I have had an abundance of wonderful teachers and mentors in my life. I am working to make cards for most of them in my own SoulCollage® deck’s Community Suit. This page is a tribute to some of those who have been most important to me and to my work in the world.
Stanislav Grof, M.D., Ph.D.
My Studies and Work with Stanislav Grof, M.D., Ph.D.
I began ongoing study in 1984 with Stanislav Grof, M.D in transpersonal psychology and non-ordinary states of consciousness. I became a certified Holotropic Breathwork™ Practitioner, was active as a senior trainer in the Grof Transpersonal Training from 1993-2000, and have assisted Stanislav Grof at many large workshops and trainings. I have written books about Holotropic Breathwork, the technique developed by Stanislav Grof and his wife, Christina (now deceased), and described in their book Holotropic Breathwork.
Stan Grof has written about the role of a therapist:
The essential attribute of the therapist is not the knowledge of specific techniques; although these represent a necessary prerequisite, they are quite simple and can be learned in a relatively short time. The critical factors are his or her own stage of consciousness development, degree of self-knowledge, ability to participate without fear in the intense and extraordinary experiences of another person, and willingness to face new observations and situations that may not fit any conventional theoretical framework. ~Grof, S. Beyond the Brain (1985, p. 375)
What have I learned from Stan Grof?
As a result of the deep Holotropic Breathwork™ work he designed and in which I participated, everything in my life changed. It changed turbulently for a while, but very much for the better. The key thing I learned was to trust the process experientially—to trust not only the process that happens, always surprisingly, in deep inner work, but to trust what happens out in the midst of ordinary life as well. Ordinary life is also a process unfolding. I am very grateful for the Grof Cartography of the psyche which provides a template for all human experience and which is described in his books. I have been so blessed in my life to have his mentorship and example.
I also learned quite a bit from GTT Trainers, Tav Sparks and Diane Haug when we worked together through the 90s training Holotropic Breathwork® facilitators.
January 2018 at a GTT module in Joshua Tree, CA) Cary Sparks, Kylea Taylor, Tav Sparks, Diane Haug, and Jim Schofield.
Seena B. Frost, M.S., M.Div.
My Studies and Work with Seena B. Frost
I met Seena in 1989 when Jim and I went to a workshop in her home. She was teaching us an interesting collage process where we chose images intuitively and created half-page sized cards. We loved it. I thought this process had all the right ingredients for healing and self-discovery. It was also fun, creatively satisfying, done in community, and gave everyone the opportunity to do non-threatening self-discovery and intimate sharing with others in a way that didn’t require many words. People felt seen! They felt encouraged! They felt permission to be their unique selves and support others in doing that also.
I asked Seena if we could publish her book about this work and she said yes! The book came out in 2001. We advertised it only by word of mouth and on the web, but people everywhere saw something that felt real and beneficial. Seena and I started training SoulCollage® Facilitators together in 2003, and now there are over 3600 trained Facilitators in 45 countries. There are authorized SoulCollage® Trainers holding Trainings all over the world. I am simply amazed at how this community has grown and am thrilled to be working with the great people who are attracted to use and share SoulCollage®. Check out the many videos by people who love SoulCollage® posted at YouTube/SoulCollageTV.
There is a memorial video in two parts presented on February 15, 2016, prepared by the SoulCollage® Community who loved her:
What did I learn from Seena?
Many many things. She was wise, fun, caring, and funny. The thing that stands out the most for me today is something she learned from her mentor many years ago and passed on to us: CHERISH YOUR INTERRUPTIONS! When my best laid plans are foiled by the Fool or other Interrupter archetypes, I really remember this admonition, and find there is always something to accept and learn amid the disruption of my expectations.
My time with Swami Kripalvanandaji
I lived at the Kripalu Yoga Retreat in Summit Station, PA for four months during the summer of 1977. I had planned for almost a year to be there during this summer. When I got there I discovered that the guru’s own guru (Bapuji as he was called by devotees), had arrived a few days before and had decided to break his 12 years of silence and emerge from seclusion. He would be teaching us every day! Bapuji’s book in two volumes: Premyatra: Pilgramage of Love contains the edited versions of these 1977 lectures. I learned from Bapuji’s speeches, but I received even more from his darshan — the immense unconditional love and energy he bestowed upon students in the room with him. See a full biography of Swami Kripalvananda.
Two of Bapuji’s prominent disciples were two brothers I studied with. Yogi Amrit Desai was the founder of the Kripalu Retreat and Kripalu Ashram where I visited for darshan for the next several years until Bapuji’s death in 1981. I also studied with his brother, Yogi Shanti Desai, who had ashrams in Glassboro, N.J. and in Ocean City, NJ. where I participated in Shanti’s weekly satsang. I was privileged to attend Bapuji’s darshans in all of these locations until he returned to India in 1981.
What did I learn from Bapuji?
I learned to receive the energy of Love and Shaktipat. I learned by his example what is “professional love” and true well-wishing for others by a teacher or leader. I had my first stirrings of personal experiences of Kundalini in automatic breathing, mudras, and postures. I learned so many things about spiritual practice and experiences from his book Science of Meditation and from the darshan, teaching, and books of his disciples, the brothers Amrit and Shanti Desai.
While I was at Kripalu that summer I decided to take Kripalu’s then newly developed Yoga Teacher’s Training course and after returning home, I taught several courses locally to share what I had learned.
In my subsequent Kundalini awakening process that began in 1984 and continued turbulently in a whirl of cellular and lifestyle change for at least 5 years and in a more subdued way after that, I was sustained by all I had received from Bapuji and his disciples.
Deane Brown, Ph.D., M.F.T
My Internship and Work with Deane Brown
Deane Brown was the person who warmly welcomed me to Santa Cruz when I moved there in 1988. Deane later agreed to be my clinical supervisor for my MFT intern hours through most of the 1990s and made it possible for me to get through that challenging period having the support of someone who had similar values and an expanded therapeutic paradigm. She supervised me in private sessions and also in my work at the former residential drug treatment facility, Sunflower House.
Deane did two stints as Director of the Spiritual Emergency Network, which has had several rebirths after Christina Grof founded it. (SEN is now operational again.) Deane described, in an article in Quest magazine (Spring, 1996,) her own intense spiritual emergency in a mental hospital, a transcendent experience which resulted in her personal lasting transformation and an ability afterward to show loving kindness to all she encountered.
Deane was born on August 23, 1921. An avid life-long learner, Deane received a BS degree in Meteorology from UCLA in 1943, an MS degree in School Psychology from San Jose State University in 1968, and a Ph.D. in Transpersonal Psychology from American Commonwealth University in 1977. She was a pioneer in aviation for women and earned her private pilot’s license in 1939. Deane Brown died at age 89 on February 9, 2011.
What did I learn from Deane Brown?
Deane taught me that listening and silence is vastly undervalued in traditional therapeutic training and that unconditional positive regard and presence is more important than technique, but that both can coexist. I am ever grateful that her wisdom about and trust in life’s twists and turns is still being channeled to my current clients, most of whom are traveling through their own passage of transformation.
Oberto Airaudi (Falco)
Falco founded the Federation of Damanhur, a community which began more than 40 years ago to realize a dream for humankind. Falco wrote for the World Conference for Peace, Harmony and Non-violence, in Alyar, India, August 2002:
Personal advantage generates poverty for others; collective advantage generates shared prosperity. Damanhur came into being and flourished on the basis of this idea, demonstrating that this method works not only in theory but also in practice. Damanhur has grown without any external financial backing, basing its development on its own strengths and above all on the integration of the human resources that make it up. With 30 years of experience, it is ready to teach its method and to exchange ideas, resources and experiences with whoever is interested, whether they be an institution, a group or an individual. Together we can bring about new sustainable societies, based on equal exchange and respect for differences, in order to create true and lasting peace among all the cultures and peoples of the planet.
The community he has guided and its accomplishments in so many areas of healing, social, spiritual, and artistic research are reflected in the building of the Temples of Humankind. Falco and the people of Damanhur have inspired new benchmarks for what human beings can achieve, if they are working together consciously in community and committed to a collective dream. Falco died June 23, 2013. The international Federation of Damanhur continues.