Here is what the editor of The Badger put forth to the contributing authors:
I world like to remind you that the next deadline for The Badger is August 10 2020.Usually I don’t ask/suggest themes, but this time, considering the extraordinary events of this year, I would like to suggest a theme. I strongly believe the changes ahead require our best skills and knowledge. So I would like the next issue to infuse hope for a good new future for our descendants.While I am writing, I realize that I am asking you to write something that will be useful for the next 7 generations.This is the time to give our contribution to the evolution of humanity.
Here is how we introduce the offering of this Goodness:
During this time where so much in the world seems to be going badly, Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow) and I offer you Chapter 14: Return to the Place of Held-back Goodness from our book, Walking the Medicine Wheel: Healing Trauma & PTSD(2016 Pointer Oak/Millichap Books). We thank Paulette Millichap for giving permission to reprint this chapter.
While we wrote this book for Veterans, we feel that it is useful for anyone going through stresses and suffering – as so many are during this time of pandemic and political turmoil. Joseph tells us that no matter what you have done, no matter what has happened to you, there is a held-back place of goodness in your heart. The job is to search for it and to reconnect to it. The world could use some more goodness, when you find yours, please share it openly and widely…
Blessings & Goodness
David R. Kopacz MD & Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow)
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.”
On Memorial Day we remember those whom we have lost. Official reports of loss of US soldiers in the Vietnam War is 58,000+. A 2008 British Medical Journal study estimates 3.8 million total deaths during the Vietnam War (called the Resistance War Against America in Vietnam). The suffering of war continues long after the war ends with PTSD, Moral Injury, Agent Orange exposure, and even suicide. Controversy exists over the number of US Vietnam veterans who have committed suicide since returning home, with estimates from 9,000 (in a 1990 study) to over 50,000 reported in various places. As a psychiatrist who works daily with veterans, I see the long-lasting after effects of war. Brain science has been pushing back the age of full development for the human brain, with 25 years of age being considered brain maturity. Wars typically are fought by the young and after every war we have a generation of veterans whose developing brains have been shaped by war and the imprint of death. The casualties of war are the walking wounded as well as the deceased, and many of the wounds are not visible.
I just received a box of books from Vietnam, the Vietnamese translation of Walking the Medicine Wheel: Healing Trauma & PTSD (Bánh Xe Y Học: Hành Trình). It is really amazing to hold these books from Vietnam in my hands and compare them side by side. I work with so many veterans at the VA who served in Vietnam and to have the words of peace that Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow) and I have put together into this book translated into Vietnamese feels very important.
The work of peace is a continual work, like tending a garden. To receive a box of books from Vietnam about bringing peace to veterans is like getting a big packet of seeds to replant what has been injured by war. For Joseph, language is very important, not just in conveying meaning, but in creating spiritual realities. To have the healing properties of the medicine wheel translated into Vietnamese brings our two lands and peoples closer together in peace. Translators Huỳnh ngọc trụ & Lê Thục Uyên Phương have worked to bring American English and Vietnamese into resonance with each other. In his book, House of Shattering Light, Joseph wrote about how the war gods were first created out of the fear that people had, but that later they came home to peace and became peace gods. In Walking the Medicine Wheel: Healing Trauma & PTSD, the title of chapter 14 is “Return to the Held-back Place of Goodness, which translates into Vietnamese as, “Trở Về Nơi Tốt Lành,” Return to Good Place.” Peace is this Good Place and Joseph tells us that we all have it within our hearts, we can forget about it, we can loose touch with it, but is always there. Our jobs as healers – both those working as healers for others, and those of us who are seeking to heal ourselves – is to find our way back home to this place of goodness, this place of peace. We are all wounded in one way or another, and yet we all have a source of goodness and healing within us – we are the medicine that we are seeking!