How Trauma Affects Our Healing

A few months ago, our Purify Your Gaze community was blessed to have Dr. Hakim Archuletta speak to us about trauma and how to overcome it. Dr. Hakim is a convert to Islam from the 70s and specializes in the traditional sciences of Homeopathy or becoming a Hakim and in trauma therapy. He has over 40 years of experience.

Dr. Hakim stated how Allah has created human beings with amazing mechanisms inside themselves to heal from difficulties or injuries that they face in life. This could range from the type of birth one had, to other experiences across the lifespan. However, these properties need an environment and framework that is conducive of our natural state (fitrah).

Unfortunately, the modern world has minimized many of these aspects of life. These range from healthy interactions or connection with family, neighbors and communities, to being present and connected with ourselves and with Allah’s creation around us. Due to this, many of us lack the resiliency that is needed to recover from trauma or injuries that we incur through life.

The body Allah has created has a way to cope with such unresolved injuries, which is to switch to survival mode to manage and cope with life’s pressures. Certain behaviors are adapted to be able to effectively manage emotions and pain. Some of these behaviors become addictions, which assist in dealing with emotional difficulties. Unfortunately, these behaviors are “second best” and only seek to “fix” rather than fulfill. In addition, these are short term rather than the longevity that is sought in a healthy life. Overtime, these become ways to distract ourselves from bodily sensations (emotions) and distractions from what is really affecting our lives from within.

To be able to recover effectively from such a state, we must “reset” back to our fitrah or natural state. Imagine that we are a container whose capacity is related to the satisfaction and resiliency we have in life. There are many ways to increase the capacity of our containers, one of which is to start becoming present with ourselves and with Allah’s creation around us. Our ibadah (worship) are physical acts that function to connect us with ourselves by slowing down our lives and connecting us with Allah’s creations, such as the water and ground. Furthermore, this helps us experience joy in life, which acts as a natural healer.

There were many gems from Dr. Hakim’s reflections to questions asked. One of them was about the experiments in the Rat Park where rats who had been addicted to heroin turned less and less to it in an environment that meets their needs as compared to in isolation. It really takes our slogan at Purify Your Gaze of “addiction thrives in isolation” to a whole new level.

Another gem was that we do not need to experience the trauma again in order to heal from it. It is a common misconception that every detail needs to be explored before it can be healed. Yes, it is important to visit it if it was no proper resolution or closure to it. Many times, the narrative needs to be organic i.e. stemming from within ourselves rather than someone else imposing it upon us. Thus, using it in a constructive way is beneficial whereas lingering over it for too long can bring negative affects.

Lastly, during his reflections, he mentioned various hikmahs (wisdoms). One was that our emotions are a key to our bodily sensations. These help us understand how we are feeling and what our body wants from us. My clinical supervisor stated how these could be like emergency signals, which something is of concern. Ignoring it or numbing ourselves from it does not mean it goes away. Rather, it only gets louder and becomes more and more difficult to ignore. It is important to realize this process and listen to our emotions as these are keys to self-awareness. This is part of being present in the moment. This is living life to the fullest. This is the path towards becoming a true slave of Allah, the Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

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