Gumbo Communities: The Next Step (A Growing Playce for Practice in Collaborative Community) is going forward with a plan for creating lay therapeutic communities that could eventually encompass the entire city of New Orleans. Thank you to John Clark for inviting Christopher Holmes as guest speaker, who gave a detailed narrative of the evolution of an alternative therapeutic community where he lived and worked and that was so effective the medical establish began to send referrals. We are much grateful to Mr. Holmes, who left us with the promise of what a healing community could be and the vision to see that what needs to be done is within our own capacity to create for ourselves! We refuse to wait for the "system" to change. People are in "extreme states," many "anguished, and need help now!. We are the ones we've been waiting for! Let's do it. IT'S CALLED BASIC ATTENDANCE!
Developed and used by the Windhorse Project, it is a "whole person" method for recovery designed to provide "companionate care" for those identified as having a "mental disorder." It takes place within their own home and familiar environment. The method originated at Naropa Institute (now Naropa University) and was refined by Dr. Ed Podvoll, a psychiatrist living in a Buddhist ashram where people with disordered thoughts and emotions seemed to appear with regularity as though seeking some sort of balance that Buddhism represented to them. The asharm often found it disruptive to deal with these uninvited visitors, but did not want to turn them away. However, once Dr. Podvoll organized the ashram residents into a team of "Basic Attenders" taking short shifts and following the principle of being completely "present" to the person and by working closely in various little tasks within the person's environment, the uninvited visitors began to become reintegrated to the environment and the group. They began to heal! BUT THERE IS MORE! Dr. Podvoll created Basic Attendance as a spiritual practice not only for the disordered individual but also for the Buddhist in his or her spiritual journey; it is a method that brings enlightenment to the Basic Attender as well as to the troubled individual.
HOW ARE YOU NEEDED?
The Windhorse Method is one of the most viable, accessible, and simple alternatives to the fractured and basically negative medical model. Its long term outcomes are far superior statistically to the present mental health system, which now days often leads to jail or a mat under a bridge. And we can do it ourselves! Unfortunately, stigma for people labelled with psychiatric diagnoses is deeply engrained, severe, and persistent. Despite the fact that mentally ill people are more often victims of violence than perpetrators of it, the press has created myths about the risk of violence that make people afraid. In our society, dealing with a person with mental illness is rarely viewed as "spiritual journey." Can you help to change that? IT'S ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS, NOT PILLS!
Whether or not you want to be a basic attender, can you please come to the next IDEA Gathering for Basic Attendance and help us brain storm in work-groups (or play-groups) how we can find ways to spread this concept and to seek willing, committed people to build mass enough so that a number of people needing the service can benefit without any strain on the volunteers. No professional training is necessary. Very little time required (as much as 3 hrs twice a week or as little as 1 hr once a week). No experience needed. Training is provided in five workshops and guidance is ongoing. When needed, some team members work together on the same shift. And you don't have to be a Buddhist!
If the whole City did volunteered as Basic Attenders, we wouldn't have to worry about how many "beds" are available. Please come be a part of this program and bring guests. If you know of anyone who has a family member or a significant other, please have them attend this meeting. Also call or write if you want more info about the project. Jean Martinolich
A Growing Playce for Practice
in Collaborative Community
(Gumbo Communities: The Next Step)