Stories to Awaken the Inner hero

We have completed our series of workshops, Stories to Awaken your Inner Hero in Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland with Dr Lewis Mehl-Madrona and Barbara Mainguy. What a great workshop it was. We discovered the healing power of story, the emotional power of using metaphor. The gift it was to be able to listen to someones life challenges, and turn it into a Heros story, using metaphor. The story of Pack rat and First mother, told by Lewis, reminding us all, just like the Heros, not to give up. That by creating a metaphorical story we we become the hero and succeeds, our brains, and spirits began to start searching for a way to create that success on a deeper level.

Uplifting, and engaging.

Here is an interview with Lewis and Barbara before the workshops, talking about it.

Heroes story interview Lewis Mehl Madrona & Barbara Mainguy

Connecting with Ceremony Ancestors

We had a fabulous workshop today, in Auckland, the last of a series of worskhops in New Zealand with Lewis Mehl Madrona and Barbara Mainguy. We made prayer ties, and heard stories of how the Native American Lakota and Cherokee saw the creation of the world and the communication with spirit and the ancestors. We performed a fire ceremony, and partook in a  chanunpa  ceremony.

the  peace and connection everyone felt from the day was beautiful. I must say that they are two fabulous and genuine people. Their teachings touched all our hearts.

Here is an interview with them, before we held the workshop, talking a little about the ancestors

Ceremony & Ancestors Lewis & Barbara

 

A series of Workshops with Lewis Mehl-Madrona and Barbara Mainguy in New Zealand

We are excited to announce we have organised a series of workshops with Lewis Mehl-Madrona and Barbara Mainguy for March 2015. Thanks to funding from the Lotteries Board and also the ASB Community trust find.

We will also be offering four free places in Auckland and Whangarei workshops for people with cultural knowledge/ expertise. Those who know the stories of our people and the land in each area. Email me to apply for these places.

The workshops we are offering are

1) Narrative Medicine- Storytelling in West Auckland and in Russell Bay of Islands

2) Remapping your Mind & Sacred Drama in Manakau and Whangarei

3) Cherokee Bodywork in Russell, Bay of Islands.

You can also see all the info on our website here and download registration forms and PDFS of the fliers, http://www.hearingvoices.org.nz/index.php/events-and-workshops/104-a-series-of-workshops-with-lewis-mehl-madrona-barbara-mainguy-march-2015

Dreams Visions and Realities, Video on ” the dreamtime”

 have just watched this excellent video, with an Aboriginal storyteller Bill Harney and Dr Stephen Aizenstat talking about the “dreaming”. In this context it not only includes night dreaming but also includes ” dreaming” during the day, or hearing from other “entities”, or the Dreamtime.

 
They offer some great insights that can also be applied to anyone hearing voices and having visions.
 
 
 
 

Physics Dreaming and Extreme States- An interview with Arnold Mindell

This looks like a very interesting interview on Madness radio

 Physics Dreaming and Extreme States Arnold Mindell

Click here on this link:  http://www.madnessradio.net/madness-radio-physics-dreaming-and-extreme-states-arnold-mindell

 to go to their website and download the interview to listen to

 


First Aired 3-1-2011    Duration:

What is reality? Why do people in extreme states feel connected to the universe, and experience uncanny and even supernatural events? Does quantum physics have something to teach us about madness? What if therapists were like indigenous tribal shamans, entering into clients’ “psychotic” worlds as if stepping into a dream? Arnold Mindell studied with pioneering scientists Richard Feynman and Norbert Wiener and then became a Jungian therapist and founder of Process Oriented Psychology. He discusses his more than 40 years of work with individuals and groups, including people diagnosed with psychosis, and the ancient belief in a purposeful dreaming reality behind everyday events. (Trouble downloading? Try rt/cntrl clck here:

ONLY Son- winner of the 2010 V48hrs Film festival

This NZ short film was made in the V48 48hr film festival and won  in 2010. It is billed as a ghost story, but could also be billed as a “hearing voices” story.
It is humourous and also a little bit rude , so please be forewarned to not to watch it if that type of content offends.
Sometimes it helps to laugh.
 
 
It can be viewed on youtube here
 
Or also on the NZ herald website here
 

Conversation with ourselves- an interview with Ron Coleman NZ Herald.

The following is an excellent interview conducted by Chris Barton in today Saturday 4th Junes Weekend Herald in New Zealand. Chris interviewed Ron Coleman here in Auckland and attended one of the workshops the Hearing Voices Network held there.

You can see the article on the New Zealand Heralds website here.

Here is the article below:

“You have voices telling you to kill yourself. Do you ask them why?”
No, they don’t listen.

“If I told you to go and stand in the middle of the road, you wouldn’t do it.”
No, if you told me to I wouldn’t.

“If I asked you to do it you would want a reason, but you don’t want a reason from the voices.”
Yes I do.

“Then ask them.”

This is not one’s idea of a normal conversation, but for the participants it makes perfect, potentially life-altering sense. Ron Coleman has just begun a workshop at Western Springs Community Hall on a radical self-help technique called voice dialogue.

In a five-minute conversation with a young woman he draws out, to her considerable surprise, an outline of her situation. She hears two negative middle-aged voices – one male, the other female. The male voice is worse.

She is also dealing with drug addiction, but that’s not the cause of her voices. They began when she was 10.

She has never asked what the male voice is called.

The woman is clearly astounded by Coleman’s revelation that she can ask her voices for information. “Nobody’s suggested that to you before,” he tells her, “because we are caught in the world of voices rather than having dialogue about it.”

Coleman, diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1982, should know. He spent 10 years in and out of British psychiatric hospitals, including six as a mostly compulsorily “sectioned” in-patient. During that time he was heavily medicated with a range of antipsychotic drugs and given 40 sessions of ECT.

Today he lives happily with his wife, family and seven voices. The workshop at the Western Springs Community Hall is part of a global grassroots organisation known as the Hearing Voices Network.

“What we try to do,” he tells the Herald, “is help people live with their voices.”

Born in Dundee, Scotland, Coleman turned his life around in 1991 when the Hearing Voices Network was just getting under way in Britain. He’s since gone on to become a key figure in the network and travels the world spreading its message and governing principle: “It doesn’t matter whether we conclude our voices are coming from ourselves or whether they are the voice of God or the voice of demons. We accept the diversity of everybody’s experience,” he tells another voice hearer.

“Do you hear a lot of voices?”
I hear angels.

“Are they all positive?”
Yes but sometimes my voices worry me because I worry about whether I’m saying it or whether the angels are saying it.

“So what is the purpose of angels?”
To guide me.

“So how do you test what they are saying is from the angels themselves?”
I say, ‘Is that the angels there?’

“And they say yes?”
Yes. But sometimes I don’t hear at all. I get scared because of some of the things I hear. I get scared because I don’t know if the devil can lie to me.

Coleman points out that that the devil was an angel – “an archangel and he was tossed out of heaven”. A good test as to whether an angel was talking, he suggests, would be if it asked her to do something to harm herself or anybody else. If it did, he says, that would be inconsistent with angels.

“See, I’m not going to change your mind whether there are angels or not. The only thing I’m interested in is whether it’s good for you. That it works for you.”

The network believes that auditory hallucinations or “voice hearing” shouldn’t be seen as something pathological that needs to be stopped, but rather as something meaningful and tied to the hearer’s life story. This tends to be at loggerheads with conventional psychiatry. Support groups around the world run by voice hearers for voice hearers openly challenge the standard psychiatric relationship of expert physician and psychotic patient, but increasingly some psychiatrists and other mental health professionals are seeing merit and logic in the Network’s approach.

Coleman says his recovery began when, at his first Hearing Voices group, someone told him his voices were real. “What I’d been told in the psychiatric system was that they weren’t real, they weren’t really there. That I had to ignore them and I couldn’t get involved with them. When they’re real it means you can do something about them.”

Hearing voices is like reading a really good book when you can hear the author’s characters. “As you read you can create the characters in your head. Imagine that externalised. That’s how it is with voices. You actually hear them.

“They have different characteristics. They speak with different accents. They are male or female. They are positive and negative.”

Hearing voices isn’t as unusual as we think. Many will have experienced it in the threshold consciousness between waking and falling asleep. There are also numerous examples of well-known and accomplished voice hearers throughout history.

“The Bible is written by voice hearers,” says Coleman. Think Moses and the burning bush and Jesus wandering for 40 days and 40 nights, hearing the devil’s temptations.

The roll call of other voice hearers is as variable as Winston Churchill, Socrates, Galileo, Pythagoras, Carl Jung, Gandhi, Joan of Arc, Teresa of Avila, Mohammed, William Blake, Zoe Wanamaker, St Francis of Assisi, Leonard Cohen and Sir Anthony Hopkins.

Voice hearing, as Coleman’s own story demonstrates, is often linked to unresolved personal trauma. In his case he was sexually abused by a Catholic priest when he was 10 years old.

“My explanation for voices is that I created them because I needed to deal with what was going on.”

Coleman’s voices didn’t actually arrive until he was adult. Prior to that he had a different coping mechanism – rugby. “I played as prop and when I went into the scrum I’d put the face of the Catholic priest who abused me on to my opposite number and I’d just try to kill the guy.”

Then he broke his hip and couldn’t play rugby anymore.

“I ended up not having the outlet, but still having the priest in me as a constant reminder of everything and no way to get rid of my anger. Eventually it came out as voices.”

One of the first voices he heard was the priest telling him it was his fault. “That I led him into sin and I should burn in hell”.

Another voice was his father. “I felt like I’d failed my family so I had my father’s voice saying things like: ‘You’re no good. You’re f***ing worthless. You’re a failure’.”

Then there was the voice of first wife Annabelle who died suddenly. “She used to tell me to kill myself so we could be a family again. It was more about the fact that I missed her so much.”

Negotiating a way to cope with his voices took a year. With Annabelle he realised he could be with her as a voice. “I said: ‘I don’t need to die to be with you. I can be with you now – let’s talk’.” He’s since remarried and now has agreement with Annabelle only to talk to her on anniversaries.

His father’s voice changed from negative to positive after his family finally learned what happened to him as a child through a 1995 BBC Horizon documentary, Hearing Voices. His father asked why he never told him about the abuse. Because, said Coleman, he didn’t think anyone would believe him.

“My dad said yes he would, and he would have killed the priest.”

Coleman says he still hears the priest’s voice from time to time when he’s overworked and tired. What does the priest say now? “But I still think it was your fault.”

Coleman takes it as a sign that he needs to take time out and go fishing. “As soon as I hear him I tell him to f-off. ‘I’m not going to listen to you. I don’t need you. You have no power any more’.”

Getting to that point – where he could refuse to hear the priest – required dealing with his own guilt and shame. “I can’t change the past, but I’ve resolved my feelings about my own abuse.”

Another voice Coleman calls teacher. “That was my own voice – a voice trying to keep a bit of sanity in my mind. It’s always a voice of reason. In a funny sort of way I was externalising my own self rather than having inner dialogues. I tend to externalise it now, because I’m so used to hearing voices.”

There are three other positive voices – one called Dave who was someone he knew who died, and two other he keeps to himself. “The reason I don’t talk about them is I share an awful lot of my life and those are voices just for me.”

As well as providing support for voice hearers, the Hearing Voices Network is also a human rights movement – to protest at the way those diagnosed with schizophrenia are treated and to reduce the stigma attached to mental illness. Coleman says he’d like to see professionals in mental health systems spend much more time listening to people before treating them.

“I would like acknowledgement when the treatment is not working that we do something different rather than give them other drugs or just increase the drugs.”

He wants proper informed consent too – people told about the reduced life expectancy downside of antipsychotic drugs before they are given them.

He believes that if there was a properly controlled test – comparing outcomes for voice hearers engaged with the network and those using the mental health system – the network would come out on top. “We’re saving lives.”

Coleman wears his diagnosis on his skin – a tattoo on his arm reads “Psychotic and Proud”. He did it to have a constant reminder of where he came from.

“It says I refuse to be ashamed about what happened to me. I refuse to be ashamed of my diagnosis and I refuse to be ashamed of the fact I was a psychiatric patient.”

Voice of reason

* The Hearing Voices Network, founded in Britain in 1988, developed from the research of Dutch psychiatrist Marius Romme.

* It has since grown into a global self-help organisation, active in 20 countries, for people who hear voices.

* Members advocate the use of techniques employed by those who have successfully coped with their voices. This can include acceptance and negotiation with the voices.
* Hearing Voices Network Aotearoa NZ has about 100 members and holds support groups in West Auckland, Grey Lynn, Glenfield, Hamilton, Palmerston North and Wellington.

* Approximately 75 per cent of patients diagnosed with schizophrenia, 20 per cent of patients with mania and 10 per cent with depression hear voices.

* About 30,000 New Zealanders are affected by schizophrenia.

Find out more on Hearing Voices Network Aotearoa NZ

www.hearingvoices.org.nz  part of international organisation Intervoice, www.intervoiceonline.org

Hearing Voices and Visions by Lewis Mehl-Madrona.

I found this excellent article on hearing voices and visions on the internet. Written by Lewis Mehl Madrona he reminds us all that hearing voices was not always considered universally as mental illness and was sometimes dealt eith more efficiently by healers than the medication now used.

See the full article here on the Futurehealth website 

He has his own website here www.mehl-madrona.com

Here is an extract.

In our contemporary world of North America, hearing voices is the only “symptom” that immediately and single-handedly qualifies one for the DSM (Diagnostical and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association) diagnosis of psychosis.   We could qualify this as more correctly referring to the acknowledgement of hearing voices to a professional empowered by the State to make diagnoses in a context in which diagnosing occurs.   Thus, Moses could not have been psychotic, for no psychologists or relevant State laws existed to diagnose him.   A famous quote says, “When we talk to God, it’s called prayer; when God talks to us, it’s called hallucinations.”

Throughout recorded history, people have seen visions and have heard the voices of Angels, Gods, or others.   Only recently have these experiences (or the reporting of them) become pathological.   With the emergency of modern science and the ascendency of materialism, anything smacking of spirits or of the supernatural is suspicious or pathological. In Arizona, a recent archbishop for the Roman Catholic Church definitively declared that the Virgin Mary is no longer seen.   Hundreds of Mexicans didn’t read enough English to disagree with him.   Divine communication and contact was sought, cultivated, and treasured until very recently, and is still desired within many indigenous communities.

However, today, many people live on the shadow side of hearing voices and having visions.   These people constantly hear berating, deprecatory voices, who won’t leave them alone.   These people suffer tremendously.   They become unable to function, so much so that relatives or well-meaning friends take them to the emergency department or to the mental health center for help.   In another time and place, a traditional healer might be asked to cast out a demon or remove a curse or retrieve the soul that has wandered away, causing the soul to be stuck in spirit world and the body to express its urgent cries for help.   Today, the contemporary interpretation centers around people with defective brains that need medication.

In his book, Crazy Like Us: The Americanization of Mental Health,” Ethan Watters writes about the damage to people in Zimbabwe when hearing voices and having visions became medicalized.   Prior to that, people were taken to healers who had a consistent explanatory story about spirit contact.   Participation of all parties in this story and its prescriptions for enactment often resulted in resolution of the problem, with greater honor coming to the hearer of voices and the deliverer of visions.   With the replacement of this idea by the defective brain story, the quality of people’s lives deteriorated and recovery became much less possible.   The traditional Zimbabwean explanations included the possibility of recovery and wellness.   They also included dignity and respect for the person brought to the healer.   The new biomedical stories did not include recovery from defective brain conditions; nor did they fail to stigmatize those whom they described.   People were not better off following the Americanization of mind and mental health in Zimbabwe.

The voices that my diagnosed clients hear are not kind, for the most part.   They are not uplifting or transformative.   They convey no positive messages.   What do they say?   One client related some of the continual litany chanted by her voices:

“You’re going to hell.”

“I’m not going to stop tormenting you until you’re a corpse.”

“You’re fat and ugly.”

“You should kill yourself so you can stop taking up space.”

“You don’t even deserve the air that you breathe.”

“Why don’t you just hold your breath until you die.”

The list goes on and on.   Her voices were always female (Later, over weeks, we would discover that they were the voices of her female relatives which she had internalized.)

What differentiates my “patient” population from the rest of us who hear voices?   Is it the uniform inclusion of negative, mean, unkind voices?   The exception to this occurs with people who are diagnosed as manic, some of whom only hear joyful, celebratory, elated voices.   That would be fine, except that they often lose judgment about how to report their elation and what to do about.   A well known movie shows a man in a state of elation, going to a symphony concern, and getting up onto the stage to take over conducting, because he was guided to do so to produce more spiritual music.   Admirable, but not condoned.

I suspect that the people who are diagnosed begin with the gift to tune into other dimensions and to be extra sensitive to other states of consciousness, but that trauma causes their reception to get stuck on the negative.   One of my clients hears the voices of racism.   These voices are social stories that she has internalized due to her great sensitivity, but it would be better for her if she were to leave combating racism to those who are stronger than she is. The stories overburden her and cause her to collapse.   She ends up believing that everyone is making negative, racist comments about her, which is actually not happening, at least as far as I can determine.   Nevertheless, if we bracket for the moment the materialist paradigm in which their voices are the product of deranged brains, we arrive upon some very interesting ontological questions about the dimensions from which these voices arrive and the ontological status of the beings behind these voices.   These questions become practical when we begin the work of reducing the influence of the voices upon people or the suffering that they experience from these voices.

Elders have told me that the suffering of modern people from voices and visions exist because modern people have lost the stories needed to manage such experiences.   Two Huichol elders told me they would not give a modern person peyote for at least a year and only after that person had learned all the stories and songs deemed necessary by the elders to manage the visions that might be offered by the Spirit of Peyote.

Stories work that way.   They tell us how to interpret experience.   Without such stories, we could be overcome by the power and intensity of the peyote experience.   Then we could really get into trouble if we fell back into our own American cultural stories of heaven and hell, angels and demons, and we might either require extensive babysitting until we came out of it, or we might get noticed by the authorities and taken to hospital or jail.

So we need stories about how to manage voices and visions in order to manage them.   These stories create a normalizing context for voices and visions within which their messages and meanings can be interpreted and understood.  

Telling people that their voices are not real is not a good story.   It doesn’t work.   Patients tell me over and over how very real the voices are -” as clear as mine.   They don’t accept the story that their voices are hallucinations.   They sound too real, too genuine.   While we can speculate about the realms from which these voices originate, the key concept in helping people to manage voices is the understanding that, wherever these voices originate, they have no physical power in ordinary reality.   They can’t kill you.   They can’t harm you.   They can’t harm anyone else.   They actually can’t do anything at all.   Their only power is to convince you to do harmful things to yourself or others. They are like the Lakota Iktomi character who is the evil spirit of that culture, and who has no direct power to intervene in human affairs, only the power of trickery and flattery.   Voices are like that, and this realization is of major importance in helping people to reduce the suffering related to their voices.   It’s easier to ignore negative voices once we know that they don’t actually have any power in this dimension, no matter how real they sound.

Another group of clients, however, acknowledge a tonal difference between my voice and their voices, a qualitative difference.     They know the difference between the voices of ordinary reality and these other voices.   They may still suffer enormously from these other voices, but can distinguish them as different.   In some ways, they are easier to help.   The awareness of difference can more quickly lead to the awareness of the impotence of the voices.

In some respects, I do envy the position of my clients as being more solidly in other realities than our consensual one.   I have to work much harder to hear voices.   I have to use mindfulness meditation techniques to empty my mind so that I can detect others in the stillness.   I have to work at turning off my own chatter.   I usually feel   moderately confident that I hear the voice of an “Other” when what the voice says is startling or novel, something unexpected that I hadn’t previously considered.   Another clue to the presence of an “Other” for me is when I have deep physiological responses to the voice -” a sense of deep inner peace, a sense of compassionate wisdom, a deep feeling of relaxation.   Unfortunately, my patients don’t have these marvelous feelings or wise communications.   Most of their voices are negative and only productive of suffering.   Their voices are intrusive.

Like everyone, I have what could be called intrusive thoughts at times.   Standing on a balcony, I have had the thought to jump.   Who hasn’t?   Unlike my clients, however, I have techniques to stop these thoughts and to turn my awareness elsewhere.   The balcony is an interesting example.   I suspect we have these thoughts because we can fly in our dreams.   We can jump off tall buildings and survive.   Part of being “sane” is being able to maintain an awareness of which coordinate system currently constrains us and to act accordingly.   I know better than to jump off a building when I’m awake (and I know when I’m awake and when I’m not).   I have a client who didn’t have this awareness and who fell five stories.   Luckily he survived, but not without some permanent disability.   People who get diagnosed with schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders have minimally good means of managing intrusive thoughts or intrusive voices.   They have to learn, and rarely does anyone want to teach them.   The conventional biomedical position is that medications will solve this, but, rarely does this happen.   Patients continue to suffer from their voices but learn to tell their doctors that they’re fine lest the dosages be raised high enough to turn them into zombies.

There is more of this excellent article on the website

“The Insatiable Moon”- a NZ Movie

I went and saw this movie on Sunday night. What a great movie it was too. Filmed around Grey Lynn and Ponsonby it is a movie based on the book by Mike Riddell. It is inspired by real experiences. At the heart of the film is a boarding house where ex psychiatric patients live, as the asylums have closed. Arthur, is one of these boarders. He says he hears the voice of God and that he is the second son of God.

A real gem. It is a film that has a very respectful way about it. Showing the importance of compassion in our material world.

You can see the review from the NZ Herald here here is an excerpt

And there were the twilight people: mainly men, they were the product of the new “community mental health” initiatives, unreliably medicated psychiatric patients living on benefits in the boarding houses that were a feature of the landscape.

Mike Riddell knows something of that demi-monde because he moved in it. A theologian by training, he was the vicar at the Ponsonby Baptist Church in Jervois Rd, a ministry in which he often rubbed shoulders with the psych patients. I recall a moving funeral service he conducted there for a childhood friend of mine, Alan Stimpson, a florid, gentle-giant schizophrenic who had taken his own life.

“People like Alan would have a social welfare grant to pay for their funeral,” Riddell recalls, “but it wasn’t enough. So we had an arrangement with an undertaker that he would lend us a coffin so we could put on a funeral and then they’d bury him in something more modest.

The Baptist system is a fairly miserable bloody denomination in some ways but the Ponsonby Baptist Church happened to be a group of people who were a bit more broadminded and interested in people. There was so much humanity and humour at those funerals. They were great.”

Just such a funeral is a central scene in The Insatiable Moon and it’s filmed at Ponsonby Baptist – “It was the director of photography’s decision because he liked the inside of the church,” says Riddell.

One character’s eulogy consists of repaying the deceased’s many kindnesses by laying a cigarette on the coffin lid. “That’s a tailor-made too,” she adds for emphasis.

So it goes without saying that The Insatiable Moon is a portrait drawn from life. Riddell wrote it as a novel and then, over several years, adapted it into the screenplay for the film which an opening title describes as “inspired by Arthur of Ponsonby”.

“Arthur lived in a boarding house that doesn’t exist any more down Shelly Beach Rd,” says Riddell. “He was a lovely guy, a big fella with long hair, who looked a bit like [Tuhoe prophet and activist] Rua Kenana. He was illiterate but very engaging and charismatic, a fluent Maori speaker.

“He used to come into the vicarage sometimes and ask me to tell people that he was the second son of God, so we used to have great conversations. And after one of those sessions I thought: ‘Gee, what if he is the second son of God? How would I know?’ And that was the creative spark for the story.”

To say that it sounds improbable, even banal, is to understate matters. But Riddell makes it work, both by his unforced skill as a writer and the deep humanity of the story.

The same humanity infuses the film, one of the most modest Kiwi flicks in a long time, but one that gets under your skin. A cast to die for includes Rawiri Paratene as Arthur (when people say “Lovely day”, he replies “Thanks. Glad you like it”; Sara Wiseman as Margaret, a social worker whose marital crisis puts her on a collision course with Arthur; a terrific Ian Mune as an unrepentant dero; and show-stealer Greg Johnson, as the cheerfully foul-mouthed and relentlessly good-hearted proprietor of the boarding house that is home to Arthur and the other psych patients. And the story, a winning mix of pathos, humour and, well, wonder, concerns the challenge posed to Arthur’s celestial pedigree when the boarding house is threatened with closure.”

 The official website is here http://www.theinsatiablemoon.com/

Here is the trailer