Conferences to launch Stanislav and Christina Grof Foundation and honor their work
Launching the Grof Foundation
This 26th of October 2014 marked the launching of the new Stanislav and Christina Grof Foundation at the Women’s Building in the heart of San Francisco. This landmark event was attended by between 50-60 individuals, by my count, including Stanislav and his brother Paul Grof, Kenneth Edward Sloan, Executive Director of the Foundation, Martin Boroson, President , other board members and volunteers. Rick Doblin, Executive Director of MAPS and founder of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, Tav Sparks of Grof Transpersonal Training, and the leaders of the Spiritual Emergence Network were also present. A few others, like myself, were relatively new to Stan and Christina’s work. However, I personally had been so deeply impressed and inspired by the contributions of Stan, that I felt compelled to come from New York to partake and make a contribution. Whether the attendees travelled from afar or close by in California, each in their own way were there to help advance the work of the Foundation.
The format for the event was called “open space.” This meant that virtually everyone could express and change ideas as to where the Foundation might best be headed. Focus groups were formed by someone getting into the middle of the circle and wanting to lead a discussion on a given topic. The topic was written on sheet of paper, microphone announced and then posted on a wall in the large auditorium size room. The postings read the subject matter of the discussion as well as where and when it could be held, generally each for an hour. Some lasted longer, especially those Stan was involved with. An section of the room was left free to bring things to, to commemorate Christina.Throughout the day, as people volunteered ideas and wanted to host groups, there were as many topics of discussion as there were attendees.
A large segment of discussion groups considered how best to promote the Grof’s work to the general public and especially to expand the reach of Breathwork. Was there a means to get celebrity endorsements, to reach mass media, to make a new films, such as documentary on Stan’s life, and other such topics were discussed. Some of the groups focused on funding. There was also a mission statement group. A half a dozen laptops were made available so that one person from each focus group, an assigned note taker, could record and share the results with the Foundation. Later emails were sent to all the attendees, with a promise to share these summary recordings, to add to them and to make comments. Those not in attendance can further make suggestions as to projects and ways of focusing on Stan and Christina’s legacies, and by contacting the Foundation.
The event itself was marked by an opening and closing statements by Martin Broronson, President of the Foundation, and it should be noted that his opening statement emphasized the effort to create a bottom up organization, serving the needs of the overall community of supporters. In the concluding comments he expressed relief about how the day went well and that fruitful ideas could be harvested . At the very least, he stated, there could be an event of this kind annually. The entire closing circle was also opened up to comments as a beautiful, earthy stone was passed around, and sequentially each stone holder had their turn to speak. Often there were expression of gratitude to Stan for his work, and how it had changed their and that of others, coupled with a commitment to help the furtherance of their work. Stan himself made the comment that while he had in the past emphasized the principle of attraction, rather than promotion, he would be open to subtle or gentle means of further promoting his and Christina’s work.
Toward the end of the event and in forming a ceremonial circle, tiny electronic candles were passed around so that each participant could take them home and keep the light burning for the inspirations gained. One candle was placed in the middle for Christina.
On the way out, and by courtesy of Ken Sloan, copies of Stan’s work called Healing our Deep Wounds and Christina’s Eggshell Landing were handed out for free to all the attendees. At the very end it was hard to leave and to part with this inspired community. I did, however, manage to see a CNN account that evening of the use of Ayhuasca with veterans in Peru, and partly funded by MAPS. The episode, hosted by Lisa Ling was entitled Could This Be the Next Marijuana?
The next day, after seeing my daughter in San Francisco, I spent time to incorporate some of what I had learned from the three days into my writings, being that I was working on a book on global mind changes, and to begin to do what ever I could, to help keep Stan and Christina’s legacy alive and vibrant.
Honoring The Pioneering Thought of Stanislav Grof
Overall it had been an emotional three days for me, after having also attended the two day Expanding and Reenchanting the Psyche Conference: the Pioneerng Thoughtof Stanislav Grof sponsored by the California Institute of Integral Studies and hosted at the Whitcomb Hotel in San Francisco. This was also a unique event given by CIIS and honoring Stan’s life time contributions. In attendance and serving as speakers were luminaries such as Fritjof Capra, Richard Tarnas, Ralph Metzner, and Jack Kornfield, Michael Lerner, among others. Robert McDermott, President Emeritus and Joseph Subbioondo, President of CIIS conducted the opening ceremonies, respectively for the two days. In total there were twenty two tributes, interspersed by Stan’s responses.
Among the most notable talks the first day, Richard Tarnas gave an overview of Stan’s Legacy, Fritjof Capra spoke about shifting paradigms, Charles Grob and Thomas Roberts covered Stan’s contributions to psychedelic research and the informing of the public thereof, Michael and Ann Mithoefer addressed Stan’s influence on holotropic medicine, especially MDMA research. Dianne Haug focused on holotrophic breathwork and Jenny Wade on the understanding of transcendent sex and prenatal experience. Toward the end of the day, Rick Dublin spoke on Stan’s contribution to FDA drug research with psychedelic, and on how his organization, Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic research or MAPS is working to get MDMA legalized for PTSD. In the evening, Tav Sparks aired a series of video clips symbolically representing the four perinatal stages. Also presented were memorable photos of Stan and Christina, as well as a photographic series which give tribute to Albert Hoffman, the Swiss lab chemist and first synthesizer of LSD, with commentaries by Stan seeing him as his mentor. Stan also showed the last photo of Albert taken in 2008, weeks before he passed at the age of 102. During those last weeks, Abbie kept by his bedside Stan’s writings about the dying process, making Stan feel he was giving back something to his mentor who meant so much to him.
On that first day, I also took time to make a video interview of Fritjof Capra so that he could explain and promote his new textbook on Systemic Thinking for my blog, www.healingtalks.com.
During the second day, Chris Bache gave a moving account of multiple death and rebirth experiences with LSD, Ralph Metzner and Jack Kornfield passionately addressed his deep appreciation for Stan’s work and their close friendship, while Kylea Ferrer, Joh Buchana, Leonard Gibson, and Sean Kelly successively spoke of Stan’s overall mentoring and influence on consciousness research and the holotropic paradigm and metaphysics. Willam Keepin, near the end of the day, gave a unique and highly impressionable account of how holotropic breathwork had been by social activists to empower their effect on social transformation.
With all of this input, I managed during the event to learn from some of the most influential people in Stan’s life, and whom he, in turn, had inspired and collaborated with. Through this account, I hope to share a taste of these events with others who follow the extraordinary life-time contributions of Christiana and Stanislav Grof.
- Resest Me: The Story of How Pscyhedelics Saved My Life
- Can Psychedelics Offer a Path to Transformation