Healing the heart by healing the mind

The Good Mind, or Ganigonhi:oh, is a well-known concept in Haudenosaunee tradition that calls on the use of kind, loving and compassionate thoughts as a precursor to decision making. While some see it as a general governing law, Onondaga Clanmother Frieda Jacques had an interesting take on it in her 2001 article, ‘Use The Good Mind!’ where she describes it more as a discipline.

“I refer to the Good Mind as a discipline, rather than just a description of a person’s state of mind. First of all Ganigonhi:oh recognizes that we are connected to the good, that we have access to a loving source of good thoughts. Each and every one of us has many, many thoughts each day. With discipline we can become aware of each thought, see its substance, realize its intent, and then determine if we should follow and build on that thought.” Jacques wrote.

In other words, The Good Mind and the loving thoughts that come with it must be chosen and practiced mindfully on a daily basis for peaceful living. More than a concept, it is a way of life.

But sometimes, as a result of stress and anxiety, negative thinking can be overwhelming. And sometimes you need help.

That’s where attitudinal healing comes in.

Janet Hill, manager of Traditional Healing Programs & Services at De Dwa Da Dehs Nyes, has been co-facilitating attitudinal healing circles at the centre for the past 12 years.

Hill says that attitudinal healing is based on 12 principles that reflect a belief that it is our thinking and not people or outside conditions that cause personal suffering.

Created in 1975 by Dr. Jerald G. Jampolsky, attitudinal healing offers that our perceptions, beliefs and attitudes are changeable with some work and introspection.

“Whether my attitudes are good or bad, the reality is that I have them and they are self-inflicted. I am not only responsible for my thoughts but I am also responsible for the feelings I experience. When I am open to exploring these feelings, I can eventually heal them,” Hill shares.

Participants in the 14 week-long attitudinal healing circles can expect to navigate their emotions through the guidance of Hill and co-facilitator Bob Ahlgren. Each weekly meeting, about 2.5 hours long, offers readings and exercises that help individuals understand each of the 12 principles of attitudinal healing.

Although meetings equip participants with the knowledge and resources to heal, the overall journey is client-directed, Hill says.

“The approach of attitudinal healing is offered only as suggestions or an invitation. It is not a religion nor is it religious. It is cross-cultural and offers that we will find happiness through forgiveness and acceptance. It introduces the dynamic of choice,” Hill adds. “It acknowledges the inherent spiritual wisdom within each and every one of us and the aim is not to change behavior, but to retrain or heal the most powerful instrument of change – our own minds.”

It’s the client-directed approach that appeals to individuals who are in pursuit of Ganigonhi:oh. Sandy Montour, a former participant of the healing circles, shares that returning to the program has helped her to glean from it what she needs.

“It was up to me to get whatever I could from that healing process. I not only did it once, I put myself through this process twice. I got so much out of the group. Using this process, I pushed myself to explore the areas in my life that were hurting at the time. The attitudinal healing process allowed me to explore deep issues that I knew needed attention. Or I could explore issues that were not as deep if I wanted. That was the beauty of the group – it allows you to define your own experience and extract what you need.”

Those looking to participate in attitudinal healing and other programs offered by De Dwa Da Dehs Nyes can self-refer by calling 519-752-4340. The latest attitudinal healing circle has just begun and runs Thursday evenings until July 19.

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