Sex for Money: How Much Is My Soul Really Worth?

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sex for money
Young adults have been hit especially hard by the economic downturn. College tuition has more than doubled in the past twenty years and continues to soar even higher despite the fact that jobs are harder to come by and starting salaries have decreased. Increasing numbers of students are struggling to get by and many will have racked up tens of thousands of dollars worth of debt by the time they complete their degrees. In addition, large numbers of these students will be forced to move back home with their parents at some point after graduation out of economic necessity.

In a recent article published in the Huffington Post, the author mentioned the numerous websites that have sprung up in recent years promising to help young women struggling with the enormous financial burden of college to find wealthy benefactors, commonly referred to as “sugar daddies,” to help with the expenses of dorm, tuition and books or pay off student loans.

A young woman interviewed for the article described her experience of hooking up with a man she met through one of these websites saying she had to brace herself to endure the afternoon of having sex. Taylor said she just wanted to get the act over as soon as possible. The man she hooked up with gave her three hundred and fifty dollars at the time he dropped her off at the train station. Her initial thought was, “Not bad for an afternoon of work,” but she agonized over the fact that she just had sex for money and said she felt dirty afterwards. It’s very important for us to pay attention to these kinds of feelings because they are signals letting us know we are doing something harmful to ourselves.

I feel a great deal of concern when I hear about young women like Taylor. Most do not realize the consequences of their actions and are just doing the best they can to survive. It is so easy to stray off on some kind of destructive path and even more so during the stage of our lives where we are making our way out into the world. Sadly, many never find their way back.

I’ve come across many individuals over the years in their late teens and early twenties who were struggling to find their way. In many instances they were not able to afford my services. I would go ahead and work with them anyway, because I felt a sense of responsibility to do whatever I could to reconnect them to their soul or the spirit that resides within and help them develop the resources they needed to get them on track with their own life’s purpose.

I met a young woman years ago while living in Albuquerque, New Mexico who was involved in some form of religious cult. Leyla didn’t seem to possess the resources to make it on her own after she fell out of the cult and ended up auditioning to work as a stripper in one of the clubs. I was saddened to learn about Leyla’s decision to work in a strip club and ended up spending a few hours talking with her over the phone about the consequences of her actions.

“The presence in those strip clubs feels absolutely horrible. Dancing nude in front of a bar full of men with all kinds of serious issues makes you vulnerable by opening you up to a great deal of emotional, energetic and psychic toxicity. Many of these same men are going to be fantasizing about you later that night when they go home and jerk off.”

“Working as a stripper is only a step above prostitution. You’re having to make physical contact with a lot of men that you would never in your life want to interact with. An exchange of energy takes place any time you’re making physical contact with the men you entertain in the clubs. The men whose laps you gyrate on as you do lap dances are going to become sexually aroused and to some degree you will too. That’s going to make you even more likely to absorb the negative energies and emotions held within their bodies. Are you sure you want to be subsisting on a steady diet of that?”

I left Albuquerque soon after that conversation. I received a call from Leyla a few months later. Leyla told me I helped her to see the consequences of her actions and she realized after dancing a few nights in the club that the price wasn’t worth paying.

Exposing our bodies in an environment like a strip club or having sex with someone with whom we have no desire to be with is a very unpleasant experience that evokes all kinds of uncomfortable feelings. Our normal response is to shut down parts of our consciousness by pushing the uncomfortable feelings outside of our conscious awareness. That causes us to become very numb or desensitized. Blocking feelings and experiences out of our awareness doesn’t mean they will go away. Our bodies continue to hold onto the horrible feelings, emotions and energies we internalize from working in such a toxic environment.

Women who engage in prostitution and other forms of sex workers have to shut down parts of themselves in order to do their job and that accounts for their tendency to become very armored. I can always see and feel the parts of the self that have shut down and disconnected. I can also feel the toxic energies and emotions from all the people they’ve had sex with that they are holding within their bodies.

The act of engaging in sex with a complete stranger that we have no desire to be with is an intimate bodily invasion. These feelings are greatly magnified when we find the other person unattractive or disgusting. Many dissociate by switching off or separating from the experience taking place within their bodies and that further exacerbates the harm done. The parts of ourselves that we disconnect from are left holding the trauma and that can prevent us from being fully present or developing the resources we need to be fully functional.

Large numbers of women involved in prostitution exhibit signs and symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder that are similar to people who have experienced rape or incest. They commonly suffer from anxiety, depression, insomnia and irritability. Many also report feelings of being emotionally numb, are tortured by recurrent nightmares and flashbacks and live in a state of emotional and physical hypervigilance. They frequently suffer from physical conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome and are also highly prone to eating disorders.

Women involved in the sex trades often cope by self-medicating with tobacco, alcohol and other substances to numb themselves to the energies and emotions associated with what they’re doing. The use of substances deadens their consciousness so they don’t have to feel what’s happening, but that leaves them even further desensitized and disconnected from their authentic core self.

I’ve known and have worked with a number of prostitutes and strippers over the years. I’m always curious to understand more about them, the choices they’ve made along the way and the struggles they have gone through. A few of the women I have worked with told me that they find their work enjoyable at times and that they even look forward to seeing some of the men who come to them on a regular basis.

Some men and women become highly sexualized as a result of sexual trauma that occurred during the early stages in their lives. In many instances they’ve learned to get attention or validation through their sexuality. A large percentage of women involved in stripping and prostitution were sexually abused as children. Working in the sex trade is a continuation of their early life experience of being sexually exploited.

A friend of mine went into prostitution after her husband left her with three young children because she didn’t see any other way that she could support herself. Most of the women I’ve encountered who are involved in the sex trade are not doing what they do by choice. Many have not been able to complete their education or develop the skill sets and other resources that would enable them to succeed in our society. They’re often doing the best they can to survive.

Most people tend to become very heavy and stagnant as they age. Older men who solicit prostitutes or seek money for sex arrangements with young college girls struggling to get by are usually not in good health. Many drink, smoke and consume unhealthy foods. Most are holding a great deal of anger, resentment, grief, loss and other toxic emotional baggage pertaining to loveless marriages, bitter divorces, custody battles and other dramas that have played out in their lives within their bodies. Women who prostitute themselves to these men are opening themselves up to this toxicity. They take on or absorb the energies and emotions of any person with whom they become physically intimate. They also take on some of their karma, sickness and the toxic dramas in their lives. Much of this toxicity remains trapped within the body indefinitely.

Dangerous Game

Stripping or prostituting one’s self may appear for some to be a quick and easy way to make money, but it is also a very dangerous game to be playing. Making large amounts of money so quickly can be very tempting, but we need to ask ourselves, “Exactly how much is my soul really worth?”

I have known women who had the ability to go into sex work for a period of time, do what they felt they needed to do and then get out. Many have gone into prostitution with the intention of saving the money they needed to create a better life, but were never able to hold onto what they made. The danger for many is they grow so accustomed to the kind of lifestyle afforded by prostitution and often find themselves sinking ever deeper into a hole they cannot escape from.

Women who prostitute themselves are forced to rely upon their physical beauty to make it in the world, but it’s only a matter of time before age and gravity take their toll and the looks fall apart. The process of shutting down or disconnecting that takes place among women involved in the sex trade has a crippling effect. Those who fail to develop skills and resources to stand on their own operate at a deficit which leaves them little, if anything, to fall back on.

I stopped over in Thailand on numerous occasions while waiting for my connecting flights to India and Sri Lanka. I realized very quickly that Thailand was one of the world’s primary sex tourism destinations. Large numbers of Thai and other Southeast Asian women are involved in prostitution to varying degrees. Women and girls who have been sold into sexual slavery are often forced to work in houses of prostitution. It is also fairly common for young attractive Thai women to hang out in bars looking for wealthy, by their standards, foreigner boyfriends who travel to Thailand on vacation. As soon as one boyfriend leaves they go out to the bars and find a new guy. These women often call or write letters to their “boyfriends” after they return home to ask for more money.

Women in developing nations such as India, Pakistan and the various African republics are often forced into prostitution after being widowed or abandoned by a husband because of their inability to conceive. Thousands of young women and girls in Nepal have been drugged, kidnapped and sold into prostitution across the border in India. Many are eventually murdered and a large percentage of these girls and young women contract HIV and eventually die. In many instances their families never see or hear from them again. India’s law enforcement and government is largely complicit by failing to shut down the houses of prostitution and prosecute the perpetrators of these horrific crimes.

Men who have struggled financially at some point in their lives know what it’s like to be passed over by women who evaluate a man’s worth based upon his financial status. There will always be women who look for men who can buy expensive dinners, clothing and jewelry, take them on the vacation of their dreams and pay off their debt. Such women never learn to stand firmly on their own two feet. Another young woman interviewed in the Huffington Post article said, “I’m choosing one or two men I actually like spending time with and have decided to develop a friendship with them. While sex is involved, the focus of our interaction is on providing friendship. It’s not only about getting paid.”

It is so easy to come up with all kinds of rationalizations to justify our actions. But we need to be fully honest by asking ourselves, “Is this someone with whom I truly desire to be intimate?”

There is so much shame and stigma attached to prostitution. Women who become engage in prostitution are often forced to lead double lives. Most cannot tell their friends or families what they are doing and that leaves them with a feeling that they always have something to hide. Having to hide parts of one’s self makes it very difficult to be fully present.

Opening ourselves sexually to another individual is an experience that reaches very deep into our psyche. Sexuality is a very important part of our process of personal and spiritual growth. Selling our bodies to someone we don’t want to be intimate with corrupts or contaminates the very deep and personal parts of ourselves through which we develop intimate bonds.

It can be very difficult for a woman to break out of prostitution and go to a regular job that only pays a fraction of the huge sums of money she is used to making as a sex worker. Many never develop the resources they need to make it in the world. That accounts for the fact that so many of them end up on welfare or disability and find themselves living in public housing or out in the streets.

Women who engage in prostitution are placing themselves at great risk. In many instances they are forced to engage in unprotected sex. Many have experienced unwanted pregnancies and miscarriages. They are far more likely to contract sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, syphilis, the human papilloma virus and HIV/AIDS. They often test positive on pap smears and have a much higher incidence of pelvic inflammatory disease. Greater exposure to sexually transmitted diseases also increases their likelihood of developing cervical cancer.

Women involved in prostitution experience extremely high levels of violence and often find themselves in grave danger. Many report being robbed, beaten or sexually assaulted and some have also been killed.

Some of the wealthy “sugar daddies” seeking money for sex arrangements with young women saddled with enormous amounts of debt like to see themselves as providing a service that will ultimately help them to create a better life for themselves. In reality, these men are inflicting tremendous harm by exploiting the vulnerabilities of young women who are struggling to survive.

Young women are more likely to fall into stripping or prostitution during times of economic hardship when they see no other means of covering their expenses. These young women would be much less likely to find themselves in a position where they feel that they have to sell their bodies in order to pay off their education debt if our government would stop feeding vast amounts of money into senseless wars that can never be won and corporate subsidies and the wealthy were made to pay their fair share of the taxes.

Having compassion for ourselves and others

I feel a great deal of concern for and compassion for people and the struggles they go through in order to survive. It’s important to keep in mind that we have all done things in our lives that we are not especially proud of. We all prostitute ourselves or compromise our integrity in one way or another at various points in our life. It’s important for us to come to come from a place of acceptance and compassion for ourselves. We also need to demonstrate understanding and compassion for others by reaching out to help others along the way whenever we can make a difference.

©Copyright 2011 Ben Oofana. All Rights Reserved. This content may be copied in full, with copyright, contact, creation and information intact, without specific permission.


You Can Heal Sexual Trauma

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new beginnings of a dragonfly
Childhood sexual abuse is one of the most insidious forms of trauma. Each individual’s experience or reaction is unique. Many survivors experience low self-esteem or self-hatred, guilt, shame and blame. They often have difficulty trusting as they were betrayed by the very people that were entrusted to love and care for them. Many survivors re-experience the visual imagery and other sensory impressions associated with past sexual abuse as if it were occurring in the present. They may also suffer from nightmares, panic attacks and have difficulty sleeping. Survivors often dissociate from their bodies as a means of coping with the intrusive thoughts, memories and feelings. Survivors are also far more likely as an adult to find themselves in abusive or dangerous situations where they may be victimized again.

The vast majority of those who were sexually abused continue to live with the trauma for the remainder of their lives. In this chapter, Ann shares her own personal account of the transformation that has taken place as a result of healing from childhood sexual abuse. This chapter is especially valuable for those who were sexually abused. People who were never sexually abused will also gain valuable understanding of the body and mind and its innate healing processes.

Ben: What kind of space were you in at the time we first started working together?

Anne: When we began to work together in March of 2005 I felt like I was a tightly wound ball of twine that was midway thru unravel. I had a host of physical issues that include anxiety, insomnia, repeated and chronic sinus infections for which I had had surgery, irritable bowel and chronic fatigue. I felt like my vital life force was slowly leaving my body. There were times I did not think that I would live long, and there were times that I didn’t care. I would not have done harm to myself, but I was losing the will to live. The only thing that kept me fighting was my young daughter. I did not want her to grow up with the baggage of a clinically depressed mother, so I fought as hard as I could. Had it not been for her, I am not sure where I would be today in terms of healing.

I was extremely fragile at the time we began to work together. I could barely access the memories due to the highly charged nature of the emotions. I was taking a low dose of anti-depressants at that time just so I could relieve the anxiety enough to sleep at night. I was hypervigilant and I had heart palpitations every time I fell into a light sleep. The doctor’s I was seeing pumped me full of sleeping pills that did not work, as anxiety was the culprit.

Ben: The kinds of symptoms you’re describing are very common for survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Of all the things I work with, sexual trauma is one of the most insidious. In many ways it works like sexually transmitted diseases such as syphilis or gonorrhea destroying the body and mind from within.

Anne, I would agree with that.

Ben: Your system felt way out of balance energetically. I remember how I would always sense this excessive heat in your body resulting from the sexual trauma. This heat had a very dark, static, toxic and angst ridden quality about it. Is that anything like what you were experiencing on the inside?

Anne: Yes, because every herbalist and other holistic practitioner that I was receiving treatment from at that time was telling me the same thing. And they were always trying to give me herbs and supplements to help me dissipate that heat, because it was causing other problems in my body.

Ben: What other problems?

Anne: I was very depleted. They were trying to build up my blood, my kidneys and my digestion.

Ben: I’m not saying this to criticize other practitioners, but in many respects they were only treating the symptoms.

Anne: That’s because they didn’t know and I didn’t know at that time that these imbalances stemmed from sexual trauma. I had no idea. I thought I was suffering from postpartum depression, because these symptoms began to manifest after my daughter was born.

Ben: I’ve watched this same phenomena taking place with a number of the women I’ve worked with. Having a baby growing within the womb and then pushing through the birth canal during the birthing process or removed from the womb via cesarean section breaks apart a woman’s defensive structures. Emotions and traumas that have been held within the body for many years are dislodged. This traumatic content can have a devastating impact upon the body and mind.

Anne: I would say that’s what was happening to me.

Ben: The early sessions were especially difficult for you. What were they like? How would you describe your experience?

Anne: I experienced a lot of physical reactions after the initial healing sessions. I would sometimes experience horrible diarrhea or be vomiting after you left. I would feel weak and cry a lot. I was basically just a raw nerve. There was no other way I could describe it. I couldn’t handle too much external stimulation, crowds or noises. It was very hard for me to function.

Ben: I feel tremendous concern for the people I work with that have suffered from traumatic abuse. I like to use the analogy of going through a cleansing fast to help people to understand the process that takes place when one heals from trauma. The body will at various points along the way go through some form of physical reaction when going through a detoxification or cleansing fast. In many instances this process can be very uncomfortable.

The process that one needs to go through in order to heal from traumatic abuse essentially involves working a very insidious infection out of the body – mind. Some become fearful and run because of their lack of understanding of the healing process. And that’s very unfortunate because those who run will most likely end up having to live with all that pain and trauma in their bodies for the remainder of their lives.

It’s important for anyone who works with a healer such as me to understand is that these kinds of reactions are a normal part of the healing process that takes place when a lifetime of toxicity is working its way out of the body. Those who work with me also need to understand that not only are they not only going to get through the reaction, but they will get to a place where they feel much better because of it. In time they will be free of that insidious toxicity.

People who have been severely traumatized have never been in full possession of their own bodies and minds or truly lived their own lives. Many of those who have the opportunity to do this work will discover for the first time what it’s like to truly live.

Anne: I had been working with holistic practitioners since 1993 and had done various cleansing and detox processes so I knew all about healing crises on a physical level. But I had not yet dealt with a healing crisis or detox on an emotional and energetic level. But I had an intuitive sense that it would probably be pretty much the same.

And if you’re asking me why I continued to work with you …I had a small child, I didn’t want her to grow up carrying the baggage of a clinically depressed mother, so I fought as hard as I could. Had it not been for her, I am not sure where I would be today in terms of healing. I wanted to live to raise her. Part of my anxiety about her at that time had to do with abandonment issues. I felt terrified that she and I were going to be separated in some way. I feared that I would not be able to finish raising her and that she would never remember me. Just talking about this now makes me very emotional. I don’t know if that’s part and parcel of the anxiety and depression or if that’s something I initially experienced emotionally in an earlier part of my life, but it was very strong and that motivated me. I didn’t have the luxury of laying on the sofa feeling sorry for myself. I had to take care of this child and I didn’t want her to have a crappy childhood.

Ben: It’s important for parents to understand that children are very empathic. They have not yet formulated boundaries or defensive structures and that makes them more susceptible to internalizing much of the suffering we’re carrying. There is so much less toxicity for our children to internalize when we heal our wounds.

It’s inevitable that we will all be wounded at points along the way. Parents who fail to deal with their own woundedness are giving their children a message that says “You don’t have to be in integrity with yourself. You can always run away or find some other means of escape.

Their children never internalize the model of healing that says I need to come from a place of courage and face the issues head on. I need to do whatever it takes to heal the parts of me that are wounded and I will get a much better place in life by doing so.

You’re providing a very good model of growth and development for your daughter by doing what it takes to truly heal. This is one of the most important gifts that a parent can ever give to their child.

Anne: When my daughter was three years old, we would get in the car and every single day she would say to me “Mommy, are you happy?” when in fact I was not. This was before I was getting any kind of significant treatment. I would respond by saying “Yes Sophia, I’m so happy I’m with you.” She asked me that question every single day for at least a year. And then last year on New Year’s Day she looked at me and said “Mommy, Thank you for not being a drug addict or alcoholic. I’ve had a pretty good life so far.” So that kind of gave me a whole lot of validation.

Ben: Sometimes there would be these gaps between sessions. There were challenging circumstances that needed to be dealt with pertaining to your family such as taking care of your mother. You were carrying a huge amount of responsibility and had no choice but to deal with it. There was also a certain amount of resistance. I would have to call you at times to put the pieces together and help you understand the process and say “Okay Anne, we need to be taking that next step by scheduling another session.

Anne: I was angry and resentful. And I was tired. My anger didn’t have anything to do with you. I was very angry in the beginning because I had way too much on my plate. I was trying to deal with my mother, trying to take care of my health and trying to care for my daughter. There was also a point in time when I was going to at least three or four doctors ever week and I was so resentful that I had to add you into the mix.

I’ve been overwhelmed by my circumstances during the past year or two and just feeling like I couldn’t set aside the time for myself. Not being able to set aside time for myself is unfair to me. So I’ve made it my business to stop constantly putting myself last, because if this ship goes down, everybody else goes down.

Ben: How have you changed physically, mentally and emotionally as a result of the work we have done?

Anne: Although I still struggle with many things in the present day, I feel that all of the trauma associated with the sexual abuse has gone. I no longer carry that baggage. I have been able to forgive all those responsible and I no longer have the anxiety or depression that I lived with for such a long time. I feel clearer in my heart and head and now use my time for more creative and enjoyable endeavors. My intuition has grown stronger as has my creativity. I also allow my intuition to guide most of my decisions in my day to day relationship with friends and family members.

The most important change I have experienced is that I feel more present in my day to day life. I feel more present in my relationships. I was always present with my daughter. I never had any problem with her. I very rarely was ever on autopilot with her. But everyone else took a back seat. I wasn’t even present with myself. And every chance I could get, I would run away. Now I‘m present. And during the times that I’m not present it’s a conscious choice to say “Oh fuck it …I need an hour or two. Now it’s a matter of choice and not just a habitual escape mechanism.

I definitely have more energy. The things that I need to do for people from day to day still weigh me down and make me feel tired, but twelve years ago this would not have even been a possibility. There’s just no way that I could have functioned with everything that’s been on my plate regarding my mother and her care. Had I not done the work with you, I would have been absolutely paralyzed. I would have been completely unable to handle that.

Ben: You mentioned something about running to three or four doctors a week. How are you doing physically now?

Anne: Physically I’m fine. Like I said, I get bogged down with chores, errands and responsibilities. I’m thinking about all the places I have to go and things to do and that exhausts me. Just this week, I had to set myself down and say to myself “Going over and over your schedule every day and all the things you have to do in your mind makes you tired …tired before you even start. The best thing for me to do is to stay in the moment and only think about what I have to do from minute to minute.”

I don’t have as much time to devote to activities that would produce the endorphins that would make me feel more alive and energetic at this time. I’m just hanging on for the ride

Ben: It sounds like you have a lot more internal strength and stability. And that you have become much more physically resilient.

Anne: Yes, that is true.

Ben: You’re no longer in that anxious, angst ridden state of hypervigilance. What’s your internal state like at this time compared to the time we first started working together?

Anne: I think that I’m always going to be vigilant to some extent. I’m always going to be cautious around people. I’m always going to be reserved. The difference is that I rely on my intuition more than my kneejerk reactions to protect myself.

I rely upon my intuition by allowing myself to feel another person’s energy. I back away if I don’t like what I feel. If I’m in a situation where I feel a little uncomfortable meeting a person for the first time, but otherwise if I don’t feel a threat, then I just let myself experience it.

Ben: Would now you say that you feel calm, assured or a sense of happiness?

Anne: There’s the big picture happy and the little picture happy. I try on a daily basis to find something every day to bring me pleasure. The big picture right now is a little tough because I do have so much hanging over my head, so I try not to get caught up in it. I really try to take little bites out of the life I have, because I can’t digest everything.

Yes, I’m calmer and more peaceful and when I really manage to stay in the present and stop letting my mind spiral out of control. I’m definitely calmer than I have been. One of the most important things that people need to understand about this process is that the work is not done when the crisis has abated. It’s a day to day process, because we’re so habituated in these patterns of self-medicating, escaping or whatever it is that we do. We have to be consciously aware that every single day we make choices that impact us positively or negatively. It’s never over.

There’s no pill or magic wand that’s going to make you completely whole. At the same time there’s a certain presence or power working through me that has transformed much of that suffering. I’m sure that’s what has gotten me to the point of saying you have to stay in the present. Let’s put it this way. I’ve become very clear mentally and emotionally. I’m very clear with what I need to do. I may not always want to do it, but I’m very clear with what I need to do and that’s huge.

Ben: The physical and emotional abuse I endured during my own childhood and adolescence had a debilitating impact on me. And I was seeing it reflected back to me in the women I would attract. They were usually unavailable, uninterested and in some instances would reenact early traumas. I jumped at the rare opportunities I found to work with powerful healers and later on I went back to do the vision quest, which is a traditional Native American practice that involves going out to fast alone in the mountains for four days and nights without food or water. I could always feel a powerful presence working to heal and transform the wounded parts of myself.

There are certain facets of the healing process that we cannot fully do on our own. The emotional, physical and sexual traumas that many of us have gone through are so deeply ingrained within our makeup. Readily available conventional and alternative approaches to healing such as Allopathic Medicine, psychotherapy, acupuncture and herbs are not fully healing these traumas. Many people continue to suffer unnecessarily as a result. American Indians and other indigenous groups of people learned to access other forces or beings that could facilitate healing that would not have otherwise been possible. These forces or beings were especially effective in their ability to heal the deep emotional wounds that have such a debilitating impact upon people.

Anne: I would agree to that, because I underwent talk therapy, hypnosis, bio feedback, sleep studies, yoga, meditation, acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine and eventually EMDR (Eye Movement Reprocessing and Desensitization) which is used to treat people with post-traumatic stress disorder. EMDR helped, but it didn’t change things on a cellular level where the trauma was stored in my body. However, I continued to pursue these other practices as a result of your encouragement as you felt that they would complement the work we’re doing.

And I often think back on the relationships I had and specific situations where past abuses were reenacted. I have to say now as I look back on those experiences that I would never allow those people near me. I would never tolerate these people or their behavior. It just wouldn’t happen.

Ben: That’s good. Having the assistance of the presence or forces that Native Americans and other indigenous people have relied upon to go in and do the restructuring within your body – mind has made it possible for you to have a completely different experience. Now you can derive much greater enjoyment and truly live life.

Anne: Do you find that this process does not work with people who have little or no insight into their own emotional, spiritual and physical wellbeing? Because I really do not see how you can teach that to someone if they don’t have it.

Ben: Many are lacking these resources because of the conditioning from their families and society that causes parts of them to shut down. People who were initially lacking these valuable resources will gradually develop them as a result of the individual healing sessions.

Anne: I’ll buy that, because I had these resources, but they became much stronger as a result of the work we’ve done.

Ben: The earlier stages of healing process that take place when the traumas are beginning to surface, heal, integrate and become functional parts of ourselves are by far the most difficult. The healing process gradually changes over time. The process actually becomes enjoyable as the deep emotional wounds heal and you gain a clearer sense of your life’s purpose and begin to fulfill your true potential. You have seen a certain amount of that through your art work. The prints you’re making are really beautiful. The beauty of your work is a reflection of the changes that are taking place within you.

Anne: Absolutely and I look forward to the day when I can really devote more time to it.

But it seems to me that I’m doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing even though it’s not what I want to be doing. I’m sure that helping my mother transition from this life time to the next is only second to my taking care of myself right now. I just really feel that this is what I need to be doing at this time. The challenge now is to just accept that and not get frustrated and angry that I cannot do all the things I want to do at this time.

With respect to the very difficult process of caring for my aging mother, I have no life experience from which to draw necessary information for making choices that have a major impact on her life and mine. Emotionally, had I not done all the work I did up to this point, I would be paralyzed by sadness and fear, and I would resort to old coping mechanisms to help myself escape the sense of hopelessness and helplessness I felt. This is the work that continues to this day and probably for the rest of my life.

Ben: Being able to care for your mother is also something truly amazing in itself. Your mother was not the most kind, loving and supportive parent. She wasn’t there to protect you as a mother needed to be in many respects. Despite all of that, the healing that has taken place thus far has allowed you to truly be there for your mother in ways that any parent would be very fortunate to experience.

Anne: Well that’s a bonus because I was able to heal the wounds pertaining to my mother. That’s huge.

Ben: Trauma and other forms of stress that we fail to process accumulate within our bodies as we go through life. There’s a deadening and disconnect as that happens and then we lose that spark and sense of aliveness. Trauma and other stresses held within cause parts of our bodies break down more readily or they express themselves as some form of illness.

You healed from the trauma related to the chronic bladder infections that you experienced as a child. How are the reproductive issues that we began to address a few months ago?

Anne: I was so disconnected not just from sexual trauma but also physical trauma. The lower abdominal and pelvic regions of my body were in horrible shape. For the longest time I really felt dead, even on a sexual level. I just had a lack of interest. Part of that has to do with the hormonal changes taking place as a result of going through menopause. I’m feeling a little better. I seem to be starting to rally.

Ben: I’m very cautious about working in certain areas of the body because I want to be respectful of people’s boundaries. I normally work around the pelvis or breasts unless there is a specific health related issue that needs to be addressed. Stresses and traumas are also contained in these regions of the body. And that sometimes makes it necessary to work in these areas.

Healing is definitely a work in progress. We’re just beginning to work in this area. Those who have trained in the Internal Martial Arts which are rooted in Taoism do intensive practices throughout the course of their lives to cultivate the consciousness in specific organs of the body. It’s also important for you to center your awareness in this part of the body when you’re doing your own practice. Your efforts will really pay off in the long run.

Anne: How I even functioned and managed to attract a healthy man I don’t even know. There must have been some healthy part of me that said “You need this man. He’s going to be very important to you down the road.”

Ben: You’re definitely very fortunate in that respect. The majority of the people I encounter that have gone through so much trauma tend to attract partners who reenact early traumas. And if someone were to come along who could really love and care for them, they’re just not attracted to that person. They just don’t feel it.

Anne: It’s because you think you don’t deserve it. That’s the sick part. I didn’t do anything to deserve to be sexually abused. I didn’t do anything wrong, but the insidiousness of the shame and the way you internalize these things makes you feel like you’re less of a human being because of it

Part of you is thinking “Oh if people really knew me, they would hate me.” So you keep attracting the same kind of person who treats you the same way. I didn’t think I was going to attract someone who was going to be good to me. It wasn’t a cautious thing. I was caught up in a whole victim schema. That’s what you put out there and then you attract people who are going to take advantage of it.

Ben: Yes, because that whole victim model is wired into us physiologically, emotionally and energetically. At some level people really want to be loved and cared for. But all the pain and trauma held within the parts of the body – mind that operate outside of our conscious awareness have far more power than the conscious mind. That’s why many people just keep attracting partners who hurt, abuse and that are incapable of loving them.

People come to me suffering from anxiety, depression and emotionally traumatic issues, digestive, respiratory and a wide range of other health related conditions. Many of these conditions are easy to work with and respond very well to this form of healing when people listen to instruction and follow through with the sessions. Those who are consistent with the individual healing sessions will experience the kinds of changes that you’re describing.

What would you say that people really need to understand?

Anne: Part of it is self-love. Another part is saying that I deserve this. For me a huge component of following through is that I was motivated because of being a parent. I always looked at it as if I were the mother of a child. Not everyone has that motivation. They don’t have a child, but they need to be willing to do this for themselves. They need to be able to step outside of themselves and look at themselves, step back and say “Do I not deserve protection, love, support, encouragement and healing?”

Someone would say to me, look at yourself the way you would look at your daughter. Wouldn’t you want her to heal? And of course I would want her to. I would step into that role and never say yes, I certainly deserve that. I don’t know how to instill that in someone that never had it

Ben: The damage is visibly apparent when someone breaks a bone or has a gaping wound. Wounds in the psyche are not quite so obvious. But we need to understand that these wounds are also real and we need to take the necessary steps to facilitate their healing.

Another thing to take into consideration is that people within our present day society really don’t have a model of healing because it hasn’t been a part of our culture. There’s so much misunderstanding when it comes to healing. A lot of the spirituality out there is taking people even further away from their feelings and physical bodies. There are many things about how things work in our society that are set up to disconnect people from themselves. Many have spent their entire lives running or disconnecting. People need to really need to understand that in order to heal they have to be present. A big part of healing is finding the courage and commitment to be present and part of that is being willing to stay with and face whatever comes up.

Anne: Another thing to take into consideration is that this process requires a huge amount of trust.

Ben: I felt intimidated and overwhelmed by the all-consuming feelings and impressions of my own past traumas when they surfaced in my mid-twenties. I had no one there to hold my hand or explain the process taking place. Fortunately I had an intuitive sense that this is something I had to do. I went into the process with a willingness to face whatever came up until I came out the other side.

Embarking on this journey of healing definitely does require trust. Can you say more about trust?

Anne: I was desperate enough that I was willing to try anything. And maybe that’s what has to happen. Some will have to hit rock bottom before they take the initiative. They may have to become so depleted or so low that they don’t have any place else to go but up.

Ben: That’s a good point, because many of the people that I’ve worked with over the years that have really stuck with the process are those who have hit bottom or were in such a desperate space because of the suffering they were going through that they absolutely had to do something.

If you go among cultures like you find in India, Tibet or China where they have these ancient spiritual traditions, those who are seriously committed to their own healing and development always enter a mentor – apprenticeship or master – student relationship. I’m trained as a doctor in an ancient system of medicine – healing that dates back thousands of years. Facilitating the healing of traumatic issues is one of my prime areas of specialization. Having healed from my own traumatic past makes me especially suited to facilitate this process in others.

One of the greatest challenges involved with working here in the United States is that most people do not have any kind of realistic model of healing. Many have little, if any, concept of the commitment and discipline involved in healing and personal and spiritual growth. One needs to be able to listen to instruction and follow through. Healing from traumatic experience involves a massive restructuring of the body – mind consciousness. Building a whole new foundation requires tremendous work, but it’s one of the most valuable things that anyone can ever have the opportunity to experience.

Anne: Yes, definitely

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Ben Oofana is a healer who began his training with Horace Daukei, one of the last surviving traditional doctors among the Kiowa Indian tribe. To learn more go to Call (913) 927-4281 to learn more or to schedule an individual session.