I am grateful to my many teachers and mentors who have appeared at the intersections in my life with the love and information I needed to find my way forward. I have noted a few of those who have provided important support for my personal journey and my work in the world, along with what I feel was a primary gift or inspiration I received from each of them.
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, have been a senior trainer in the Grof Transpersonal Training since 1993. Over the years I 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)—the method 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 my experiencing the deep Holotropic Breathwork™ work, 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 back 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 that includes categories of human experiences that occur in non-ordinary states of consciousness, and which are described in his books and my own. I have been so grateful to have his mentorship and example as a midwife to the radical unfolding that can happen in deep inner work.
I also learned quite a bit from GTT Trainers who were also mentored by Stan and Christina Grof: Tav Sparks and Diane Haug when we worked together through the 90s training Holotropic Breathwork® facilitators.
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. My life changed with SoulCollage® when Jim and I started a company to support the SoulCollage® Facilitator Community and train new Facilitators. Now there are more than 4500 trained Facilitators in 50 countries. I am simply amazed at how this community has grown and am thrilled to be working with the great people who are attracted to do self-discovery with SoulCollage® and share it with others. 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. I am really grateful to have been her partner in building the SoulCollage® worldwide community!
Kylea & Seena (2012)
(1913 – 1981)
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. He had broken his 12 years of silence and emerged from seclusion. He would be teaching us almost 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 much 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 disciples were two brothers with whom I studied. 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 two ashrams in New Jersey where I participated in Shanti’s weekly satsang. I was privileged to attend Bapuji’s darshans in all of these locations when he visited.
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 prana awakening and doing 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.
While I was at Kripalu that summer I decided to take Kripalu’s Yoga Teacher’s Training course, then newly developed, and upon returning home, I taught several courses locally to share what I had learned.
In my subsequent Kundalini opening process that began suddenly in 1984 and continued turbulently in a whirl of cellular and lifestyle change for at least five years and, in more subtle ways, has continued on 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. (I think that 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 everyone she encountered.
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, and that both can coexist. I am ever grateful that her wisdom about and trust in life’s twists and turns is still carried forward to my current clients, all 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. Jim and I spent some weeks at Damanhur in several years and appreciated what we learned there. We published a book about Damanhur and helped edit one of Falco’s books.
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 is 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.
What did I learn from Falco?
Falco demonstrated to me the practicality of quantum physics in healing and gave me a really good model of servant leadership and a demonstration that the “impossible” could be possible.