Windhorse Journal Podcast

Windhorse Community Services

The Windhorse Journal’s mission is to inspire compassionate approaches to recovering sanity.

We do this by creating an evolving forum dedicated to exploring contemplative psychotherapy and the creation of therapeutic environments for the wellbeing of all persons involved. We envision this to be a rich dialogue among people with lived experience, family members, psychology professionals, and anyone interested in whole person-mental health and the diverse expressions of human sanity.

All Episodes

Dear Listeners, Welcome to this podcast, which is part 2 of Co-Presence: The Legacy of R.D. Laing. Again, our group of distinguished guests includes Nita Gage, Michael Thompson, Fritjof Capra, and Jeff Fortuna. If you’ve been fortunate to already hear part 1, you know you’re in for another feast of the mind and heart. I had the good fortune to meet “Ronnie” Laing in 1987, while he was in Boulder as a guest lecturer at Naropa University. Though he was obviously brilliant, I didn’t really understand Laing’s impact on the field of western psychology until meeting Michael Thompson in 2015, when he invited us to the conference that he, Nita, and Fritjof had organized at the Esalen Institute—titled Laing in the 21st Century. My immediate and unmistakable experience of that gathering was that I’d just walked into a group of people that felt like a family I was meeting for the first time. I also had to laugh to myself, wondering where I was when the brains got passed out. While just scratching the surface of his profundity, the atmosphere that Nita, Michael, and Fritjof created was an actual transmission of Laing’s mind and work: the spirit of open inquiry, passionate interest in ideas, high-octane intellectual discourse, a wide bandwidth that runs the gamut from ancient Greek thought to cutting-edge work with psychedelics, all moving fluidly from in-the-moment personal experience to societal and large system perspectives. Capping it all off, this conference was held at Esalen, which meanders along the beautiful Pacific cliffs at Big Sur. Now having become a yearly event, these conferences embody the atmosphere Laing attempted to create in his therapeutic work—according to those who knew him well—including never missing the point that having fun is part of expanding our understanding of mind and how the world works. A core element in the Laing Conference atmosphere is the acceptance of how we all, maybe especially Laing himself, naturally experience sanity and neurosis; it’s simply an aspect of being human. As part of that last point, “othering” someone for having extreme state experience is not just failing to understand mind and confused mental states, but it’s actually a deeply violent act. Beyond that, our family structures, society, and world politics are at least as confused and violent, but it’s what we’ve become familiar with, thus being “normal.” Being well ahead of his time, Laing was at times quite tortured with his insights. Even so, he always remained passionately interested in shaking the world out of its sleepy acceptance of “insanity and violence as normal.” Though not always easy to tolerate for those around him, raising awareness—attempting to wake the world up—was Laing’s way of expressing love and compassion for the world.  Listening to this podcast conversation will offer a small glimpse into the legacy of R.D. Laing. I hope you follow your curiosity further into the individual work of Nita, Michael, Fritjof, and Jeff—all available on their websites. And if you really want to treat yourself, I highly encourage attending one of their conferences at Esalen. May it have as much of a transformative effect on you as it’s had on me. Thanks for tuning in, and happy listening.

Oct 20

43 min 54 sec

Welcome to this podcast discussion of the life and times of RD Laing. Dr. Laing was an iconoclastic 20th century psychiatrist who was a noted author, teacher, social critic, philosopher, poet, and jazz pianist. You are about to experience the first half of a lively discussion among three of his long-time students and colleagues as they recall and share intimate experiences of living alongside this remarkable man. Our three guests are Nita Gage, Fritjof Capra, and Michael Thompson. They are now masters of their own respective fields who are deeply connected with each other over decades shared in their extended Laing community. I regard these inspiring people as first-generation legacy-carriers of Dr. Laing’s discoveries and teaching. I felt honored to join this dialogue since I also worked alongside Dr. Laing during the summers of 1985 and 1987 when he was a scholar-in-residence here in Boulder, CO. It was during these few months that I experienced his deeply humane and authentic way of being with patients—and those of us beside him—that he termed ‘co-presence’. Dr. Laing was keenly interested in joining Buddhist meditation with the psychotherapy encounter to make manifest the natural co-presence of both persons. The essential qualities of this co-presence include safety to be fully honest, complete freedom of experience, and non-transgression (meaning no harm to the other). Co-presence would turn out to be one of his final gifts as Dr. Laing passed away at age 62 in 1989. This discussion begins with an exploration of what is important to know about RD Laing, which not only invokes his memory but also provides the viewer with direct glimpses of what it felt like to be with him. The participants then share a broad range of challenging experiences of learning with Dr. Laing and what their relationships with him were like. The question of Dr. Laing’s legacy and lasting influence is woven into this discussion. Dr. Laing’s charisma and cultural fame are fading with time. Yet his pioneering work with mindfulness that can charge the therapeutic encounter with authentic presence inspires many of us to continue that work. There are far too many other dimensions to Dr. Laing’s philosophy, social criticism, and therapy approach to describe here. To learn more about Dr. Laing’s work, you can read two papers published in the Journal of Contemplative Psychotherapy, which are archived on the Windhorse Legacy Project website. Dr. Laing wrote: Hatred of Health, during his stay in Boulder (1987) You can also click here to read a retrospective interview that Edward Podvoll, MD, gave “In Memoriam” that discusses Dr. Laing’s persona and contributions We hope you are able to return, in the near future, to experience the second half of this provocative discussion. Thank you for your interest in the Windhorse Journal, and in promoting authentic relationship in all aspects of life.

Jun 15

38 min 40 sec

Welcome to an opportunity to listen to a spontaneous discussion about the Lojong slogan training with a wonderful teacher. In this discussion, Polly Banerjee Gallagher and I join Dungse Jampal Norbu to address a few of these slogans and how they may be of use in society today and in the Windhorse community in particular. We discuss some slogans—such as “Don’t be so predictable” and “Don’t wait in ambush.” Dungse-la, as he is referred to in this discussion, and the group bring up Tonglen as a thread that runs through these slogans and how that practice (of taking in suffering and giving compassion) informs and deepens each one. The word ‘lo-jong’ translates as “training the mind.” The slogans traditionally consist of a list of 59 pithy reminders about compassion and self-awareness. The slogans are at times deceptively simply, while offering a window into seeing one’s mind in relation to self and other. I haven’t always focused on these teachings, but whenever I take a fresh look, they are instantly useful in my life. I love how these short lines can really stick in my mind and can be reflected back by moments in my day. Wherever I get too comfortable with my routine and go to sleep, these slogans seem to know how to wake me up and remind I can slow down and show up. Raised in a Buddhist family and now a teacher in his own right, Dungse-la is an authority on these teachings; we were lucky to speak with him on this topic. This was a short time together, but I feel lucky and appreciative of the opportunity to share this conversation with the community and the larger audience of the Windhorse Journal.

Jun 15

1 hr 10 min

Here is the second part of a discussion about Healing Discipline, published by the Windhorse Legacy Project. This new book is an edited collection of three seminars given by Dr. Ed Podvoll in the mid-eighties. My connection to this book is as the managing editor for the Windhorse Legacy Project. Jeff Fortuna and I have spent the last year transforming Ed’s raw lectures into a readable—hopefully relevant—book, with notes and introductions. For me, this has been an interesting lesson in translation. Many of the teachings Ed shares on Buddhism and psychology were taught to him. He then applied them in his own way, transforming them through his own experience. With the original transcripts in hand, Jeff and I had to decide what to keep, cut, and clarify in our own way in order that the teachings felt current and applicable to us. The intent was to translate the essence of the material for a modern audience, not robotically preserve the literal past. I hope you feel invited to do the same sorting and applying; what here feels relevant to your personal and clinical life? In this episode, you can hear the group doing this for themselves. The gem that always shines out to me in the section on counter-transference, which the group discusses first, is Ed’s warning about the urge toward rescue, cure, and professionalism—poisons to the therapeutic relationship. The group also discusses the somewhat esoteric concept of bardo but are quick to point out—as Ed does—all the ways this somewhat science-fictiony concept (to quote Blake Baily) is happening all the time. We are always in-between something, waiting … for a pandemic to end, for better health, for someone else to change. The group discusses how these in-betweens are cyclical opportunities to let go, dig in, wake up.

Jun 15

35 min 19 sec

I would like to thank you, dear listener-viewer, for finding your way to part 1 of this most recent podcast entry to the Windhorse Journal. Our panel discusses the book Healing Discipline, which has just been published as an e-book on the Windhorse Legacy Project website. The book is an edited collection of a three-seminar series taught by Dr. Edward Podvoll at Naropa University in 1985-1986. This is an exploration of three core areas of interpersonal healing: dream work, authentic communication, and life transitions. It seemed fitting for me to write the introduction to this first part of the podcast, as it involves a discussion of both contemplative psychology and dream awareness practice as it relates to working with extreme states of mind. Both of these areas of investigation are very dear to me, having studied and practiced them over the years with some depth and dedication, and having recently written a sizeable paper on dream work in psychotherapy.    So, it was to my great personal discomfort (even horror), that I found myself at a total loss for words on more than one occasion during the taping of this podcast, most notably during the discussion of the dream seminar! But having the opportunity to watch the unedited “rushes” before writing this introduction, I was struck by the care, kindness, patience, and gentle encouragement demonstrated by my fellow podcaster-friends.  My “dream” after taping the entry was that I’d somehow bombed, failed in my ability to communicate an understanding of the material properly, and the encroaching nightmare was that I may have singlehandedly turned viewers off to this gem of a book that elucidates the kind of work we do at Windhorse so beautifully. But the truth is that I wasn’t that bad, and my pod-mates—perhaps because I was able to absorb and act out in a fumbling, twitching, stuttering manner their own personal anxieties and inner demons—spoke to the wisdom of this book with exceeding intelligence, radiance, and confidence. Although I don’t want to do another one of these podcasts for at least 5 years, it was really fun. Please enjoy our full-spectacle discussion of Healing Discipline. You won’t regret it!

Apr 22

38 min 48 sec

Dear Listeners, Welcome to the continuation of a conversation about Inclusion, moderated by Chuck Knapp. Participants Sorin Thomas, Anne Marie DiGiacomo, and Polly Banerjee Gallagher go deeper into the question of how and why some ways of being get marginalized. In a particularly poignant shift, they each address having internalized messages about aspects of their own identities as inferior, and how that can lead to unintentionally inflicting harm on oneself. Also, they consider how some identities get overemphasized for their difference while others are erased—both forms of disregard for the uniqueness of each person’s experience. Finally, Sorin, Anne Marie, and Polly ask how—at the organizational level—we can do better to welcome people and voices that have not been well represented where decisions are made. We hope that this conversation prompts you to look within as well as beyond—to find compassion for yourself and a warm, broad embrace of others.

Apr 22

22 min 4 sec

Dear Listeners, Welcome to a conversation about Inclusion, moderated by Chuck Knapp. Participants Sorin Thomas, Anne Marie DiGiacomo, and Polly Banerjee Gallagher consider the fears and faulty premises that lead us to value some identities and marginalize others. Binaries blind us to the range of human experience, causing needless suffering to those who don’t fit in the narrow band of acceptability. Windhorse’s contemplative roots remind us that what seems real or solid is illusory. In our work, we engage with people whose states of mind have been deemed pathological. A more expansive view allows us to acknowledge that mental health exists on a spectrum, and we are all capable of extremes. Sorin reflected on this theme of the space between binaries:  I grew up in-between. Between cultures on a U.S. naval base in southern Spain, between working and middle class sides of family, between genders. When I co-founded Queer Asterisk in 2016, I knew that in my clinical and educational work, I wanted to speak to the complexities of identity. I wanted to be a bridge person—helping people navigate scary or unfamiliar territory with curiosity and compassion. Today, I provide educational trainings on diversity, equity, and inclusion with a focus on supporting professionals to better understand and effectively serve everyone they encounter in their work. These issues are close to my heart. Those of us who live on the margins of society carry deep wells of wisdom, which—if cultivated—can benefit the lasting health of all of us. We hope that this conversation brings a bit of that wisdom—and a move toward lasting health—to you. Lori S. Heintzelman

Apr 22

47 min 12 sec

Dear Listeners, We are fast approaching six months since Windhorse Community Services altered the ways we function in our day to day lives due to COVID-19. The podcast Rinpoche recorded with myself, Jack Gipple, and Chuck Knapp as the moderator on March 13, 2020 remains not only relevant, but also crucial to take to heart. The first part (054) was offered by The Journal on March 20, 2020 where Rinpoche addressed our growing fears of the unknown virus with a tenderness and compassion toward ourselves and others. In part 2 of our conversation, Rinpoche offers his heart advice on how to work with our minds when the urge may be to isolate ourselves as a means of protection. Although we are cautious not to be in person with one another, it is important to stay connected by alternative means available to us in order to feel the warmth of others in our lives. Rinpoche encourages us to realize that whatever comes up in our minds is natural and that we have the opportunity to allow compassion and kindness to arise in order to soften our attitude toward ourselves and others. At the time of this podcast, I remember feeling my vulnerability and uncertainty of how we might be impacted as an organization and individually. Now in the midst of it, I am drawing on Rinpoche’s example of self reflection of utilizing the vulnerability, anxiety, and uncertainty as a way to connect with others who are also inevitably going through similar states of mind. My wish is that those who hear Rinpoche’s words find some comfort and take solace in the fact that we are all in this together. Polly Banergee-Gallagher

Dec 2020

30 min 59 sec

Dear Listeners,  This week, we return to part two of the discussion published on May 16th, Lungta in the Time of Corona: Leadership During a Crisis. This recording took place on the first of May, 2020. That day I sat in my kitchen, about a month into this new “sanitized and separated” way of life, and pondered if my mountain internet was functioning enough to record a “Zoom podcast.” Nonetheless, I quickly became absorbed by this conversation that gracefully discusses the layers of vulnerability as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic: a consistent, invisible force, spreading throughout every aspect of life. This conversation exemplifies compassionate leadership—that holds space for reality while simultaneously offering seeds of hope. This offering brings together leaders of Windhorse Community Services and its sister entity, Windhorse Elder Care: Polly Banerjee Gallagher, Jack Gipple, and Stephanie Kindberg—joined by moderator Chuck Knapp. They invite us to appreciate this reminder of impermanence, of both the good and the bad, the fear and the pleasantries, and to remember what Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche discussed during his talk at Windhorse in March 2020: that “the present moment is the safest place to be.” As the conversation carried on, I became increasingly aware of the mysterious, novel fears and anxieties that had been creeping into my own body and mind as similar sentiments swept across many parts of the world. I had yet to let myself relax into it, to accept the communal vulnerability and sadness these circumstances were presenting. While exploring tangible approaches to maintaining some semblance of balance, Stephanie reminds us of the value of intention and routine, Jack recommends media hygiene, and Polly describes using Zoom “to not isolate in isolation.” We recognize the safe and comforting things that remain within our control even when a rabbit hole of unknowns threatens to swallow us up.  They also delve into the less tangible—yet equally important—suggestions for awareness: with the exchange of suffering within our homes, communities and throughout the world; and how to maintain a radical trust in our natural inclinations towards health, sanity and balance.  You will find within these words a reminder that although we may—at times—feel alone, we are all going through some version of this together.  Whether it is relaxing into putting germs aside for just one moment to offer a client the freedom to send a kiss to their husband through your cell phone (tune in to hear this heartwarming story from Stephanie Kindberg), or seeking connection from those you trust, there are so many valuable and uplifting ways that we can find faith within each moment and maintain consistency amidst inconsistent times.   Although life has dramatically continued to change since this recording took place, it provided me with comfort and timeless wisdom.  I hope that it gifts you with a similar sense of relief, and acceptance within this momentous challenge of our human experience.  Enjoy and take care,  Elysa Polovin 

Dec 2020

30 min 43 sec

Dear Friends, Welcome to today’s Journal entry, which begins with a heartfelt conversation among Windhorse Community Programs members—moderated by Chuck Knapp and JoAnn Burton—about coping with the pandemic from the perspective of the Hero’s Journey, a notion made popular by Joseph Campbell. In addition to the podcast, we’re so pleased to be offering a paper recently written by JoAnn Burton, titled, Hero’s Journey of Recovery: A New Narrative for People with Long Term Mental Health Issues. Between first-person accounts of our experiences of the “hero’s journey” in the podcast, and JoAnn’s paper, this entry presents an unusual opportunity to learn about what we know to be powerful help for those of us on a path of recovery. Each of us has an inner hero. Some of us were fortunate enough to have parents who nurtured our little inner hero and helped point us in a good direction in life. Others of us had to figure things out for ourselves and came to understand that we needed help. Sometimes, it takes a while and many wrong paths to find what is most useful. And those who are willing to guide us become trusted mentors and allies. Of course, dragons confront every traveler on such a journey, and coronavirus has been our particular foe since March. As you will hear from Alicia, Joe, and myself, we have needed to “suit up and show up” for the obvious external threat and those inner dragons produced by our own thoughts and fears. The Hero’s Journey surely gave me a compass with which I could direct my steps. Thank you, JoAnn, for encouraging us to find our inner heroes, and showing us how to do that! Our own inner hero is there waiting for each of us. If you haven’t found yours yet, you will. Dig in! Laura Hale

Dec 2020

35 min 49 sec

It’s again our privilege to present another podcast with Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche. This finds him in a conversation with Polly Banerjee Gallagher and Jack Gipple,  primarily focusing on how to work with our minds and relationships in this time of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Rinpoche had been scheduled to record with us long before the various social restrictions came into play, and we found ourselves thinking how fortunate it was that he was doing these teachings at precisely this time—right when we need help with thinking about how to ride this avalanche of novel and threatening experiences. There’s so much potential for fear, confusion, and of closing one’s heart toward others—all of which is exactly what Rinpoche addresses. To say the least, these teachings are as timely as they are accurate. As I listened to Rinpoche talk, it was striking how powerful it is to hear someone speak with such clarity and wisdom, especially considering how fearful and polarized our world can feel. Particularly at the political level, our world’s accustomed to an “us and them” view. But beginning with our immediate relationships and extending to the entire planet, Rinpoche speaks to our complete interconnectedness, the reality of our world as actually “us and us.” His words are instructions, a prayer, and blessings. Please join us in this prayer, that even though we find ourselves in a difficult time, we can collectively create environments that will foster the health and sanity of everyone—every nation, and of our planet as a whole. May this talk by Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche accomplish all that. 

Jul 2020

35 min 32 sec

It’s a privilege to present this podcast, which displays a rare convergence of creativity with a remarkable recovery path. Scott Klumb, in dialogue with his psychotherapist Jon Garson, offers us a glimpse into his passion and creative process as a filmmaker. We also get to hear about his film, AUTISM: One Man’s Journey, which is his “coming out party” as a person with late-diagnosed autism. Now complete, this powerful film is about to premier in Denver on March 10th at the Sie Film Center, sponsored by the Autism Society of Colorado. Adding further brilliance to this podcast is the presence of Temple Grandin, Scott’s newly found friend, whom he interviewed for the making of the film. Speaking with authority, Temple’s strong, clear voice gives unequivocal instructions that “you are what you do”; filmmaking and photography are to be Scott’s primary focus in life, not his identity as an autistic person. It’s easy to miss the subtle accuracy of this advice, but it reflects an essential truth about how one’s passion can provide the buoyancy and resilience for a life that’s oriented around one’s health, not just one’s problems. It’s also worth noting that today’s posting is the Journal’s second window into Scott’s life. On November 28, 2018, we presented another podcast (entry #019), which found him in mid-stride with the production of this film. I encourage you to listen to both of these podcasts together, as the combination provides insight into the synergy of Scott’s creative process, his autism, and the evolution of this film. Just a note about Scott’s movie, having had the opportunity of a preview: I can’t recommend it highly enough. On one level, it’s a sophisticated, well-crafted piece of art. At the same time, this is a courageous first-person offering to the world about life as a person with complicated late-diagnosis autism. Scott doesn’t just wade into the autism discussion, he jumps into the very deep end of the pool—a place that also includes stigma around his co-occurring mental health issues. Adding depth and perspective to the film is the voice of Scott’s Mother, Nancy. She provides a complementary view of his family’s journey as a whole, along with a palpable feeling of love that’s been a sustaining element for Scott’s path of recovery. All of the voices combine to create an overall message that’s one of hope and inspiration—that though the path may be rugged in places, recovery is definitely possible, and it’s on display here. We hope you enjoy the rich discussion in this podcast. I also hope you will watch AUTISM: One Man’s Journey—a film that I predict will become a primary resource for anyone interested in the territory of late-diagnosis autism.

Jul 2020

25 min 25 sec

In Joanne Greenberg’s piece “In Praise of Not Knowing” she writes that while on the one hand, she would like to know what the future holds, on the other, it would rob her of essential qualities of life. “Not to know implies the need to learn more of what can be known, and that implies a struggle to grow and change. Not knowing is the call to courage. I admire us because of courage – the courage to wake up, wash up, dress, eat breakfast, and go out, unknowing, into what Alan Dugan, the poet, calls ‘the daily accident’. Knowing everything, we wouldn’t need seat belts, but the biggest victim of knowing would be the loss of our most prized possession: Hope.” My introduction to Joanne Greenberg was through her book, I Never Promised You a Rose Garden. It filled me with hope. A teacher who sat in the reading room at my high school must have noticed how depressed I was (and I was), and one day she recommended the book. I followed this young woman who was struggling so deeply but refused to give up, who risked losing her personal world to try to reconnect with the world we all share, who allowed her therapist into her life, who engaged in curious seeking. She inspired me. I felt her powerful insistence on living, and that led me to consider the possibility of continuing to live myself. I couldn’t make myself believe that I had her drive or courage, but her story made me feel like maybe I could find some of that vitality myself. I didn’t have anyone like her doctor in my life, but the story of their collaboration led me to believe that maybe there was some other doctor out there who could help me. Without knowing what the future held for me, I Never Promised You a Rose Garden gave me the gift of hope. Some forty-five years later, in preparation for a conversation with Joanne Greenberg, I reread this book that had meant so much to me. I looked in the front cover. The book was very worn; I had read it many, many times. I discovered—much to my embarrassment—that I had taken my high school’s copy from the reading room and never brought it back. I guess the teacher from the reading room recognized the depth of my need.

Jul 2020

34 min 58 sec

It’s with great pleasure that we share these illuminating conversations with Joanne Greenberg. Though we’d felt a strong and warm connection with Joanne for many years, it wasn’t until the focus and depth of these recording sessions that we really started to experience her profundity. Interestingly, beyond the perspectives she shared, these far-ranging conversations appear to be taking us on an unexpected journey: one that’s inviting, positive, and affecting our creativity in an unmistakable way. Clearly, beyond what she knows, her life force is playful—and contagious. Today’s podcast is the first of a three-part series, which we’ve titled, Swimming Lessons. Though our conversations were casual and often humorous in nature, they were set against Joanne’s personal experience of drowning in her mental illness. We also knew she’s witnessed so many others in varying states of drowning, as have we, which brought a subtle life-and-death sobriety into the atmosphere. This didn’t produce solemnity—just an honest, shared knowing of the territory being discussed. When drowning is the condition at hand, the confused flailing to just survive is so disorienting that it’s almost impossible to know what will actually be helpful. However, in such a time, one can learn to swim, and this series of podcasts is all about doing just that. As someone who has completely recovered, Joanne is an expert, having learned to swim free from her mental illness. And as she poignantly described, once freed from the deadening nature of that illness, her passion for life carried her into an experience of living that was—and continues to be—joyfully beyond her sense of what was remotely possible. After having had a full career of working with people and families experiencing extreme mental challenges, I recognize what Joanne is pointing to as essential knowledge—like points on a compass with which one can orient to a resilient recovery path. She emphasizes the vital importance of having genuine, kind, and honest human relationships. Among other benefits, these relationships can help one recognize what’s real in order that there be ground outside of the dream world of one’s illness. And if medications are used, which she’s not against, it’s absolutely crucial that one’s wakeful innate intelligence—so necessary for the process of recovery—is not obscured. Perhaps her most central insight for what compels and sustains a path of recovery is that the payoffs of being ill must not outweigh the challenging but natural invitation of ordinary, healthy life. After nearly 60 years since its best-selling debut, there’s a reason I Never Promised You A Rose Garden is still powerfully relevant. You’ll hear and feel that in these podcasts, and I sincerely hope that Joanne’s compassion and life force will be as contagious for you as it has been for us.

Jul 2020

53 min 6 sec

The topic of trauma is daunting to speak about in any kind of sweeping, all-encompassing way. Our intention is not to make such a claim as to assert that we have the solution to how to work with trauma. Our hope is that in hearing our contemplations on our personal experiences you may develop a view that trauma doesn’t have to break us, it can be integrated and transcended. This is exemplified in the themes of Basic Goodness presented by Trungpa Rinpoche and Tsewa introduced by Kongtrul Rinpoche which we speak to as ways to understand working through trauma. Tsewa is Tibetan word that describes the natural warm energy and openness of heart we feel for ourselves and our loved ones. It has the capacity to be open into boundless love and care for others through genuine empathy. Both are shared human potentials waiting to be accessed to help us integrate experiences of all kinds, especially trauma. These potentials allow us to go against our tendency to shut down in the face of challenges and remind us to open to the natural warmth that we all possess. In the process, we find a path toward potential healing of trauma. At the core of our being we all have access to Basic Goodness and Tsewa, our conversation reminds us of these precious resources.

May 2020

26 min 1 sec

In 2018, Shambhala Publications released Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche’s Training in Tenderness: Buddhist Teachings on TSEWA, the Radical Openness of Heart That Can Change the World. After spending some time with the book, we’ve concluded that the subtitle’s bold-sounding claim is not at all hyperbolic. If you have not already acquired a copy of this book, we encourage you to do so soon. We have posted several sections from the book in past Journal Entries (#009, #024,#036) if you’d like to sample. We’ve also produced podcasts from our conversations about the book with Kongtrul Rinpoche (#010,#025,#037). Far from some overly-simplistic plea of “can’t-we-just-all-get-along?”, Rinpoche’s presentation of tsewa, the warmth and care that naturally rises in our hearts, is deeply rooted in the ancient wisdom traditions of several streams of Buddhist practice and philosophy. Far from some dogmatic religious tome, Rinpoche’s concerns stand firm and clear in service to address human suffering without agenda or particular affiliation. Tsewa is your innate human inheritance. It is, at the very least, evidenced by the constant concern we experience for our own well-being. It is further indicated by the strong feelings of care we have for those closest to us. Those feelings of warmth, affection and care go a long way toward sustaining us, but through training and contemplation, everybody we encounter can become the genuine object of our tsewa. The positive effects of caring for just a few people are self-evident. If we can learn to extend that care outward, beyond our most intimate circle, then the positive effects of tsewa become immeasurable.

May 2020

42 min 46 sec

In one of our earliest Journal entries, 005, we introduced the existence of four principles as the core of the Windhorse approach. That entry focused on the first principle: the notion of Basic Sanity—and any mental health challenge as an overlay to that sanity. In our most recent entry, #022 – “Creating Environments of Sanity”, Chuck Knapp brought us to the second principle: We are inseparable from our environment. Here, Chuck hosts fellow Windhorse psychotherapists and team supervisors Gabrielle Bershen, Marta Aarli, and Jack Gipple in a discussion about this principle… You might notice that this podcast is a bit longer than usual. Our participants start by laying some necessary groundwork about basic sanity (and relatedly, basic goodness) of the individual, drawing on a variety of metaphors. The key point is that, at Windhorse, a client is not viewed as a constellation of symptoms or problems. Instead, that person is accepted as fundamentally sane, which may be obscured in various ways due to their confusion. That paves the way for our participants to consider environment, and our inseparability from it. The Windhorse approach places home as the locus of recovery. Thus, creating an environment that rouses the health of all, through the most mundane tasks and daily schedule, is critical. Gabrielle, Jack, Marta, and Chuck offer insights and examples of how working this way—from the outside in—can reach clients who need time to develop trust in their particular team before opening up about their deepest struggles. These senior clinicians also address how the state of the home at any given time provides a window into a client’s mental world.

May 2020

51 min 59 sec

Because of our contemplative roots, we often seek out the wisdom of those who ardently pursue the spiritual path of Dharma (i.e. teachings of the Buddha) to provide inspiration for our work. This post features part 1 of a conversation about that word “faith”—the discomfort and misapprehension it gives rise to. Elizabeth is joined by Gretchen Kahre (Windhorse Senior Clinician, and Elizabeth’s fellow student and close friend), and Chuck Knapp (Windhorse Co-Director). Besides allowing us to hear about Elizabeth’s initiation and evolution as a student/teacher of the Dharma, the dialogue invites us to reconsider our understanding of faith… It implicates faith as an essential component of Windhorse work; what appears unreliable about the world and our own minds is something we take up with our clients. As Elizabeth and company address the interdependent relationship of all things, the way to engage with the complexities of extreme mind states is illuminated.

May 2020

35 min 58 sec

In our previous Journal entry (#018 – “The History of Sanity”), we introduced Dr. Edward Podvoll’s compelling notion that alongside anyone’s mental health challenge is a history of sanity. Rather than dwelling on diagnoses of disorders and dissecting the origin of disturbance, it is useful for both client and therapist to focus on signs of sanity, and turn allegiance toward it. Of the six markers of sanity enumerated by Dr. Podvoll, our last post emphasized in particular the Urge for Discipline. This is defined as a synchronizing of mind with body and environment. In this Journal entry, we meet Scott, a Windhorse client and talented filmmaker who addresses the role of discipline in his own recovery…. As he speaks to Stephanie Kindberg, Scott explains how discovering and honing his skill with a camera is a means of working with his mind, giving him purpose, stability, confidence, and joy. Since Scott’s primary challenge is autism, he speaks to how his Windhorse team has helped to bring him into the larger community and work on communication of his thoughts and feelings, previously internalized in ways that were detrimental. Scott co-leads a photography class at Windhorse, which I attend, and he really shines as an example of finding one’s passion and applying discipline in its pursuit. As class participants present photos they’ve taken and open themselves up to gentle critique, Scott gets to share both his knowledge and his pleasure in how one might use a camera to engage with the world.  The rewards—therapeutic and otherwise—of finding such an outlet are obvious. Scott’s backcountry skiing videos are dramatic and impressive. His current film project is even more daring:  a documentary and memoir that brings together the worlds of skiing and mental health. He hopes to especially emphasize the challenges of adult autism and illuminate what’s been hidden in his life for the benefit of others. I think you will really appreciate hearing Scott’s perspective. Thank you for listening. Lori S. Heintzelman

May 2020

29 min 15 sec

In a previous post—Journal Entry 015, “Dazzling Insights”—we presented Part 1 of a dynamic interview of Dr. Edward Podvoll, conducted in 1990 by author, historian, and broadcaster Studs Terkel. Terkel’s radio program spanned more than 4 decades as he talked to some of the 20th century’s most interesting people. Podvoll’s book, The Seduction of Madness (later republished as Recovering Sanity, 2003), laid the foundation for Windhorse’s mindfulness-informed, home-based approach to mental health care, and the first Windhorse Community in Boulder. Terkel’s keen interest in the subject of extreme mental states, having read the book, evoked a rich dialogue with Podvoll… In this second half of the interview, Podvoll continues to provide revolutionary insights into psychosis, while acknowledging that the fragility of mind is universal. He discusses four parables of madness, effectively case histories, that form the first part of the book. In these parables, he reveals that psychosis often has, at its core, a wise and altruistic impulse. An individual’s legitimate concern for the dissolution of the world, and a desire to heal it, can go awry and at the expense of oneself. The antidote for those experiencing such states, Podvoll insists, is not placement in an institution, where many are caught in the extremes of their own minds, but a healing community of stable “gentle people” who come into each client’s own home.   Also essential is that those who travel the Windhorse path as companions must know how to work with their own minds, and commit to doing so, to truly be of benefit. Finally, in this lively interview, Podvoll counters the charge that a healing community approach to mental health recovery is new, alternative, or radical.    Those of us who have or continue to work in the Windhorse approach have seen the fruit of Podvoll’s wisdom, particularly the inseparability of mind from environment. We hope this exchange will help you to rethink the nature of madness and what is to be done about it.  

May 2020

31 min 5 sec

Dear Friends, I am pleased to introduce this remarkable interview of Edward Podvoll, MD, by Studs Terkel, recorded on September 13, 1990, in Chicago. The first Windhorse Community in Boulder came late in this cultural revolution of alternative care, having thrived from 1981 to 1987.  At the time of this interview, there was no active Windhorse community, and the alternative care movement seemed to be passing into history.  Yet, at the same time, the influence of mindfulness-awareness meditation on psychology and psychotherapy was just gaining momentum.  Windhorse, inspired by Naropa University, had been at the forefront of what has become known as the “mindfulness revolution.”  With mindfulness practice, therapists further deepen the skills of “being with” and learn more about true compassion.  We call this discipline “contemplative psychotherapy.”  In this interview you may hear a certain urgency in Dr. Podvoll’s voice, which he felt about spreading the message of the truth of recovery from psychosis and the means to do so.  He and we, his students, could not let this tradition of alternative care die out, and so Windhorse has survived.  As Dr. Podvoll states in Recovering Sanity (p.4), “There is a wisdom within the history of caring for insane people that is not well known.  Motivation toward an alternative, more natural, and homelike treatment is a long and venerable tradition within psychiatry itself.  It is a tradition that has always taken many risks in the pursuit of alternative treatments for mental illness.” I hope you enjoy this interview, Jeffrey Fortuna.

May 2020

25 min 47 sec

Now six months since our launch, one of the great surprises of being part of the Windhorse Journal team is listening to an earlier recording and realizing that something of real value was captured. Today’s podcast is the second part of a rich dialogue between Dr. Ken Pargament, Windhorse Community Services Senior Clinician Marta Aarli, Rabbi Deborah Bronstein, and Reverend Alan Johnson. This recording was made on May 16th, 2018, just prior to the Interfaith Network On Mental Illness’ conference titled, Sacred Matters: Spirituality as a Vital Resource for Resilience, Health, and Well-Being. Dr. Pargament was the featured presenter at that conference, which focused on his groundbreaking work around the integration of spirituality and psychotherapy. Now listening to this some months later, I’m very pleased at what an important interchange we were able to record. The complementary voices of clergy, psychotherapists, and persons with lived experience are well embodied here. Combining insight and extensive personal knowledge, the group explores issues that include wholeness from both spiritual and psychological perspectives, the role of relationship in the recovery of one’s health, and the transformative effect of embracing our “wounds.” Also examined are the deeply individual, yet universal, experiences of the “sacred.” While perhaps unrecognized and under-utilized, the “sacred” gives energy and meaning to our lives, and importantly, can be used as powerful resources in one’s path to wholeness and happiness.  

May 2020

34 min 27 sec

Welcome to Part Two of our Hero’s Journey podcast, where we delve into the different stages of the journey, such as the call, refusal of the call, meeting mentors and allies, befriending the dragon, and bringing back the elixir. One of the most vital aspect of these classes is that students are encouraged to define their journey in their own terms—which may or may not involve the medical model. During the course of a Hero’s Journey class, a shared humanity emerges between clients and staff—as both realize that they are “more human than otherwise,” and are capable of traveling the journey with deep courage and dignity. Students reflect on their lives, often moving from narratives of failure and desperation to feelings of worth and connectedness. Self-compassion emerges as the most potent tool to befriend our dragons…

May 2020

27 min 39 sec

There is strong research pointing to the effectiveness of meaningful activity, employment and social involvement in the recovery process of people with mental health challenges, and these aspects can be addressed and fostered within the Home-based services at Windhorse Community Services (WCS)as part of the Recovery Plan. In recent years, and in response to the wishes of families and clients, Community Programs (CP) was created to offer structured programs that enhance social opportunities amongst the Windhorse larger community and provide more formalized supported employment and educational services… Community Programs, with its philosophy and practices evolving from Psychiatric Rehabilitation, was initially seen as a deviation from the traditional Home-based services at the core of the Windhorse Model of treatment. In exploring the relationship between Home-based services and CP,one gains a deeper understanding and appreciation of the similarities in their theoretical foundations within their diverse therapeutic environments and approaches (see Diagram #2) . Over the years, CP has evolved into a hybrid, more fluid program, fusing together elements of Psychiatric Rehabilitation (PR), the Windhorse therapeutic approach—which has its foundations in the research and writings of Dr. Ed Podvoll and Chogyam Trungpa—and the personal supportive counseling styles of each CP staff member.

May 2020

22 min 56 sec

Our last entry featured an excerpt from Dr. Ken Pargament’s book, Spiritually Integrated Psychotherapy. Dr. Pargament was the featured presenter at a conference organized by the Interfaith Network On Mental Illness, held May 16 – 18 in Boulder, titled Sacred Matters: Spirituality as a Vital Resource for Resilience, Health, and Well-Being. This week our podcast is of a lively dialogue recorded just prior to that conference, and includes Dr. Pargament, Windhorse Senior Clinician Marta Aarli, Rabbi Deborah, and Reverend Alan Johnson. These four participants embodied rich and complementary perspectives, giving voice to the experience of clergy, psychotherapists, and persons with lived experience… Their curiosity and openness to one another was evident as they explored what spiritual perspectives and psychological approaches have to offer one another. This exploration further examines how spirituality is typically an underutilized resource in people’s mental health recovery, and that inviting it into a therapeutic process is a powerful step toward relating to the whole person. And ultimately, we recognize that healing is a process of moving toward greater wholeness. This dialogue will be presented in two podcasts, the second being offered in the near future. We hope you find this as inspiring as we do, and please share your impressions and questions in the comment section. Thank You Very Much, Chuck Knapp Moderator

May 2020

31 min 19 sec

The following podcast is the first of a four-part series on the core principles of the Windhorse therapeutic approach. These principles were articulated by Chuck Knapp in a chapter from the book “Brilliant Sanity: Buddhist Approaches to Psychotherapy.” Here, Chuck is joined by fellow psychotherapists and Team Supervisors Gabrielle Bershen and Jack Gipple in a discussion about the first principle: Fundamental Sanity. They begin with a description of a Windhorse team, with its locus in the home of an individual client and tailored to that person’s needs. Team composition and structure of contact are aimed at synchronizing mind and body in predictable patterns of ordinary household activity. Contemplative practice provides a foundation for the way team members cultivate relationship with the client via “Basic Attendance” in a healthy environment. Relatedly—and the primary focus of this discussion—the radical notion that sanity is fundamental (and mental confusion secondary) informs this relationship…Such a view allows for acceptance of what is and openness to how recovery may unfold—uniquely—for each client. Thank you for joining the inquiry.  

May 2020

37 min 21 sec

Windhorse is our innate ability to uplift ourselves and our environment by giving rise to a positive energy that is both relaxed and disciplined. Since 1981 Windhorse Community Services has integrated this understanding with modern, conventional therapies, meditation and contemplative traditions in the development of at-home, whole-person mental health recovery.   Windhorse Journal is dedicated to the mission of communicating decades of clinical and personal experience to professionals, educators, students and anyone seeking recovery options. Please, join the dialogue. Windhorse Journal is a digital publication and blog intended to inform a meaningful dialogue through newly produced communications and curated selections from the Windhorse archive…   For this entry we’ll drop in on a conversation between members of the Windhorse Journal team who gathered to discuss some of the history and intention behind Windhorse Journal and to touch on a couple of the foundational components of the Windhorse approach to care and recovery.   Please click on the play button below to hear the podcast.

May 2020

33 min 41 sec

Dear Listeners, Please find the latest WCS Journal podcast here. We’re delighted to be sharing the second part of a conversation we had about a year ago with Elizabeth Mattis Namgyal; a spiritual friend of Windhorse Community Services and gifted Buddhist teacher and author. Closely following the publication in 2018 of her second book, The Logic Of Faith, we had posted Part One of this conversation (entry #021), under the title “Taking Faith Apart.” For both podcasts she was joined by Gretchen Kahre, who is a close friend of hers and a senior Windhorse clinician. If you’re familiar with her work, you know what a fresh voice Elizabeth brings as a teacher. She communicates with warmth, curiosity, and fluidity, which for me invariably has the effect of raising my awareness and lightening my heart. Elizabeth is one of those unusual Buddhist teachers who as a westerner, fully embodies what she’s talking about. In listening to her there is no cultural leap to make—the only leap required comes from her invitation to connect with our curiosity and open heart; to step beyond habitual ways of looking at our minds and the world around us. In this particular conversation, Elizabeth and Gretchen are primarily focusing on two principles that are foundation to the Windhorse Approach; that we are fundamentally sane, or to use Chogyam Trungpa’s term, basically good, and that we’re also completely interdependent with our environments. When we can connect with and cultivate environments that are compassionate and wholesome, or put another way, “sane,” we invite our intrinsic sanity to be ever more present. And in a striking counter-intuitive twist of conventional logic, Elizabeth also suggests that as we become more confident in our basic health, we may make a discovery about our confusion; that by comparison to the unconditional nature of our sanity, our confusion is actually quite fragile. For those of you who are familiar with Elizabeth’s teaching, I think you’ll be pleased to find her in great form here. For those of you who are unfamiliar with her, this is an excellent place to jump-in. You’re about to hear a brilliant teacher who is not just speaking as a woman, but as a genuine voice of the feminine principle—that kind of wisdom which transcends gender, clearly seeing reality as it is, as compared to only how it appears. May this touch your heart and draw you closer to her powerful body of work. Happy Listening, Chuck Knapp https://windhorsecommunityservices.com/3117-2-p/

Dec 2019

28 min 12 sec

Dear Listeners, The following discussion on trauma captures only a small part of the story.  It is the honest and heartfelt accounts of two individuals (and Windhorse clinicians)—Polly Banerjee Gallagher and myself. We were chosen to share our stories, not because we are special or that our stories are unique, nor that we have completed a process of working with our traumas. Rather, we speak because the experience of trauma is ubiquitous; it is known to all.   And in sharing we desire for you who listen to find some peace in your own stories. However ubiquitous trauma is, it does not manifest in a single form.  Trauma is as unique in its expression in our lives as we are in our expression of ourselves in the world…  Because of this reality, there is no discussion of a single way to treat trauma, or even the idea that trauma is something that can be treated away.  What you will find are stories of acceptance and integration, of a living on-going process, of a recognition that our traumas are not a thing to be removed or hidden, but a part of our lives.  This is not to say that trauma defines us or determines our value, only that it is what we make of it. We wish for you to listen to these stories with an open heart and open mind, that you may find some place of resonance with us as tellers and offer compassion for our vulnerability.  And, in doing so, may you offer yourself the same kindness, and compassion in your personal journey to make friends with your trauma. Warm regards, Dave Dunlap

Dec 2019

41 min 42 sec

Welcome! In this podcast, Jamie Emery and I explore our connection to Windhorse Community Services, a community we have been members of for over three decades. Windhorse is an intentional community and clinical service that works with people who experience the complexity of extreme states. It is a place that stretches, grows and cultivates health. It is a place to overcome loneliness and isolation—where people come to feel valued as they are. The Windhorse community is a diverse array of families, clients and staff who have joined in partnership to explore the workings of community and how it can promote health. What draws us together and binds us is deeply personal and yet universal… At Windhorse, we trust and know that we are intrinsically healthy and sane, that we are inseparable from our environment, and that recovery is possible and mutual for all. Over the years, much like a tree growing toward maturity, there are rings that reflect seasons of both abundance and drought. We have learned much as we cycled through these together. In this season we find ourselves in a time of transformative tension: a precursor to growth. We are harnessing the intelligence of community—by promoting and listening to all voices with their unique perspective and offerings. We are deeply reflecting on elements of our work: where there is cohesion, up-uplifted and wholesome engagement as well as areas of diminishment and lost vitality. We are putting into practice what we know to be true: when an environment is synchronized, mutual recovery is possible, and with the belief in basic goodness our community can thrive and most importantly be sustained. In this season of growth, we seek balance between the evolving architecture essential for a functioning business and the fluid space within—crucial for our hearts and minds to flourish. Confidence arises, and our community is best served when this balance is struck. We hope that you, the listener, will take in what Jamie and I share and make a personal reflection on what communities you are involved in—a closer look, perhaps, from a new perspective based on listening to the podcast. With appreciation, Eugenie Morton

Dec 2019

31 min 7 sec

Dear Friends, Maitri Space Awareness practice, as described in this Podcast, has played a very significant role in my personal and professional life and development. I was first introduced to this view and practice at the (then) Naropa Institute in the summer of 1977. The class was taught by Marvin Casper who—as indicated in the Podcast—was instrumental in the early therapeutic development and application of the work with these practices and in the subsequent development of such practices as a key element in the training of Contemplative psychotherapists. This was my introduction to meditation and Space Awareness practice… Before this, I was a Social Worker and Therapist for many years and was curious about the dialogue between Eastern and Western Psychology. So, this class provided a seminal glimpse for me into this dialogue. These practices are taught initially experientially, meaning that the theoretical framework of each aspect of these teachings isn’t brought into the discussion until after one has had the experience.  I very much appreciate the integrity of this approach as a way to have the learning be less theoretical and conceptual and more coming from an inner felt sense of the practice. My first experience of the rooms was to have a definite bodily sense of the difference between these five psychological and personality types. For example, there was a sense of embodying the quality of equanimity that wasn’t just an insight. These qualities are cultivated by the color, posture and certain elements of each room.  The result was that I had a glimpse into the relative nature of these psychological qualities and also how changeable they are and can be. Thus, it created a feeling of permeability with any given narrative or style that I or a client might identify with. After this class, I did continue on for graduate studies at the Naropa Institute for a degree in East/West Psychology. And in that context I had the opportunity to deepen my study and practice of meditation and Maitri Space Awareness further in the form of a 90-day retreat. This all became the bedrock for my understanding of the Contemplative approach to therapy and also for Therapeutic Communities.  And it is this understanding that my fellow Windhorse clinicians and I explore in our discussion. Thank you for listening, Kathy Emery

Dec 2019

32 min 1 sec

Dear Friends, We conclude a short series on the contemplative practice of Maitri Space Awareness with a podcast. This is the second half of a conversation among clinicians Kathy Emery, Anne Marie DiGiacomo, Daniel Green, and Jeremy Ellis. In it, they discuss how maitri—as “unlimited friendliness”—has shown up in their personal contemplative practice and each one’s work. They also address its impact on the community at large, as acceptance of the variety of mind states within oneself allows space for others. Jeremy, Daniel, Anne Marie, and Kathy illustrate—through personal anecdotes and musings—how paying more attention leads to a bigger view of every situation, and a commitment to stay with it despite any discomfort… This collective sense of the workability of all that arises is an expression of the heart of Windhorse. Thank you for listening,

Dec 2019

20 min 47 sec

Dear Readers, Over the past year, Windhorse Journal has presented five entries on the topic of TSEWA. The entry you’re now reading will be the sixth. By now, it could be said, we have some kind of fascination with tsewa. Admittedly, six journal entries examining a Tibetan word is perhaps excessive. Since there are two additional tsewa related entries planned for the near future, it might be a little premature to cry “excessive!” just yet. Let’s instead say that our present fascination with tsewa would be more accurately identified as “inspiration”. In 2018, Shambhala Publications released Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche’s Training in Tenderness: Buddhist Teachings on TSEWA, the Radical Openness of Heart That Can Change the World. After spending some time with the book, we’ve concluded that the subtitle’s bold-sounding claim is not at all hyperbolic. If you have not already acquired a copy of this book, we encourage you to do so soon. We have posted several sections from the book in past Journal Entries (#009, #024,#036) if you’d like to sample. We’ve also produced podcasts from our conversations about the book with Kongtrul Rinpoche (#010,#025,#037). Far from some overly-simplistic plea of “can’t-we-just-all-get-along?”, Rinpoche’s presentation of tsewa, the warmth and care that naturally rises in our hearts, is deeply rooted in the ancient wisdom traditions of several streams of Buddhist practice and philosophy. Far from some dogmatic religious tome, Rinpoche’s concerns stand firm and clear in service to address human suffering without agenda or particular affiliation. Tsewa is your innate human inheritance. It is, at the very least, evidenced by the constant concern we experience for our own well-being. It is further indicated by the strong feelings of care we have for those closest to us. Those feelings of warmth, affection and care go a long way toward sustaining us, but through training and contemplation, everybody we encounter can become the genuine object of our tsewa. The positive effects of caring for just a few people are self-evident. If we can learn to extend that care outward, beyond our most intimate circle, then the positive effects of tsewa become immeasurable. It is our sincere hope that you find the ideas in this podcast and in Training In Tenderness as convincing, challenging, inspiring and revolutionary as we have. TSEWA! Michael Velasco

Dec 2019

42 min 46 sec

Dear Friends, I hope you enjoyed the previous journal entry about my experiences as a psychotherapist with clients as they navigate their journeys with psychiatrists and medications. Here, we present you with a podcast which continues to explore the subject of medications and the relationship between psychiatry and Windhorse teams. This is a small group discussion between some of Windhorse’s senior clinicians and Dr. Earle Shugerman. Dr. Shugerman has been a close colleague of Windhorse Community Services for many years. He is the treating psychiatrist for many of our clients, he participates in periodic team meetings, and he consults with our Team Supervisor group once a month. In this discussion, he offers insights into the uniqueness of the Windhorse approach to supporting clients in their recovery processes. He explains how beneficial it is as an outside treatment provider to have input from the Windhorse team as well as from the client. He answers some intriguing questions from our clinicians, such as how to protect and maintain a wakeful quality of mind while taking psychiatric medications, and how clients can have a sense of their own agency while working with a psychiatrist and a Windhorse team. The people in this discussion are Jeffrey Fortuna, Gretchen Kahre, Earle Shugerman, myself, and Chuck Knapp, who is our host. We share our various reflections on the collaborative nature of our work together, and we explore current issues in psychiatry as well as how psychiatry is evolving. Many thanks to Dr. Shugerman for being our special guest in this thoughtful conversation. Thank you for listening, Jeanne Christensen

Dec 2019

28 min 33 sec

Dear Friends, In this podcast, we return to the conversation between Dr. Earle Shugerman and Windhorse senior clinicians Jeffrey Fortuna, Gretchen Kahre, and myself. Chuck Knapp hosts and facilitates the discussion. In Part One, Dr. Shugerman reflected on what it is like for him to work with Windhorse teams and what makes the Windhorse approach unique in the field of mental health treatment. We also heard from members of Windhorse teams about their experiences in partnering together with clients and Dr. Shugerman. There were several ideas mentioned which contribute to a mutually-valued collaboration. Among these are the Windhorse emphasis on kindness and being nonjudgmental, the team’s high level of training, and the clinician’s ability to read what’s needed and respond to situations and concerns. Here in Part Two, we delve a little deeper into collaborating specifically around the medications. Dr. Shugerman discusses how he approaches getting the most benefit out of medications while avoiding unwanted or harmful side effects. He also talks about dosing, the gradual reduction of medications, and the value of the Windhorse therapeutic environment in reducing the stress of the individual. He explains that with decreased stress, the job the medications have to do is reduced. We also discuss the benefits of attending to sleep, exercise, nutrition and employment/activities. Working with the client in collaboration is recognizing his or her basic humanity and individuality. Dr. Shugerman states the need to provide education with respect, to look at medications as a set of options, and to have open dialogue around the various options. We end the discussion by touching on the emerging field of Integrative Psychiatry. As time goes on, it seems, our collaborative community explores greater ways to address the whole person in recovery. Once again, we thank Dr. Shugerman for his contributions to our discussion and our work together. Thanks for listening, and enjoy. Jeanne Christensen

Dec 2019

25 min 31 sec

Dear Friends! Today’s podcast (part one of a two-part series) features the recording of an important conversation I recently participated in about the efficacy and pitfalls of using psychiatric medications. Joining me were members of the Windhorse community: Emily Ashley, Eugenie Morton, and Joe Calcagno. This topic hits close to home for me as someone who was diagnosed with a chronic mental illness but no longer uses these medications for wellness. In this podcast, you will hear a variety of perspectives on this controversial topic from staff and clients who currently take or used to take these substances. We share our experiences, weigh the pros and cons of use, explore the nature of stigma, and offer what has helped us along our path. This exploration is important because Windhorse values compassionate care, and part of that is supporting clients to be on the minimum effective dose of psychiatric medications possible. And, when viable, it supports a client’s right to reduce or withdrawal from these medications altogether. The reasons why someone would choose to take or not take medication are as diverse as people themselves. As we’ve learned at Windhorse, one size does not fit all–and ultimately this is about whatever works. Thanks for listening and please enjoy! Chris Emerson Audio Player  

Dec 2019

31 min 18 sec

Today’s podcast, the last in an 8-part series on psychotropic medications, is an open-hearted conversation between Windhorse community members Emily Ashley, Joe Calcagno, Chris Emerson, and Eugenie Morton. Looking back, we initially didn’t anticipate spending this much time on meds. But once entering the discussion—and knowing how critical it is to accurately understand the issues at hand—we decided to deepen our presentation with Windhorse staff and clients who actually use or have used them. Today you’ll hear a conversation with people who have extensive personal experience in this territory. As we conclude this series, I want to again bring attention to a theme that’s pervaded these conversations: People understandably have strong opinions about psychotropic medications, and this has produced intense polarities in how they are viewed and used—or not used. At Windhorse we practice in a middle path that takes into consideration all the various conditions and elements that determine whether a person wants to use meds or not, and how to live well with that choice. Our collective experience includes so many stories within these polarities, like the man I met in the WCS Admissions process, after having been admitted for his 50th psychiatric hospitalization. Somehow the magnitude of the number 50 woke him up, and he realized that his life was just not working the way he was approaching it. So, he decided to see what would happen if he stayed on medications for his bipolar condition. A few years of stable life later, he was happier than he’d been in the last 25 years and had become a highly effective peer counselor. Or there is the client I’ve admired for over 25 years for her big heart and fierce determination, who stated early in our relationship that she “would rather die than take medications.” There was no question that she really meant it. Life for her has not been easy, but she’s learned over time about what accommodations must be made around her vulnerabilities and the vicissitudes of her extreme mind states. Another woman I recall vividly, probably in her mid-30s, was a high school teacher. We met about five years ago at a conference where an author—very well-known for his research on how the use of anti-psychotic medication is strongly contraindicated—had just presented. She had clearly been crying and pulled me aside to share how she always felt like such a failure when hearing these kinds of presentations. She hated the basic idea of meds, but every time she tried to go off of them, and she’d always done so with discipline, patience, and in collaboration with her psychiatrist, she ended up in the hospital. After losing a couple of jobs, she resigned herself to staying on the most minimal effective dosage possible. And so far, that actually felt okay. There’s also the client I’ve known since his teens, who in the last 20 years has learned how to accurately ground his life in simplicity, consistent discipline, work, and healthy relationships. He’s been medication-free for the last five years, with amazingly resilient stability of mind and moods. And one last story produced a bit of a surprise for me in the form of a rare, un-ambivalent declaration. I was having dinner recently with a former client whom I worked with in the early 1990s. Since we first met, he’s always been on high doses of atypical anti-psychotic medications and has also been passionately engaged in life: with various kinds of work, meditation, and most recently reconnecting with his art as an abstract painter. Though one of the most disciplined people I know, occasionally his meds will get a little out of focus and he’ll enter a period of mania. Somehow, by awareness and what appears to be extremely good fortune, he’s managed to not just miraculously stay out of the hospital but to survive these extreme episodes. At dinner I shared with him that we were doing these podcasts on medications, and that I’d like to know how he feels about his experience with meds. He immediately laughed and boomed, “I love my meds! They let me to have the life I have, with a lot of joy and connection to people. And a huge thing for me is that they allow me to actually connect with the magic in my life, as opposed to being swamped by it.” Today’s podcast, like all the others in this series, contains the voices of people who know the gravity of extreme mental states. From extensive experience, they also understand how critical it is to the process of recovery that one can discern dream states from reality. The subtle and exquisitely tricky sweet-spot of whether a psychotropic medication enhances that discernment or obscures it depends on so many very personal variables—indeed, one size truly does not fit all. We hope this has been helpful and please share it with your friends, Chuck Knapp

Dec 2019

26 min 42 sec

Dear Listeners, Welcome to this second entry of a two-part series featuring our dear heart friend, the Venerable Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche. We will be listening once again to his teachings on tsewa—a Tibetan term which most closely translates in English to “love.”… If love is an aspect of life in which you find any value and in which you’d like to gain more clarity, you’ll want to hear Rinpoche’s gentle, open-hearted, and very practical guidance. And if you’re listening from the perspective of someone interested in mental health, this is all about the radical mind health that’s abundantly available to us as human beings. As I stated in the introduction to part one (Entry #010), these teachings are some of those rare gems that speak from the deepest roots of human sanity and intelligence, while being accessible and immediately applicable to our day-to-day lives… As Rinpoche explains, tsewa is an expression of the basic goodness we all share, a fundamental level of sanity that’s always shining beneath our confusion. By cultivating openness of heart with critical intelligence, he explains how tsewa can become a completely reliable guide on a path of reduced confusion, allowing us to live happier lives while being of greater benefit to others. Beyond the potential for individual benefit, and given how vulnerable modern society is to polarization and high-stakes discord, these teachings are timely and urgently important. The ultimate skill for any teacher is in making the utterly profound accessible to all—whether that person is new to an area of study or an old hand. Rinpoche’s mastery is such that I wish everyone could hear today’s podcast. Click here to buy the book “Training in Tenderness –  Buddhist Teachings on Tsewa, the Radical Openness of Heart That Can Change the World” May this be of benefit, and happy listening, Chuck Knapp

Aug 2019

30 min 35 sec

Dear Friends, In the last journal entry we offered a paper by Carrie Doehring, discussing the necessity for body- centered spiritual practices when searching for wholeness amidst traumatic grief.  Now, for this journal entry—a podcast—she is joined in conversation by Alan Johnson, Bill Forbes, Pedro Silva, Don Blomberg and Chuck Knapp.  Together they discuss the topic of moral injury and moral stress, and how people search for meaning amidst suffering. It was interesting to learn at the recent INMI Conference that the term moral stress was originally coined by nurses.  It was not uncommon for them to experience concern that they may have, at times, caused harm or compromised care in regard to their patients.  In Carrie’s presentation at the Conference, she said that “people with strong core values of responsibility and concern for others are more susceptible to moral stress.” So, not unlike nurses, it is fair to say that we as mental health clinicians will feel distress at times that we may cause harm to those we are wanting to care for and support. While listening to the podcast, this is what my mind continued to come back to. I found myself thinking of times with clients where I lacked patience or skillful means, and how that felt to me. Feelings of guilt or shame for what I did or didn’t say or do can be, as Carrie would suggest, “life-giving if people don’t isolate themselves and are able to reach out to others in order to share responsibility and realistically assess harm.” How fortunate we are at Windhorse to cultivate and encourage relationships of mutual recovery where this can happen. Not unlike working with traumatic grief, body-centered spiritual practices can be very helpful too, in bringing understanding and compassion to ourselves as clinicians and as a community when we make mistakes in our work with each other – staff and clients.  So, in the spirit of working together, forgiveness, learning and growing, I would like to present the next addition to our journal. I hope you enjoy! Tim Anspach

Jul 2019

40 min 37 sec