Have you ever wondered how nature, ceremony, and sound are used in the Native American healing tradition?
Shianne Eagleheart is a Licensed Independent Counselor and Clinical Supervisor. She’s also a Native American Ceremonial Leader and the Executive Director and Founder of The Red Bird Center, Inc.
Shianne has extensive clinical experience in the treatment of adult and adolescent trauma survivors.
Find out what Shianne recommends in order to ground yourself, ease the effects of trauma, and feel more connected to everything around you.
Shianne Eagleheart, LICDC, ICCS
The Red Bird Center, Inc.
P.O. Box 1284
Cambridge, OH 43725
e-mail: [email protected]
Shianne Eagleheart: People start out terrified sometimes or very rigid or conditioned by the society to not trust themselves and not believe in their ability to even move or much less give voice to a song that may be deep within their own soul to express. There’s all kinds of comparisons out there and they don’t feel they’re good enough and have the right to. These are all illusions that are put upon us just in the social mirror. Unfortunately, there are some things like that, that aren’t as healthy or helpful to us and we have to break free.
Jim Donovan: Hey there, this is Jim Donovan. Welcome to the show. I’m so glad you’re here. Today, we have a very special guest for you, a dear friend of mine, Shianne Eagleheart. Shianne is a Licensed Independent Counselor, Clinical Supervisor, Native American Ceremonial Leader, and the Executive Director and Founder of The Red Bird Center in Cambridge, Ohio. Shianne has extensive clinical experience in the treatment of adult and adolescent trauma survivors as it relates to chemical dependency, PTSD, dissociative disorders, re-victimization, and violent offending. She is a multiple trauma survivor who has achieved both personal and professional success in healing from the effects of trauma, breaking a family cycle of violence, and contributing to a greater community healing.
Jim Donovan: In recent years, Shianne has also developed healing practices for veterans and their families. Hey, Shianne, welcome to the show. I am so glad that you are here with us today.
Shianne Eagleheart: It is my pleasure.
Jim Donovan: It’s so good to have you on the show here. This is exciting for me to have someone like you be able to share with our listeners all the different things that you do with healing veterans and all the different audiences you work with. It’s exciting work that you do, and I think that a lot of our listeners might have never heard of some of the things that we’ll talk about today, so that’s always exciting.
Shianne Eagleheart: It is my honor to be here with you, Jim.
Jim Donovan: I’m wondering if we could just start kind of the beginning? I’m wondering, what initially drew you to healing work?
Shianne Eagleheart: Well, if it’s okay with you, I’d like to start by introducing myself coming from my tradition.
Jim Donovan: Yeah, please.
Shianne Eagleheart: Okay. My name is Shianne Eagleheart. I am Haudenosaunee Seneca. Haudenosaunee is our word it means people of the longhouse. [Native language]. So that’s just the formal way that I introduce myself. And I’m happy to be here and to share with you and your audience.
Jim Donovan: Thank you.
Shianne Eagleheart: So to answer the question, what drew me into the healing work? I would say that it started with my own healing journey first. I’m a multiple trauma survivor and had a pretty deep and intensive healing recovery process. And after that occurred, working with my elders developing the medicine tradition and effectiveness to help people recover from soul pain and loss and trauma came the next discipline. I’m also licensed in the field of counseling. So I integrate both the clinical as well as the earth way and that passion to support others in healing, to bring them out of the difficulties that we can experience in our lives is really deep within me.
Shianne Eagleheart: I’m 62 now and I still have as much passion as I had back in 1985 when I started, because I know what it is like to live in darkness and suffer and have no hope. And the ones that helped me come out of that pain and afford me the opportunity to live the way I live today with such success and joy are my children and grandchildren. Future generations, I never lose the passion to be another one that stands in the solution for healing for our communities.
Jim Donovan: That’s a beautiful thing. And I’m really interested, you are a licensed counselor. Is that the correct term?
Shianne Eagleheart: Yes.
Jim Donovan: And you also integrate healing modalities from Native American tradition. How do you find those play together?
Shianne Eagleheart: A couple of things. First, the vision and the ancestral way of life gives me access to understanding about, we would term it the healing, vision and, or model, the clinical would be the healing model.
Jim Donovan: Okay, sure!
Shianne Eagleheart: And the steps that one takes for resolution and wholeness from whatever the challenge whether it’s PTSD, addiction, soul loss, it could be so many different things, illness and the clinical training and experience in the field and networking with other professionals in the state of Ohio, across the country and internationally connects me to a greater network of wisdom and advancement in the wisdom connected. There’s an ancestral understanding and way of life that’s been going on for generations.
Shianne Eagleheart: And then there’s this new day, this modern day where we have advanced or understanding about the heart and resolution of pain. I do not typically use clinical terms as much and I don’t look at it from a mental health language model. I know that’s common, but I just find that it takes me out of the understanding that I’m sitting with someone who’s a person and a beautiful, amazing human being who may have found some challenges in their life that’s preventing them from their full potential and my mission is to really meet them where they’re at and support the healing that’s needed.
Jim Donovan: What I like about what you’re saying is that it’s not either/or, it’s not either Western clinical medicine or traditional Native American healing. There’s wisdom to be brought from both places.
Shianne Eagleheart: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Jim Donovan: I think that’s so important to have that level of acceptance between both places. I know that you work with a variety of populations, would you mind just describing for our listeners different kinds of people that you work with?
Shianne Eagleheart: Well, we work with individuals, families, and circles. So community circles, which might be a women’s group, part of our dedication is to our veterans community. We honor the warrior and their service, whether past conflicts or current day, preparing to go into conflict. We have very traditional ceremonies that are available to our veterans communities and those in direct service at this time, it’s very important part of our understanding that we support our warriors and then when they return home, we want to stand with them as they integrate back into their lives and understand their maybe needs that have developed as exposure to combat can be very devastating to the heart and to the soul. And so we want to stand with them and supporting resolution. We do work in penitentiary, as well as youth corrections, mental health services, addiction programs, so many different—a lot of diversity of service over the years, yes.
Jim Donovan: And some challenging populations, people that are dealing with some intense things that maybe typical people don’t see very often.
Shianne Eagleheart: Yes, yes, that is certainly true.
Jim Donovan: Now with all these different populations, with the veterans, with the family groups, women’s groups, what role does music play?
Shianne Eagleheart: Well, in our ancestral tradition, working with music, or the drum, and all the other sacreds that we use, there is a power that we’re calling on and some each culture has a different way that they language that but we’re entering into the sacred, we’re entering into this place where the healing must happen for someone or a group. And so we call on the powers to assist us and that’s just a simple way that I speak I don’t speak for all natives and how they language it but that’s the way that I speak, is that we call the powers, the divine power, the healing spirits to come assist us in the healing that’s needed.
Shianne Eagleheart: So there may be a song, we have spirit calling songs, we have healing songs, there may be a dance, movement. And this is an important part of our beginning when we enter into these places of healing. And so there’s also the celebration that happens after someone has gone through transformation, stepping out, rites of passage, moving out of this place, where they felt the challenge and now they’re feeling the freedom and their songs of celebrations.
Jim Donovan: Nice.
Shianne Eagleheart: Songs that just carry us up into that place where we can realize our true nature, our true vision for who we are, and to go forth with an excitement and a joy that I can be who I am and be free to be who I am now. And it’s very exciting and some of those songs and dances can be pretty incredible, transformative in themselves, so that’s true. That’s a little glimpse. It’s a lot questions that has a lot of, you can say many things about it. But for now, that’s the beginning.
Jim Donovan: Yeah, it’s a big question. And I’m wondering, like in a women’s healing circle, for example, what kind of transformation might you see? What does that look like?
Shianne Eagleheart: Well, it depends on the circle. I don’t like schedule, for the year these are the programs we’ll be doing in the retreats, we don’t work that way, but I do have someone who calls me, I call him the gatekeeper. Those are people who call me and say I have a women’s circle, or men circle or group of youth. And this is a vision, or a goal that we have for our circle. And we’d like to co create with you we’d like to create an opportunity and so depending on circumstances like if it’s women in recovery, we’re obviously inside the circle.
Shianne Eagleheart: And people are telling their stories and letting some pain go of addiction has, in some way challenged them or their families. If it’s a circle of women who are really working on their gifts and their skills and their vision for their life, and they really want to move into greater states of advancement in their spiritual journey. The circles designed in that way to support their development. And so it really just varies on the circles’ intention or their need. And then we designed something that really supports that. And that’s very important to me, because it’s very unique. Everyone, every individual or group has a unique vision or need for themselves. We really want to hear that and develop something that really is effective.
Jim Donovan: And that makes a lot of sense because people, there’s really no one size it’s all solution when we’re dealing with this deeper kind of work, when people are singing when they’re moving their body or when they’re chanting or singing a song, what kinds of physiological things have you seen in regards to transformation?
Shianne Eagleheart: People start out terrified sometimes or very rigid or conditioned by the society does not trust themselves and not believe in their ability to even move, or much less give voice to a song that may be deep within their own soul to express. And there’s all kinds of comparisons out there and they don’t feel they’re good enough and have the right to. And these are all illusions that are put upon us and just in the social mirror, unfortunately, there are some things like that, that aren’t as healthy or helpful to us.
Shianne Eagleheart: And we have to break free and so in breaking free this movement and encouraging people we create a safe space. There’s what we call giving your honor to the circle says agreements that we start with the people say in the circle, that they’re going to respect each other and honor the ways that people express whatever form that it comes in. And when somebody really sees oh my goodness, no matter what I do, it’s okay. Oh, absolutely, that’s the very best thing to do is what comes uniquely from you and then all of a sudden, oh, okay.
Shianne Eagleheart: And people start to really I watch the change, it changes their body, how they move, they’re not rigid anymore, there’s a flow, a fluidness to it, there’s something that happens to their face. Now, if there’s some pain that has to be expressed in the moment, maybe there’s tears that fall, and if there’s a freedom that’s being expressed, maybe there’s a joy and a light in their eyes, that’s never been seen before and the joy and the way that the light comes forward. Some have said I don’t think my mouth has ever moved like that.
Shianne Eagleheart: I don’t think I’ve ever smiled that way before. So there’s an excitement to this. They feel like this is more authentically who I am, and once that starts, that’s a little bit of a start when they’re here with us at Red Bird, but when they leave. This continues on in ways that I’ve had people write back and call us or come back with stories about how it ignited not only transformation but a new way to live and create in the world. It’s very exciting. Very exciting work to share in.
Jim Donovan: Yeah, it’s like you’re helping the song or the movement. The spiritual aspect of it helps the person to uncover who they already are. It’s not like we’re adding anything to them. They’re already fine. It’s just perfect.
Shianne Eagleheart: Yes, that’s exactly it. Yes.
Jim Donovan: Yeah. It’s a beautiful thing. When in my own work, doing drumming with people, I’ve experienced really similar things where people don’t feel like they can or have that false belief that they’re not good enough to do the drumming. And it’s interesting the similarities I said, there’s one ground rule, which is if you make a mistake, just smile and keep going.
Shianne Eagleheart: I like that. Yes.
Jim Donovan: And it’s beautiful to see how freeing that can be when everyone in the circle knows, hey, whatever you’ve got is exactly right.
Shianne Eagleheart: Excellent.
Jim Donovan: Now, there are, first of all, just a point of information for our audience. A lot of people don’t actually realize that there are many different Native American traditions. It’s not just one tradition. And I wonder if you know, or if you could tell me a little bit about if, generally speaking, Native American traditions tend to use music for healing, kind of in similar ways, or do you know if there’s differences? Can you expand on that at all?
Shianne Eagleheart: Yes, we served privately here in the state of Ohio, our families and communities as well as around across Turtle Island. And I’ve had the privilege of sitting in many circles, and attending the pow wows and all the gatherings that occur with the people and there have been those that count—they talked about 562 tribes and there’s probably more. And I’m not so much in that side of the statistics of it all but I’ve witnessed and experienced the blessing of good medicine way for many of our tribal traditions.
Shianne Eagleheart: And music is in the forms that come through the drumming and the songs, the ancestral songs, the tribal songs, there are definitely some differences related to the language of the people and what has been passed on. But there’s also similarities around celebration, around healing, around honoring our elders and ancestors, around celebrating and supporting the children, all of these things so, and I’m always still learning of course, but this is very much an integral part of our community, is music and the way that the songs and the dances are shared.
Jim Donovan: Yeah, it’s something when I’m teaching students at the University, I talked to them about how the music isn’t just for entertainment, especially in all of the different indigenous cultures I’ve looked at from Africa and Asia and Native America. Instead, it’s more a part of the social fabric. It’s that part that helps keep and has helped keep people together. I love hearing that’s still the case and that work continues even to this day. That’s heartening to hear that.
Shianne Eagleheart: Absolutely.
Jim Donovan: Now, when you go to create so you get a call from someone and you’re asked to come and do a circle… Are there specific ways that you use rhythm and music to support the healing ritual? Are there specific things that you do that you can share?
Shianne Eagleheart: Well, we always begin with a gathering song on something that brings and calls everyone to the circle. And then, once we’re in the circle then we start with a spirit calling song and bringing the spirits in honoring the ancestors that stand with us and understanding that we’re in relationship to the unseen world, the divine, and trusting that they come in to create that safety for us. And once, that’s done with many different it could be the song can be very ancient and old, it’s been passed down.
Shianne Eagleheart: Sometimes there’s spirit songs vocables as they’re stated, that are just in that moment that they’re coming because the spirits are singing through the singer. So those things happen and using a rattle or drum or eagle bone or could be any sacred that the spirit, we are spirit guided here. And so the spirits will give us vision and knowing, understanding about what to do with each circle. And that’s very important to us. So there’s a lot of prayer and fasting and preparation that goes on long before a circle comes or we go out to help a community. And that’s an important part of the success that happens is that we take that time. So I don’t know if that answers your question. But that’s a little bit.
Jim Donovan: It does, and I’m hearing you say too that, it’s not that you just hop in your car and go and do the healing circle. You’re preparing well in advance, you’re preparing your mind and your body and your spirit to be in, if I’m hearing it right, like a receptive condition so that you can receive that intuition or that guidance to be of higher service.
Shianne Eagleheart: Absolutely. And sometimes we’re called into very highly volatile situations. One community handle an act of violence that took the lives of two children and when you’re going into some of these situations are very, very critical. And if I didn’t have those in that unseen world helping me knowing what to do and how to respond, I wouldn’t go. I wouldn’t dare think I had a right to. What could I possibly offer? But I really hear the situation. A lot of field work that happens long before we come with hearing from the people in the community, and then preparations as I’ve indicated. And then once we arrived, there’s more that [needs to] be revealed. And so we stay very open and never set a rigid way of setting up the structure for the circle. Because sometimes that openness is going to be really important for sensitivity and respect.
Jim Donovan: And that’s such a difference between can academic rubric driven methodology. Even though you’re probably bringing a lot of that wisdom into your healing practice too, the way that you set it up is an ancient way of doing this—something that’s been happening, if I understand it, right. For very, very long time.
Shianne Eagleheart: Yes, yes. I feel like as a therapist, clinically, I was developed and really enhanced when you’re young person in your 20s. You’re learning all these things, went to Gestault, to all these places you go. You’re so concerned about doing it right.
Jim Donovan: Yeah off course.
Shianne Eagleheart: And you’re always trying to learn everything and the best technique and where to study and who to be taught by and you’re so innocent because you just conscientious you want to become a skilled therapist is it would be termed. And so the traditions of my people and enhancement from elders through the years that have brought me into a fuller expression of my gift and ability, integrating both of those trainings—and understand this, because one is a lifelong and one is an ongoing, of course—it’s very, I just feel like it made me more effective at what I’m doing. And now, with the conditions in the world the way they are… It’s the critical hour, and we really need to be as effective as we possibly can be so people can get the support that they truly need.
Jim Donovan: That’s really a true thing. It feels like all of this is happening on our watch. And here we are.
Shianne Eagleheart: Yes, yes. Good way to put it.
Jim Donovan: I was looking through your website and I see that you have this program around wounded bear, and you use this term medicine story, and that was really intriguing. I’m wondering if you could explain a little bit about that program and what a medicine story is?
Shianne Eagleheart: Yes, of course. Well the wounded bear is modern day medicine story. And it comes to our generation of people because we’re ready to receive the medicine. Or another way to say it is to receive the message that the story brings to us and the healing and the understanding so we can apply it in our lives. The term medicine story is an ancient term, of course, and inter-tribally, even cross culturally may be used in different understandings.
Shianne Eagleheart: And the way that I’m sharing the medicine story is that as you can associate the term medicine, it heals, it takes away pain, it restores us to good health and wholeness and many cases prevents illness too. So a medicine story has the power to heal you. And our medicine stories and understandings is that the medicine story emerges from an individual or community a situation that has occurred, which can be very ancient and old time that’s been passed down or in the case of wounded bear in the modern day this story came in this modern day time.
Shianne Eagleheart: And usually the individual or the community has a direct experience with loss in some capacity and has to overcome the dark night of the soul, has to go through a process—come through the fire, in terms of healing, resolution, wholeness and understanding. And once one has achieved that, there is the opportunity if one chooses to share the medicine. And this is how wounded bear came to be, and is a story that was written, because I had come through a lot of systematic torture and things that shattered and devastated my soul.
Shianne Eagleheart: And I had to resolve that. And then I had to come to the terms of the authentic truth of the light of my soul—who I really am. And then out of that emerged wounded bear wrote the story in 20 minutes. I wrote it with the intention to impact the community because I saw what I would term the great mistake going on in our society. We were punishing hurt people instead of helping them heal with our penitentiaries, our juvenile, our corrections, our punishments, are all the things that we do to sanction instead of look at the solution for healing, which brings people out of the darkness and they become an integral part of our circle and communities. They’re some of our best healers and teachers and leaders and we don’t want to lose them. So wounded bear came because I wanted to contribute.
Shianne Eagleheart: After sharing the story, I discovered that it wasn’t just my story. It was our story as a society, as a human family. And taking me into schools and prisons and conferences, keynotes all kinds of things around the world and means a lot to the veterans community because it takes us through the healing and the transformation, offering a blueprint for healing for those who are seeking and offering the specific tools for those who choose to be part of the solution to help others heal what to do. And so it’s been an honor. I’ve been sharing it since 1997. And just came back from London, and we had an opportunity to share with the University of Roehampton and so there’s just this ongoing—with each year, it seems to just deepen and its impact and I’m very moved to be able to share it.
Jim Donovan: And I heard you say in there that as a result of having to go through some extreme traumatic challenge of your own. It gave you the ability to bring something like this through because you’ve been down at that bottom of that pit. If you would. And I think the other thing I heard you say in there that just really strikes me is that, these people that are in corrections facilities and in juvenile detention centers can end up being some of our greatest healers because they too have been through hell, or are wounded warriors coming back from these war zones that are hellish. What do you think it is about being through those awful, awful experiences that helps one be able to help others heal?
Shianne Eagleheart: One of the things that when we’re telling the story we talk about, in our tradition, there are snake medicine people and these are people that can be bit by a rattlesnake. And they can transmute the poisons of the snake bite into medicine. They don’t get sick but the rest of us would. So in life, we can have snake bite experiences, and the poison can destroy us, of course, or we have an opportunity—it is a choice. We can choose to transmute the poisons of our experience into medicine that can help and heal others and our veterans community—one vet to another—when you feel the people do not understand what is needed. Then you may be the next teacher, the next leader to step out and start to guide us all out of this misunderstanding. And that’s what wounded bear is.
Shianne Eagleheart: When you’ve lived through it, there are certain things that you see, I was on the floor despair, I had no hope. And what got me there understood that but what got me out of that? That’s the things that we’re excited to share. And when there’s hope, I have watched people that everyone else gave up on get up off the floor of despair and live their lives in a way that truly blesses their heart and their family and their communities. Because they just didn’t know how to move out of that despair. And when given the opportunity and the support and the respect of the circle to take those steps, I’ve actually—I’m trying to think of someone that said no. It’s just a lot of it is that the despair one develops as a result of what’s ever mirrored to them in their lives and through their pain. And when that illusion is shattered, really exciting to watch people take hold of their opportunity to live, truly live.
Jim Donovan: And for that person to finally hear from somebody else that they’ve been through it too. And you can have hope, because look, I was in a similar situation, and now I’m out of it. Look, you can do this too, here’s the blueprint, like you said.
Shianne Eagleheart: Yes, and to simplify the blueprint, I would say, I needed to tell my story. Let the pain go in the presence of love. That’s how I healed. And that’s just simple. Love can come in many forms with community or spirit or just even the self-love one must develop, begin to invest in your own well-being and telling the story it can be a horrific.
Shianne Eagleheart: I’ve just had a veteran here recently says I can’t. These are stories I can never tell another and so well, this is a place those stories can come forward and he made a choice to do it, and he brought some others with him. And so, the power of making that commitment to go places where no one is willing to go for I had to do that in my own life. And I’m not tormented by those things that I went through in the past. And the reason I’m not, is because I had the opportunity to let it go. It’s such an important part of the journey.
Jim Donovan: It’s so challenging to hold that stuff in our minds and in our bodies and keep it hidden away. That takes energy to hide that stuff away, I would imagine.
Shianne Eagleheart: Yes. And we have ceremonies, we have ceremonies to allow for that to come forward. That creates the safety and the support, to hold you in a time of devastation so that you can move through. We have medicines that we use, herbs that are not chemicals, but herbs that bring a peace to the heart into the body and recovery from illness. There are all these things that are in the natural world, these earth medicines that can bring the blessing. And I know in the modern day and the field of science, there’s many good things, medical fields and all of that. And there are some other things that people maybe don’t want to participate in because they don’t like the chemical and the side effects and all that. So we’re the alternative. We offer other types of support. And people find that’s a nice complement to their healing journey.
Jim Donovan: And it makes sense to because I don’t know if anyone who’s ever healed a trauma by taking a pill.
Shianne Eagleheart: I didn’t, I had needed something else. For sure.
Jim Donovan: All the energy that gets trapped in the body after being through something that is awful. It just makes sense that you would have to move the body and that you might have to emote, and that you might have to use your voice in ways maybe you’ve not used it before to let whatever that energy is just come out and be expressed so that you don’t have to carry it anymore.
Shianne Eagleheart: Yes, excellent. Well stated. And I know that one of the things I do ask people to do is to commit to doing whatever they need to do. There are some who don’t, they want to self-medicate. It hurts too bad and there’s too much anxiety and upset and really that all that means—that depression, that anxiety, that terror, whatever it is, it’s a call to healing. It’s an opportunity for healing. It’s an opportunity to move like you said—to express.
Shianne Eagleheart: Your heart needs a voice. In the Seneca we say [native language]: your heart needs to express. If your heart expresses what it needs to—whether it’s rage and terror and just the store of your life that’s causing you great challenge, then all of a sudden, the anxiety falls away. The depression is gone. The anger and irritability those around you or within yourself that dissipates. And who doesn’t want that? Everyone wants to find that peace and health. There’s a lot in the news right now about mental health and stigma to allow the health of the mind and the body and the heart and the soul restored. That’s what we’re going for.
Jim Donovan: And yet in Western culture we are taught, I know, I was taught that if I’m not a good singer, well then I probably shouldn’t. I should just be content to listen to the good singers. Or I’ve got no rhythm so I shouldn’t dance, or I shouldn’t move my body if I’m not good at it. And as a result, we have, and I see this just in drumming workshops, people that are afraid to do anything that’s expressive besides talk. And even some people have a challenge with that. So it’s like we get pounded with this message that we have to be the virtuoso. We have to be the best we have to be number one, or we shouldn’t and it just seems-
Shianne Eagleheart: How did, yeah its good word.
Jim Donovan: How did that happen? I’ve got all kinds of ideas. We won’t go into them today.
Shianne Eagleheart: Yes, and part of the circle we have in the circle, we have the center. And we’re inside the medicine wheel. And we’re always in the center of the medicine wheel in our life. And when we’re in the circle with others, each person has a gift. And their gift is unique. And we need everyone in the circle, for the success of earth children, everyone’s gift and voice and way that they express needs to be honored and realized.
Shianne Eagleheart: And so if there’s just a slant, and there’s only a certain select few that have that opportunity based on their development, and the rest sit in silence, the circle is unhealthy. So we really need everyone’s gift and participation for this success. And because we’re in the critical hour—to lead part of our prophecy time hundreds of years ago—is that this would be the time when the people will come together in the circle. All cultures, all things, all beliefs and ways of life we would come together and share our gifts and that would lead Earth children out of darkness. And the time is now, so this is not the time to step back. When someone’s better, this is the time to step forward and your unique gift, we really, really need you.
Jim Donovan: Yeah, it’s leaning in to what’s happening now. And kind of like if you’re unwilling to do that. It’s almost like if I want my whole body to be healthy, and I’m only working my biceps, my right bicep, I’m just lifting weights on that one side of my arm, but I’m neglecting the rest of my body, I’m going to have a really strong arm, but I’m still going to get sick. And because the rest of me is not in balance.
Shianne Eagleheart: Yes.
Jim Donovan: You mentioned a moment ago, if we could just pivot over to the work that you do with veterans. And I remember hearing the story about a trip that you took with some vets to Vietnam. I wonder if you wouldn’t mind sharing that story and that experience with us?
Shianne Eagleheart: Absolutely. First, I would say I honor the men who made the choice to go on this journey of healing and reconciliation to Vietnam. And then, for those in the community that supported them. Those who supported the healing as well as just family and friends, who were standing with them with their hearts open and feeling and dealing with what was coming. We spent a year preparing.
Shianne Eagleheart: There’s a lot that goes into preparations before the trip. We were in Vietnam for three weeks. Part of those preparations had to do with developing ceremony. Each man was to develop ceremony for their healing at their A.O., the place they were originally assigned where maybe the most difficult and tragic thing had occurred. So that was done of protection for their privacy. And I wouldn’t say anything about it, but to say that each one had a vision and a courage and a strength and a power to develop their ceremonies in accordance with what was needed, which had tremendous impact not only on them, but on the ripple effect of that type of healing still felt today.
Jim Donovan: These were Vietnam vets, right?
Shianne Eagleheart: Yes. These were men who had been in country in the conflict. Yes.
Jim Donovan: Just want to make sure I got that out.
Shianne Eagleheart: Yeah. And we met also with their veterans in Vietnam. And so our vets and their vets, we came together in healing and reconciliation, which was just beautiful and powerful. And men who had been enemies became brothers and one in particular, they just developed because they discovered that for them as men, and in their true heart and their love for their families and their country, they had so much in common. And that also the recovery from what had happened to them in the war. And then there also was this discovery that it was the leaders of the nations that were in conflict, and the cost was to them. And so when they discovered they had more in common than anything else, and the willingness to tell the story with such courage and authenticity, raw honesty, and had such power for healing for both. I, still to this day, I’m moved by those moments of healing as it taught me the potential for we as people.
Shianne Eagleheart: We can have this potential to resolve our conflicts, even at that level. And what are the factors that come into play that support that healing and recovery? It was very moving. Yes.
Jim Donovan: Just hearing the story left an imprint that someone would consider, hey, why don’t we take these guys over to meet their counterparts who they were fighting and help them and their counterparts to see each other as people first. Not as Americans or Vietnamese. But just as human beings first, it sounds like that’s what you did.
Shianne Eagleheart: Yes. And the thing that it’s an individual choice, each man made a choice to go and have a vision for it. It’s not for all of our veterans. Many would not want and have no interest in it whatsoever and that we honor respect each one. But for these men, this was a very important part of their journey. And that’s why I’m just in such awe and respect for the work that they did. And my role was just simply to set the stage for healing and bring in the ceremonies and the support for that healing, to be realized. And so, it was very transformative, I think, for everyone—not just those who sought the healing for all of us in that circle, both in Vietnam and all the people who stood with us there as well as our people here.
Jim Donovan: Almost like the men going through the healing by virtue of doing their work, they help us do our own.
Shianne Eagleheart: Excellent, yes.
Jim Donovan: Without divulging anything that would infringe on their privacy, did they use any music or drumming or anything like that together?
Shianne Eagleheart: Yes, we have the spirit calling songs and that way it was used, but most of the specifics had to do more with actions they needed to take when they were in country. But we always start with calling on the powers. So part of it yes.
Jim Donovan: Beautiful, before we finish, I just have a couple quick things to ask. So one of the things I like to do on this podcast is to give the listeners something that they can do, something that they can use in their own life, that helps them with whatever their challenge might be. We do a lot of stress relief things and things for sleep and depression. I’m wondering if you have anything like a short idea or an exercise that somebody out there listening could do for themselves?
Shianne Eagleheart: Yes. I think that one of the most powerful things that you can do is realize your connection to earth. And understand that you’re a child of the earth and that you’re meant to be in relationship with those standing people, trees, those rock people, the sky nation, those stars in the heavens that are campfires of our ancestors and just the smells and the sense in the wind and the beautiful leaves of now. And so getting outside every day in some way, and see maybe roots coming from the bottoms of your feet going into the earth, that you’re like a tree that is grounded, you’ll take if you’re not feeling grounded, feeling really stressed out and irritated, just allow yourself to be grounded.
Shianne Eagleheart: When those roots go into the earth and take them down as far as you need. And then you’re bringing up and you can really invite the nutrients of the mother to bring up through your body and breathe. You can use your breath to breathe in those nutrients, to take that to any place you need. You might feel your whole body fill up. And perhaps it’s a white light or green light—I see lime a lot of times—the deeper greens and colors and just richness of perhaps that’s connecting, but we’re meant just like a tree, if you took a tree out of the ground, it would die. We’re meant to be connected to the earth.
Shianne Eagleheart: And that’s not taught in the schools. That’s not a regular thing, and we get sick. We’re spending too much screen time and we’re in these square buildings. And we’re not having that chance to be on the earth. So that would be something I’d highly recommend is you may be a walk in the park going up to the lake—you know, wherever—a sacred place in your backyard. Even one tree, and there’s one tree in the city, a little bird comes and sings. Pay attention to the song of that bird.
Shianne Eagleheart: It’ll draw you into oneness with the divine. It draws you into oneness with creation. It draws you into oneness with the divine light within you. And it’s very powerful to do and realize.
Jim Donovan: That’s beautiful. And it’s that reminder that we aren’t separate from any of those things even though we might feel like that sometimes, we are one with that thing. All of those things. Beautiful.
Shianne Eagleheart: Absolutely, and it can be transformative. What was funny is that just recently in social media they had a science—science proves what I just said. So excited what science catches up, going “Oh, wow, this is proven!” They took like brainwaves and had scans and all this totally changed your pattern. I was like oh good because more people will do it. However it works.
Jim Donovan: Whatever it takes to get people just to take care of themselves. And to remember that life can’t always be lived through our screens that there’s so much more richness outside. When I went through my healing process this past year, that was the thing that helped the most was just being outside and walking, and walking, and walking.
Shianne Eagleheart: Excellent, yes.
Jim Donovan: Well, Shianne. I so appreciate you taking the time to answer some questions this morning. I think our listeners are really going to get quite a bit from this. If people want to support your work. I know that you do all kinds of things. You do a lot of pro bono work. How can they get in touch with you, how can they support you?
Shianne Eagleheart: Well, the first thing always is that right now, just the expansion of Red Bird is going in a way that I need a team out here, I need to hire people, I need to really allow that for that expansion support. So, donations and support to the work is really critical at this stage. And if you are connected with others that could support us in this work, please reach out to them. I can’t go everywhere I’m needed. And I’m not really good at sitting in the office and writing grants, so I really need help in that way.
Shianne Eagleheart: And then certainly good energy and just intention and prayers. However that goes, we have volunteer events, please come and join us. We’re going to be opening up the center to lot more of those types of events. We even have an artist in week coming up in March, which will the center will be open for a whole week where people can come in and share their arts, their gifts. If a painter wants to paint awesome if somebody wants to do a performance, we welcome it. If others just want to sit at the table and be around a fire and tell us stories, it’s just going to be open for people to allow for that creative force to move through them. And to share whatever technique or gift they wish to share, and a lot of cover dish and fun we’re good, really doing a lot in that way for community into the future.
Shianne Eagleheart: We’re going to have an elders retreat, a children’s retreat with a lot of different things, cross culturally, and inter-tribally into 2020. And I’ll be sending out some information. I can send it to you, Jim, and you can let your listeners know what’s going on. And we invite them in for building community because that’s a big part of what supports all of us is being connected.
Jim Donovan: Absolutely. And this is the Red Bird center in Cambridge, Ohio. This is Eastern Ohio, and they can find you. RedBirdCenter.org. Is that right?
Shianne Eagleheart: Yes. Yes, we’re in the forest. We got 10 cabins, 70 beds on 69 acres, and you’re welcome to visit.
Jim Donovan: It’s on my list. It’s a beautiful place. I’ve been there a couple times and I will make sure I include the website and your contact information in our show notes. So that way, listeners over time can get a hold of you and connect with you and find ways that they can be a part of that.
Shianne Eagleheart: Excellent, well we welcome all that.
Jim Donovan: Well, Shianne, thank you so much again, it’s been great having you today. And maybe we’ll have another conversation another time.
Shianne Eagleheart: Well, it’s been my honor, Jim. It’s always a pleasure to visit with you and certainly to just share this good medicine way with your listeners. Thank you.
Jim Donovan: Thanks so much. Take care. Now, before you go, I’d like to let you know about a free resource I made for you. It’s called the Sound Health Newsletter. In it, I share the latest research and music and health in an easy to understand form. I also share beginner friendly music and wellness exercises that you can use every day to feel your best. When you sign up, you also get discounts and first access to all of my Sound Health products and events. Remember, it’s completely free. If you’d like it, just visit DonovanHealth.com and enter your name and email address and I’ll start sending you new issues right away.
Jim Donovan: While you’re on the website, you can also read full transcripts of this show, and check out a ton of other valuable resources and enter your name and email address, and I’ll start sending you new issues right away. While you’re on the website, you can also read full transcripts of this show, and check out a ton of other valuable resources. If you have any feedback, send me an email to [email protected] All the information presented on this show is for educational purposes only, and should not be considered medical advice. Lastly, come and visit me on our Sound Health Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube channels. I’d love to see you there. The Sound Health Podcast is produced by OmniVista Health Learning and Donovan Health Solutions. For Sound Health, this is Jim Donovan. See you next time. Take care.
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