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Monday, July 18, 2011

Review: Into the Daylight: A Wholistic Approach to Healing

Into the Daylight: A Wholistic Approach to Healing Review

Calvin’s Morriseau’s book “Into the Daylight: A Wholistic Approach to Healing” is a highly engaging and informative book that details not only his journey into healing but also offers insight that offers the gift of healing to others.

This book is an account of the personal and collective struggles of First Nations people and how aboriginal and non-aboriginal people can use the principles, which held traditional societies together in the past, to promote harmonious and cooperative relationships alike.

Morriseau outlines fundamentals for healing that he has learned over his years of training in counselling and addiction studies; his education in traditional practices by aboriginal Elders and teachers; and his personal recovery from alcoholism, drug addiction abuse and the effects of assimilation, racism and poverty.

Morriseau relays that “for years (I like many of my people) knew nothing of history, creation story, beliefs, values, customs and traditions,” He only knew that “Indians were savages ‘inferior’ to the non native.” He came to see that “as our culture began to change, our whole system of sharing and interdependency slowly began to shift towards an individualistic perception of life. This shift, in turn, destroyed the sacred ties that connected our families and communities with one another, and as a result Morriseau came to believe that Anishinabe people are people who are in pain and this painful cycle appears to take form where the individual, their family and their community become alienated from each other’s existence.

Historically, Morriseau notes, “prior to our discovery of Columbus, no one person was more important than the next. All members needed each other’s cooperation to survive in a harsh and unforgiving environment,” and “this environment also helped its people by bringing them closer together into a cohesive and interdependent family unit.  It was during this time, Morriseau relays that “Everyone within the community was held sacred. The philosophy of sharing was instilled in children from the time they were old enough to understand. Respect for all creation was taught as a discipline, which guaranteed harmony among its members, and this harmony in turn guaranteed cooperation among members and became a value expressed in their spirituality.” He further writes that the circle of life fully encompassed all of the Creator’s children and included the four elements-humans, animals, plants and minerals, and each of these beings were considered brothers and sisters to one another, thus deserving of respect and honour.

With the shift after contact, it is noted that we have moved away from thinking that all is equal and sacred to a way of thinking based upon power and control. “Having assimilated into a system based upon the concepts of a hierarchy, where those who have the power are found at the top,” we have in turn turned away from the ways of our ancestors-where we viewed everything in life as being interconnected, thus losing our ability to respect and honour what goes on around us.

Morriseau suggests that Native healing is done on the intrinsic level: that healing is a matter of the heart and doesn’t involve just the ‘head.’ He suggests that deep inside we all have the ability to be healers and what we lack is confidence and knowledge to recognize what is important in healing.

Furthermore Morriseau relays that  “modern psychiatry and medicine have done their damage to Anishinabe people by suggesting that wholistic healing is not a natural way of healing with our problems. Mainstream society tells us you must have a PhD or equivalent certificate to heal others,” and “this concept is not only invalid for our people- it does not consider the importance of our Elders and traditional healing methods-but damaging, because mainstream healers do not always understand us.”

“Into the Daylight: A Wholistic Approach to Healing” is a deeply informative book that is about accepting responsibility and making choices that give us the freedom to enter into recovery and recapture the cooperation, sharing, balance, and spirituality that enabled our ancestors before us to live in harmony with each other and Mother Earth.

Morriseau personalizes this book by going back into his issues of self-abuse and feelings of abandonment and betrayal, and offers a wealth of insight to the reader.  He does not suggest that he knows everything about traditional healing methods but he offers different ways of viewing healing that challenges mainstream society.

One model he suggests includes not just looking at yourself but also looking at community and family, and I found it interesting how he suggests you look at your pain. He relays that through work with Elders, he was often told that there are four things you can do with your pain- you can run from it, you can become numb to it, fight it, wage war against yourself, your family or society or you can deal with it, learn from it and help others who experience similar traumas and make it your friend.”

He also suggests taking responsibility for our bodies (eating properly and watching what we put into our bodies, understanding our sexuality,( it has much to do with being complete, being comfortable with oneself and feeling at harmony with all of creation,) taking responsibility for our breath (respecting our life and others around us)

This book is divided into five sections that focus respectively on The Individual, The Family, The Community, The Healing Journey and lastly Into the daylight: Moving Towards Wholism-the process of creating our own spirituality.

 This book is 104 pages and published by The University of Toronto Press. Reprinted in 1999, 2002, 2008.

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