17 February, 2015 14:10

Simple Steps to Transforming Consciousness and Moving Beyond Cultural Constraints

Since stepping down as the director of the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery in mid-2014 I find myself being called to bridge an illusionary divide. I am bringing together people who have been labeled with a mental health condition and those who have not in a way that invites transforming consciousness. Convening people of different perspectives to explore our thinking and our wisdom creates sparks of insight that ignite new thinking and moves us beyond our cultural constraints.

In this safe and open space we discover that we are more deeply connected than we may have realized. We evolve forward as we begin to see new possibilities and synergies for creating solutions to the challenges we face. The challenges themselves become invitations to expand our minds and tap into a new fertile ground of unlimited possibilities.

My journey of recovery and liberation – a deeply transforming experience – has led me to embody inner peace and find that I am drawn to create peace in relationships and in community and, in turn, to create global peace. My intention is to support others on their journeys to inner peace, harmony, joy and being creative stewards of humanity. I am finding that the more my heart is aligned with my highest vision the more I am able to transform wisdom into action.

In January, 2015 I facilitated a series of three in-person Dialogues of Discovery, held one week apart. The dialogues were open to any woman who wanted to join any one or more of them. I decided to hold the first series with women only to increase the chance of creating a safe space to share their authentic voice. Each dialogue had a question. Dialogue 1: Who are you? Who were you born to be? We explored who we are beneath our social mask, roles, ego & attachments. Dialogue 2: What is the relationship between our emotions and our soul? What is your essence and how do you express it? The group agreed that our emotions are a pathway to the soul. Dialogue 3: Envisioning and creating the world you want. What is your life’s mission and how are you embodying that day to day? Some of us shared our personal mission statement and all of us shared the steps we are taking to create the world or the life we want.

To begin each dialogue I shared some brief thoughts and then opened the circle for personal reflection, investigation and sharing. To open the 3rd dialogue I read from the poet Kabir: “Do I experience myself as a light in this world? Do I operate from this premise? When I set sail in the morning for a day at sea, is this the wind that propels me?”

Ann Potter gave permission to share her personal mission statement which she prepared for Dialogue #3, To be awake to my life during the good, the bad and the ugly. And to not harden in my awakeness but to soften into it continually. Each dialogue was filled with sharing of emotion, thoughts and spiritual beliefs.

All dialogue participants wanted to continue our investigation, deepen our connections and include younger women so we may broaden the sharing of diverse perspectives and build bridges. All dialogue participants agreed to our next step which is a half-day retreat in February 2015 titled “Expressing Your Essence: Sharing our Collective Wisdom” and it will include women across a broad age span.

The same three in-person Dialogue of Discovery topics discussed above are currently being held in a teleconference format. The first one (Who were you born to be?) was held Jan 27, 2015 and here is what people said about it.

We change each other easier than we think. Being on this call and hearing other peoples’ heart-felt exploration is changing and expanding me in ways I never expected! I really appreciate it. – Margaret, New York

I see the truth of who we are and we are not our diagnoses. There is not a disorder in me but a gift… to use as blessings for the world. I appreciate the opportunity for all of us to come together and share our authentic self. – Julia Robles Scott, California

Tele-dialogue #1 began with brief introductions of all participants, then the features of dialogue were explained, after which we had a participatory process to establish a safe space. People expressed what would make them feel comfortable sharing, many people spoke about what they needed to feel safe and not judged so people could speak honestly and an agreement was made to maintain confidentiality. Then everyone had an opportunity to share their thinking regarding the question Who were you born to be? Since we couldn’t see each other one person at a time spoke as we went around the virtual circle.

Twenty-four people from across the U.S. participated. Eleven people responded to an anonymous survey emailed out immediately after the dialogue and some samples of their responses are below. A large majority answered all questions positively and also expressed an interest in more tele-dialogues.

In response to the question Was the dialogue valuable? If yes, how?

  • An exercise in listening deeply. Exposure to others’ paths. Witness to a process of bringing "strangers" together in a framework of safety and support to share at whatever level they desire.
  • I always enjoy learning from others people perspectives, and experiencing connection with people on their unique journeys.

In response to the question As a result of the dialogue, will you do something differently?

  • Increase my belief and value of healing happening in relationship versus alone.
  • I will try to be more open to giving and receiving love like some people mentioned.

In response to the question Areyouinterested in more teleconferencedialogues? If yes, what topics would you like to explore, individual comments included:

  • What brings you joy? What does freedom mean to you?
  • Time management; how to shore self up doing peer work; burnout; needing peer support myself, yet being seen as someone who only provides it… dealing with difficult emotions and self sabotage…
  • Balance and Harmony in ones life
  • Confidence
  • Competence

In response to the question Are you interested in being part of an ongoing virtual community that addresses topics like this dialogue? If yes, what would want from it, individual comments included:

  • Having access to support where I could open up and talk about things
  • Learn from others
  • Ways to achieve better harmony, balance, and health in the communities in which I live
  • Peer interaction for individuals who have, are or are considering getting off psych meds. A place to discuss experiences and hope.

The teleconference Dialoguesof Discovery to Share Our Collective Wisdom: Think, Listen and

Share are free* and open to everyone. I am learning that indeed small and simple steps may lead to transforming consciousness and moving beyond cultural constraints

What is the Relationship Between Our Emotions and Our Soul?


Tuesday, February 24, 2015 from 3:00 PM to 4:30 PM (EST)

Envisioning and Creating the World You Want

Tuesday, March 24, 2015 from 3:00 PM to 4:30 PM (EDT)

*To join the Dialogues, click the links above, which will register you for each session and provide a conference number and access code in the confirmation email. This is not a toll-free number.If you do not have free long-distance service, a nominal charge may apply. Check with your phone service provider for applicable rates to the 605 area code.

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