“The Gates of Paradise: Shamanic Memories from an Indian Visionary” – in Parabola (Summer 2022)

Thanks to Parabola Magazine for excerpting a passage from our latest book, Becoming Who You Are: Beautiful Painted Arrow’s Life & Lessons for Children Ages 10-100.

The excerpt is entitled “The Gates of Paradise: Shamanic Memories from an Indian Visionary,” and is availabe online in Parabola Summer 2022 Edition with the theme of Ancestors. It is currently available online, but the whole issue is worth reading, with an articles on P. L. Travers, Vaclav Havel, Nelson Mandela, and many different topics on the theme of Ancestors.

The article also features two of Joseph Rael’s paintings, “Sage Woman becomes visible to – bless “the People,” and “Crystal Chamber,” which I’ll include below.

We are very happy that this book is getting some notice as it is an autobiography of Joseph’s life specifically aimed at passing on wisdom to the next generation, how fitting that it is in the Ancestors issue of Parabola: The Search for Meaning. The book was also recognized as a winner of the Paterson Prize for Books for Young People.

Paterson Prize for Books for Young People – 2022

It is a great honor to receive the Paterson Prize for Books for Young People – Grades 7-12 – for our most recent book Becoming Who You Are: Beautiful Painted Arrow’s Life & Lessons for Children Ages 10-100! This is an annual book award put on by the Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College in New Jersey.

Paterson, is of course, home to the poet/doctor William Carlos Williams and the great beat poet Allen Ginsberg.

I visited Paterson in July 2017 when I was in New Jersey for work. I bought a copy of William Carlos Williams’ Paterson, and read it by the Great Falls of the Passaic River. If you can’t make it to Paterson in person, there is always the Jim Jarmusch film, “Paterson,” about a poet bus driver named Paterson.

What do I do? I listen to the water falling. (No sound of it here but with the wind!) This is my entire occupation.” (William Carlos Williams, Paterson, p. 46).

Thank you to The Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College for this award!

Being Medicine: A Conversation with David Kopacz & Marianela Medrano

I thoroughly enjoyed this conversation with Marianela Medrano for her “What a Word is Worth” interview podcast series!

Being Medicine – we discussed many concepts from my last two books with Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow) – Becoming Medicine: Pathways of Initiation into a Living Spirituality and Becoming Who You Are: Beautiful Painted Arrow’s Life & Lessons for Children Ages 10-100.

“Healing is a very simple thing – all you do is stop separating things – on whatever level the separation is occuring. Whether it is you viewing your body as separate from your mind or your spirit being separate from your mind, or you viewing yourself as separate from nature.” (David Kopacz)

I agree with Marianela – that whenever we talk – we could go on for 3 days! Such an interesting and heart-warming conversation! You can watch the video of the interview here.

Visit her Palabra Counseling page, her YouTube Channel, or watch my previous appearance on What a Word is Worth – A Conversation with Dr. David Kopacz & Anjana Deshpande, MBA, LCSW.

Becoming Who You Are: Beautiful Painted Arrow’s Life & Lessons for Children ages 10-100

Our next book has released! Becoming Who You Are: Beautiful Painted Arrow’s Life & Lessons for Children ages 10-100 is 130 pages of Joseph’s lessons for the people of the Earth. The book has 43 art works by Joseph and 14 photographs. We decided on the “ages 10-100” because we’ve also thought about writing a book for younger children. Also, this is our first book for children and it was challenging to bridge Joseph’s ideas and create a story that kids of all ages could enjoy.

The book is available through:

Itasca Books

Barnes & Noble

Amazon

Here is the back cover of the book:

Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow) was born on the Southern Ute Reservation in 1935 and grew up at Picuris Pueblo in New Mexico. Joseph’s life took him across the country and around the world. After a vision in 1983, he built a Sound Peace Chamber, and then worked on building over 60 chambers around the world — leading to recognition by the United Nations for his work for world peace. Through his friend and co-author, David Kopacz MD, Joseph shares his life and lessons for people, young and old, growing through the transition from childhood into adulthood.

Joseph says that when he was sent to the Santa Fe Indian boarding school, they were trying to make American kids out of Indian kids, in this book, Joseph tells us, “I am trying to make Indian kids out of American kids.” Joseph passes on his wisdom and artwork to the next generations who will inherit the many problems that we have created in breaking the medicine wheel. Joseph tells us, “Let’s not leave the next generations in so much mystery about the physical and spiritual worlds. Let’s educate them from the beginning about the way of the shaman.” We are already born with everything we need, we just need to make sure that as we grow up, we don’t forget who we are.

Here are the generous endorsements we’ve received for the book:

In Becoming Who You Are, David Kopacz & Beautiful Painted Arrow (Joseph Rael), a Tiwa elder, have presented a series of marvelous stories for teenagers and young adults about how to become a human being.  This is timely wisdom from Native America, and Joseph’s past, for an age in which the guidance is confusing and truth is optional. The stories help readers sort through the possibilities for who they will become, while learning about and valuing culture & diversity. They describe Joseph’s lessons learned from boarding school, World War II, Pueblo Ceremonies, life on the reservation, and the process of creating sound chambers on guidance from spirits. I heartily recommend it for readers of all ages. We all need the wisdom that David & Joseph offer us.

―LEWIS MEHL-MADRONA MD, PhD

Psychiatry Residency Training Director, Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center Executive Director, Coyote Institute Associate Professor of Family Medicine, University of New England Author, Coyote Medicine, Coyote Healing, Narrative Medicine, and Healing the Mind through the Power of Story

Becoming Who You Are is a remarkable narrative that does not fall into prescribed categories—sharing Native American insights in an engaging and charming manner, always speaking to never down to kids as the rightful heirs to our planet. Joseph Rael and David Kopacz are healers and carriers of timeless wisdom working tirelessly for the betterment of life. They convey the becoming of being in lucid text combining autobiography, literature, ecology, spirituality, travelogue, history, magic and wisdom illuminated with beautiful art. Grounded, with shining optimism, this book meanders purposefully like a pure river sourced from a perennial spring of wisdom and will surely motivate kids to fall in love with the earth and—their own selves. In our ravaged age, the book reminds us of interconnectedness and that all that we need is—here—sacred and reallisten!

―USHA AKELLA MSt
Co-founder of Matwaala: South Asian Diaspora Poets’ Collective, Poet and Author, “I Thought a Thought,” Ek An English Musical on the life of Shirdi Sai Baba, The Way of the Storm: An English Musical on the life of Meera Bai, I Will Not Bear You Sons, The Waiting, and A Face that Does Not Bear the Footprints of the World

This story of two very different men with common visions, may serve as a guide for all who seek to continually learn about themselves through the lenses of their own history and the cultures of those around us.

―SHUYUN DAVID LO MD

Psychiatrist, University of California Santa Cruz Student Health Center

Becoming Who You Are: Beautiful Painted Arrow’s Life and Lessons for Children by Joseph E. Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow) and David Kopacz MD is a book that shows us there are other important ways to teach that can speak to us all.  Through storytelling, Beautiful Painted Arrow lays out many of life’s core values.  We learn that the Tiwa word for God is Wah-Mah-Chi, which is also everything, and is the core to the love of learning which is the secret to being human.  This lovely book is written for children, but the authors freely admit that it was written for those in the middle between the two worlds of childhood and adulthood, so it really applies to us all.

―BRADFORD FELKER MD

Psychiatrist, Seattle VA, Professor University of Washington, Captain United States Navy Reserve

As I read Becoming Who You Are, I envisioned myself sitting at the feet of an elder, asking him, “Tell me the story of your life―share your wisdom with me so that I may live it and one day share it with others.” Coming from years and years of Joseph’s sage wisdom and insights, this book is a beautiful invitation to not only learn, but also create your own story—through art, music, writing, reading—or however the spirit moves you.  

―MAGDALINE DeSOUSA
Author, The Forgotten Mourners: Sibling Survivors of Suicide, What’s Real, Mama?, What’s Brave, Mama?, and coming soon, What’s Wrong With My Family? Growing Up in an Alcoholic Home

The inspiring story and wise words of the elder, Beautiful Painted Arrow (Joseph Rael), speak to the heart of the child within all of us. His life’s journey and teachings give us hope for a better world, one where we live in peace and harmony with our fellow humans and the natural world.

—TWIN SISTERS, JANE LISTER REIS & MARGIE LISTER MUENZER co-authors of the children’s books, Si’ahl and the Council of Animals: A Story of Our Changing Climate for Children and Their Parents; Si’ahl & Friends Coloring and Activity Book; and Margie’s Nature’s Gifts: A Poetry Coloring Book.

Available through:

Itasca Books

Barnes & Noble

Amazon

Nature, Medical Humanities & Medical Activism

Jonathan McFarland, President of Doctor as Humanist, and I recently had the honor of presenting at the University of Washington Nature & Health conference on Thursday, October 14th, 2021. Our overall talk was Nature, Medical Humanities, and Medical Activism. Jonathan presented on Nature & Medical Humanities and I presented on Nature & Medical Activism. Here is the powerpoint from my talk.

Thanks so much to Josh Lawler, Star Berry, and the whole conference team from the University of Washington Nature & Health program. It all ran very smoothly and professionally and brought together great speakers from around the globe. There is a groundswell of interest in looking at the bi-directional effects of Nature & Health – we, at Doctor as Humanist, are planning a free, virtual symposium next month. Register for free for our Nature & Medicine: Restoring the Balance Between Earth & Health – we hope to see you next month!

Nature & Medicine: Restoring the Balance Between Earth & Health – Nov 12 & 13

I am on the Doctor as Humanist’s conference planning committee for our free, virtual, international symposium – Nature & Medicine: Restoring the Balance Between Earth & Health on November 12 & 13, 2021. Register here.

We’ve got a great line up of speakers and round table panelists, including Bob Lawrence, one of the founders of Physicians for Human Rights and Center for a Livable Future Professor Emeritus in the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the founding director of the Center for a Livable Future; Rachel Corby, author of ReWild Yourself: Becoming Nature; Julia Corbett, author of Out of the Woods: Seeing the Nature in the Everyday; Lewis Mehl-Madrona, author of Coyote Medicine and Narrative Medicine; Qing Li, author of Forest Bathing: How Trees can Help You Find Health & Happiness, amongst many others. Link to the program.

One of the projects we are doing as part of the symposium is the Tree of Medicine – a photomosaic on the Mosaically site. You can post on Instagram or Twitter with the hash tags: #NatureMed2021 and #DoctorHumanist and we’ll upload your photos into the Tree of Medicine. You can write a few words of why this photo is important to you and how it relates to Nature & Medicine. Here are a few of the photos I’ve posted.

An unexpected beautiful scene on a walk through Seattle – reminding me that Nature is here, now.
The face on this tree on San Juan Island’s Lime Kiln State Park reminds me of the sentience of nature.
Cannon Beach, Oregon, a breath-taking & invigorating view.

The idea behind this conference is to highlight the many benefits of nature & health while also expanding our idea of being a medical professional to including the health of the Earth. We are in a symbiotic relationship with Nature and cannot exist apart from Nature. In fact, we ourselves are nature, we are made up of nature, our backyards are nature. I’ll be giving a workshop on Saturday 11/13/21 with a focus on Nature is Here, Now. The care of Nature begins with the care of ourselves, the nature of our homes, the nature of our backyard, and breaks down the artificial separations of humans/nature and city/nature. I’ll be joined by a couple of great psychiatry residents I’ve been working with, Eunice Stallman, MD (who has been doing an elective on Narrative Medicine) and Lewis Kerwin, MD (who has been doing an elective on Nature, Health, and Design). We’ll be joined by my friend, photographer and author, John Riggs, author of Clear Cut – The Wages of Dominion. I wrote a review of his book on 5/8/20.

Each of us on the planning committee recorded a short video on the Tree of Medicine project and the Nature & Medicine: Restoring the Balance Between Earth & Health, here’s the link to my video.

We hope you join us!

Nature & Medicine: Restoring the Balance Between Earth & Health on November 12 & 13, 2021. Register here.

How are you doing…really?

How are you doing…really? New post on CLOSLER: Bringing Us Closer to Osler

This is a reflection piece on the challenge of answering this simple question, asked so many times a day, “How are you doing?” While this is usually asked in passing, the true answer to this question is increasingly complex for health care workers as the pandemic wears on.

You can read the essay, here, and some past essays published on CLOSLER, here. The piece features a detail of my painting, “Planting the Seed of the Heart,” which was published in Walking the Medicine Wheel: Healing Trauma & PTSD.

Thanks again, CLOSLER, for all that you do for person-centered care & provider well-being!

Planting the Seed of the Heart, D. Kopacz (2016)

Focus on What You CAN Do: Meaningful Engagement in Activities while Managing Chronic Pain

Very grateful to my good friend, Dr. Carol Bowman for this interview with me and lively discussion on “Focus on What You CAN Do: Meaningful Engagement in Activities while Managing Chronic Pain,” focusing on the Personal Development circle of the Circle of Health as part of the VA Whole Health initiative from the VA Office of Patient Centered Care & Cultural Transformation. (Views are our own, although you can find it on the VA website).

My adaptation of the VA Circle of Health (I added the “We” to the center)

Carol and I have taught courses together as National Education Champions for the Office of Patient Centered Care & Cultural Transformation. You can learn more about Whole Health through the VA Whole Health Home page. This interview & discussion is part of Carol’s Whole health for Chronic Pain podcast series and is available on the VA website, or at wherever you find podcasts.

We talk about finding a place for pain in your life when you are working with chronic pain and different ways of transforming pain into compassion and personal growth.

Video available from Toward a New Way of Being with Plants conference!

My sister, Karen, and I presented at last month’s Toward a New Way of Being with Plants conference.

The video of our presentation is available here.

Our overall presentation was called, “Remembering Our Living Relationship with Plants,” my talk was entitled “Toward an Ancient Way of Being with Plants,” and we also featured video that Karen created with Joseph Rael, “Becoming Medicine Initiation Ceremony,” and Karen’s talk was “Shifting Into a Relational Mindset With Nature.”

The conference was great! Very interesting, bringing together scientists, artists, poets, writers, and naturalists from around the world. There is a YouTube channel for the conference where you can watch the presentations.

Thanks to all the organizers and people who brought this great event together! It was very enjoyable, inspirational, and educational.

Making America Healthy Again: Indigenous Perspectives on Land & Health – new article About Place Journal

Making America Healthy Again: Indigenous Perspectives on Land & Health

By David R. Kopacz, MD & Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow)

About Place Journal from the Black Earth Institute

We have a new article published at About Place Journal for their Geographies of Justice Issue – Volume VI, Issue III, May 2021! We are very excited to be published in this excellent and important journal.

We look at the relationships between land and health, private land/private health, and public land/public health.

When I spoke with Joseph about the topic of Geographies of Justice he immediately resonated with it. “All humans are looking for that – some justice, a just place where we can feel adjusted and feel safe. A just place is where you are adjusted to justice,” he said. Here are a few excerpts of Joseph’s thoughts on Geographies of Justice:

There are a lot of resources on the land that we take care of and they take care of us.

We need to start with the origin of the land, the place before everything broke apart – Pangea. We start at 1 – that’s Pangea. Then the scientists say the continents broke apart, and then people came out of Africa, then the Indians walked across the Bering Strait into the Americas – that’s how the scientists tell it.

We can learn from our environment, from our geographies. We cannot have justice unless we learn from our geographies. Pangea was created and all around it was Panthalassa, the great ocean. Then Pangea spilt and you had the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans eventually, and the Americas, North, South, Central, and then you had all these tribes in North America, and you had tribes in South America. For all these tribes, their religion was based on geography. The Eskimos had igloos and they would have ceremonies that reflect where they live, all the tribes would have ceremonies that reflect where they live.

There are different areas of land. You become your place before you live in your Mom and Dad’s house because they come from the land and you come from them. They teach you about the weather. The ceremonies are related to the climate of their place. First there was Pangea, and then it split and you had Europeans and Americans, but we are all from Pangea, we are all related...”

Justice is right here in the room with me and it is right there in the room with you and it is right there in the room for all the people on the planet – it is here.

To read the whole article, follow this link to “Making America Healthy Again: Indigenous Perspectives on Land & Health” in About Place Journal.