December 30, 1941 - June 15, 2014
My Beloved Christina – my wife, lover, best friend, teacher of love, beauty, and compassion, Muse, coworker, co-author, companion in countless adventures in consciousness, globe-trotting, and in our spiritual journey in tandem – passed away peacefully in her sleep on Sunday, June 15, 2014. She left a big vacuum in my life, but continues to reside in my heart and soul. --Stan Grof
Photo courtesy of Stan Grof.
Christina Grof passed away unexpectedly early in the morning on June 15, 2014, apparently of pneumonia. By that evening, there was already a growing worldwide swell of gratitude for her life and grief at her death.
Christina’s contributions were many. At Esalen, she and her husband Stan led numerous workshops and, to this day, the Grofs still receive messages of gratitude from participants whose lives were changed.
However, Christina will be most remembered for the several new intellectual and therapeutic movements she helped birth. With Stan, she founded and led the International Transpersonal Association (ITA) and created a series of conferences around the world.
Their search for effective transpersonal practices led to the discovery of Holotropic Breathwork. This remarkably powerful combination of fast breathing, evocative music, releasing bodywork, mandala drawing and group sharing is probably the most powerful non-drug method of inducing deep, therapeutic, non-ordinary states of consciousness. Today, Holotropic Breathwork is a worldwide movement with over 1,200 certified facilitators.
Some of Christina’s most distinctive contributions were born of her own personal challenges. She used her own crises to create methods and organizations for helping others, and she successfully launched two new therapeutic movements.
Spiritual practices are often portrayed in ancient texts and contemporary accounts as a straight-line progression to greater and greater health and happiness. But people and reality are more complex. Emotional disturbances, or even full-blown crises, can plague even advanced practitioners and Christina, who was an accomplished yoga practitioner, suffered her own intense psychospiritual crisis.
During such emergencies, transpersonally informed and psychotherapeutically skilled guides can be invaluable. Christina therefore founded the Spiritual Emergence/Emergency Network (SEN) to connect individuals in spiritual crisis with experienced guides. She also co-authored with Stan the books The Stormy Search for Self: A Guide to Personal Growth Through Transformational Crises and Spiritual Emergency: When Personal Transformation Becomes a Crisis.
Another of Christina’s crises was a midlife battle with alcoholism resulting from her attempts to calm her kundalini episodes. Eventually, she went into treatment, recovered and never drank again. Once again, she used her own experience for the common good. This time, she transformed her crisis into a contribution by co-creating an Esalen month-long workshop and two International Transpersonal Association conferences entitled “Mystical Quest, Attachment, and Addiction.” Her superb book on this subject, The Thirst for Wholeness, has since become a classic. The central idea behind all of these projects was to connect the practical Twelve Step Programs with transpersonal psychology so as to provide a professionally acceptable justification for spirituality as an essential element of successful treatment of addictions.
Christina’s life’s work was recognized with three honorary doctorates. She received copies of her memoir, The Eggshell Landing: Love, Death and Forgiveness in Hawaii (Livingston Press), just days before she died. Christina leaves behind her husband Stan, two children, five grandchildren, and hundreds of thousands of people whose lives have been deeply touched and uplifted by her life.
-- Roger Walsh, University of California at Irvine