The Monroe Institute

Who is Your Secret Mentor?

September 04, 2010

Do most people have Secret Mentors? What is a Secret Mentor, anyway?

I can't speak for everyone but my guess is, yes, most of us do have at least one Secret Mentor — someone who has had a profound and positive influence on us throughout a good portion of our lives.

But they don't know it!

Maybe yours is a school teacher, a spiritual leader, an entertainer, a coach, a political figure, a friend's older sibling.

My Secret Mentor is Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. Elisabeth, as she preferred to be called, "was a Swiss-born psychiatrist, a pioneer in Near-death studies and the author of the groundbreaking book On Death and Dying (1969), where she.. proposed the now famous Five Stages of Grief ... denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance."

I was 22 when I first encountered Elisabeth's work. In an in-service film at Boston City Hospital where I was a ward secretary I felt goose pimples swell over my skin as she spoke with deep respect and acceptance about the dying process, and about her involvement with the modern Hospice movement. Elisabeth was instrumental in bringing Hospice across the pond to the US.

A few years later I was living in Colorado when I learned of The Denver Hospice (then, Hospice of Metro Denver). HMD was, with Elisabeth's help, just getting started as the third hospice in the country. First as a volunteer and then a staffer I often heard Elisabeth speak eloquently and from the heart about her spiritual awakening.

One account in particular stirred me at the deepest level. She told of visiting a rural laboratory in Virginia where, as she listened to specially blended sounds, her awareness left her body and roamed free. That night, alone in the guest cabin, Elisabeth experienced in exquisite detail the deaths of each of her patients. Awakening the next morning she was transformed. The emotional pain had been replaced by love and a powerful sense of connection with Spirit.

Tears of gratitude and yearning covered my face at the end of that story. I launched a mighty rocket of desire — I wanted that experience, too!

Fast forward about five years and I am feeling drawn further along my path. But to where? My best friend, Lisa, had a "book-falls-off-the-shelf-into-my-hands" episode in our favorite bookstore as she was looking for a gift for me. It was Far Journeys by Robert A. Monroe. A few years earlier Journeys Out of the Body had made a huge impact on me, but Far Journeys gave me a target destination: The Monroe Institute.

Everyone gets to The Monroe Institute by way of Inner Guidance and I'm no exception, but that's a story for another time. Let me just say that it was that process which led me to discover that Elisabeth's "rural laboratory" and The Institute were one and the same! A marvelous sense of completeness encompassed me one day when our executive director, Nancy "Scooter" McMoneagle, and I talked about that experience of Elisabeth's from years before. Scooter had been her monitor while Elisabeth was listening to Hemi-Sync® in the sensory deprivation booth. She had also seen Elisabeth the next morning after her transformation, radiant and glowing.

When we invited Elisabeth to present the keynote address at our Professional Seminar she graciously accepted. For me, seeing Elisabeth again, hearing her speak again, and having it occur at the Institute represented a tremendous milestone along my journey. Still, I didn't tell Elisabeth she was my Secret Mentor.

I thought about telling her. In fact, I was alert to the right opportunity. It never occurred, even a couple of years later when a bunch of us drove to Shanti Nilaya, Elisabeth's retreat center in West Virginia, to help with much needed repairs to her facility. Telling her just didn't feel right.

Maybe it's because Secret Mentors are not about personality, or the "little I," or ego, or obligation to be a good role model, or defining myself as a protogé or a student. Maybe it's because the Secret part is important somehow. Could revealing the Secret part diminish the Mentor part?

Who is your Secret Mentor?

Robert Gupta: Music is Medicine, Music is Sanity

September 03, 2010

Here is another idea worth spreading from

Robert Gupta, violinist with the LA Philharmonic, talks about a violin lesson he once gave to a brilliant, schizophrenic musician -- and what he learned. Called back onstage later, Gupta plays his own transcription of the prelude from Bach's Cello Suite No. 1.

Violinist Robert Gupta joined the LA Philharmonic iat the age of 19 -- and maintains a passionate parallel interest in neurobiology and mental health issues. He's a 2010 TED Fellow.

Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!

September 02, 2010

Richard P. Feynman. What a guy! Feynman is one of those folks whose influence altered fundamentally the way I live my life. Mainly because he taught me that following what feels good without judging will always take me to where I want to be. Not a unique outlook, necessarily, nor the first I'd heard it, but Feynman's successes really gave me permission to add that tool to my kit.

That tool came from his autobiographical book, Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! (Adventures of a Curious Character). It's funny, honest, irreverent, and totally inspiring.

Richard Feynman died in 1988, leaving a changed world—changed for the better as a result of his idiosyncratic humor, brilliant observations, and profoundly simplified explanations about, well, pretty much everything.

He's mainly known for winning the Nobel Prize and popularizing physics, opening it up to regular people. Here's a quickie biographical overview from

Richard P. Feynman (1918-1988), scientist, teacher, raconteur, and musician. He assisted in the development of the atomic bomb, expanded the understanding of quantum electrodynamics, translated Mayan hieroglyphics, and cut to the heart of the Challenger disaster. But beyond all of that, Richard Feynman was a unique and multi-faceted individual.

A great wealth of Feynman videos is available for the picking. Here's one that I think is beautifully demonstrative of his personal style.

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