Tommy K. Begay, PhD, MPH

Sacred Wisdom: The Path to Hope, Balance, and Resilience

A Breakout Session for the Reclaiming Hope Conference

In association with Historical Trauma, American Indians are more susceptible to a constellation of psychosocial, behavioral, and physiologic risk factors that contribute to a high rate of morbidity across psychological, cardiometabolic, and functional domains. This presentation will focus on the utilization of Sacred Wisdom as a psychology to promote resilience in Indigenous communities. Sacred Wisdom encompasses the utilization of traditional philosophies that, historically, have provided self-identity, responsibility, and connection to a Universal energy that bolsters hope and self-empowerment. The psychology and sacred traditions are derived from ceremonial epistemology allowing for gratitude, courage, empathy, and self-discipline. The practice of these characteristics then become the basis for habitual, behavioral, and personality traits that translate into self-confidence, self-efficacy, and neurophysiological outcomes of relaxation, restoration, and healing.

Dr. Tommy K. Begay is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, University of Arizona. He is a Cultural Psychologist by academic training, focusing on the interrelationship of culture, biology, and environment, to understand human behavior as applicable to health, and wellness. Dr. Begay possesses a Master of Public Health degree, with a specialty in International Health. His research interests include Native American health, especially in relation to the impact of historical trauma, and the subsequent evolution of intergenerational, maladaptive coping behaviors that contribute to the disproportionately high rates of stress-related chronic diseases, cancer, interpersonal violence, accidents, substance abuse, and addiction – all major contributing factors to the contemporary health and wellness of American Indians and Alaska Natives. Dr. Begay is a member of the University of Arizona Sleep and Health Research Program.

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