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Day 6 of Australia 2013: Hearing Voices 1

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I spoke about growing up indigenous and believing that everyone heard the voices of non-physical beings.   I was shocked to learn, when I arrived at Stanford Medical School, that not everyone heard voices.   I felt sorry for these people.   I believed they must be very lonely, to walk in the forest without having conversations with the trees or the whispering murmurs of the frogs.   I wondered what it would be like to never hear from the spirits, to never receive their good guidance and direction.   But I came to realize that the norm in Euro-American society was to pretend to have silent minds.   I don't actually think anyone does have silent minds, but this is what one aspires to have.


So I suggested that people who hear voices consider themselves as the norm with people who don't hear voices being the disabled population.   I also proposed that those there abandon the term "mental illness".   I suggested that suffering is commonplace and that we suffer in many different ways.   I brought up a Dine belief -- that those who, do so on behalf of all the people and therefore should be thanked and valued.   Those who suffer demonstrate to us the imbalances of our society.   Therefore, we have a duty to them to thank them and to participate in any way we can in their recovery.


Having made this introduction, I continued with our first exercise which was a guided imagery/journey in which people went to find the character behind a voice they were hearing or that someone they knew were hearing.   I gave suggestions for safety, for not going to dangerous dimensions, and for being open to whatever the voice had to say about its story.   People did that exercise and told some amazing stories.   Then we moved onwards to a drawing exercise that we learned from Amy Stein in which people draw faces without being intimidated by art.   We then explored the stories of those beings that we drew.   We broke for lunch and then continued with the idea of the hero's journey, that everyone is a hero in their own story and we explored how to feel heroic in our life's path.

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Lewis Mehl-Madrona graduated from Stanford University School of Medicine and completed residencies in family medicine and in psychiatry at the University of Vermont. He is the author of Coyote Medicine, Coyote Healing, Coyote Wisdom, and (more...)

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