Given how trying 2020 has been, we thought you could use some Goodness! Our publisher has agreed that we can offer a pdf download of chapter 14, “Return to the Place of Heldback Goodness“ from our 2016 book, Walking the Medicine Wheel: Healing Trauma & PTSD.
Joseph phoned me one night (2/18/16) as I was getting off of work and told me he had a dream or a vision in which God told him that there is a heldback place of goodness in everyone’s heart, no matter what you have done and no matter what has been done to you. When he told me this I knew we had the organizing framework and ending of the book! I grumbled a little, internally, thinking, “Gee it would have been nice to have had this vision when we started writing the book,” but I got over that pretty quickly. This vision meant that trauma did not destroy our goodness and innocence, although we can lose touch with it. It is waiting right there in the heart and all we have to do is make the inner journey to that place of heldback goodness. We further develop this idea in chapter 9, “Guhā: Cave of the Heart,” in Becoming Medicine: Pathways of Initiation into a Living Spirituality.
The chapter starts off with a painting of Joseph’s, “Dreaming a New Future.” After Joseph phoned me about his vision of the heldback place of goodness, I quickly wrote out a number of related concepts in trauma and healing work: Peter Levine’s work on healing through embodiment; Donald Kalsched’s The Inner World of Trauma, and Trauma & the Soul; Richard Miller’s concept of the “inner resource” in iRest (Integrative Restoration/yoga nidra); Lewis Mehl-Madrona’s “inner healer;” Hindu traditions about the guhā (cave of the heart); and Martia Nelson’s Coming Home: The Return to True Self. Many different writers and traditions speak of an inner source of healing in the heart.
Here are some excerpts from chapter 14 “Return to the Place of Heldback Goodness:”
I madly scribbled down his words in a notebook. In talking about this held-back place of Goodness, Joseph spoke about how the sweat lodge can help veterans reconnect with this hidden place. He says that this goodness is hidden within the “cloak of Divine Energy,” and that, through the symbolic rebirthing of the sweat lodge processes, it can be brought back into a person’s life. Joseph describes how, in the sweat lodge, you sit on the ground in the darkness. At the end of the ceremony, you move from sitting to crawling on your hands and knees out through the flap of the sweat lodge door, moving from darkness and re-emerging into light. We do not remember our original birth, but this recreates our birth, crawling on hands and knees, struggling to our feet, and then staggering in our steps…
Joseph used to perform the sweat lodge ceremony at Indian Health Service hospital and clinics. He worked a lot with addictions. In the sweat lodge, there is first “placement,” in sitting, then crawling out into the light, the re-birthing process. He says that this is a “going back to Goodness, to the Source of Renewal.” This is the pathway to our inner home, which has been waiting for us and for veterans as they have journeyed forth into the world of war and trauma. We have to “repeat what we did as a baby” and this helps us reconnect to our inner home, to that place of held-back Goodness.
Joseph reminds me again to put in the book that he uses lava rocks for the sweat lodge and that these are “from the core of the Earth, the Mother of all of us. We reach through the center of her to her heart to heal.” The Earth’s heart, Mother Nature’s heart, our heart, are all the same. In connecting to Mother Nature’s heart, we can reconnect back to our own heart and heal. Joseph then said of veterans that the “Divine Mother loves them, and can wipe away their pain . . . all that is needed is a second or one or two seconds, or even no seconds, and just instantly we are forgiven.” Joseph reminisces that when he was growing up, he would meet people from many different tribes, but the Native American people were always the “most nature-oriented people.” He says that we must “Understand that we all belong to Mother Nature. We look like a beautiful man, or a beautiful woman, or a beautiful child, but still we are all Mother Nature’s children.”
You can access a pdf download of the full chapter 14, “Return to the Place of Held-back Goodness” here. The chapter ends with Joseph’s painting, “Divine Healing.”