Toward a New Way of Being with Plants Conference – June 17-18, 2021

I am very excited to announce that I will be speaking at the Toward a New Way of Being with Plants conference on June 18th! This is an online conference and registration is free.

I will be presenting along with my sister, Karen Kopacz. Our talk is called Remembering Our Living Relationship with Plants and is from 1:20 pm-2:05 pm US Central Time.

My part of the talk is called Toward an Ancient Way of Being with Plants and will review some of my work with Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow).

The center of our talk will feature a video of Joseph Rael Becoming Medicine Initiation Ceremony video (5:16) that we filmed and Karen produced.

Karen’s talk is called Shifting Into a Relational Mindset With Nature.”

You can check out the speakers, here, and the agenda, here. The conference is put on my a number of international partners, including the University of Minnesota.

Maybe we will see you there!

Also, I just had a post up on CLOSLER, “Making the Most of Your Daily Nervous Breakdown,” where I write about taking a mini-rest cure connecting back to nature.

Exploring Integrative & Holistic Healing at All Levels of Being with Dr. David Kopacz (Part 3 of 3) – Interview by Dr. Alice Lee

Listen to Part 3 of Alice’s interview with me on the Holistic Psychiatrist podcast. This segment shifts to looking at the importance of medical activism and our social responsibility for professionals.

A Review of A Place Inside, Poems by Judith Adams

Whidbey Island poet, Judith Adams’ new book of poems, A Place Inside, covers the full range of human emotions & experiences, bearing witness to the tragedies and celebrating the joys of life.

Poems such as “Visit to the Doctor” and “Letter to my CPA” bear witness to the dehumanizing mania of turning human beings into numbers. The poems are rooted in the earth, not only in harvesting potatoes in “Pommes de Terre,” but walks through the ferns and forest with grandchildren, rescuing a hummingbird that got into the house, and a poem “For Mary Oliver.” Death and life come into full circle relationship in poems such as “Two Reasons for Weeping,” when attending a Covid-era “circular drive-by” funeral, the poet gets a call from her daughter about new life, “Mom, I’m having a girl.” The poems look backward and forward, remembering the pain of leaving a mother behind in the UK, burying her under quince tree, and the birth of granddaughter, Brigid.

What could be more natural and human than giving birth and dying, gardening, mourning, rejoicing, kayaking―the land, the body, roots and bones, growth and hibernation? “All the things I have loved, as I love the human face,” ends the poem, “Roots.” The poet imagines a God who wants you to have “a wild night on the town” and not to try to get into Heaven with “love letters/you never sent,” (“Love Letters Only”). The poet reminds us that we need the trickster as much as the saint to keep us human and sane in a world that tries to classify the complex interweaving of suffering & joy into the question, “What is my pain level out of ten?” To the young doctor/computer technician, asking questions to quantify and reduce complexity to certainty, “Her fast fingers wait to classify my/existence on a screen,” while “oblivious/to the bend I have just rounded,” the poet suggests questions instead that open and deepen into life:

            “Ask me instead who I am,
            what my mornings are like,
            if I am working towards a future,
            who in my life has just died?
            If you don’t have time, and you are
            backing out of the room with your computer,
            at least ask me if I drink alone.”

Judith Adams knows what healing and comforting the soul is, in contrast to the often cold, heartlessness of contemporary medicine. She created The Poetic Apothecary project, offering “poems for healing and comfort,” throughout Washington State via the Humanities Washington program. A video of this talk can be found on Judith Adams’ website.

The center of the book, and the title as well, is “A Place Inside,” a poem, brief and wonderful, which embodies a love of life, bringing inside/outside, human/divine, and body/spirit together.

            “You have a place inside you
            no one can touch.
            It’s where your tools are kept.
            In this divine workshop
            you chisel at a raw day
            in deep devotion to yourself,
            and there you allow some unruliness,
            your share of sore complaint.
            And there you follow
            your own footsteps
            through the dark”

            (A Place Inside)

A Place Inside is a wonderful book that reminds it what it is to be human, to be alive, to be grounded in the Earth, and to breathe starlight.

Watch for an interview I did with Judith Adams to be up on The-POV soon!

Judith Adams

Exploring integrative and holistic healing at all levels of being with Dr. David Kopacz (Part 2 of 3) – on the Holistic Psychiatrist Podcast with Dr. Alice Lee

The second part of Alice Lee’s interview of me is up on her Holistic Psychiatrist Podcast!

This second part covers transforming suffering, the Hero’s Journey, the movie Groundhog Day, Joseph Rael’s teachings on the Medicine Wheel, and a discussion of circular models of healing.

Part 1 is available through the same link.

Part 3 will air next week. While you are on the site you can check out some of Alice’s other podcast interviews!

“Exploring integrative and holistic healing at all levels of being with Dr. David Kopacz” – on the Holistic Psychiatrist Podcast with Dr. Alice W. Lee!

Thanks to Dr. Alice W. Lee for interviewing me on the “Holistic Psychiatrist Podcast!”

Exploring integrative and holistic healing at all levels of being with Dr. David Kopacz, part I of III.

You can visit Dr. Lee’s website here, Alice is also a great photographer and shares some of her photographic work on the site as well.

In her newsletter announcing the podcast, Dr. Lee writes:

“Dr. Kopacz has written three deeply insightful books: Re-humanizing MedicineWalking the Medicine Wheel, and Becoming Medicine. Reading them is like swimming in a liquid pool of twinkling crystals, filled with light and beauty. I can’t read a page without highlighting a passage.”

Thank you Dr. Lee for these kind words and for featuring my words and work on your podcast! I look forward to part II & III.

Moon Shots

The full moon this month is called the Snow Moon. Last night it was hazy, almost like an eye in the sky, looking at this blurry year of the pandemic. The light from the moon is reflected from the sun. It seems like this past year we have been fumbling in the dark, not seeing clearly, struggling with the disruption of the pandemic and the political instability.

My friend, Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow) is always telling me, “We need to teach people that they can go to the moon – not with rocket ships and technology – with their own consciousness through visions, like I do.” Joseph tells me he has been to the moon several times. One time he was sitting in his armchair in the Southwestern United States and then, pop, he was up in space, looking at someone who was aiming a camera at the moon and he was also seeing the Little People, the elves who were on the surface of the moon preparing it for human arrival. As Joseph looked at the scene, he realized that he was trilocating: he was the person with the camera and could zoom in and out, he was the observer seeing the person with the camera, and he was the person talking to the King of the Elves on the surface of the moon. The King of the Elves told him that the elves always go ahead to prepare reality for the arrival of humans and they were quite busy on the moon. Then, pop, Joseph was back sitting in his armchair.

While many might think this sounds fantastic, or it was just Joseph’s imagination, he is adamant that this is an important part of his teachings and that people need to stop being so focused on their self-imposed limitations of the separation of the body from the Earth and the Universe. He sees human evolution as moving away from technological travel to spiritual or metaphysical travel.

Joseph has always been guided by his visions, from his formative vision in the early 1980s of buidling Sound Peace Chambers all around the world (over 65 have been built on four continents), to his visions of us entering the 5th world, the new world, and his trips to the moon.

I stepped outside into the cool Seattle night and looked up at the moon and thought about how Joseph keeps telling me we need to teach people that they can travel without technology, that they can travel in non-ordinary, visionary reality. I looked up at the moon and I was the person the with camera, zooming in through the haze to see the moon more clearly. It is a hobby of mine, trying to hold my breath, steady the camera, and seeing how clear of a photo I can get with the zoom on my camera.

New Interview with Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow) in Parabola magazine!

I interviewed Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow) for The-POV, the new interview site that Usha Akella and I have started. Parabola magazine has picked up this interview and published it in their Spring 2021 issue entitled “Wellness.” The interview is called “A Bridge Across the River.”

Please support Parabola magazine and pick up a copy of the Spring 2021 Issue!

The Art of Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow)

I have been working with Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow) since October of 2014. I’ve written about how I was working on a Hero’s Journey class for veterans, based on the concept of Joseph Campbell. I happened to find a copy of The Visionary: Entering the Mystic Universe of Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow) by the late Kurt Wilt. Kurt had mentioned several times in his book that Joseph’s life’s path was like the Hero’s Journey. I wrote to Kurt, told him what I was doing with the veterans’ group and he thought Joseph might want to hear about what I was doing. Kurt gave me Joseph’s email address. We emailed back and forth a couple times and Joseph invited me to visit him at the Southern Ute Reservation in southern Colorado. On the way down there I was thinking maybe I could include a chapter in the Hero’s Journey work on indigenous approaches to healing. As I wrote up my notes that first night, I realized there was more than a chapter – it was a whole book! The next day I mentioned the idea of a book to Joseph, what to me was an epiphany must have already been obvious to Joseph, as he just off-handedly said, “That’s what I was thinking.”

This led to the publication of Walking the Medicine Wheel: Healing Trauma & PTSD. Actually, in working on that book, we turned in our first draft to Paulette Millichap, our publisher with Pointer Oak and Millichap Books. Her reaction was, “This is interesting, but where is the book for veterans?” Oh, no, I realized, Joseph took me down the rabbit hole and I chased his thoughts like birds and we ended up writing a book that went up, down, and all around, but we lost track of what we started writing. So we split the book into two books and I quickly wrote in more veteran specific chapters. The second book also expanded and expanded and became Becoming Medicine: Pathways of Initiation into a Living Spirituality. However, even that book – at 500 pages – still had things we cut out and that could go in other books!

One of the other book ideas that grew out of the other writing was a book on Joseph’s art. I had the idea of a book called Art Medicine (which is actually the sub-title of the Becoming Medicine color edition) that would focus specifically on art and visions.

To this end, with the idea of doing a book on art, vision, healing, and featuring Joseph’s art work, I’ve put out a call to anyone who has an original art work by Joseph. Joseph is very generous with his work and has given away the bulk of it. At some point, he did start getting digital copies of some of his work, for books, or for printing out posters that he would give away. He also gave me a set of 35 mm slide photos of some older work and I’ve had those digitalized to preserve.

If you have an art work by Joseph, please just take a camera photo of it and email it to me at davidkopacz369@gmail.com

I’ve gone through each of Joseph’s books and listed the art work that has been published and we have all or most of these on digital.

For anyone intersted, here is a list of art work by book with the page number in parenthesis.

Sound: Native Teachings & Visionary Art

New Awareness, Old Awareness

An Epiphany

Seekers of Divine Guidance (0)

Blessing for All Life (4)

Mother Earth and the Flowering of Life (8)

Voice of Silence (10)

Song of Singing Bowl (14)

Sky Father covers Mother Earth with SPIRIT Leaves for new trees just planted after the summer fires (18)

The Infinite Vast Self (21)

The Fun Makers (23)

The Grandfathers (26)

Rainbow man and rainbow woman make first Double Rainbow on Turtle Island (29)

Oceanus vents beneath the Earthly crust, circles of epiphanies for the two Leggeds on Mother Earth in July (32)

Untitled (Early Horn of Plenty) (34)

Summer nights with Mother Earth and her children (38)

Morning Prayer for a new dawn (43)

Spirits of Red Rock (44)

CLEAN AIR Sacred Offering for the People of Mother Earth (47)

The moon arrives near the Earth to seed abundance in the Oceans (50)

Dance Chief calling the Sun-Moon People from the Spirit World to come and Dance (54)

Song of the Baskets (61)

Beautiful Painted Arrow song before Painting: “Oh Grandmother help us to see.” (65)

27 Feather Blessings (66)

Ancient Mysteries tell us that the Mother of fires lives inside the roots of grass, the roots of trees or in the brightest star in any night sky (69)

The Cosmos dreaming us in and out of perceptual realities (70)

Biosphere Stratosphere Energy Sphere (75)

Ceremony for severe cyclones with strong winds (76)

Woman of the Mountain Lakes calling for Mountain Rains – in Ceremony for the water moon (79)

Blessing place for school books (84)

Entrance to TREE of Life (87)

The Winter Summer People (90)

From the Clay of Life “the people” became visible (93)

From the hand of Great Spirit comes all Blessings (99)

Galactic Dance (102)

Flowering of new insights (104)

Untitled (eight-lobed inner flower, colored faces, Old Medicine Wheel) (108)

Rainbow Makers (110)

Story Tellers say that Ancient Ancestors traveled through time looking for new places to live and were known as “Those that fly like blowing wind” (113)

Angels of Light (114)

Harvest Belt Dance (117)

Climbing and Crossing Between Worlds Ceremony (121)

Dream Catcher (124)

Four Winds, Elders of the Sacred Blessing Way (128)

Ah-who (131)

Mother Nature of fields and Streams A child of innocence is born in every moment (137)

Watermelon plant people making food for the children of Mother Earth (141)

Creator of Ocean mists always brings new wisdom to learn (147)

Sage Woman becomes visible to bless “the People” (150)

From the Spirit World comes Eagle Wing to heal the people (159)

The Dreams of the Right Hand (168)

A cup of Silence (170-171)

Ocean Places of Oceanus (172-173)

Cradleboard Blessing Great Bear is the Big Dipper and the seven stars (174-175)

A Geological Formation: A Fault Line vision quest site a place to look for something that prevents perfection (176)

Flowering of Divinity (receiving sending) (181)

Weh-mu – 1 (191)

Weh-seh – 2 (196)

Pah-chu – 3 (199)

Wiii – 4 (202)

Pah-nu – 5 (206)

Mah-tschlay – 6 (209)

Cho-oh – 7 (212)

Wheh-leh – 8 (219)

Whiii – 9 (222)

Tehn-ku-teh – 10 (226)

Sun-Moon Dance, for our Galaxy (na-ku-tha-ke) We’re Dancing (229)

Creation Singing for all Artists (232)

Being & Vibration:

Entering the New World

Climbing and Crossing between worlds Ceremony (duplicate)

Untitled (Hands Weaving Mocassins)

Little Rainbows of Light home of a Beaver dam of water…Of Enlightenment (x)

The Land Spirit after it returned to Mother Earth, she drinks the thunder of Light at the new home of the Corn People (xii)

Planet Earth (Mother Earth) for Paulette & Kelly (Angel bringing child) (7)

Lava Rock is connected to time (10)

Born into the being of vibration the prehistoric farmer demonstrates how multi-verses were made with the sound of “Taah-que”…(12)

Broken Pots (20)

Birthing the Corn Mothers (24)

Coil Pottery Stew (28)

Deer Mother Feeds Her People (31)

Breath Matter and Movement, Being and Vibration, Life is the road of Goodness Grandfather walks with us (34)

Medicine (go forth for the people) for the four directions medicine bag, Grandfather, creator  Dreaming into Life, all of the universes (Tiwa World) pa-aah-neh (40)

Untitled (Medicine Wheel) (48)

The Red Road (51)

Corn hair woman (64)

Singing for the Little People who bring the autumn light t0 (key-yah-ney) Mother of Planet Earth (67)

Mother of Time (74)

Untitled (corn plant, emotional, physical, spiritual, mental body – left, south, west, north, east on right) (79)

Drum Dance Wa-Chee-Chee-Who at Where God Lives and Walks on Planet Earth (99)

Being and Vibration of the Brother and Sister stars (102)

Creator of the Five Worlds (111)

Holy Water (113)

Untitled (5 worlds) (119)

Rain water droplets, sun flower, drink (124)

The Rain makers at Long beaver tail pond (131)

Ancestors bring rain to the desert (135)

Heart Path Spirit (137)

The Being of the feather Dance (139)

Altar of Mountain lion – mossa-neh (144)

Walking the Medicine Wheel: Healing Trauma & PTSD

Breath Matter and Movement (three feathers pointing to sun) (xxix)

Offering of the Heart (xiv)

Planting the Seed of the Heart (DRK xvii)

People of the West-East be Blessed (xviii)

People of the North-South be Blessed (xxiii)

The Cardinal Directions are created (xxxi)

The Ancient Role of the Sentry of sentient perceptive consciousness for seeing long distances, etc.  (15)

A Geologic formation A fault line vision quest site – a place to look for something that prevents perfection (20)

Trapped Warrior (DRK 34)

Untitled (corn plant, emotional, physical, spiritual, mental body – left, south, west, north, east on right) (44)

Grandfathers in the dreamtime traveling into multiple realities on strings of light (47)

Sweat Lodge (55)

Medicine Circle of Mother Earth home of two leggeds (65)

The Medicine in the Medicine Wheel (DRK 70)

Untitled (Medicine Wheel 1995) (71)

Ideas (74)

Father facing sun rise blessing for the people (77)

The Grandfathers (90)

Before the Gourd Dance the spirit of time came to bless the people she was wearing sixteen medicine wheels (124)

Awakening at an AA Meeting (135)

Darkness Seekers of Wisdom (137)

Awaken from sleep to a state of grace (142)

Sacred Heart (DRK 149)

The Sacred Heart of the Madonna (DRK 150)

The Enlightenment of the Horn of Plenty (153)

Medicine Wheel of the Darkened Heart (DRK 157)

Center of the Heart Become Aware Carry Divine Consciousness find and live states of Grace (163)

The Ordinary and the non-ordinary learning how to play or paint, follow the Red Road (169)

Ideas – Reflections (171)

Madonna over Sound Peace Chamber (189)

Cosmic Medicine Wheel (DRK 191)

The Grandfathers (217)

Breath Matter and Movement (Sacred Offering for Humans) (222)

Summer Rains a basket People of the Earth receive It is full of Beauty and delight is dancing (Angels of Divinity) (225)

Fan Spirit Ceremony (Lord of the Winds) (228)

Wind Keeper – Breath of Life Spirit (230)

Three Feathers dancing to the light of Divine Song (232)

The People in Ceremonial Bliss (238)

Dreaming a New Future Cat People symbol of the visionary (250)

Warrior Healing (DRK 264)

Divine Healing (Eagle wing) (268)

Becoming Medicine

Available in Art Medicine Edition (color) and Standard Edition (b&w)

Creator of Worlds (ix)

Breath, Matter, Movement (xxiii)

Enlightenment (DRK xxv)

Conception (DRK xxvi)

The Hero’s Journey (DRK 7)

Medicine Wheel of the Heart (DRK 12)

A Rainbow Medicine Wheel (DRK 19)

Night Eyes of the Direction Finder (22)

Eagle Dancing Feather Medicine (33)

Lunar Stand-still at Chimney Rock (37)

Creation (DRK 46)

Sun and Dancing Moonlight on the People of Mother Earth (61)

Dove of Peace (72)

Where God and Humans Meet (79)

‘Alam al-mithal (DRK 86)

At Vision Questing with Dandelion (90)

Puuh-Tea Bringer of New Knowledge (96)

Vision of the Blessed Virgin (100)

Shamanic Vision (DRK 109)

Blessings for Drinking from Morning Star w/ JR dictation to DRK (117)

Sacred Offering of the five-fingered (130)

Elders Gathering at Winter Solstice (139)

Drinking Universal Spirit Starts Light (156)

Dove of the Holy Spirit (DRK 160)

Crow Flying Through Cosmos (DRK 166)

The Blowing Breath of Dark Energy (171)

The Underside of a Far Larger Ship (184)

Heart Meditation (DRK 206)

Heart at the Center of Dark Matter (DRK 220)

When the People Went into the Cave of Existence and Returned as Made People Ceremony (228)

The Vase of Love and Light (235)

Blue Feather (DRK 238)

Candle of the World #1 – Ordinary and Non-ordinary Realities (249)

Crystal Chamber Taken up into the Sky (256)

Ordinary, and Non-Ordinary Reality Offering Bowl (258)

Spirits of Chimney Rock (263)
Crow Flying Through Dark Matter (DRK 281)

Of Many Windows in the Dream Time of Mother Earth (283)

Puma Giver of the Visionary Life to the People of Mother Earth (293)

The Hunter Puts Cornmeal in the Deer (297)

Dark Matter Deer Medicine (300)

Planet Earth (Our Mother) Offering to the Sky and All Our Relations Wa-Ma-Chi (311)

Returning Home for Mending (316)

Grandfather God Creates All the Universes (328)

Drinking from the Flowering Light of Mother Nature (344)

Good Bye Dr. Dave (356)

Out of One, Many (364)

Rain Cloud and Oceanus (371)

Earth Child of Spiritual Democracy (380)

Peace Makers of the Rainbow Light (396)

Candle of the World #2 – People of the Sand Place – Stars Who Live in the Heavens – They Travel to Planet Earth (406)

Holy Woman (412)

Mother Earth Dreaming All the Two Leggeds into Beauty (423)

In the Currents of Time (433)

Breath and Space Time (446)

Rainbow Bird and Blue Star Woman (460)

Up to 2000  Songs per Day of Bird Song Chiuu-cho-cchaa-aah-neh (473)

Heart Radiation (DRK 482)

One Sun and Four Moons (486)

The Time is Right to Revisit Health Care for All – A Review of Dr. Quentin Young’s Everybody In, Nobody Out: Memoirs of a Rebel Without a Pause

“The time is always right to do the right thing.”

― Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

The US response to the public health crisis of the pandemic and extremism has been sorely lacking. While these two infections may seem unrelated at first, there are ways that they are interconnected.

Institutional policies of inequality lead to poorer medical and social outcomes (see Wilkinson & Pickett’s The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger). Inequality is also leading to higher death rates from “diseases of despair” from overdoses, suicides, and the consequences of alcoholism (see Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism by Case & Deaton). In areas with higher rates of deaths of despair, there have also been “votes of despair” for nationalist, racist, authoritarian leaders.

Health is health. All health is holistically interconnected – physical, economic, social, political, moral, and spiritual.

Today, on Martin Luther King Day, I would like to give a brief review of the work of Dr. Quentin Young (9/5/1923 – 3/7/2016). I was familiar with Dr. Young’s work when I was a medical student and resident in Chicago (1989-1997) as described in Everybody In, Nobody Out: Memoirs of a Rebel without a Pause (2013). I saw him speak on Physicians for a National Health Plan and I would hear him occasionally on WBEZ Chicago Public Radio. He was a champion of Cook County Hospital and reading his book takes me back to my time in Chicago and my fond memories of clerkships at the old Cook County Hospital, Fantus Clinic, and Jorge Prieto Clinic where I did my family practice, general surgery, surgical oncology, and plastic & reconstructive surgery rotations as a medical student.

Over the past five years, I have felt a growing responsibility as a physician and a professional to speak up on what I have seen as public health risks from the attitudes, statements, policies (and lack thereof) of this presidential administration that is now in its last few hours. I have written on the need for physicians and professionals to have an identity that includes public, social, and moral responsibilities that go beyond the doors of the consulting room. (See Medical Activism: A Foundational Element of Professional Identity).

Dr. Quentin Young embodied the archetype of the physician as medical activist. He was Dr. Martin Luther King’s doctor when King was in Chicago – writing that he “became my hero…and my patient,” (53). He marched alongside Dr. King and tended his scalp laceration after being hit with a rock – after which Dr. King said, “I have to do this―to expose myself―to bring this hate out in the open,” (65). Dr. Young championed Cook County Hospital and sought to strengthen its network of community clinics when he was Chairman of Medicine there 1972-1981. Here is what he said he learned at County, “I am convinced that until we, as a nation, have a system of universal health care, including everyone―everybody in, nobody out―until we provide that, we as a society must provide care through a system like County,” (36).

Dr. Young was an active member of many different civil and human rights movements, including the Medical Committee for Human Rights where he marched and provided medical care in the South, he marched in Chicago with Dr. King, he provided medical care on the street at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, he was the founder of the Health and Medicine Policy Research Group, he served as president of the American Public Health Association, and national coordinator for Physicians for a National Health Program – to name just a few organizations. Throughout his career he worked for racial justice, universal health care, and improving the health care of the poor and marginalized. His work was as a doctor, an activist, an organizer, and a change-maker – in short, a medical activist par excellence. Dr. Young was not afraid of a good fight and his work brought him before the House Un-American Activities Committee before it disbanded in the late ‘60s.

Medical Witness

I had heard of the term, bearing witness, from my background in trauma work. Dr. Young writes that the term, medical witness, was used in the Civil Rights movement. The work of the doctor in the Civil Rights movement was, “we bore not only our doctor’s bags, but witness,” (57).

“‘Medical witness’ was a term used in the movement to refer to bringing focus to an issue of indignity or an issue of inequity: visiting doctors offices that had ‘colored’ and ‘white’ waiting rooms, hospitals that had segregated wings and the very obvious disparities between the African American population and the white populations,” (74).

The Good Fight in the Name of a Good Cause

Dr. Young summarized a few teaching points on the good fight (pages 171-172).

  • Don’t be afraid to say the same thing over and over again to lots of different audiences
  • Always use sarcasm and humor
  • Draw on every literary and artistic device you can from Shakespeare to the Smothers Brothers
  • Always connect lots of different struggles: from struggles against racism to struggles to end the war to struggles to get resources for the community
  • Always remember to draw on and recall past great heroes such as Dr. King
  • Don’t be afraid to take on established offices of power, to struggle against them and make them become enabling resources for the movement
  • Yes, there are great risks of selling out, like becoming the boss at County, but in this there is also opportunity to inspire and catalyze and gain support for the struggle from below
  • Know when to move on
  • Sometimes you need to strike a balance between long-term commitments―which are lifelong―and tactical strategies―which have to be constantly rethought
  • Don’t be afraid to be labeled a radical or a socialist

Health Care in the USA is a Failed Experiment with Market Forces

Mardge Cohen and Gordy Schiff write of working with Dr. Young. For him, they say, “Organizing for political demonstrations, lobbying politicians, disrupting visits for key phone calls and meeting outside of the office, were all part of how he appreciated and served patients,” (177). They describe that Dr. Young saw that doctors and patients have to work together, saying

“the personalization of the individual and the destruction of the community, the emblems of our time, are conspicuously manifested in the role models enacted in the healthcare settings. A revised concept would envision changes in the role of physicians, nurses, and other health providers and in the role of the patient who would come to be regarded as the keeper of his or her own medical health,” (177-178).

Cohen and Schiff quote Dr. Young as saying about health care in the USA, that the “diagnosis is clear, we have a failed experiment with market forces,” (178).

Medicine is Only One of the Determinants of Health

John McKnight writes in the book,

“[At] that time Quentin and I had worked in Cuernavaca, Mexico, with Ivan Illich, the radical critic and social historian. Illich emphasized that health was not the product of medicine. Rather, medicine was one of the numerous determinants of health and that it often misled people to believe that there was something called a ‘health consumer.’ Illich argued that you could ‘consume’ medicine but it was primarily the social, cultural and economic environment that ‘produced’ health,” (199).

Everybody In, Nobody Out (203)

Dr. Young was one of the early supporters of Physicans for a National Health Program (PNHP), founded by Drs. David Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandler. This is where I first, personally, encountered Dr. Young, seeing him speak at a conference and I quickly became a student member of PNHP. My thoughts about a national health program have fluctuated over the years. When I ran a private micropractice for 5 years, I became aware of how vast and intercalated into the health care system the insurance industry is. I also became aware that the insurance industry describes paying for someone’s health care “a loss.” This is a fundamental philosophical and linguistic problem. If health care is viewed as a loss then the obvious thing to do would be to try prevent loss – in other words, the primary motive health insurance companies is to prevent health care from occurring – that is the bottom line of health insurance companies.

Living and working in New Zealand for 3.5 years I had a chance to work and receive care in a nationalized health care system. I received care in the public and private systems (at the time around 5% of health care in New Zealand was through the private systems and private health insurance was closer to the cost of car insurance in the US). I had national health insurance, even when I had the equivalent to a green card, when I was on the permanent residency track (incidentally, as a functioning participatory democracy New Zealand law requires all citizens, permanent residents, and even those on the permanent residency track to be registered to vote). For primary care, there was a small copay based on how wealthy the community you lived in. The system worked great and people were happy with it. Everybody was in, nobody was out.

The pandemic is teaching us how “great” the US health care system is―it is not! The United States ranks 37th in the world in health care, despite spending far and away the most. Also see the arguments of PNHP for a single-payer plan. The pandemic shows us that the health of all depends upon the health of everyone. If the virus is spreading through the community, it doesn’t matter who you are if you get exposed to it. The health of the individual is the health of the community and the health of the community is the health of the individual – you cannot disconnect these things, we are all in this together. The time is right to work for health care for all. It is time to Make America Healthy Again.

Dr. Young’s Final Words: “The future can be bright, but only if we work to make it so

“The health system isn’t working in this country―fiscally, medically, socially, morally,” (216).

“Health care is a human right. There should not be market solutions in a life-and-death game,” (217).

“We need to redouble our efforts to extirpate racism from every aspect of the U.S. life,” (240).

“We need to pass single-payer national health insurance, an improved Medicare for all. We cannot rest until everyone, without exception, has unimpeded access to high-quality care,” (240).

“We need to radically reduce the huge wealth disparities in our country, where the vast majority of our economic assets are controlled by the ‘1 percent,’” (241).

“We need to get big money out of politics and elections,” (241).

“And we need a more rational, humane foreign policy,” (241).

“Over the years, I’ve been accused by right-wing circles of being ‘un-American’ for having advocated for a more humane society. These charges have left me unfazed. I am merely an American who has exercised my constitutional rights. I remain unbowed,” (241).

“To a certain extent this book chronicles, from a health viewpoint, the evolution of the tension between these two trends―toward justice or injustice. Whichever trend prevails will define the 21st century.”

“I retain a terrible reputation for excessive optimism. The glories of humankind’s ingenuity and inventiveness have not yet been exhausted. The future can be bright, but only if we work to make it so,” (242).

The Art of Becoming Medicine.30

This is the final installment in the Art of Becoming Medicine. Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow) and I have been featuring our artwork from our book, Becoming Medicine: Pathways of Initiation into a Living Spirituality. These are the last two paintings in our book, and fittingly one is by me and one is by Joseph.

“Heart Radiation” is from a series in 2014 I did when we were working on our book, Walking the Medicine Wheel: Healing Trauma & PTSD.

Heart Radiation, D. Kopacz (2014)

This painting is accompanying the text of the “Entering the Heart Ceremony” that we close the book with. This exercise, or ceremony, takes you through a series of doorways through your physical heart, the heart of humanity, the heart of life, the heart of creation, and finally into the heart of the Creator and the heart of the medicine wheel. At this point, the journey that we started in walking around the medicine wheel in our first book together is complete as we progress through initiations into being a shaman, a mystic, and a visionary and end in the center of the heart of the medicine wheel. We’ll offer this ceremony to you here:

Entering the Heart Ceremony

Find a quiet place where you will be able to sit for a while, either inside or outside. Find the center of the space where you will be sitting. Orient yourself to the North and take one step in that direction, honoring the place of innocence. Turn around, facing South, and step back into the Center of your medicine wheel, honoring the place of carrying. Take a step to the South, honoring the place of placement. Turn around, facing North and step back into the Center, again honoring the place of carrying. Turn to the East, and take one step forward, honoring the place of purity. Turn around, facing West, and step back into Center, honoring the place of carrying. Take one step to the West, honoring the place of awareness. Turn around and step back into Center, once again honoring the heart of carrying.
Now you will walk the medicine wheel. Face the East and take one step forward, intone the sound of the letter A_aaahhhhhhhhh, drawing out the sound as long as you can as you step around the perimeter of the circle to the South and then intone the sound of the letter E_eeehhhhhhhhh. Follow the wheel around to the West and intone the letter I_eeeeeeeee. Follow the wheel to the North and intone the sound of O_ooooooooo. Now step to the Center and intone the sound of the letter U_uuuuuuuuu.
Now you can sit comfortably in the center of the medicine wheel, this is the place of carrying and it is the heart of the medicine wheel. As Joseph reminds us, the microcosm is the macrocosm, thus this is the heart of the medicine wheel, it is your heart, it is the heart of the Earth, it is the heart of the Universe, and it is even the Heart of God—Wah Mah Chi—if you can walk deep enough into the heart.
We will now be going through a series of doorways. First we will enter your personal heart and trace the flow of blood through the medicine wheel of the heart. Venous blood, after giving its oxygen to the body, returns to the heart from the Northwest, the place of connecting spirit and body, entering into the right atrium. Next follow the flow of blood into your right ventricle in the Southwest, the place of the connecting body and emotion. From here the blood is pumped to the North, the place of Spirit and Innocence. Here the blood enters into the lungs and is transformed as the inner venous blood connects with the outer oxygen- rich environment coming into the lungs. The venous blood now turns from dark to bright red arterial blood as it carries more oxygen as the physical matter of the body creates a container in which the movement of the blood connects with the movement of the breath—thus we have Breath, Matter, Movement, thus we have Wah-Mah-Chi entering at this point. Next, follow the blood as it comes back into the heart from the Northeast, the place of connecting spirit and the mind, as it enters into the doorway of the left atrium. From here the blood travels to the Southeast, the place of connecting mind and emotion in the left ventricle. From here the arterial blood travels North, to the spirit again, and then travels throughout the body, revitalizing it and carrying the breath into matter through the movement of the blood.
The atria and ventricles of the heart are empty chambers that can fill with blood and then empty, a continual process of accepting what life has to give, allowing transformation, and then giving goodness away to the rest of the body. These empty chambers might remind you of the word that Abhishiktananda used—guhā: the cave of the heart. Now that you have circulated through your own personal heart, the time has come to enter into the center of your heart, for it is here that you will find the doorway into the deepest chambers of the cave of the heart, which we can also call the secret garden. Move into the center of the heart, this is the still point at the center of all the circulating movement of the burning fire of the blood. In this still center-point, look around for a doorway. It is dark here in the center of the heart, despite the burning of the blood, you can look with your eyes, but you need to see with your inner, non-ordinary vision. You must feel into it with your non-ordinary senses. Locate the doorway—it might be on the wall, or the ceiling, but it could possibly be on the floor as it leads deeper into the heart. Open the door of your heart and step through the threshold into this next larger space of your heart, feeling the opening of stillness and space within your center. You are now in the heart of humanity. Feel your way into this heart of humanity where your heart and the heart of humanity are one.
Once you have acclimated to the heart of humanity, begin looking for the next doorway that opens into an even deeper stillness of heart. Using your non-ordinary senses, locate the door, open it, and step through, entering into the heart of life. Open up into the heart of life where the heart of every living thing is one. Even things that don’t have an obvious heart like plants have their center here. Open up into this greater spaciousness, feeling more space open up within your heart and feeling a vastness that you are entering. Take some time getting comfortable in the heart of life.
Start to look around for the next doorway, looking all around with your non-ordinary vision. Find the door, open it, and step through into the heart of creation—this is the heart of every physical thing, all biological beings and rocks, water, soil, and even space. Feel this space open up within the center of your heart as you step forward into this vast space. Spend some time enjoying being one with creation.
There is still another doorway as you begin looking around again with your non-ordinary vision. In this realm, you get used to letting go of your identity—moving from the personal, to humanity, to life, to creation. Find the door, open it, and step through, entering into the Heart of God,
the Heart of Wah-Mah-Chi—the Heart of the Creator. Here you are One with everything, resting peacefully in the light of the Heart of the Creator. You have taken four steps through four caves of the heart. You have been practicing heart medicine as you have been circling deeper into the heart medicine wheel.
Now it is time to go into the heart of the heart medicine wheel, taking a step into the center of the heart of the heart medicine wheel. By now you should be used to using your non-ordinary vision to find the door, open it, and walk through, as you do so. You now are entering into what Joseph calls Vast Self. This is the place of non-duality. There is not even oneness, because it is before the counting even began. Feel the peace of Vast Self, the place before Creation, the place that watches Creation being created out of itself and yet remaining the same. Be still, be still . . . still . . .

The last painting by Joseph is “One Sun and Four Moons” from 2018. It also features black holes. Joseph has told me, in the past, that the black eyes of his spiritual figures in paintings are black holes.

One Sun and Four Moons, J. Rael (2018)

Although this is the ending of our The Art of Becoming Medicine series, working with Joseph is like always opening new doors. We are already nearing the end of a draft of our next book, Becoming Who You Are: Beautiful Painted Arrow’s Life & Lessons – a book for children of all ages, but particularly those in the transition from childhood into the teenage years. We have a rougher draft of a book for younger children called A Bowl Full of Ideas for Inventive Minds: Learning How to Count to Ten in Tiwa. We have also started the talking and idea stage of a book on Art Medicine, which will focus on Joseph’s visual art and the healing properties of artwork. There is always more to do with Joseph! The ending is just the beginning