By Anthony Dallman-Jones, PhD.
More accurately. The Mother of Vivation. This is the first time I have thought of myself as an old-timer. When I was asked to do this article it dawned on me that I was initiated into Vivation before it was Vivation. The Mother of Vivation was Integrative Rebirthing.
How it all began
So here I am, it is Spring of 1986, I have a quite successful counseling practice going in Springfield, Ohio, near Yellow Springs. I drop into a bookstore as I did frequently and there I discover this book, Rebirthing, by Jim Leonard and Phil Laut. A nondescript red paperback, 300 pages, they had published it themselves. Although quite a liberal town and bookstore, I realized, after hearing the bookstore owner clear his throat several times, that I had been completely absorbed by the book and oblivious to my surroundings. I sheepishly asked the bookstore owner how long I had been standing in the middle of the room, and he said, “About an hour. I was beginning to wonder.” I thought maybe ten minutes. Now I am a learned man…PhD, and all that, but I had never heard of anything like this thing called Integrative Rebirthing! Despite being familiar with “self-improvement seminars” – EST had been large for several years and had just changed its name to The Forum.
I bought the book, pored through it in another three days, and made an appointment with a nearby certified Rebirther we shall call Alice. My first session was on May 16, 1986. I went to see Alice every two weeks or more until January of 1987, then enrolled in the last Integrative Rebirthing training in Cincinnati with session leaders Jim and Anne Leonard, Phil Laut and Jeanne Miller. It was spread over 14 days. The next year, when it returned to Cincinnati, I took it again. Suddenly it was called “Vivation.” It was first announced at our first training day. Vivation was a created word derived from the Latin word for “life.” I think their decision was a good one, and to create such a meaningful word was a stroke of genius, typical of Jim and Phil. Both geniuses, to be sure. I later published Jim’s book, Vivation: The Skill of Happiness and we became dear friends. Phil and Jeanne were on the board of my non-profit corporation. I lost track of Phil after he and Jeanne Miller split up.
When I queried Jim and Phil about the new (trademarked) 1987 name change to Vivation, they related that it had been necessary as too many flakes were holding “rebirthing” seminars that had little to do the Five Elements. Some ridiculous things were being done such as pushing people through pillows, making people wear diapers full of peanut butter, etc… supposedly revisiting their childhood down to their birth reenactment. This was to help solve “birth trauma.” It was silly, or let’s call them “experimental.”
Vivation is anything BUT silly, but paradoxically it is and is not experimental. If you have read this far, you are into Vivation (or you could be avoiding vacuuming the rug!). I have not said anything about the impact or value of Vivation, which is like real Real Life, but only x 100. Vivation is so individualistic that is does it a disservice to say, “It saved my life!” (but it did, and I can prove it), or “I lost ____ lbs with Vivation!” Not only did I lose weight using it, but in my practice I used it to help people lose their excess weight, stop smoking, surrender a dozen compulsive behavior patterns, and on and on. I do not need to tell you that the sensationalistic kind of stuff is a given value of Vivation! I can only say that in my first session so many things happened inside me, I was so blissed out that I yelled, “And without drugs!!!” in the middle of the session, startling Alice, my first Vive Pro, who did not startle easily. (And it certainly DID take away any desire to use drugs again – why bother when you can breathe, baby, breathe?
I probably do have 1000 stories about Vivation. All the people I trained with, all the therapy clients I have had where we used Vivation, the dozens I have trained to use Vivation in their therapy practice, and the 1000 or so who attended my on-the-road show — a Vivation weekend titled, “Birth, Death and Other Minor Annoyances.” Each of those stories could be an article. The reason they are fascinating is because they are about REAL LIFE. It is hard – almost impossible – to find in this world people who are truly genuine. In a Vivation room you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting one. That alone makes Vivation worthwhile. And that is only the beginning.
If I unleashed my enthusiasm about this process I have known for 25 years, the stories would fill a book (or set this paper on fire ;-). Maybe I will write some of those. Some are hysterically funny, most are moving enough to certainly replace any reality show, and all are just good solid human interest stories. And anecdotes…ohmigod, the anecdotes!
But I thought it critical that, first, someone wrote down the reason why, 23 years ago, the name Vivation came to be. If you don’t know where you have been, how can you know where you are going?
Anthony Dallmann-Jones PhD is a full-time online professor for Marian University where he specializes in graduate level at-risk education. He also directs the National At-Risk Education Network and has a self-help site called DoctorZest.com. He states, “I have taken the Vivation process to a manifestational level.” He lives on the banks of the Gulf of Mexico on Marco Island, Florida.