Interview with Liliane Desjardins
The Imprint Journey: A Path of Lasting Transformation Into Your Authentic Self
Loving Healing Press (2011)
Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views (3/11)
Liliane Desjardins was born in Zagreb, Croatia and educated in Paris, France. Her background is liturgical arts and two of her outstanding works are the stained glass windows at the Catholic Chapel at Kennedy International Airport in New York. Upon entering recovery from addictions, Liliane’s focus shifted from aesthetic beauty to reshaping and recreating her life and the lives of others.
Liliane is a Certified Clinical Addiction Specialist. She is renowned for her highly successful and innovative work and the Desjardins Unified Model of Treatment of Addictions. She is the co-founder of Pavillon Gilles Desjardins in Val David, Quebec, Canada, a center for treatment of Addiction Interaction Disorder. She is also co-founder of Pavillon International, a center for Substance Treatment in North Carolina. Liliane has thirty-two years of experience in clinical work. She is an international speaker, workshop leader, and has appeared on numerous educational TV programs.
After retiring from Pavillon International, Liliane and her husband Gilles moved to Austin, Texas in 2007. Liliane is now president of Higher Power Productions. She enjoys playing golf with her husband Gilles and playing with their adorable little puppy named Angel.
Tyler: Welcome, Liliane. It’s a pleasure to get to interview you today about your new book “The Imprint Journey.” To begin, will you explain the title to us and particularly that word “imprint”?
Liliane: In my thirty-five years of clinical work and the numerous workshops I have done internationally, it has been very clear to me that what we all want is to be our true Authentic self, yet it seems to be one of the hardest things for people to access. Years ago, I started my quest to discover what prevents us from truly expressing our potential and our truth.
As Dr. Ziedonis, in his Foreword to my book, stated: “Ever feel like you are walking through life on autopilot and making the same choices over and over? Our brain can get stuck in repeat mode, which limits our options and potential. Increasing awareness and better understanding our brain’s imprints can be the first steps to healing and transformation. We all have the capability to be more present in the moment—more fully aware of whom we are. What distracts us? Where is our mind spinning? Is our mind fear-based and over-focused on the future? Or perhaps we are concerned and ruminate about past events? Where does our inner wisdom come from? What shapes our values and beliefs? Imprints! They began with the genetic code we were given at the moment of conception and developed through the many events, experiences, messages, and moments along the journey. These imprints influence our relationships with others, self, and God. They shape our behaviors, expectations, and perceptions. However, with new awareness and understanding they can be changed.”
Carl Jung said it too: “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” Our subconscious imprints are the deep-seated beliefs and messages we have received and internalized. Once an imprint is internalized, it becomes a subconscious governing force in our lives. Our imprints form our emotional map. They determine whether we are reactive or pro-active.
I chose as a title “The Imprint Journey,” because it truly is an inner journey of self- discovery, self-mastery and freedom.
Tyler: Liliane, you share numerous examples of imprints in your book. Can you give us just two or three, maybe ones you feel are fairly common among people?
Liliane: Well, the most common imprints among people are:
I am not good enough (smart enough, pretty/handsome enough, lovable enough)
I don’t have enough (time, money, opportunity, love, etc.)
I did not do enough (no matter how much I do, the deep feeling is that I did not accomplish enough, succeed enough etc.
It is a world of scarcity and not “enoughness.”
I can’t and must not trust others; they’re out to get me.
Others are responsible for my happiness, my feelings, and my actions.
I am defined by what I do, and have. My reputation defines me.
Tyler: Liliane, what made you decide to write this book and bring this information about imprints to people?
Liliane: All my years of clinical work prepared me for it. Many of my friends were asking me when I would do it. What truly made me decide to write are the events of the past few years. Seeing the erosion of values, seeing greed take our country and the world to an almost fatal economic crisis, seeing wars being fought in the name of God, were all such a demonstration of collective negative imprints that I finally listened to the Inner voice that said it’s time for Imprints to be addressed.
Tyler: The first section of this book is basically your autobiography, isn’t it? Will you share with us a few of the important moments in your life that led you on this journey to understanding imprints?
Liliane: That is correct. That is another reason why I wrote this book. I was born at the beginning of World War II in Croatia (which was part of the kingdom of Yugoslavia and later part of the Federative Republic of Yugoslavia). I have witnessed war atrocities; I have witnessed destruction of my country and so many others. I have witnessed the erosion of values, the damages done by greed, dictatorship, and the incestuous marriage of church and state.
I have lived under fascism, communism, socialism, and capitalism, and I have witnessed the damages that genetic as well as environmental (cultural, societal, and religious) imprints do. My early memories are the sirens and the bombs exploding, but my worst nightmares were when the Germans took my father into a well-known concentration camp in Germany for no other reasons than because he was on the street the day a German officer was killed....It was a time of deep fear, helplessness, and hopelessness.
Tyler: What were a couple of your own imprints you had to deal with and what did you do to overcome them?
Liliane: My maternal grandmother was the strong spiritual influence in my childhood. She always talked to me about my guardian angel, who would always protect me, and how God loves me. Thanks to my grandmother, I had a trusting relationship with God and angels. All that was changed and shattered three days after my father was taken to Buchenwald. My mother took me to the Catholic cathedral in my hometown to light some candles for my father’s safety. That day in front of the cathedral, the bishop of my hometown was blessing the German troops. That event was internalized as “God is for the Germans and they will kill my father,” which meant God can’t be trusted, authorities can’t be trusted, and we are on our own. This imprint followed me until my recovery, which forced me to internalize and get in touch with the events of my past, clear them and change them. My mother died at the early age of thirty-six when I was almost ten years old. The Imprint was: Love does not last; whatever you love abandons you; therefore, don’t open your heart, and don’t trust. This imprint has messed up all my relationships. Once again through inner work, awareness, and giving myself the permission to change, grow, and have a different belief system, I have changed that imprint. This book contains many examples of my personal as well as other people’s imprints and how we have changed them.
Tyler: Liliane, I mentioned in your biography above that before you began your recovery you worked in liturgical arts, including creating the stained glass windows that are in Kennedy airport. You don’t focus on your liturgical arts career too much in your book, but now I’m curious how you became involved in liturgical arts despite your mistrust of God, and also, has the creativity of that career helped you at all in spreading your message of recovery to others?
Liliane: It’s a funny story. I have been led into every one of my careers. Of course, art was my passion; that is where I started in Paris. Due to the economic situation of my parents, when we moved to Canada, I could not continue with my art studies; instead, I became a secretary and later the store manager. During that time my ex-husband and an associate started a company producing commercial windows for institutions. Their first contract was a large convent that was the school for deaf and blind. Within the convent, the nuns had a beautiful chapel and they wanted stained glass windows. So my ex-husband asked me to design and make them. Designing them was the easy part, but making them required training and study. I did both. I was inspired by the devotion of the nuns to their students. I was inspired by their spirit of love. Their love, trust, and support touched my creativity. The true answer is that Love and Creativity are God. I could not trust the dogma; I was responding to the essence and the presence of Love, Beauty, and Creativity. My entire career in liturgical arts was my seeking of a Unifying Force allowing Co-existence, Compassion, Love, Authenticity, and Beauty. To me, there is no difference between liturgical art and recovery. Both are the expression of our potential, our talents, and our greatness. Both are about mastering the Art of Living. Recovery is about turning a tavern into a temple…both stand on holy ground.
Tyler: What role does God play, in your opinion, in recovery and overcoming our negative imprints?
Liliane: God plays a crucial part in recovery. If our imprints about God are fear-, guilt-, and shame-based, our recovery process will be affected. I would like to clarify the concept of recovery and Imprints. Imprints are not exclusive to addicts in recovery. Imprints concern everyone. They do not make a distinction between black and white, between Christians, Jews, Buddhists, or Hindus. Imprints do not make a difference between male or female, rich or poor. As previously stated, Imprints can be genetic, environmental: familial, societal, cultural, or religious. Therefore we all need to “recover” from the damage that negative imprints create. The best example of that was someone I worked with who was raised in a very loving and protective family. The person had a very sheltered life and came out of it with the Imprint: “I don’t need to take responsibilities; someone else will do it for me.” “I don’t need to grow up” was another one. The person had the imprint that his security and happiness come from others. Finally, the person had the Imprint: “I must avoid conflicts and all confrontation; I don’t know how to do that.” How we internalize any message becomes our belief system. So the crucial point in recovery from negative imprints is “How do I perceive God?” “How do I TRUST God?” is even more important. “What is my very personal relationship with God?” I listened to Dr. Beckwith the other day and his words resonated with me. He said sitting in church every Sunday does not make you into a Christian, any more than standing in a garage will make you into a car. Some of us must totally change our Imprint about God; others need to update the Imprint, but all of us need to get in touch with our Divine Imprint or we will not connect to our Authentic Self.
Tyler: Liliane, I understand your recovery resulted from nearly dying. Will you tell us about that event?
Liliane: Correct. On March 8 this year, it was exactly thirty-seven years ago that I had decided I could no longer go on. Life and I were done. I made a decision to die. In “The Imprint Journey” on page 31, I have described the entire episode. I did have a near death-experience. Being in the presence of the Being of Light, I experienced the feeling of Total Peace, Total Love, and Total Acceptance. All my emotional pain and turmoil were gone. I felt truly loved, and I felt a deep compassion for myself and everyone else. However, I was told it is not my time and I needed to return; that I had a mission that would be revealed in due time. The return back into my body was not a happy event, yet it was the beginning of my spiritual awakening, and yes, it got me into recovery, but more than that, in due time the mission and the vision of what that represents was revealed. Ever since I have been on the path of this Inner Journey.
Tyler: Liliane, after dealing with your own recovery issues, what made you decide to go further and work in the field of counseling and helping others with becoming aware of and overcoming their imprints?
Liliane: I felt in love with wellness. During my near-death experience I was told that there would be a mission that would be revealed in due time. Two years into my recovery, my ex-husband died of alcoholism. That was a shock for the entire family since he was only forty years old and a brilliant man. It motivated me to do something for a killer disease. The rest is history as I never went looking for a job in this field. I went to drive a friend into treatment at the very first private center that was started by my then future husband Gilles Desjardins. I was asked to volunteer, and I did for three years. I fell in love with the program. I decided to get the training and education, and I made the switch from liturgical arts to reshaping, rebuilding, and beautifying human lives. It was and still is a passion when you see hope, dignity, and co-creation in someone’s eyes.
I had an old teacher of art in Paris who told us the story of Michelangelo’s David—how Michelangelo chose a very odd piece of marble to sculpt David. His colleagues asked him what he was going to do with it, and he answered, “Give David life.” Later, I had the chance to see the statue in Florence at the Galleria David. There are other sculptures of David in Florence, but Michelangelo’s David is different. The other artists captured David, the King of Israel, but only Michelangelo captured David’s Spiritual Mission. I truly believe that this is true for all of us. Our Imprints, pain, turmoil, and losses are the necessary events out of which emerge our Authentic Self, the hidden treasures within us as well as our spiritual mission. So many people go through life looking for a purpose. The purpose is there; however, it is within us, not outside of us. Each one of us is the artist, and like Michelangelo, we need to chip away at the marble of our lives until we reveal our inner beauty.
Tyler: In “The Imprint Journey,” many of your former clients have told their stories about their own imprint journeys. What is it about sharing stories that you think is so important to an understanding of this topic?
Liliane: I knew how important it was in recovery to hear other people’s stories; doing so got me out of isolation; it helped me to identify and relate. In this book, the variety of stories and variety of experiences give a vast understanding of how imprints get internalized, how many different categories of imprints there are, and what various people did to regain their freedom; mostly, how they realized that once you become aware of your imprints, they don’t have the power to run your life.
Tyler: Liliane, imprints are not just negative, as you point out in your book. Will you explain to us a little about positive imprints and how to form them?
Liliane: Oh no, there are positive Imprints we receive. I will just give examples of some positive Imprints I have received from my parents.
From my Mother:
Arts and Culture: My Imprint is: Art and culture are the essence of my sensitivity, passion, and ability to appreciate beauty and to marvel.
Creativity: My Imprint: Creativity is essential; it is beauty expressed; it is the sweetness of life. It is powerful communication.
Resourcefulness: My Imprint: Contained within the problem is the solution; with patience and perseverance I’ll find it.
Civic and Social Involvement: My Imprint: Service and volunteering are a privilege, honor, and responsibility.
From my Father:
Love of Travel And Adventure: My Imprint: Let’s go! There’s one more wonderful place to discover that I’ll find my way no matter what.
Love of Music: My Imprint: Music is Joy and Love. It chases the fear and sadness away. Dancing makes the body happy.
Risk Taking: My Imprint: We can overcome this. It is better to risk and fail than not to do it at all.
Fiscal and Civil Responsibility: My Imprint: Honesty, Loyalty, Integrity, and Democracy are the true freedom.
Tyler: You are also the co-author, along with Irene Watson and Nancy Oelklaus of “Rewriting Life Scripts.” Will you tell us a little about that book and how it differs from “The Imprint Journey”?
Liliane: These two books are totally different. Irene, Nancy, and I realized one day that there is not much on the market for the recovery of family members of an addict. We realized there is a need for families to understand the addict’s process, but more than that, to realize their own dysfunction. Addictions are a family disease. The entire family is affected and there are emotional patterns that the addict has and also ones the family members have. So “Rewriting Life Scripts” describes the process of the disease, as well as recovery. It is about addictions, treatment, and recovery.
“The Imprint Journey” concerns our entire society, not simply the addicts. “The Imprint Journey” was born in my experience as a clinician in the field of addictions; however, the Desjardins Unified Model of treatment was addressing people who were not addicts, but were devastated by grief, by repeated losses, abusive employers, or relationships etc. They were dealing with deep belief systems that made them repeat these patterns without knowing why. Some saw themselves as victims. “Rewriting Life Scripts” addresses substance and chemical dependency addicts and their families. “The Imprint Journey” addresses anyone whose life has some blind spots. Some people struggle with money and prosperity, some people struggle with relationships, some with religion. They don’t drink or use drugs over it; they simply keep on self-sabotaging and holding on to erroneously internalized imprints. This book is about helping all the people, addicts or non-addicts, who have any problem areas in their lives where they tell themselves a story that does not produce the desired results.
Tyler: Liliane, I understand you still give workshops today. Will you tell us a little about that work and how the workshops are effective in healing people?
Liliane: Yes, we do a monthly intensive workshop entitled Inner Journey. It is a four day workshop on identifying, processing, and changing imprints, accessing one’s Authentic Self, and getting in touch with one’s Inner Strength, Wisdom, and Beauty. It is done in a very small group. Changing Imprints and helping people change the stories they tell themselves is my passion. All the years of clinical experience allow us to zero in as a laser beam to eliminate the negative and access the Inner wisdom. The workshop allows participants to update their belief and value systems.
We also do four yearly workshops for couples. Again we do imprint work and explore how individual imprints affect the relationship dynamic.
Tyler: What’s next for you, Liliane? More workshops? Another book?
Liliane: Yes, more workshops and speaking engagements. We have always been an organic organization, evolving, researching, and going deeper. Human development and growth is not a destination but a process. Yes, there will be two more books, some TV work, and who knows. In my heart I know that this is not a book that concerns the U.S. only. Cultural, social, and religious imprints around the world are creating dysfunction, misery, and pain. Imprints are not simply white or black, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist etc.; they are not just female or male. Imprints are about being Human, and humans need to raise their consciousness and change. We live in a fast-paced world that is all about change, so I do hope that “The Imprint Journey” will be a powerful catalyst of change and transformation.
Tyler: That’s wonderful, Liliane. I can’t wait to read your future books. Thank you for the pleasure of interviewing you today. Before we go, will you tell us about your website and what additional information we can find there about “The Imprint Journey”?
Liliane: The official website for “The Imprint Journey” is www.LilianeDesjardins.com. There you will find my biography, you will find more information about the book, as well as the reviews it has received. You can purchase the books via Amazon or directly from my website. You will also find a weekly blog with inspirational and educational articles, affirmations etc. You can also follow me on Facebook as well as Twitter. My grandchildren are very proud that I have technologically joined their club. My friends Irene Watson and Doug Harris have been my coaches and tech-gurus.
Thank you again, Liliane, for this wonderful opportunity to learn about your important work and your new book “The Imprint Journey.” I wish you much success as you continue your journey of bringing healing and transformation to others.