Rahma with Rose

Healing Trauma by Embracing Sacred Femininity: A Conversation with Raja Ávila

October 20, 2023 Dr. Rose Aslan / Raja Ávila Season 1 Episode 14
Healing Trauma by Embracing Sacred Femininity: A Conversation with Raja Ávila
Rahma with Rose
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Rahma with Rose
Healing Trauma by Embracing Sacred Femininity: A Conversation with Raja Ávila
Oct 20, 2023 Season 1 Episode 14
Dr. Rose Aslan / Raja Ávila

In this episode, I speak with Raja Ávila about her spiritual and healing journey that led her on a path to immersing herself in the Sufi path. Raja is a wife, mother of two boys, a feminine embodiment coach, and a Sufi spiritual healer. She is originally from Colombia, where she worked in a Fortune 100 company climbing the corporate ladder, which led to her move to Brazil. While in Brazil, Raja started her spiritual exploration on many different paths, eventually accepting Islam. Along the way, she became a yoga instructor and Ayurvedic practitioner. Her journey has inspired her to support women who seek to restore sacred femininity in their lives, helping them accept and embrace the beauty of being women, and aligning themselves with their Allah-given fitra.

Support the Show.

Find out more about Rose's work here: https://lnk.bio/dr.rose.aslan
Website: https://compassionflow.com

Support Rahma with Rose so I can keep producing more episodes here: https://www.buzzsprout.com/2197727/supporters/new

Music credits: Vocals: Zeynep Dilara Aslan; Ney/drum: Elif Önal; Tanbur: Katherine Hreib; Rebap: Hatice Gülbahar Hepsev

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Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, I speak with Raja Ávila about her spiritual and healing journey that led her on a path to immersing herself in the Sufi path. Raja is a wife, mother of two boys, a feminine embodiment coach, and a Sufi spiritual healer. She is originally from Colombia, where she worked in a Fortune 100 company climbing the corporate ladder, which led to her move to Brazil. While in Brazil, Raja started her spiritual exploration on many different paths, eventually accepting Islam. Along the way, she became a yoga instructor and Ayurvedic practitioner. Her journey has inspired her to support women who seek to restore sacred femininity in their lives, helping them accept and embrace the beauty of being women, and aligning themselves with their Allah-given fitra.

Support the Show.

Find out more about Rose's work here: https://lnk.bio/dr.rose.aslan
Website: https://compassionflow.com

Support Rahma with Rose so I can keep producing more episodes here: https://www.buzzsprout.com/2197727/supporters/new

Music credits: Vocals: Zeynep Dilara Aslan; Ney/drum: Elif Önal; Tanbur: Katherine Hreib; Rebap: Hatice Gülbahar Hepsev

Dr Rose and Raj Avila

Dr. Rose: Hey, welcome Raja Avila to Rahma with Rose. It's an absolute pleasure to have you join me today to speak about your spiritual and healing life journey. 

Raja Avila: Thank you so much for having me. I'm really excited to see what Allah makes in this episode. 

Dr. Rose: Yeah. Thank you. So let's go back to the beginning. I know you have such a fascinating story and that's why I wanted to interview you and it's very unique.

So can you tell me, when do you remember first getting interested in spirituality? 

Raja Avila: well, everything started in 2015. At this point, I was living in Brazil. I used to have a corporate job. And in Brazil, that's where my spiritual journey really started. I was seeking, and I grew up in a Catholic family.

And right there, I was,always very intrigued by the, mysticism of life. I remember since I was a kid and when I was in Brazil, I found this teacher she's originally, from the United States, but she was living in Brazil for like many years, like 20 years.

And she had this beautiful center outside of the city. I was living in Sao Paulo and she was teaching yoga meditation and how, you know, like this, the emotions affect your body and your chakras. And that's how my spiritual journey really start. I was just really seeking for something, like a deeper connection.

And that's when I started meditating. I started Practicing yoga, while I was living in Brazil, like Brazil is very, like a very diverse country. So I was like going, I went to, uh, be passing a retreat at 10 days of silence. I did it there. I also explore like, different traditions or like religions right there.

Like, they're more coming from the African like lineage. And I was just really searching. And for me, she was my teacher at the beginning, and, you know, I'm so grateful because she allowed me to see the connection, the spiritual connection, right? Like a bigger picture. I remember going to church when I was little, and I really didn't get much.

And I was always questioning many things about the religion. Like Catholic religion, right? So when I found here, it was a really great way for me to start connecting with my heart and really kind of like start connecting with that love, this divine love. From there, I remember making the dua at that point when I started my meditation and they gave me my first initiation, as they call it.

 asking Allah to just really help me to find what do you want me to do? You know, like what is my purpose in life? just right after I did that, like I was transferred to Brazil because I have a good position in one of these, big companies, a multinational companies, like a 500, you know, it's part of this big corporations, right?

 I mean, you can see how everything according to human eyes, it was so secure and settled. but I feel like that do I. It was the reason why, like, a couple months later, they happened, a big change in the company happened. and even though I was one of the top talents, I just basically, I was laid off of the company because my previous, boss was laid off and he was one of the vice presidents.

So here I am. it's like, okay, now what? Like, right, this company transferred me to Brazil. I was in this country by myself. like, didn't have any family there and with so many questions, about what do I do now? Do I go back into the corporate world? Like, do I try to start like seeking, you know, like something that is more holistic and helping people, through coaching?

Because that's what I was doing. Somehow I was helping the leadership, um,

Team of this company and with enablement and training, creating an organic, it was organizational development, basically, right? Like creating a good environment for people. and I remember I was like, okay, for now I'm going to stay here in Brazil. I finish in my courses with this teacher, right? And then we would see what Allah makes.

 then I remember that day, one day I was fasting. And you know, I was like, that was like 2015 and I was just having this deep calling in my heart to really help people to find the connection with themselves and with something higher. And at the end of the day, I remember I was fasting because I didn't know what to do.

Should I stay here in Brazil trying to find a job? Should I go back to Colombia trying to find a job? Should I go back to Colombia and start my own practice, right? And it was very clear. I saw a video on Facebook where he was talking about What I wanted to do, create that connection, you know, like help people to create that deeper connection with God.

And I was like, okay, I guess. I know what it is, what it's supposed to do right now. I went to India, then I decided, I went there to study Ayurveda, studying, like certifying in yoga, learning more about herbs and holistic, like basically healing, right? Because that's what I want to incorporate in my own practice.

 there I explore like Hinduism. Sikhism too, I met my former husband right there. Then I came to the U. S. He was American at that point. I was living in Boston. We started an Ayurvedic holistic practice where I was doing the treatments and, using, you know, like the spiritual aspect to it.

But it's so interesting is that I always even, for example, I was in Hinduism for a while. I always pray to one God. For me, always it was like, okay, about one God, about the different deities or, like that they have is like, for me, it's just one, right? even this one, you're supposed to call for, I don't know, prosperity and this one for, other things.

I always really believed it's just one God. And that's what I always, in all the different religions that I kind of like explore, I always found about that. then I came to the U. S. as, and I started practicing more linguisticism. That is interesting because it's They also believe in one God, right?

They use a different book. They, don't use the Quran and they have many different practices that are very similar, right? Like doing something for 40 days. this was more like taiku, the type of yoga that I was practicing. I was practicing Kundalini and I became certified instructor. And in that moment I remember like being that the tool that also helped me to go through my divorce.

 so that's what really helped me and then I found, Islam and I remember like always in my prayers since the first day that I made that dua, I always ask Allah, you just use me, guide me. What do you want from me? Right? what is, what do you want? And when I started learning about Islam, I never thought, to be honest, even to think about like, you know, becoming Muslim, to be honest, on one side.

On the other side, I remember when I was little, I always had this, I don't know, like vision or dream or it's like, oh, I wish I was born in one of these, Middle East countries, I don't know why it was something about that, like somehow it was kind of like connected with my heart, but, And here I am, when I started like learning about Islam and really, for me make a lot of sense because as I said, I grew up in a Catholic, path or religion and, knowing about the prophets and all the different things.

It's kind of like a way home somehow. And on the other side, I was very lucky to find, and I'm so grateful. That the teachers that, and this was also one of my duos, right? I became Muslim and that was Covid. And now I was like, Allah please guide me to my teachers, because I have been always someone that like to have a mentor or a teacher, right?

Like It has been really important for me, so I made that du'a, I remember the first Ramadan, that was COVID, and subhanAllah, here I am, I found this group, right? Like, where a lot of people are converts, and where I was able to speak my own language, right?

 like the things that I learned about this and other paths, it didn't feel weird to talk about, because it's people that can relate to me. And at the same time, it just opened my eyes to this amazing, I don't know how I can describe it, maybe environment, no, it's not environment, this amazing, concept of Islam.

What is really Islam? Right, we have the Sharia, we have, like the Tassawa, we have, the Tariqa, all the different practices, and the more that I learn, it seems that Is everything is so connected, like the sooner it's just like, they really when you started paying attention to all these things you can say, you cannot say that this is kind of like something that it was created randomly.

Right, is like everything is so precise like everything they have a deeper meaning. So, I'm just so fascinated, like how I can see how all a lot just create everything you know like tied together and. Everything is there. Everything is there. so that's basically in a very short way how I can describe my story.

Dr. Rose: Yeah. Yeah. Thank you for sharing. It's fascinating that you came from this Catholic family in Colombia to. to Brazil where you experienced kind of new age Hindu, Buddhist philosophies and spiritualities, then to India to learn Ayurveda and yoga, and then to the U S where then, you found Sufism and Islam, what a journey, really.

Thank you for sharing. It's fascinating to hear how people ended up in similar paths, but in such a different route. So, really fascinating. Would you say that, and it sounds like it, that your healing path is very parallel to your spiritual path? 

Raja Avila: A hundred percent. A hundred percent, like, Before I actually started my, I guess it started at the same time, a journey of self development. I would say it was very in parallel with my spiritual journey, right? I started taking like coaching certifications, And then you have all these questionnaires, right?

Like, when they ask you about, reflect about your weaknesses and blah, blah, blah, all the different things, right? So, like, at the same, it was happening at the same time. And when I started, tasting, I would say, some, God in a different way, right? Like, there is more, from the heart, you can feel his presence.

 I think that's when I was aware that it was something else that I needed to do to look in myself, to break patterns, to heal maybe generations from my family, and it has been hand and hand, you know, like,  it's all connected. I cannot say That my healing had been happening without God because this is even I remember before even I started like getting deeper into the spiritual path.

I remember in Colombia, I was going to a therapist, but it was a therapy that she was working with the angels at that point. So it was something in my soul that always was looking for that connection. And I can tell you right now that The healing that has been happening, it has been directly connected with my connection with God.

Yeah. Can 

Dr. Rose: you tell me more about your pre 2015 life? It sounds like you went to this therapist who works with angels. I don't know what that means exactly. I'm curious about that. But tell me, you know, growing up in Columbia, I'm sure most of our listeners don't know much about what was, what's the Catholic tradition like? did you have any spiritual experiences as a young child or did it really How did you start at this point in your life? 

Raja Avila: well, I grew up, I am the oldest from, you know, like my family I mean, I have a younger sister and three half brothers. so I grew up going to the church, especially, Eastern.

 I just go there and you just go and repeat all the prayers very, like, robotic. But I never had this, like, fulfilling experience. However, I do remember, like, they're, like, in Colombia they have, like, this group, like, called, like, Christians. Like, they're different than Catholics, and they have, like, a lot of devotional songs, right?

So, like, you would go to a place, it doesn't have to be a church, and you just, sing and praise God or Jesus at that point, right? And I always remember, I really enjoyed that, it was something it was more, like, nourishing. so, I would say I went to college.

I studied international business. As I said, I was really, I feel I'm very focused, maybe on the dunia, you know, like, what is your career? What do you want to do for life? like all these things that, you know, sometimes you. Think about what do I want to achieve in this life, right?

 I would say I was lucky to just, like, give me an opportunity to taste that environment, and even I wasn't, I was a manager to at some point, right? Like a very small taste of all of that for me to see that this is not what I wanted in my life. Yeah. Right. I remember like since I was little, I always wanted this deeper connection with God.

And that's what I was saying, like for me, the Catholic path or religion, I never really understood why you have to go and confess. with a priest, right? Like why I couldn't talk directly to God. For me, that never made sense. and I remember I told him, I was telling my mom, you know, like, I don't agree with this.

It doesn't make sense for me. so I think this is basically how it was. Then I, Talking about the angels, what you were, asking me is, I think Colombia, I don't know if other countries in South America, but there's this connection with the angels, with the archangels, right? Like, where you use them as a guides to, right?

So I remember, I started getting into they will sell like this kind of like imagine like tarot cards but like an oracle you know with the different angels and then you are ask questions and it will be like oh the archangel Gabriel or whatever right like they that's what they're trying to say to you so that was like a very for me like a way that I feel I started getting You know, like, more connected, with God, but, that's how basically that started.

But as I said, I had a life that I always say when people ask me, Oh, did you miss maybe drinking? I was like, I think. In my short life, I did plenty of that, you know what I mean? I was, that now I don't even miss that anymore, you know, like it was just when I think about my life, it feels that I have like three lives in this life.

It's like when I think back and sometimes, you know, when I look at my pictures at that time, I'm like, oh my god, I cannot believe that was me, right? And now I'm just even here, Even sometimes teaching about Islam, and what does Islam really means, right? So it's interesting and funny at the same time.

Dr. Rose: Yeah, I mean, it's a fascinating background that you have and to have lived these different experiences is really rich and I think it's beneficial for people to hear your story because it's not typical to hear going from angel, you know, working with angels and Ayurveda and all of this to a different spiritual path.

So, I'd love to know because you are a healer, you said you've, trained in Ayurvedic medicine, yoga, and numerous other modalities. I'd love to hear more about these modalities and which one resonate the most and how you've integrated them into your life. 

Raja Avila: I would say, from all the different modalities that I have been, using in my life. I was in meditation and yoga for a couple years, like very intense, like all in, right, like basically that I would do my yoga practice every day, you know, like my meditation or bread work every day. and that helped me a lot, however, and Ayurveda too, it's all this holistic. Type of, modalities, right? But when I found Islam and I started studying with, Institute of Spiritual Healing of the University of Sufism, that's when it was like a big opening for me. When I was meditating a couple of times, I would have visions or like, feelings of like, this is happening or awareness, clear awareness, or this is a pattern that I'm repeating or Allah is bringing this for, me.

To work it out or whatever, but it feels that it was the type of the iceberg. When I found, when I started practicing, Islam and basically just bring, and this is what I have been studying for the last, since 2020, three years, I guess. It really is, I feel a lot takes you very deep. The beautiful thing about this is that he is the healer.

I am not the healer. Right. You just use certain practices for you to, I mean, as a healer to make sure that you can be a clear vessel to transmit or like to just guide that person. But at the end of the day, it's not about me doing the work. It's Allah who is doing the work. So like you use different recitative, different prayers, surahs from the Quran, or you use the divine name.

That's why I'm so passionate about the divine names. Because for me, it was in a sense, it's like a way. The divine names on my vicar, I feel like they replace my meditation practice. So, for me, it has been really explore, like, Like open up like a different perspective for me, because when I was before, when I was practicing Ayurveda, you know, like you can give the recommendations and you can give some lifestyle changes and you can give some asanas on all the different things.

One of the main challenges that I, oh no challenges, like the main issues that I found is that people get sick because there is also an emotional component. That at the end and manifesting in the body as a symptom of something else, right? It's all this is connected. It's not just, Oh, this is, they're no different boxes.

So I remember at that point, I was like, okay, I can help this person. I can see, okay, this person has like a bad time balance. You know, that's just talking from, in terms of Ayurvedic terms. Okay. I can give her the food. I can give her the food. I can give her some yoga asana that can be helpful. I can give some herbs.

But if that person doesn't work on a situation, maybe, or a trauma, or something that is deeper inside of that person, or the other things will take too much longer, right, to be resolved. And it's like kind of like trying to, empty a pocket when it's something that you have a hole in the pocket and the other side you have a, feature that is filling that bucket with water, if that makes sense.

Yeah. So that was me when, when that's for me, that's why it was so interesting to know about this, really getting into the emotional piece of what is happening, you know, why this is manifesting in your life. And this is actually happening to me right now too. Every time that I get sick, I ask Allah, okay, what is the deeper meaning?

What are you trying to tell me if I am not seeing right, right now? With this even, I don't know, I have a style. what is the meaning of this? Oh, maybe I'm looking, I have been so angry for the last couple of days or it's some anger issue that is happening, you know, like there is, I truly believe that is always something. that I feel like allies trying to tell us right allies. Hey, pay attention to this and sometimes we don't pay attention until we get sick, right? So is that connection? I feel like this is, I can add some a couple of things from maybe bread work or other things, you know, like, or like yoga or herbs.

But I feel like a big component is the spiritual healing is like, what is happening in your heart, right? Like, deeper in your heart that this is manifesting right now. 

Dr. Rose: Can you tell me more about the spiritual healing? cause I think this could be a term that's used very broadly. So in your specific context and based on where you train, what does this look like? What does it entail? 

Raja Avila: Yeah. So basically you start, they call it with an alignment. And with an alignment means the healer in this case, for example, myself, I just make sure that I am in alignment with God, with Allah. You do certain practices to purify yourself. You do Tauba. you really imagine yourself bowing to Allah.

Like, this is not about me, you guide me, right? So you do an interview for the person, like, okay, I don't know, I'm having this issue, whatever. And then you use Dhikr, basically, right? and divine names. So, to see What is there? So you can, for example, alpha tau, right? And then you just really guide the person to tell you, okay, it is something that is happening for you, maybe any visions and images, colors, whatever it is, right?

And the person will decide, like telling you, you also as a healer, for example, in my case, I tend to sometimes feel like we have some guidance more like through my, body. You know, and I asked the person, I say, okay, and just having a sense that maybe this is happening, or like this word, right, I might, whatever comes during the session, and the person say, oh, yeah, this is related or is not related, or like, you know, like, oh, yeah, that makes sense.

And basically, you as a healer, you just hold the space doing, they prayer, basically, and asking Allah to just help this person to see what he wants from them, right? So you use the divine names normally you use, they call the, the feeling sense pattern.

This is like, basically the person would say, okay, this, I'm feeling this feels like a, fist in my body. Okay, let's see. Maybe as a lie, he can open. What does he mean that feels right? So we do alpha time together and see what allow opens, you know, for you and the person with I actually tell you.

So it's not very much like a very structured process because you just go with what allies showing for that person. Right? And you might receive some, you know, like, maybe you have some inspirations to. To tell that person, okay, maybe recite this divine name or like read about this like, it's, very kind of like, in a collaboration environment, right?

Like, where you just basically ask Allah to just come and use you to just basically ask questions, help this person, open the vision that, you know, the basir, the Sameer. For this person to be able to see, but you as a healer, you are just a vessel. So you need to make sure that you are, it's not coming from you, it's coming directly from Allah.

There are also other practices that you can use that are like, you know, like that you use certain prayers, right? for example, like different surahs. And to help her, to help a person to just clear some pictures that they have about a specific scenario. So then the person is like, Oh, now I can see this.

This situation actually mean this, but it's not something very fixed, right? and this is also what I use a lot of the somatic approach, where it's like, okay, what is your body telling you? it's not about the mind, I should do this, I know I should do that.

No, this is not the space to, oh, I know I have to do this. No, it's like, what is really there? what is really happening? let's honor that because that's the remedy, right? that's, if you can wanna say that's the sickness and that's the remedy at the same time.

We need to look at those places that maybe sometimes we don't want to look and, you're just inviting Allah to help you and, you know, like, we know, when we're in those really, places where we feel broken, that's when our close is closer to God. Because we are so need of him, right In that moment where we feel like everything is going wrong, that we don't know, the reason behind this, and we just like, maybe we just feel hopeless, right?

Mm-hmm. And he's like, okay, just show me what it is. it's like I'm tired. I don't know what is this all about, but that requires some, a big sincerity. And this is actually something that I encourage people to do because, sometimes I feel like for some reason we feel that we need to hide things from Allah and we don't verbalize, but He knows everything and He's just waiting for us to verbalize this, Thanks.

Peace. And asking for his help because that way he was like, free will, we don't ask for his help in this specific scenario. He was not going to come and help us, you know, until we give that permission until we feel that neediness of him. 

Dr. Rose: Yeah, that's beautiful. I mean, really what you're talking about is the need for presence for noticing and the remedy is within us and with reliance on the divine, really, and it's so simple yet humans are so good at complicating.

Life, aren't we? Like, we're just excellent at that and making things harder than they seem, but you really simplify and boil it down to really, practical way to approach it. would you be willing to share maybe one or two challenges you've experienced in your life and how did you get through them?

 what tools did you immediately, draw upon? What did you do to get through these challenges, whatever they are?


Raja Avila: well, I would say the first one that comes to mind, it was, about safety. andI have PTSD from different, things that happened in my childhood, physical abuse, sexual abuse, all the different things that I didn't even know that they were stuck in me. I was not even aware.

 And that's what I was saying, it came up when I started, studying this methodology, what type of healing, I guess, Allah just brought those, all these things into the surface. It was like, no, I couldn't hide from distance anymore. And I think it was also related to not.

I mean, my dad passed away when I was 10, and I feel like this, having this lack of, a masculine or like a protective, figure in my life that led me to just be very independent, right? I can do everything on my own. I don't need anyone. I very type A personality.

That's when I was working in a corporate job because I can do everything, right? I don't need anyone. and that was one thing that it just came up to me and I did what I remember I went to this place, here in the United States called the Farm of Peace for a Samuiya retreat, and it took me 15 days, to just be there, basically kind of like in silence and with Allah, and I was able to see So how much fear, right?

to even like, to open myself to love, it was there. How many layers of, protection, I just put in front of me, how many layers I was putting in front of my heart. but in the deepest place in my heart, it was also this longing to be loved. I just didn't know how to, because I was doing something for many years, right?

Like you need to be strong, you need to be independent, It was very difficult. So it was like, how I do this, right? And the more that I start like cultivating that relationship with Allah, and feeling that safety and that he has been there. And that means that going, sometimes going into those places or those moments where I felt, where all these things happening and being able to see Allah in those moments.

Help me a lot, you know, like, okay, this happened for a reason, like this, I can see now the wisdom. It doesn't mean that was not painful, right? Because we are not taking now. It's not like it's one thing or the other, right? But it was really like, okay, I can see it now. I can see it a lot. Why this happening this way?

Right, so I guess this is one of the first thing, suddenly feeling that safety and, that's actually why at some point I designed a journal where it has, the different steps of what I was doing, you know, just ask Allah for forgiveness for whatever you see, you know, like, maybe something that I did wrong in the past, right?

 or I just realized I made a mistake asking Allah for that forgiveness and then, connecting, I don't know. what is my heart needing right now? Okay, it needs that safety. let me use some of these divine names that are going to help me to bring that safety.

So is it just using Allah, to fill those gaps? I didn't feel safe. Okay. Let me bring a line to that picture. It doesn't happen overnight, but we need to be aware of what is the need, right? I feel betrayed. Okay. Let me see what the divine name that can help me to just feel that I wasn't, you know, like that can fill that gap.

So I wouldn't say this is of one of them. one of the times, the second one. 

Dr. Rose: Can I stop you for one second, Reja? I would love to ask you, because for me, finding safety, learning to find safety within has been one of the key components for my healing journey. Can you describe to me, how do you know when you're safe? What does safety feel like to you? I'm curious. This is important for other people to hear this as well. 

Raja Avila: Yeah. Well, one thing that I know is I first is I need to make sure that I in my body that I didn't let my body, right? Because I think from people that has been in situations or with PTSD or we tend to leave our body, right?

 we shut down or, how we associate. Yeah. So, okay, let me. Be in my body, right? Like, how I do that with the breathing, right? If I am like, very anxious and like, maybe I'm having a panic attack, just for the sake of example, I am not in my body, right? I'm just like, with my emotions and I'm not thinking clearly, right?

So, the first thing is be, make sure that I am in my body, right? Something also that I found very useful is when you are in that moment, make sure that you move. Like physically move, like walking, not just be in one place, just sitting, because there is this, what is the name?

It's a neuroscientist that he talks about this, like how people with trauma, when you start, like, actually walking or moving or in a bicycle, that help them to just feel there is hope. It's like moving forward. Something happened with the eyes. I don't remember exactly. So, this is, okay, so it's like a reality check.

Okay, I am in my body. Okay, is this situation is really dangerous? or it's an association of something that happened in the past. So like this reality check, does this really mean that this person is really going to do something really bad? because for me, I did notice that I might be reacting to something, but it's not the situation that is happening right now.

It's just... Like the response that I'm having from something that happened in the past, right? So it's like do that. And also asking myself, is this real? And sometimes that's what I feel like it goes with this. it's like honoring what are you feeling, but at the same time challenging, what are you feeling?

is this really real? Is this really means that this person is gonna, I don't know, I am in danger of my life, right? Or it's just a reaction, So when I feel that is like, okay, what do I need right now? That's the other step. what is the need, oh, maybe I need to be heard.

 I need to express myself, but maybe I just get very upset because I don't know how to do it and just I start like screaming and blah, blah, blah, right? So it's like, what is the need? Okay, this is what I need right now. And of course, you need to make sure that the person that you are dealing with or the scenario you're dealing with, as I said, is not something that you feel like, okay, they're gonna, It hurt me like physically.

 and also I feel if you're talking in a relationship, it goes back and forth of creating a safety connection between both of you so that and that for this thing, and there are two big components. The first thing is, being able to be vulnerable and at the same time being able to have self responsibility both ways.

Right, so that means if I'm making a mistake, or if I made a mistake, or I overreacted, because I was just reacting as a response of my own trauma, I would say, sorry, I know I overreacted, right? I made a mistake. However... So this is how I'm feeling and this make, this makes me feel like this. I will appreciate, for example, I know this is my trigger.

I know this. You take responsibility, right? I know this is my trigger. You don't have to resolve it, but you can help me maybe doing this. In the meantime, I will continue working in that, and for me, in the way that this has been very helpful is thicker. It's like, okay, Allah, I just noticed this is the response of what I respond for whatever happened like many years ago, what I needed at that point.

I needed to feel safe. I needed to be loved. So let me call, Al Wudud. Let me call, Al Hafiz, what is the divine name? And just do that dhikr over and over. until it happens. Allah, Allah grant the healing. I experienced this in my life. Then you just suddenly start feeling, Oh, you know what?

I just feel, like more safe, so I think this is a big component. And also, sometimes for you to notice where is like, They call it the Mujahadah, right? Mujahadah? this battle, right? That when it's like, okay, I'm afraid, right? Like this moment, like for example, and this happened to me once.

Dr. Rose: Like Jihad and Nafs, like struggle of the self, you mean? Yes. 

Raja Avila: So I remember that time I was like working on the safety issue for so long. I'm still like working on it, it's not a hundred percent like gone, right? Just to be honest. but I remember this time I was like, okay, Allah, it was this conversation happening in this room and I was outside of the room and I knew Allah was asking me to go inside of that room.

I was sweating. I was like, I don't want to go into this room. I don't know what I'm going to say. I don't know, but I know I need to step into this room. And I was like, yeah, Allah, I know you are not leaving me alone. I know that you are my protector. I'm going to step into this room because I know you are asking me this.

I don't know how this is going to turn out, right? And basically just imagine that you were like saying to Allah, you just please catch me, I don't know what's going to happen. And I just went into that room and it was an opportunity for a beautiful healing, so I feel like for me, if you can just put it in one word, It's really having that reliance on Allah for safety and not in yourself.

Dr. Rose: Fawakkil, yeah, so beautiful. 

Raja Avila: Completely on the design. Because I feel like it's so much you can do, to protect yourself, But it lies beyond that, So it's really about okay Allah, I'm just asking, I'm calling upon you to be my protector. And even if you're in a situation that you don't feel safe, it's going to help you to see, it's going to take care of the situation, or it's going to help you to actually realizing that maybe you are not in danger.

 And it's just a reaction of your own trauma. So, but for me has been just that has been the key just. Being honest, with myself, okay, I'm overreacting, not overreacting, this is a response from my trauma, it's not, and always calling upon Allah. But just help me to see the truth.

Dr. Rose: Now, this is really profound, Raja, because a lot of us might have read and been exposed to mainstream discussion of trauma, healing, and finding safety, but the added dimension that is useful for Muslims to hear of how do you bring in the Islamic wisdom, spiritual wisdom within Islam that has healing powers within it.

So kind of combining the two approaches, both the spiritual tradition and the Western, knowledge and experiences is really beautiful to wed them together. That's essentially what you're describing and what a beautiful approach that is. I think be very helpful for other people to learn about this method.

And, there's a lot of, healing in it. It sounds like. 

Raja Avila: Yeah. Alhamdulillah. As I said, I'm just. And this is actually my intention, and even before I came, here to talk to you, I was like, ya Allah, just help me to transmit what you think is going to be more beneficial for your ummah right now, right? And I know safety, as you mentioned, is a big topic. And from my experience, I feel like, and from what I, heard with other women when I was, working with women, there is this difficulty of seeing Allah as merciful, or Allah maybe is more like a fear base. And Astaghfirullah. And that's a veil that maybe we have that doesn't help us to connect deeper or ask for that help, right?

To ask for Allah in those moments that end up being on self reliance. Oh, I need to do it myself, right? Because it's so much shame or it's so much fear about connecting with Allah that I cannot bring a line to the picture, right? But he already knows. But it really is suddenly changing those old beliefs that we have about our relationship with Allah.

Of course, there is a space where there are certain boundaries that Allah set up for us, that is that you don't do these things, right? And we need, sometimes even, we don't even need to, From my point of view, it's like, okay, if you're telling me to do this, you know better than me, why?

 Okay, I'm just gonna trust, not even gonna question, That's more like the chariot, right? at the same time, it requires, a deeper trust and deeper surrendering to knowing, Bowing to him and say, I don't know, and I cannot figure this out on my own and your healer, your therapist, whoever he shows you when you made that sincere dua is going to be the right person is going to be the right person.

Dr. Rose: Yeah, no, I think this is why I so resonate with your work and I really appreciate connecting with you because, having this love, compassion based approach to Islam, to knowing the divine is unfortunately not common enough. Right? And that's why I just love your teachings and what you have to offer.

One of the final things I wanted to ask you about and to hear and to let the listeners hear about is I was really touched by your work with women specifically. I know you're in a hiatus right now because you have an infant, who you're preoccupied with. but usually you're often working and building communities of healing for women, which is very similar to what I do, which is how we connected.

I'd love to you talk a lot about the feminine and this. Compassionate approach to Islam. So please tell me more about that. I think it's very important for women to hear different perspectives and approaches to understanding, reconnecting with our feminine. 

Raja Avila: Yeah. so I help women to connect with the fitra. That's how the essence, and also showing and teaching them about the beauty of being a woman that is already in us. It comes effortless. But unfortunately with society, it feels that has been changed, where society is asking us to be more in our masculine, and that's what society values.

And it's oh, being Staphylola, being a woman you don't have anything to offer. Right, like being compassionate, right? It's not being like being, for example, if you decide to be at your house and just taking care of your children and just, oh, there's no value in that, if you're not making money and you don't have to say all these degrees, like, society has been telling us that and we are bombarded by this, right?

So a lot of women, they feel like, oh, I'm not worthy because I don't have a degree. I'm not worthy if I don't do it. Producing, right? this is the capitalism, The mentality. So, however, we have so many beautiful things. And this is what I tell women multiple times. If you think about creation, right?

Allah made men and women, but Allah give us a womb. The womb is the only place from where creation can manifest into this dunya. And I just am in chills right now. can you think about this for a moment? Allah give us this trust. As women to embody his creation. And if you, for example, you're not even able to have, maybe kids, it's not just bringing life like a human being is what you can bring from that is from that place of being creative because women has this is, like our womb is our place of creativity.

 And that's a beautiful thing. Why he didn't give it to men. So I want people to think about this for a moment, and I know a lot of conversations that are happening in the Muslim community is about, Oh, my God, I cannot pray, you know, I feel, it's like something really bad, because I am in my cycle. No, this is something that has been like, I feel like society has been just making like a something shameful.

When it's not, actually, there is a wisdom in that, and there's a big conversation, but when you think about the different cycles that you go through, like in each menstrual cycle and the hormones that change, there is a profound, actually, in the moment that when you have your cycle and your menstruation, for example, it's a beautiful moment where you are very connected and aligned, intuitive with Allah, because you are in this place of kind of this cocoon, right?

 you are like,hibernating. and he gave us this chance to what happened. I feel is like society is so busy right now. And it's not that society is not telling us about these things enough that we feel that we need to be more like a man to be value in this world. And this is coming from a place where I was in that situation.

So that's what gave me the inspiration to start like teaching women about. What is the beauty of being a woman? what is the beauty of also being in a relationship that inshallah you will find out also a great partner that you can be in this divine, communion,where there is the masculine and the feminine in, you know, like flowing, right?

It's a compliment. And I feel this is what's happening. as women, we are bombarded with this idea that we have to have all the different hats. You have to be a great professional. You have to also be a mom, but you have to do all the different things. And we're not taking anything out of our plate.

And that's why we are like feeling so overwhelmed and burnt out. So it requires from, I can tell from my own experience, like the more that I have been able to connect with my feminine to be soft instead of being tough. To be gentle in bed instead of being strong. It has been so much profound in my own life and I can see it now in my kids.

And I remember someone, I don't know, I'm not 100 percent sure about this, but I think someone once said to me, there is a Hadith or something that say that it, or something like that. It requires more effort to be tough than to be gentle. Something like that. I don't remember exactly what it was, but it's so true.

 for you to be gentle in this society, it requires more effort to be tough. It does what society is telling us. You need to be a strong, you need to do this, you know, like you need to put on your guards, right? So a woman cannot relax. And even when you think about our physical body, and the men's body, women need to be able to receive that masculine presence in their life.

And, when we're even just thinking about your physical body, we're all, designed to receive that masculine in our lives. there is on the other side, there is a piece that needs to be, acknowledged and it's all maybe the abuse and things that has been happening for many years. and it's acknowledging that and at the same time, like healing that.

And when I say healing, that is means, forgiving someone or forgiving something. It doesn't mean that what happened, it was right. But you just realize that this is not serving us anymore, right? And you don't want to keep repeating those patterns. Or if you have children, my children have been something that have been really giving me the inspiration, for me to kind of like work on those patterns that I see from my family, and I can see it from my lineage, 

It's oh my god, this is happening, the same thing is happening here. I need to cut this. So they can have a better life. So women, if we think about this, we have so much stuff, we have so much power, right, in us. We can change the generations that are coming forward. It's not easy to do the work.

It's not easy by any means, and it's hard, that's why we need community of women, we need community, we need support, we need, healers, we need, like different people in your circle that are going to support you because you are not meant to do this alone.

Previous times you used to live in a community where you have this group of women, we don't have that anymore, we are living in so many different places, we, in cities, we don't have that anymore. So my intention is like when I was teaching about this, connecting with your feminine is to really just inshallah for you to live in a sacred union, maybe, and even if you're not in a relationship.

It's like when you just come home that you can, you have access to that peace where you can relax, where you can enjoy, where you just can be, where you can be in your heart, that you don't have to be all the time in your mind just thinking, okay, what is next? Because that's the more like the masculine traits.

Allah lives in the moment. Allah lives in the heart. And even when you make dua, that's a feminine quality, right? it's like this pure devotion, pure like surrendering, right? When it's coming from here, from the heart. And I feel like, women, we need more of that. And men too, like we have, this, presence of the masculine and feminine traits, in each of us.

But for women, I specifically work with women because, it's easier for us, to access to this, to these, qualities. And at the same time, I see how society is not in favor of us. And it's actually chaiming us, in those gifts that are natural for a woman, are somehow is forcing us to be more like men when there is, when we don't have to be like men, you know what I mean?

It's a perfect creation. That's why Allah make men and women, right? That's why he said this in the Quran would say that he created men and women to just to live in compassion with one another because it's a complement. That means both need to do the work. And as I said, and that's what I feel in any relationship is like, if we want a relationship to work, what is my piece?

And I need, it's okay, you are showing me this about myself. I take responsibility. I work on this, we work together. To create this harmony. Yeah. 

Dr. Rose: Thank you, Raja. That's very helpful. And I think especially cause sometimes when people hear the discussion about feminine and masculine, they might think, and women who are professional might think, Oh, you mean I have to stay at home?

And that's not what you're saying at all. And I think the way you put it is really makes sense. It doesn't matter if you work outside the home or don't. I think any woman can really find more softness in her life. she can do what she needs to do to make a living and support her family. But at the end of the day, she can also remember to stop and smell the roses and to pause and to be present more.

Right. And this is very close to the feminine. 

Raja Avila: Well, one thing that I wanted to mention to that point is like a woman that is connected with their feminine. She knows when she needs to stop and recharge. Yeah. She can get out, she can go out to the world and then offer what she needs to offer too.


Dr. Rose: She knows herself. She knows herself. 

Raja Avila: Yeah. And that's a hadith, right? 

Dr. Rose: Yeah. she who knows herself knows her God, as I changed the pronouns for that. it's maybe not an actual hadith, but it's often attributed as a hadith. Yeah. Yeah. as we wrap up, Radha, this has been a really moving conversation.

In fact, it's so moving that I've been feeling it within my body, as you've spoken, I've noticed that different sensations come up in my body. I'm curious, what have you noticed? what sensations have come up for you during our conversation? 

Raja Avila: I just feel like there is an urgency, I guess. That's what is coming up of sharing about this. more and more, because I feel like we need to talk more about these topics and at the same time is some excitement to be here. and I'm just trying kind of like, how I can make it this very, precise or concise that also have some depth at the same time, if that makes sense.

 but I feel this is something that definitely, as women, we need to talk more about this, how does it look in our lives, where are we disconnecting from our bodies, where are we rejecting our feminine, how this is impacting our children, how this, if you're married, how this is impacting your marriage, what is the fear behind?

Yeah. Of connecting with your feminine. What is the fear to connecting with the true essence, with the fitra that Allah gave you? And working on those fears at the end of the day, right? Because and working with Allah, right? Asking Allah for his hope to help you to heal those places. 

Dr. Rose: Thank you. you answered the question. I was just about to ask you to sports chat. I was just going to ask if you can leave with a piece of wisdom. I think you just gave us, would you say this beautiful piece of wisdom, that listeners can sit with and process as they complete this podcast? would you say that? 

Raja Avila: Yeah. Yeah. They said my invitation for us is just to, or for anyone that is listening to this is what is coming up for me is the Rumi quote, where the light comes in where the crack, what is it exactly? It is like, Oh dear, you're 

Dr. Rose: putting me on the spot. Yes. Well, okay. Where the light comes in through the crack is where the healing is. Something like 

Raja Avila: that. Yeah. And this is what it is, this is the opportunity. Yeah. And if you have children. maybe use them as an inspiration. If you want to see a better world, just imagine you are forming this new generation. It's mostly in your hands. You know what you can give them. And when someone in the lineage heals something, if you heal something, you will help to heal the generations forward and the generations behind.

And you have that ability right now. And find your tribe. Find your tribe, find your, women that are uplifting you, that are able to hold you, but at the same time telling you the truth when you need to be called out. I feel like that's someone you. We can be someone that you deeply trust that, this person is telling me, okay, you need to think about this is not telling you not telling me because she wants or he wants to attack me, whoever it is, but just really be if you are afraid to be. Vulnerable. Start being vulnerable with Allah. 

Dr. Rose: Yeah. Start being vulnerable with Allah. That's profound. Thank you. Raja, before this meeting, or before our conversation, I had told you, I was like running around, doing a million different things, and my mind was in Many places and I was definitely in my masculine and throughout the course of this conversation.

I've come back to myself and my presence and you've been able to remind me to come back to the now and to my feminine and just being in this conversation has reminded me and I think it also can do the same for other listeners. So, with much gratitude. Thank you so much for this enriching conversation.

Raja Avila: Thank you so much for having me was a pleasure. And, As you mentioned, I am kind of like in a break. but if it's anything, like people would like to know more about this they can reach out to me. I guess mostly my emails. even my Instagram, I haven't posted for a while.

I am in that phase that I just want to be pressing, like fully with it. But, I would be happy, maybe at some point. Soon I will be doing something like, maybe online, but I cannot promise anything. 

Dr. Rose: yeah. But... Saying you're feminine. Yes. Flowing. Wonderful. I will include your email in the show notes. So if people are interested in reaching out to you, they can still reach you by email the slow way. And it's the beautiful way too.