Box Set of Healing Cards: Indigenous Healing as Mindfulness Practice

As some of you know, I was inspired to start working in the healing of intergenerational trauma field after reading Judy Atkinson’s book Trauma Trails: Recreating Song Lines – The Transgenerational Effects of Trauma in Indigenous Australia. A section of this website is devoted to the healing of trauma and intergenerational (sometimes known as transgenerational or historical) trauma. I believe strongly that Indigenous peoples have a lot to teach non-indigenous peoples about the healing of trauma and its consequences (e.g. addiction, mental health problems).

Emeritus Professor Judy Atkinson is Patron / Elder Advisor of the wonderful Aboriginal healing initiative We Al-li Programs. Her daughter Dr Caroline Atkinson is the Chief Executive Officer.

We Al-li have recently started selling a box set of Healing Cards based on their healing approach. These Healing Cards and their accompanying booklet are very special. Here is the information that Carlie provided me about the box set.

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The Impact of Colonisation

The impact of colonisation on Indigenous peoples has been similar in a number of countries, including Australia, Canada, America and New Zealand. In her book Trauma Trails: Recreating Songlines, Professor Judy Atkinson describes how the control of Indigenous peoples by the coloniser was facilitated by three main types of power abuse or violence—overt physical violence, covert structural violence, and psychosocial domination.

Overt physical violence: In Australia, the arrival of the British boats at Sydney Cove in 1788 set in motion a series of disasters that propagated trauma upon trauma upon trauma. These disasters impacted upon Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander people who had lived on the continent for somewhere between 50 – 70,000 years.

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Intergenerational Trauma

Intergenerational trauma—sometimes called transgenerational or historical trauma—amongst Indigenous peoples is the trauma that has arisen as a result of the historical experiences of colonisation (and associated violence and control), forcible removal of children, and loss of culture.

As it was not addressed at the time, this trauma (and associated grief) have been passed down unwittingly through the generations by peoples’ behaviours and thought patterns.

Today, this trauma is exacerbated by economic and social disadvantage, racism and paternalism, and ongoing grief resulting from multiple bereavements.

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The Value of Deep Listening: The Aboriginal Gift to the Nation—Judy Atkinson

I was inspired into the field of trauma healing by a remarkable Aboriginal woman, Judy Atkinson.

Emeritus Professor Judy Atkinson is a Jiman (central west Queensland) and Bundjalung (northern New South Wales) woman, with Anglo-Celtic and German heritage. She lives in Goolmangar, New South Wales. Judy is Patron/Elder Advisor for We Al-li Programs, a remarkable healing initiative. She was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 2019 for her services to the Indigenous community, to education and to mental health.

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Indigenous Trauma and Healing

images-1“We are like the tree standing in the middle of a bushfire sweeping through the timber. The leaves are scorched and the tough bark is scarred and burnt, but inside the tree, the sap is still flowing and under the ground, the roots are still strong. Like the tree, we have endured the flames and yet we still have the power to be reborn.” Miriam Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann, Senior Australian of the Year, 2021

This section of the website focuses on the healing of trauma and historical trauma, in particular in relation to Indigenous peoples.  I will write a series of articles, which will appear in the order they are written (oldest first), in an attempt to take the reader on a journey into this fascinating field.

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The Value of Deep Listening – The Aboriginal Gift to the Nation | Judy Atkinson | TEDxSydney

Judy Atkinson is an expert in understanding inter-generational healing and recovery from trauma in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. At the core of this moving talk, she describes her approach to healing. It’s about listening. In order to heal, the stories behind the trauma must be heard. TEDx Talks. [16’14”]

Historical Trauma: Nature of the Problem

Unknown-4 With the launch of our new Sharing Culture initiative and website, here is a description of The Problem:

‘Colonisation and its associated violence and control still exert a marked negative impact today on Australian Aboriginal people. Trauma and an associated unresolved grief have been transmitted across generations in ways that have influenced individuals, families and communities.

Expressions of historical trauma in Aboriginal people can be seen in: adults who feel inadequate in their day-to-day functioning: the poor physical and psychological health and much lower life expectancy; the escalation in addiction to alcohol and other substances which are used as a coping mechanism; the increase in domestic violence across generations; the self-harm, suicide and risk-taking that occurs when people can find no meaning to their existence and have no sense of purpose for their day-to-day activities.

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‘Trauma Trails, Recreating Song Lines: The Transgenerational Effects of Trauma in Indigenous Australia’ by Judy Atkinson

rsz_41sanqzdhyl_bo2204203200_pisitb-sticker-arrow-clicktopright35-76_sx385_sy500_cr00385500_sh20_ou02_Every now and again, I read a book related to the recovery field which helps create a small shift in the way I work. A few months ago, I read a book that has opened my eyes to a problem I knew existed… but had little idea about. A big shift in the way I work is occurring.

Transgenerational, or historical trauma, is the transmission of trauma across generations arising from colonisation and its associated violence and control, seen in Australian Aboriginals and other indigenous populations, e.g. North American Native Indians, Maoris of New Zealand. This historical trauma influences individuals, families and communities.

Expressions of historical trauma in Aboriginal people can be seen in: adults who feel inadequate in their day-to-day functioning: the poor physical and psychological health and much lower life expectancy; the escalation in addiction to alcohol and other substances which are used as a coping mechanism; the increase in domestic violence across generations; the self-harm, suicide and risk-taking that occurs when people can find no meaning to their existence and have no sense of purpose for their day-to-day activities.

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On Healing: Jackie

rsz_1outback-sunset-880‘Healing is a really confusing word. When I first thought of it I thought I would go along and all this pain was going to be healed and at the finish I would just walk away and I would be healed, but now I know healing means learning.

Learning about yourself – learning about looking at things in a different way. Understanding how those things came to be.

Owning your own things, but not taking on board other people’s things. Being responsible for what you are responsible for, but not for other people’s responsibilities.

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On Healing: Lorna

rsz_aa10‘The word healing – it means to me [that] I need to look at all my pain. Feel the pain and release it. Work with it, talk about it, and let it go, rather than hold on to it, locking it up inside myself.

I need a safe place where I can talk about my pain, all the pain that I have had in my life, my drinking in my marriage, my childhood, to to be able to sit and feel free enough to talk about it to get it out of me. I had it in me for so long, too long.

I believe that’s when the healing takes place, when I can feel well enough in myself to talk honestly about how I feel, what happened to me, what it was like for me. It is action healing. That it what I found for myself. It is action.

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