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December 21, 2018 by Lauren Spiro

Pathways to Enhance Well-Being and the backstory

(Lauren Spiro) – This week we e-release this new free booklet, Pathways to Enhance Well-Being. The evolving story provides an example of how we can follow the life pulse that moves through us – in this case – it moved through the three co-authors and manifests something new that we hope will be helpful for many people.

My co-creators and I, and seemingly the stars too, were aligned on this project. For each of us, our life story has in large part been about finding pathways to enhance our own well-being and to assist others in doing the same.

We came together with heart-based and soul-based intention to share some of the practices that have transformed our lives, opening our bodies and minds which allowed joy and passion to flow through us. We don’t write about our transformative process in the booklet but make no mistake – this is the energy that flowed through us and we hope that you, the reader, can feel in yourself as you expand or deepen your use of body/mind/spirit practices.

Our work, and our lives, give us many opportunities to recalibrate our steps to remain aligned with our deepest intentions. It is delightful to share with you one of the first responses to releasing the booklet. A senior manager in a large behavioral health organization stated, “Right now I am envisioning it (the booklet) being used in our Recovery Education Centers. I am going to present it to the team leaders and have them develop a class around it. Once this is done we will facilitate a class (usually 12 weeks long) in each center.”

The pre-birth of the booklet began with Linda sharing with me some of the barriers she experienced as she moved towards bringing alternative approaches (eg, meditation, breath practices, etc.) into state psychiatric institutions. Perhaps, in part, it was because she was a peer, a person with lived experience of a labeled mental health condition, she and her “techniques” were not taken seriously. Knowing that Linda had for some years been successful in bringing these approaches into the peer community, I suggested we ask Peggy to look at the research on the effectiveness of these approaches for people labeled with a mental health condition. Perhaps, if there were hard data Linda could present that to the “professional” clinical staff, it would help her make inroads to bringing these practices to a resistant institutional culture.

Peggy did a thorough review of the research literature on 13 different alternative approaches. Six approaches had the most significant data. We created one-pagers to share the data for each of these. Linda’s Advisory Board said they wanted a back page to have a specific example of each approach. All this was done, edited, printed and we were finished – at least we thought so.

Some months later we came up with the idea of putting the 6 one-pagers into a booklet. Now around this time one of the state psychiatric institutions, where Linda had been trying to expand Toivo’s Healing From Within program, very suddenly fired and/or put on administrative leave 50 of their staff due to very public allegations of abuse and neglect. Understandably, this increased the stress level of both people working in and incarcerated in the institution. Linda continued reaching out to them to allow more people (patients as well as staff) to participate in the alternative approach healing sessions that she offered (at no cost) weekly on-site. This led to them contracting with Toivo, Linda’s employer, to offer Healing From Within groups on their inpatient units to both people receiving services as well as staff.

On a separate note, over 600 state mental health workers have been trained in Toivo’s Healing From Within alternative approaches to wellness.

Over some months, the co-authors continued editing, making formatting and graphic decisions. Peggy brought in Patricia Nemec to put it all together into the booklet format you see. (Looks great on 8″ X 11″ paper, landscaped to a 4″ X 5.5″ booklet stapled in the middle). A nice stocking stuffer!

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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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