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The Intention To Heal, by Octavia Raheem

The theme continues with vulnerability. For those of you who don’t know Octavia Raheem, she is a gifted teacher, friend, mentor, and beautiful person inside and out. We are lucky to have her in our community. Octavia will also be a regular face of the Atlanta Yoga scene. I am happy to share her wisdom about  her intention to heal. Octavia, take it away my friend!…

healing heart

Last year was uncomfortable, to say the very least. I started the year with one word as my intention: healing. The innocence of setting such an intention: to heal.

Somewhere inside, I must have known. That healing requires an examination of wounds, a deep probing of how a wound came to be.

Over the course of the year, this intention would call forth memories that I didn’t want to claim: snapshots glazed over with violent textures, a twisted hunger, and the quiet rage of my childhood.

Almost daily I would end up tracing scars with my finger, those tiny points on a worn map whose direction would bring me right back to the first time that my love was crumpled up, spit on, and discarded. To early feelings of being a misfit Queen in my hometown where conformity was King.  To tripping over my own dreams and falling into someone else’s nightmare. To the exact moment and chair I was sitting in when I forced myself to forget my father’s birthday because I realized he didn’t remember mine. The journeys through time and space were endless. And they were indiscriminate, they showed up when, where, and however they wanted to.

Mental challenges in meditation

Places that I had once found solace- my yoga mat and sitting for meditation would become littered with aches, pains, and bruised thoughts parading through my mind. I would like to say that in spite of all this, I kept practicing. The truth is that sometimes I would roll out my mat, lie on it and sleep. And no, I wasn’t in extended savasana. I was straight up sleeping.  I ended up thinking about meditating more than I meditated by the end of last year.

In the midst of all this, some of the people who I would normally consult as “trusted” mentors and guides- I started to see the beautiful and wisely sewn stitches in their costumes unravel. Their masks vanished, showing eyes filled with crooked intentions and lips that didn’t like the taste of truth.

One of the most vibrant sweet spirited women I knew died. Just like that.  It was the clearest brightest morning when she died. Her passing gave new meaning to “life is not promised” and increased my own sense of urgency to heal so that I could live fully.

Around June of last year the gravity and weight of this intention floored me.  I went to my doctor and discovered that a condition that I had been assiduously managing through natural, “alternative” and holistic means was not getting better.

The irony, here was not lost. It was in fact, pervasive and all around.

Last year was my year of healing and so much that had seemed unbreakable, cracked. What seemed steady and held together fell apart. Tried and true “medicines” and practices stopped providing sustenance.

I supposed things shattered, so I could see what was really there. I believe that things started to fall apart, so I could get to what’s at the center. I’m still working on that.

Child's pose

I realized that  the old “medicine” and practices just couldn’t sustain  me on the portion of the path that I found myself on. (More on this later.)

One truth that slowly dawned on me was this: that to heal is to reveal, to bring to the light. Healing, I discovered requires a radical acceptance of what actually is. To even begin the process, I was forced to sit with reality- all hues, shapes, and forms of it. I wish that I could say with resolution, that at the end of 2012 – my year of healing- I came to some place of wholeness and wellness that I didn’t know existed.

That’s not what happened.

Instead, the year closed, almost without my knowing it. As I prayed for strength and recommitted to stay open to all that is being revealed, so that I can clearly see my pathway to healing and have the courage to stay the course.

-Octavia Raheem


Octavia Raheem

Octavia teaches at Atlanta Hot Yoga and co-leading their 200 Hour Teacher Training program.

14 Responses to “The Intention To Heal, by Octavia Raheem”

  1. Gina says:

    Thank you for sharing your heart, Octavia. Your courage and spirit are beautiful and inspiring. May we all come back into wholeness, having the willingness to begin to seek and to know, as you have.

  2. Elaine Burghoffer says:

    Poetic and powerful. Thank you so much for sharing. Namaste.

  3. Marlysa says:

    Thank you for sharing Octavia. You share so beautifully and so authentically. Thank you for teaching and being part of this community

  4. Octavia says:

    I seriously went back and forth a few times—-“should I share this, should I not?” Then, I realized part of the journey is the telling along the way. Thank you all for wrapping your heart strings around this one.

  5. Kemiko says:

    Poignant, authentic, powerful! My first thoughts.
    I am so thankful for you Octavia! You r pure love!!
    Your words here help all of us who read this post take a step
    towards our healing. Deep thanks for sharing
    your heart, with the world!

  6. Octavia,
    You are amazing! Thank you for sharing your gifts so courageously with the world!

    • Octavia says:

      You have inspired me beyond words. You have done so much to expand the vision of who/what is a yogi. Your work is critical. Your being is essential.

  7. amanda says:

    Octavia, you are a gifted teacher. And a powerful writer. Having taken only first steps on my yoga path, I’m grateful for your guiding footsteps. Who can measure the healing you already have inspired in others?

    • Octavia says:

      I am honored to know you and glad our paths crossed. You are a talented teacher, always always remember that. I have learned so much from you in our tight little circle.

  8. Natalie says:

    What a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing your heart so radically. From you sharing, you are allowing healing out there don’t you see? You are making an offering for others to heal through you. Perhaps that is what you were meant to offer in 2012.

    • Octavia says:

      I see it. It’s getting clearer with each breath. I think there is incredible power in sharing our truths. Truth sharing is indeed radical medicine!…so much shame and darkness releases in those moments that we can be raw. I am grateful for this space and so many other spaces in our yoga community that allow us to reveal, share, and hold each other up to the light.

  9. Jennifer says:

    What a beautiful post. As I sit here with that lump in my throat – because I so identify with your struggles, your pain and naively setting what seems like an innocent intention only to have your entire world upended – I would just like to thank you for you honesty and your eloquence. We all have scars from our childhood and past. Some are more deep and painful than others but its what we chose to do with our past that defines us. You are beyond brave for choosing to not let it define you any longer.

    I have never been privileged enough to take your class – that will soon change! Nor do I know you – but thank you again.

    • Octavia says:

      Jennifer, I am glad this resonated with you. I know that we all have our struggles, our challenges, our thorny patches on the path- our particulars may be very different, yet the essence so profoundly similar. Your response reminds me of how we share this very human, very vulnerable, very wild, deeply beautiful experience! Hope to meet you soon!

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