes open a little wider (literally) and thirsty for information and a deeper understanding of “mental illness”. This particular conversation will, I believe, continue.
How do we build peace in a world so blinded by pain and fear that we seem unwilling to look towards the light of forgiveness? How do you transform consciousness? How do you build peace? How do you describe the sweetness of the fruit?
It is very profound work and I thought it would be a one time only international workshop experience but my work there is not finished. I had two particularly poignant moments in our 2.5 days visiting Auschwitz. One occurred while I stood in the gas chamber – the words “sorrow of the souls” came to me in a way that was spiritually connecting to the horrors that occurred in that room. The other was as I stood by a lovely pond and knew that “something happened here” (meaning right here). Somehow whatever happened in that exact spot by the pond is connected to me. I am an explorer on the journey of a lifetime and I know I will find more answers and I think a deeper level of peace by going back into the darkness and embracing the radiance of the bright inner light.
I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this chain of posts. It’s refreshingly hopeful to see clear minds illuminate the oppressive dynamics that psychiatry & big pharma maintain out of greed and ignorance. I think of these times we live in as a “mental health” holocaust. The damage to the oppressors and to those targeted by the oppression is a killing field of gigantic proportions.
And please let’s not refer to drug ‘side-effects’. They are main effects that create yet another barrier to truly healing and gaining wisdom from the fullness of our emotional/spiritual experiences. Please keep thinking and writing so eloquently
Thank you for your kind words. When that poem came to me I never imagined I would put it into a blog. I just felt a need to paint it or somehow capture the experience I was burning through. By ‘burning through’ I mean going into the depths of emotion and spirit and discovering a deeper level of who I am – and who we are. At least I think that is what I am doing. It is a healing process and one in which I tap into a deeper awareness of my power to contradict the old patterned way of thinking which allows me to go beyond the glass ceiling and floor. I think I tap into who I was born to be – who we are all born to be. Perfect and gorgeous, intelligent, zestful, loving, cooperative human beings. The oppressiveness of our culture robs us of that often but we can reclaim it. We can envision the world the way we want it, and live our lives in line with that vision.
Alex, It is always a blessing to connect with someone on this path- thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences. It amazes me how blind I can be to my self. Oppression, coersion, brainwashing in our culture is so insidious that it is hard to see. As I continue to deepen my understanding of the damage imposed by oppression and internalized oppression I become increasing compelled to shed light on it. It’s impact om me and it’s impact on others and it’s impact on how it makes alliance building and trusting relationships challenging fuels my work of late. When I ask people about the impact of trauma on their lives and I share from my own experience it always takes the room to a deep level because people so courageously share their own experience and insights. I find that as I deepen my letting go of the ‘abandonment of humanity’ it frees me to reach for others from a place of love and peace. Inner peace brings global peace – one relationship at a time. It is the most important focus of my life. Next month I look forward to returning to Auschwitz (Poland) and continuing to work intentionally and with others on ending war – ending the illusion of separation.
Thank you Carl for bringing this to the light of day. It is a despicable example of the type of coercion, abuse, neglect, deception and killing that goes on in the U.S. “mental health” system every day. So many mis-steps went wrong on so many levels.
We must STOP the lies. Thanks also to Jeff Baillon, Fox 9 investigative reporter
Yes, people say “eCPR is help that helps”.
We are all able to connect. eCPR reminds us of our human capacity to be with and support other people in a way that is deeply meaningful and often life-changing.
Thanks for writing in Copy_cat
We provide trainings for organizations or groups anywhere in the world. Typically an organization invites us in but we do on occasion offer independent trainings that individuals may sign up for. We charge a fee and this fee varies depending on where the training is – using local trainers saves money. Please email or call us directly for more information. There is a 2-day certification training in Austin, Texas (for $200 per person) on Dec 2-3, 2013. We list our upcoming trainings on the web at http://www.emotional-cpr.org
we look forward to hearing from you.
Thank you all so much for posting your thoughts, ideas and experiences. I will continue following replies to this posting and when I can I will reply as I am doing now. As a representative of the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery I will say that we are pro-choice and pro playing in the sandbox. Our coalition represents the coming together of the voice of both consumers and psychiatric survivors in the United States. By playing in the sandbox, I mean that we work collaboratively with other stakeholder organizations and agencies to forge a more inclusive, respectful and humane America which includes a better health care and mental health system. There are many ways to affect policy change and to inspire and organize people to take action. I applaud each and every one of you for the work you are doing and for the work you will do. We are, I believe, at a tipping point. The more we can come together and stand firmly on common ground the more effectively we will create the America we want.
My vision (personally) and what I work towards is that no one would ever need invasive and potentially damaging “mental health” intervention. I also respect that, considering all the circumstances, people will chose what makes sense for them. Dorothy’s point about what is truly informed consent is an excellent one. Every individual deserves the right to define informed consent, and how that is made. If I am not able to make a decision I should have the right to have others of my choosing make that decision based on my previously stated, and preferably written, wishes.
There are so many things wrong with our health and “mental health” system. People mean well but cause harm because they don’t know any better. I strongly urge you to join with others, form a coalition or join one. Make sure your voice is heard because every voice is important.
Emotional CPR (eCPR) is one way we are educating people about how to create a more just world. Although it was originally created to teach people how to support others through an emotional crisis, people around the world are telling us that it is a way of life and that using it has improved all of their relationships. People tell us that eCPR training reminds them that we are human, that we have big compassionate hearts that are full of giving and receiving kindness and love. I am not sure that I can think of a better way to change the world. Can you?
Thanks for writing Rita and for all the wonderful work you do. The voice of a more humanistic, trauma-informed, culturally sensitive, open dialogue approach is growing. People find that this approach resonates with our deeper values and a more compassionate consciousness
Thank you Carina Håkansson & Family Care Foundation. I feel that I can now breath a little deeper. Love and using our innate intelligence can and does bring healing from states of extreme emotional distress. I am happy to throw the psychiatric labels I was given into the fire.
I have enjoyed reading these posts. Thank you all. It reminds me of the richness I find when I go deep into stillness – and experience what is so alive and unfolding in the space between the words
Thanks for writing Corinna. It is always good to know that others are speading the word that we are experts from our own lived experience. Many of us have gained insight and wisdom from our altered states or experiences with intense emotions. And separate from that we have horrendously tragic stories of the “mental illness” system unintentionally inflicting pain. I am hopeful that as we gain more political power and visability that our recommendations for state and federal policy change are taken more seriously. We need to be at the head table (where decisions are made) regarding training, eduction and evaluation.