While I integrate the powerful experience of attending the Alternatives Conference in Memphis, visiting the National Civil Rights Museum and confronting my own internalized stigma and trauma as a peer in recovery from mental distress (whew!), I continue to pursue continuing education in my chosen field. Although my application for this extraordinary training was five days late – five days after the first class had already happened – my application was accepted and I am on my way to the training I envision as being the most deeply personal, the most fulfilling: exploring spirituality and the evolution of consciousness; spiritual emergence versus spiritual emergency; how to route individuals to supportive treatment rather than shutting them down in psychiatric facilities and jails with medication; how to view the common symptom of feeling Divine as actual divinity. I learned about this training from a new friend I met at the conference in Memphis. AltCon15 has forever changed me.
Follows is my essay which got me accepted to this training, to take place online and in Ojai, CA at Krisnamurti‘s pad.
Krishnamurti wrote, “The blade of grass was astonishingly green; that one blade of grass contained the whole spectrum of colour; it was intense, dazzling and such a small thing, so easy to destroy.”
As a person who identifies herself with having lived experience, I have a keen awareness of the magic and misunderstanding that come with mental distress and recovery. The conversation around physical, mental and spiritual health needs new vocabulary. Trauma related to experience in
psychiatric facilities, in public health systems and in society must be grieved and praised. Through my healing journey, I have been able to confront and process and integrate my experiences, and continue to do so. This lends compassion, tolerance and an open mind to the way that I relate to my self and to the world. I am able to relate to marginalized and conservative groups; individual and cultural stigma is understood and reframed by my experience and activism. People are drawn to me by a tacit understanding of my self-awareness and acceptance. I would benefit from the skills and conversation that this training will lend to promote fresh conversation around wellness.
I am active as a Behavioral Health Leader. My mentor, Allie Middleton, helps guide my work as a Yoga therapist to bring complementary, Yoga-based practices to agencies interfacing with those in mental crisis and distress. She serves on faculty at the Creative Education Foundation, the New York State Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation and is a member of the Leadership Committee and long term mentor to emerging behavioral health leaders through ACMHA, the American College of Behavioral Health Leadership. As Allie and I continue our advocacy, our influence grows exponentially. She educates and influences on an administrative level and shares her knowledge with me; I work “in the trenches” and bring glimpses of the recovery culture to her, from a peer and healer perspective. We work together as change agents.
I supported Joann Lutz in presenting Nervous System-Informed Yoga for Mental Health at a weekend-long workshop in my home town of Los Osos in February, 2015. Joann introduced me to The Spiritual Emergence Network and The Grof Foundation. I determined to seek training. As a presenter at The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Agency Alternatives Conference in Memphis, TN this month, I included The Grof Foundation in my PowerPoint presentation . An audience member shared this training’s information with me.
I have a deep, personal inspiration to explore the philosophies of the Spiritual Emergence Network. I need fellowship with whom I can share, intellectually and practically, thoughts on the theme of divinity in “madness” to inform our culture and promote harmless evolution; to understand and
celebrate the megalomania “symptom” that comes with psychosis that is so alluring as to keep people cycling in crisis and that is withheld by the psychiatric model.
The misunderstanding in the psychiatric world of this expansive, significantly intuitive and interiorized awareness of subtle energies becoming gross, all alluded to in Yogic philosophy, blur the horizon of human consciousness from an evolutionary standpoint. I would like to bring light to this, to continue to live in this Light safely and to help others to do the same. People are dying from the grief of not being able to express themselves spiritually in our distorted and perverted culture, men and women I have known, including my sister, D’Arcy. It is in her remembered name and in my own that I pursue soteria.
I am a Certified Ananda Yoga® Therapist, among the first six to be certified through the Ananda School of Yoga and Meditation. I have been teaching therapeutic Yoga and meditation since 2005. My specialties are Restorative Yoga, Yoga nidra and meditation settings designed to relieve anxiety and depression. I am in private practice as a Yoga therapist. Many of my clients are therapists themselves.
I teach at-risk 16- to 18-year olds at Grizzly Youth Academy, a quasi-military residential program on the local National Guard Post at Camp San Luis Obispo. I teach at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo to faculty, staff and students. I teach meditation and deep relaxation to staff at Transitions-Mental Health Association in Santa Barbara County. I offer free workshops to the Central Coast chapter of Marriage Family Therapists.
I am a certified Yoga of the Heart® teacher, adapting Yoga for cardiac and cancer patients.
I am a Warriors At Ease® Level 2 teacher. I credit Warriors At Ease for training me in a trauma sensitive way, to bring Yoga and meditation to military communities. All of my classes are presented in a trauma-informed format, which, I am certain, is why my classes are so popular and well-received across demographic groups.
I am a discourse leader on mental health and Yoga therapy for Yoga Bharati in the Bay area. Yoga Bharati is a non-profit Yoga Training school associated with S-VYASA in Bangalore, India, the world’s premier Yoga University and Research Facility.
I offer weekly, public classes and workshops locally, including special
workshops on anxiety relief; depression relief; Healthy Mind: Affirmations; Healthy Sleep; Healthy Lymph; Healthy Digestion; Healthy Bones; introductory Ayurvedic workshops and meditation classes and series.
I am the co-producer of The Central Coast Yoga Festival, planned for October, 2016 in Morro Bay, California.
I have taken multiple trainings, including Yoga of Recovery® and Relax and Renew® trainings.
I am a presenter at national and international conferences. I have received many scholarships based on my activism and writing. I hope to apply for a scholarship for this workshop.
I am developing web-based content for people to have access to my teachings.
I hope to create a trauma-informed teacher training for mental and emotional wellness.
I hope to begin to travel and teach trauma-informed Yoga-based practices in peer recovery centers around the country next year.
I have begun writing a manuscript for publication: part memoir and part how-to manual for mental health and wellness supported by the practices of Yoga.
I have accomplished all of this as a recipient of Social Security Disability Benefits. I am currently enrolled in the Ticket To Work Program, which assists beneficiaries to transition from Social Security to becoming stable wage-earners.
Discussions are happening in my circle to create an Association for Yoga Therapy and Mental Health, national or international has not been determined. I have my hopes of an international network.
People are coming to me in droves from all over the United States, including Puerto Rico – agencies and individuals. In my own community, in the past four months alone, I have had direct experience with at least three people in mental distress, in a spiritual crisis, not willing to seek conventional, Western, allopathic treatment for behavioral health issues. When their behavior became destructive, I recognized, in each circumstance, that I need more training. I hope to guide others and to interact with people in a way that keeps me safe and stable; to simultaneously model wellness, patience and hope while providing support.
Anxiety and depression are epidemic. These are manifestations, I believe, of a society at odds with nature. This makes spiritual crisis sometimes the only
recourse. We all need to look at our treatment of each other and the world in which we live with different eyes to maintain and improve the quality of our lives and communities, both locally and globally.