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Indigenous Healing Psychology & Heartfulness

In February I journeyed north to Arcata, California to spend a short time with Dr. Virgil Moorehead and his Native community. I was together with my mentor and colleague Dr. Richard Katz and we were speaking together on our recently published books. His, Indigenous Healing Psychology: Honoring the Wisdom of the First Peoples, is what Danny Musqua, Anishnabe Elder, calls, "a deeply honest book showing the greatest respect for Indigenous knowledge . . . and how psychology can finally begin to heal our people," For Joan Borysenko, who talked with our class at Harvard more than 30 years ago, it is "a brilliant, groundbreaking work connecting psychology to its roots so it can more truly become a force for healing and social change. A genuine invitation to a breathtaking journey that is a rare treasure."

Listening to Dr. Katz talk, I remembered my days in graduate school when it was so exciting to listen to him speak of experiences and truths that both resonated with my own and expanded my visions and imagination of what existed and what was possible. I developed new understanding of "knowledge" and how the first inhabitants of the world engaged in the human concerns of community building, interpersonal relations, and spiritual understanding, and were our "first psychologists." I began to see how their wisdom lives on through the teachings of contemporary indigenous elders and healers, offering unique insights and practices to help us re-vision the self-limiting approaches of modern psychology and enhance the processes of healing and social justice. Indigenous perspectives can guide us to a more holistic existence where we can once again assume full responsibility in the creation of our lives.

My talk was on heartfulness, the subject of my new book, From Mindfulness to Heartfulness: Transforming Self and Society with Compassion. This is another source of indigenous knowledge in which meaning is expressed through symbols, such as the pictographs developed in China and adopted in Japan, where I learned them. 念 shows "heart" on the bottom and "now" on the top, clearly expressing heartfulness as the act of bringing oneself, heart and soul, into the present moment. I believe that this focus on the wisdom of the heart is needed today to enable us to be more awake, aware, and alive. While mindfulness is being more widely embraced as a powerful practice by individuals, reducing stress, enhancing attention, and instilling tranquility, it can be so much more. Heartfulness expands to compassion and responsibility, truly transforming us, our communities, and our world through acts of kindness and service, both great and small.

If you would like to view and listen to our talks, please check the link below:

Humboldt State University, Department of Social Work Spring 2018 Speaker Series - Indigenous Knowledge: Community, Well-Being and Healing

Partners - Two Feathers Native American Family Services, HSU Native American Studies, Child Development and Psychology Departments

Spring 2018 Speaker Series- Dr. Richard Katz & Dr. Stephen Murphy-Shigematsu

Date: Feb 16, 2018 Recording - (223 MB)

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