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October 4, 2017 by Lauren Spiro

Finding our way back again, the cure for isolation and its ills

Massive doses of human connection are needed to counter the alienating influence of technology, disruption of the village and a growing culture of isolation.

I remind myself often how wonderful it is to notice the wealth of resource and intelligence that is all around us. I just left the gym where I watch CNN (while on the treadmill) and I go from the devastation of Puerto Rico to the massacre in Las Vegas and then read an entrepreneurial magazine in the lobby.

Club Business International’s October 2017 publication stated, “When I [the editor of CBI] asked the U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murphy what was the biggest disease in America today, without hesitation, he answered, ‘It’s not cancer, It’s not heart disease, It’s isolation.’”

One of the results of the incessant technological assault, observes Murphy, “is the pronounced isolation that so many people are experiencing that is the great pathology of our lives today.” The Editors note continues, “International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Associate Chairperson Derek Gallup counsels, ‘Certainly, continue your search for technological solutions, but, as you do so, remain constantly focused on the all-important human element. In the final analysis, your members, and how they feel about them selves and the team members- those are the critical factors that, ultimately, will determine whether your business grows and thrives… or doesn’t.’”

The Editorial also points out that Thomas L. Friedman, Pulitzer prize-winning author and journalist with The New York Times, states “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.”

Personally, I am hopeful. More and more people globally are waking up and re-connecting with our shared humanity and a shared vision of a peaceful and collaborative world. Currently in the U.S. however, a great divide appears to be growing, where we see an acceleration of the breakdown of our social structure and our community infrastructure.

Unsustainable systems are collapsing and something new, hopeful, empowering and global is in the process of emerging. It seems that we need to collectively burn through some darkness before we collectively see the light. Lately, there seems to be a growing isolation and war-like posturing. Let’s shift gears and focus on a hopeful antidote that everyone can apply.

 

World peace begins with me
Human beings have been making war for a long time in many cultures, meaning in many minds, because the culture is a reflection of the mind.

I am coming to a clearer understanding that when I am not at peace in my own mind, I am waging an internal war and that war is projected onto others whether I am aware of it or not.

The war in my head can be framed around a variety of battles – it can be framed around the ancient and false belief that I am not good enough or smart enough, or if that other person would do something well or if this condition or that condition were met – then all would be worked out and peaceful. I have constructed a story that tints the lens through which I see myself, others, our relationships, and the world.

If I remain unaware of how I have tinted the lens, and I remain stuck in the story, the conditions for peace will not be met. Peace is revealed in the absence of war – in the absence of isolation, separation, judgments, and conditions.

If we take another step deeper, we can see that the source of this war comes from the belief that we are some thing that is separate from others. This early learning, this sense of separation and human disconnection, is so pervasive and integrated into the threads of our culture that it makes it hard to see.

This experience of human disconnection, a separation of self from self and self from others, is a fundamental concept in both trauma-informed practice and in Emotional CPR (eCPR), www.emotional-cpr.org. The impact of trauma and human disconnection played out in my own early childhood, for example, by my experiencing such a profound lack of safety that it resulted in my clinging to anyone who offered safety and anything that could numb the pain.

Another result of the belief that we are some thing and this thing is separate from each other is that we get focused on protecting this thing. Whatever the thing is – our territory, our home, our family – we protect it and hold on to fear, and anger and revenge, and we wait for someone else to do something differently so that we think we can find peace.

Our tinted lens reinforces the idea that that other person is different – separate from me. And this separation perpetuates conflict and war. It perpetuates the war in my head which perpetuates the war I wage with others. The inner war creates global war.

When I am practicing eCPR or human connecting I am cleaning the lens. By that I mean, I intentionally focus on letting go of my own judgments and labels; there is nothing to protect. I focus on perceiving the other person in their full humanity. The distress the person is expressing is a particular patterned way that this person’s internal war has escalated.

As a supporter or listener or fellow human being I focus on being with her and assisting her in finding peace. I do this by seeing the genuine person underneath her lens, underneath the social conditioning, underneath her story. And when I do this, I am perceiving or ‘being’ underneath my own lens. From this place, where peace is revealed in the deep connection of two people, I mirror back the best I see in her, my great hope for her, my belief in her, my knowing that together, in this moment, we will move through this.

For more on this process, see “When the war in our mind ends, peace emerges” (http://www.mentalhealthexcellence.org/war-mind-ends-peace-emerges/)

 

Connection as a preventative of violence
Shortly after Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and 17 others were assaulted with a firearm in Tucson, Arizona in 2011 and six people died from their wounds, the mayor of Tucson, Arizona asked for a meeting with the Administrator of the Federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

I recall being hopeful that some federal action step might be taken to move forward in a collective and positive direction after this tragedy. About 45 of us from around the country met at SAMHSA in Rockville, Maryland, the Tucson mayor and his wife joined us via phone.

There was much talk around what some communities have done in response to similar attacks, how we might be able to prevent such attacks and where we go from here, such as community dialogues, town meetings, etc.

I listened for a long while and then spoke and I would say the same thing today: People don’t act out in desperate acts of rage – be it homicide, massacre or suicide – when they know they are connected and belong to something bigger than themselves – be it family, community or some entity that gives their life meaning and purpose. I don’t believe this behavior occurs when people know that they belong in community, that they have a safety net, a place where they are being well thought of, cared about.

If people have somewhere safe to go when they feel big feelings, whatever those feelings are – anger, rage, isolation, anxiety, sadness, etc., they would not act out so desperately, at least they would be less likely to. The invitation is to think creatively and strategize about how we rebuild our communities so they everyone knows they belong, everyone is valued and has a place.

We can and must do a better job of connecting to our own hearts and to the hearts, minds and spirits of others.

I end with two simple and eloquent quotes from Albert Einstein, “We can not solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them” and “The ideals that have lighted my way, and time after time have given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been Kindness, Beauty, and Truth.


Lauren_SpiroLauren Spiro’s vision of social justice and mental health liberation fuels her work of community building, developing our individual and collective capacity for feeling deeply connected, appreciating the vast creative intelligence of the human mind and creating pathways so everyone may come home. Diagnosed and institutionalized with chronic schizophrenia as a teenager, she has emerged as a visionary thinker, artist, and consultant dedicated to embodying inner peace to create global peace. She has an M.A. in Clinical/Community Psychology, has been featured on national media, co-founded Emotional CPR and two non-profit mental health corporations, is the former director of the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery (www.ncmhr.org) and author of a recently published memoir, Living for Two:  A Daughter’s Journey from Grief and Madness to Forgiveness and Peace. Join her at www.laurenspiro.wordpress.com or email Laurenspiro1@gmail.com

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June 21, 2017 by Lauren Spiro

When the war in our mind ends, peace emerges

When we co-founded Emotional CPR (eCPR), I put my very best thinking into the project as a way of embodying how I envisioned relationships and how every person could learn how to support another person through an emotional crisis. eCPR has evolved over the years and so have I. I have a new insight and an invitation I would like to share.

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March 1, 2017 by Lauren Spiro

Lauren’s Emotional CPR March-April Training Calendar: An Invitation to Compassion, Peace and Awakening

It has been seven years since we began doing eCPR certification trainings. We have dozens of trainers spread around the world. An even higher number of apprentices and facilitators receive individual mentoring on their way to becoming trainers.

eCPR becomes a way of life.

Many people hunger for innovative approaches to support other people through emotional crisis or distress. We know that crisis and distress are not synonymous and that the term ‘crisis’ is a judgement. What one might judge to be a crisis may not at all be defined as such by the person experiencing the emotional state. When we created eCPR, however, it was actually designed to support people through very tumultuous emotional experience, so crisis seemed like the best word to use at the time.

We have come a long way from those days and now know that when eCPR is really understood and the knowledge and skills are applied to every day life – it becomes a way of life. That is what people from all over the world tell us. Their relationships are better because communication is clearer – both receptive and expressive as well as verbal and non-verbal language flows bi-directionally and more lovingly.

Introductory Workshops
We have found that an effective way to introduce eCPR to a new community or constituency is to conduct a workshop which typically varies in length from 90 minutes to a half-day. Workshops have been done with a few people to over 200 people and serve as a way to give people a taste of eCPR – it is a brief introduction.

Often when I find myself in a city where eCPR has not previously been introduced, I offer a free workshop. This is the case in Nevada County, CA on my schedule below.

Sometimes I offer a free workshop in a city where eCPR does have a foothold but I have free time and am able to offer one, as is the case in Oakland, CA, and Seattle, WA, also on the schedule below.

If enough people are interested in a workshop and they contact us, I am happy to deliver. If there is no previously arranged space, we will secure one. We are creative and resourceful. This on-the-fly organic style workshop is perhaps unique to me and the particular March-April 2017 schedule. Typically workshops are scheduled way in advance and advertised. I am open to adventure so I am putting the invitation out to offer these workshops without pre-arranging all the bells and whistles, so to speak.

Certification Training
Trainings are typically financed in two ways, either an entity is bringing us in and has paid for the training or a self-pay method where individual registrations cover all costs and anyone can sign-up. The only self-pay training on my schedule (below) is Portland, OR. All certification trainings and some workshops are listed on the eCPR website. When a training is open to others, a contact person is listed on the eCPR “upcoming trainings” webpage.

eCPR is an embodied practice. That is to say that when one begins to really understand the relational process – a giving and receiving process – and how to listen with the eyes, ears and heart then our essence, our entire being, including our body becomes a tool of healing, compassion and understanding. And at the core, that is how we support people through emotional distress. Anyone can do it if they take the time to learn and are open to the process. It is essential to get out of the head and into the body, particularly into the heart and experience our inherent wisdom and inner knowing. Often we need to re-learn how to listen to our authentic voice within because our culture does not encourage this type of genuine humanness.

eCPR training teams are organized and assembled by the team coordinator and each one is unique. I decided to share my calendar because it is unusual to have one person coordinate and co-facilitate five certification trainings in less than 6 weeks. I wanted to let our cadre of trainers know what I was up to and then thought why not let other people know as well. I am very pleased to see the growth of eCPR; writing this blog is a way to celebrate how far we have come.

 

Lauren’s eCPR training schedule March & April 2017

All trainings are 2-day eCPR Certifications unless other stated. All training are done with additional members of the training teams

March 9-10, Seattle, WA

March 13, is available for a FREE workshop, Seattle, WA | Contact Lauren

March  15-16, Redmond, WA

March 22-23, Portland, OR | Register Now

March 27 workshop, tentative date, Nevada County, CA | Contact Lauren

April 6-7, Oakland, CA

April 10-11 Oakland, CA

April 12- is available for a FREE workshop in Oakland, CA | Contact Lauren

 

Emotional CPR Explained
Emotional CPR (eCPR) is a dynamic public health educational training that teaches people to support others through an emotional crisis by Connecting (C)- listening with our eyes, ears, and heart to feel the person’s presence; emPowering (P)- accepting the uncertainty of not knowing what is best, but open to collaborative exploration; and Revitalizing (R)- exploring our vital center – our truth, our authentic self and our genuine voice.

eCPR is recommended by the International Association of Chiefs of Police and CARF, the largest behavioral healthcare accreditation body in the world, and others. Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations referred to eCPR as a “peace-making” process.

Other eCPR training team members include: Reid Smithdeal, Fawn Preston, Kozi Arrington, Dina Tyler, Heather Riemer & Rachel Harris

For information about free workshops (as noted in the cities, above, contact Lauren, laurenspiro1@gmail.com)

For general information see Emotional-CPR.org

 

Related post: Emotional CPR: A Tool and Process of Peacemaking.

_________________________________________________________________

Lauren_SpiroLauren Spiro’s vision of social justice and mental health liberation fuels her work of community building, developing our individual and collective capacity for feeling deeply connected, appreciating the vast creative intelligence of the human mind and creating pathways so everyone may come home. Diagnosed and institutionalized with chronic schizophrenia as a teenager, she has emerged as a visionary thinker, artist, and consultant dedicated to embodying inner peace to create global peace. She has an M.A. in Clinical/Community Psychology, has been featured on national media, co-founded Emotional CPR and two non-profit mental health corporations, is the former director of the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery (www.ncmhr.org) and author of a recently published memoir, Living for Two:  A Daughter’s Journey from Grief and Madness to Forgiveness and Peace. Join her at www.laurenspiro.wordpress.com or email Laurenspiro1@gmail.com

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January 6, 2017 by Lauren Spiro

eCPR (Emotional CPR): A Tool & a Process of Peacemaking

It has been several years now that we have been bringing Emotional CPR (eCPR), our public health education program designed to teach laypeople to assist each other through emotional crisis, to communities across the United States and overseas. Many people have told us that the skills they have learned in our training have helped them communicate better in all their relationships. They also tell us that eCPR is a “way of life,” in that it is a practice of being more accepting of and present to ourselves and others. This is very good news, and it is an invitation to take our understanding of eCPR to a deeper level.

I had the great honor of speaking with Kofi Annan, former secretary general of the United Nations, after a talk he had given locally here in Washington, DC. We spoke about eCPR and there was a moment that I will remember for the rest of my life. He looked deep into my eyes and said, “We are in the same line of work. We are peacemakers.” It was a profound statement that inspired me to think more about eCPR as a tool of peacemaking.

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December 18, 2014 by Lauren Spiro

Healing From Intergenerational Trauma: Facing the Unfaceable

Lauren_Spiro

I spent 15 years slowly preparing for a trip into the unfaceable. One of the most important processes that supported me on this journey was observing and being witness to a U.S. human rights advocate and coalition builder (who has German gentile heritage) do gut-wrenching emotional healing work particularly against anti-Semitism and white racism. She inspired me with her intelligence, tenacity and determination to be free from the damaging effects of these forms of oppression. Some members of her family supported the Nazis.

Two years ago, I told her I was ready to join her in going to Poland and the eight day Healing from War workshop.

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December 12, 2014 by Lauren Spiro

An Unplanned Path to Discovering My Truth

Lauren_SpiroWhat began as a story of self-discovery, spiritual awakening, and healing written only for family and friends evolved into a memoir reflecting my path towards liberation that other people might find useful on their journey of awakening to the person they were born to be.

A power greater than myself became a wind under my wings moving the creation of this memoir forward. The story was enhanced by the process of creative expression that deepened the intimate look at my experience of loss and grieving that were intertwined with my liberation journey. Finally, after ten years’ gestation, it gave birth to a memoir, Living for Two: A Daughter’s Journey from Grief and Madness to Forgiveness and Peace.

 

At first I thought the purpose of the book was to let people know that even though my father died when I was 14 years old, his life and his death continue to have a significant impact on me. My father was murdered by a teenager with a handgun in an act of street violence. In some ways, my life ended with his death. I needed to recreate myself, to find meaning in an unsafe and irrational world. This led to my being put in a mental institution at the age of 16 and labeled with chronic schizophrenia.

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