The Sweet Peach Soirée is less than 4 weeks away, and things are really getting exciting!
With our incredible host Georgia Me, amazing auction prizes (including 2 orchestra-seat tickets to Love Jones the Musical!), special performances, delicious food and drinks, and tons of special surprises, there’s a lot to look forward to.
But beyond all the fun, the Soirée is about healing. And our panel of experts will be helping us do just that, as we discuss ways to reclaim and celebrate our sexual selves after trauma.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll get to know our panelists a bit more through special Q&A sessions. Today, we’ll spend a few minutes with Maisha Najuma Aza.
Rising Phoenix Abuse Recovery Coaching: Tell us about your work with survivors of trauma and abuse, your work in women’s sexual health and wellness or your work in women’s empowerment.
Maisha: My work in women’s sexual health and wellness overlaps with sexual abuse recovery work, and women’s empowerment work. As an integrated healing artist I utilize multiple indigenous spiritual, energetic and sex-positive modalities to assist people in their sexual healing, in combination with some integrated western practices – through a social justice lens. I primarily work with queer, lesbian and trans people of color, and folks all along the lgbtqi spectrum, and within sex-positive communities.
People come to me to work on anything from grief, anger, shame, sexual healing, relationship challenges, intimacy and consent, to boundary setting; when they are feeling stuck, have energetic leaks; or when they need their astrological chart read for deeper self-knowledge, intimacy and healing. Through authentic communication and authentic touch, from the energetically subtle to the boldly physical, what happens in a session depends upon what an individual brings in the present moment. My goal is to provide people with additional tools that they can use for their self-healing.
Sessions can include anything from: talking, to shamanic reiki/energy work, shamanic astrological readings, ritual, ceremony, erotic energy readings, trans-ancestral mediation, erotic breathwork, Taoist and Indic tantra practices, erotic embodiment, and touch; while utilizing crystals, burning of incense & herbs; creating tinctures and oils, music, sound, singing, trance movement and a host of other indigenous and modern methods.
This work is for any person recovering from trauma, societal stigma, socialization, dogma and judgment around sex, their bodies, sexuality, and the way they live. During my social work training, I realized there is a strong deficit in the methods used to support black women, lesbian, trans and queer folks around sex, sexual abuse and sexual assault, and other forms of trauma. As a black, queer sex-positive, woman of afro-caribbean descent, who has done her own healing work around childhood sexual trauma, I have a unique and personal perspective on the ways in which, society in general, does not often see our trauma, our pain, our mental, spiritual, emotional or sexual wellness as important or valid. Having this perspective fuels me and allows me to see anyone who comes to me, as whole, from the first day to the last.
RPARC: Recently, there has been more attention given to intimate partner violence, child abuse, and sexual assault. Do you feel that enough is being done to address these issues?
Maisha: I feel that a lot is being done by individuals, grass roots women’s organizations and even some men’s organizations, such as Men Stopping Violence, to address the issues of intimate partner violence, child abuse and sexual assault. I have been a rape crisis advocate; a workshop facilitator for a child sexual abuse prevention program; I’ve worked with men who participate in “men stopping violence”, and I’ve facilitated family violence prevention program offered by the state.
Although programs like these exist around the country, the overarching problem still often has to do with the legal and justice systems; and the structural biases inherent in the foundation of our country. Violence begins with the binary and reductionist ways our society superficially see’s individuals, from biases against women and toward men, biases against women and trans people of color and toward white cis-gendered heterosexual men, to biases toward perceived masculinity and against perceived femininity. These and many other biases and isms, must be continuously addressed, on every level, in order for real change to occur.
I continue to see hatred toward women of all kinds (misogyny, trans misogyny, misogynoir etc.) coming from women, men, trans, and all sexes, genders, and cultures, toward people perceived and/or socialized as women, or feminine, in our country and around the world. Unlearning, changing and healing the myths, stereotypes, and sexist attitudes toward women and anything seen as “feminine” in this society takes constant vigilance. So, to answer the questions, I think that more needs to be done. I also see that more is being done, and we just need to keep on speaking up, speaking out, doing our part and healing each other.
RPARC: What kinds of resources for survivors would you like to see more of?
Maisha: I would like to see more resources about the ways in which we all hurt one another, unknowingly. I’d like to see more about how society as a whole and our complacency with rape culture has influenced our ways of dealing with each other on interpersonal levels. We often blame the victim in a number of ways, from what someone wears to their behaviors, even making it their responsibility as an individual to get better, to heal on their own; as though that person exists in a vacuum away from the influence and actions of others.
What I would like to see are resources on how to help communities and families, heal together from sexual trauma, and trauma of all kinds, by creating methods that include everyone – rather than breaking families apart. I’d also like to see more resources made available – in the main stream – on how erotic energy, spiritual connection, somatic therapy, and authentic touch and intimacy can be included among the ways in which trauma can be healed. Often time these modalities are met with resistance, and fear even among “professionals” whose job it is to help heal.
RPARC: What methods of self-care and healing do you feel are most effective for survivors of trauma and abuse?
Maisha: When it comes to healing there are no absolutes. Everyone heals differently, and everyone needs to find what is most effective for them. The main goal is to make sure people are informed of the many options that are out there, from ancient to modern practices, conventional to unconventional.
I’ve found that different methods work for different people. There are a number of methods that can work over the course of a lifetime as healing continues, and as people grow and change. In my experience, multiple tools such as talk therapy, spiritual and physical practices, life coaching, massage therapy, touch therapy, and experiential types of therapies such as art therapy, sacred intimacy, erotic embodiment work and other types of modalities, can work together in a number of combinations. I believe that multiple modalities address the multiple aspects and intersectionalities of a person, and can create a dynamic, and powerful healing process.
In my practice, I utilize various indigenous spiritual practices that I’ve learned and practiced, over the years, to address the physical and energetic body. I strongly believe that directly addressing the spirit of a person is an important key to supporting their self-healing abilities. Metaphorically speaking, I have found that healing trauma is a series of hurdles to jump over. Sometimes we stumble and fall in the process, yet the more we practice, train our bodies and minds, and learn from the stumbles, the higher we are able to jump, and the faster we are able to clear the hurdles.
RPARC: Finally, as a panelist for The 2016 Sweet Peach Soirée, what do you most want the audience to take away from the panel discussion?
Maisha: I would like for the audience to take away that there is no right, or wrong way to heal. If it works for you, and it is healing those places that you need healed, and you feel progress, keep doing it until you no longer need to. If you realize you have come to a standstill, be easy on yourself, take a break and/or do something different, and don’t be afraid to try new methods.
I’ve learned, over time, that the thing that we are most afraid of is often the thing that unlocks the door to a new place in our healing, our continued growth and a better understanding of ourselves. In this touch-starved, highly sexualized, yet intimacy avoidant society in which we live, authentic touch, intimacy and erotic embodiment may be exactly the missing method that is needed, in order to heal around life, sex, death, sexuality, and matters of consent.
This erotic and sacred intimacy work is about remembering our human and spirit connection to one another, while also understanding society’s deep impact on our behaviors; giving us the opportunity to sift through what belongs to us and what belongs to society, so that we can heal ourselves our own way.
The gift of doing our work of healing through the integration of the energetic body and the physical body simultaneously, is to witness healing in action.