Category Archives: Community Mental Health

The Power Of Softness?

softnessSometimes it’s the softest touch that hits the hardestThis little video is worth watching several times. (It’s more compelling if you mute the audio.)  In one minute,  we see five stories about the power of softness.  If we want to help vulnerable people, we need to become vulnerable ourselves.

It is a sign of the times, however, that spiritual messages like the power of softness are being co-opted by commercial interests.  That the sale and consumption of artificial “bread” is somehow contributing to the restoration of authentic human relationships.  Hmmm.


Not So Bleak After All!

Here’s another great example of how the arts contribute to community mental health.  The arts heighten and intensify the human sensory experience, and remind us that ife isn’t so bleak after all!

CCO Expressive Arts event image

The Expressive Arts Program at Camphill features the work of a group of women who have experienced isolation and who have been exploring new horizons together.  We can learn much from projects like this!

Here is a poster about the Exhibit in Barrie on the afternoon of March 27. Supported by the Canadian Mental Health Foundation and the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

Finding Gold At The Conversation Café


Conversation Café – Sunday March 11 at 2pm at Hesperus – Tickets here

treasure-chest-ftrThe first guest this Sunday will be Jane Haque.  Jane’s recent book Freeing The Pieces is not just a memoir – she gets behind all the photos and mementos of the the happy moments, and explores the underlying meaning and lessons of her experiences.  Finding Gold is the central themeand it strikes me that this is also the theme of the Conversation Café.  The  guests are

giving us a picture of what they are learning in the Third Age of life – their memories are simply the raw material.

Actress Marianne McIsaac is another featured guest.  It is not widely known that Marianne had roles in feature films such as Citizen Gangster and War Of The Worlds.  We know her better for her work as an inspiring theatre teacher at Ryerson, and for her tireless efforts to redirect adolescent hormones on the stage at the Toronto Waldorf School.  On Sunday she will be offering a dramatic reading from the one-woman show she adapted and toured.  It is based on the (rather dramatic) life of Edna St. Vincent Millay.

Shishir Lakhani (see earlier post) and a fourth “mystery” guest will round out the program.

Autism – Opening New Doors

Autism continues to be a serious problem in many families.  Parents are being told, there’s nothing you can do – all your loving concern and attention simply won’t make any difference.  The only solution, it seems, is a one-way ticket to an institution.  Good-bye, loved ones.

Every now and then, however, a story comes along that gives hope.  (See link below.)  Like many other examples posted on this blog, the secret seems to be in re-imagining relationships – meeting people who are different, and learning and growing together.  There is no “silver bullet,” but patient interest – and attention to what is actually happening in the moment – can make all the difference.



Aging With Fire In Your Belly

unnamedThere is a widespread belief that aging is a process of decline, a disease, a bad thing.  Participants in the Shadowpath Conversation Café at Hesperus are having a different experience.  They are learning about creative elders who are saving the best for last.

For example, Shishir Lakhani will be in the hotseat on March 11.  Details and registration here. (He was originally scheduled to appear on an earlier date.)  Shishir is a retired entrepreneur who has spent the last ten years being a tireless advocate for the Heart And Stroke Foundation (see earlier post.)  At a meeting of the Richmond Hill Historical Society, he described how the single-minded focus that is often necessary for success in a business career can have adverse effects on personal health and well-being.

Shishir’s discussion of spiritual opportunity cost really caught my attention.  The relentless attention paid to external goals can undermine personal health and inner development.  The business mission is etched into a person’s very being, and obscures any signals that call for a course adjustment.

In his book Phases, Dutch physician Bernard Lievegoed makes a similar case.  He explains why aging is nothing to be feared, particularly if you have been spiritually active in the earlier phases of life.  He describes the existential crisis that hits people who have done nothing else but chase personal success, pushing aside everything that might interfere with his career… Such people are less able to cope with the biological symptoms of aging, and are prone to much suffering as they get older.

So we’re very grateful that Shadowpath is hosting the Conversation Cafés at Hesperus.  Much more than fireside chats – they are kindling new fires!



The Harp and Healing


We just learned that Rita Costanzi will be giving another concert at Hesperus this Sunday, March 4 at 4pm.  (Program here.)  Not only is Rita a remarkable musician – she is always challenging the boundaries of her art , exploring modalities of theatre, healing and personal transformation.

Of particular interest to Hesperus friends is her loving interest in healing and palliative care.  She has collected some related material on her web page: Harp and Healing.

If you’re free Sunday afternoon, I encourage you to come and experience Rita and the harp in person!


Conversation Café – The Sauce Thickens!

The purpose of life is to have a purpose. – Shishir Lakhani

27867385_1210870115713328_4595741080636446194_nIn my previous post, I wrote about the Conversation Café at Hesperus Village.  The Shadowpath team is doing a great job of bringing together creative elders from around the community and stirring the pot.

The first ingredient at the next event on Sunday February 18 is Shishir Lakhani, B.Sc. PQS DTM:

Actively retired and gratefully giving back, Shishir believes that the purpose of life is to have a life of purpose. Born in Africa (of Indian heritage), educated in England, Shishir has made a fulfilling life in Canada. Shishir has an extensive business background of over 30 years.

I’m sure that Shishir will bring lots of spice to the conversation, so come along and taste it!

Register here