Rahma with Rose

What is the Healing Path?

June 15, 2023 Dr. Rose Aslan Season 1 Episode 2
Rahma with Rose
What is the Healing Path?
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Show Notes Transcript

Curious about what the healing path is and what it might look like? Join the host, Dr. Rose Aslan as she explores what the healing path means to her and its connection to the spiritual path. In this episode, Rose shares some of her personal journey and experiences, from encountering the Dalai Lama as a young girl to vaginal steaming with a Guatemalan shaman, finding release and power in kickboxing, and connecting with her body in somatic therapy. Get ready for an insightful conversation on finding balance, serving humanity, and the importance of compassion. Stay tuned for an inspiring exploration of the healing path and how it can transform lives. Don't miss it!


  • Introduction to the healing path and its different interpretations
  • The intricate connection between the healing path and the spiritual path
  • Rose's early experiences with spirituality and her love for exploring different traditions.
  • From feeling broken to finding the healing path: Rose's ongoing journey of healing and self-discovery
  • Seeking physical, emotional, and spiritual healing through various healing modalities
  • Overcoming difficult circumstances and the search for goodness and joy in life
  • The importance of self-compassion, acceptance, and finding balance

Tune in to Rahma with Rose for an honest and real conversation n on the healing path and its transformative power. Discover how you can embark on your own journey of healing and self-discovery. 

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Find out more about Rose's work, including the Rahma Collective: 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


Welcome to another episode of Rahma with Rose. Today I'd like to talk about the work, the healing path in my work as a transformational life coach. In this podcast and my social media, I talk a lot about the work, about the healing path. I realize I'd like to define it. This means something different for a lot of different people, and I'm going to define it here in this episode to talk about what it means for me and how I've seen it play now in the lives of others around me.

Now it's really common nowadays for people to talk about being on the healing path. I run a circle here in Istanbul where I live called the Rachma Circle, where the main condition to join is to be a woman who is walking the healing path. And everyone seems to understand what it means in their own ways. I'd like to define it and talk more about how I understand it.

Understood and continue to understand this unraveling of the healing path for me is [00:01:00] intricate connected to the spiritual path. In this podcast. I'll be going back and forth and weaving in between the spiritual and the healing path. I think it's one and the same. Occasionally they diverge and then they come back together.

Depending on who you're asking, the perspective you're looking at. For me, the healing path comes as a result of what happened to me on the spiritual path. Now, I've always been a bookworm, bit of a nerd my entire life since I was a little girl. I would say that I entered onto a spiritual path. It's quite a young girl, around the age of 11.

When I encountered the di dilemma in person at a really significant week long event, I was attending on a daily basis where he allowed young people to come into close contact with them, to ask questions, to get to know him, to hear and receive special advice for him to the young people. Ever since that time, I've been invested in [00:02:00] religion and spirituality.

Everywhere I went back when I was in middle school and high school, I would bring a book with me. Oh yes. I went through the existentialist phase, reading the French existentialist, the German existentialist phase. One of my favorite authors back in high school was Herman Hesse’s Siddharta and his other books, exploring spirituality of the East from a Western perspective.

The Existentialists, for example, were Europeans try to understand their meaning in life and often they didn't see much meaning in, life. But, and they were often nilihists. But for me, I was exploring all the different ways there were to understand life. And understand the human struggle because there's not many humans who are just satisfied in life.

Most of us are engaged in this ongoing struggle. In Arabic, we call it or struggle with the self, with the ego. [00:03:00] This exists in every community and every person. This struggle to feel balanced, to feel a sense of equilibrium, to feel that we're doing enough. We're not burning out to feel that we're good with our Creator.

If we believe in a Creator to feel that we're being kind enough to people to feel that we're serving humanity in the best way, we're able to find that palette is so hard. It, makes me think of the quote that has sat with me for decades and resonated with me as a young girl: “My religion is simple. My religion is kindness.”

Does religion boil down to that? Treating others with respect and dignity, treating them with kindness? Is that what religion, spiritual spirituality is? As a young girl, I explored many different spiritual paths, different traditions. I was lucky to grow [00:04:00] up in a city where I had a lot of options available in terms of diversity, where I could go into different sacred spaces, talk to followers of different traditions, the leaders of different traditions, and ask them questions.

I still remember in high school, I would ask people from different religious traditions, especially leaders and teachers, what is the meaning of life to you? I never quite received that answer. I wanted, at least at that age. I knew that the way I was living wasn't what I wanted. I wanted so much more my life as I knew my life wasn't the best it could be.

I grew up in what you might call a broken and dysfunctional home. At the age of eight, my parents separated. I primarily lived with my mother who has had a longstanding, undiagnosed mental illness, and I saw my father on occasion. On those times I was with him, my life was much better, but most of the time I lived with my mother alone as an only[00:05:00] child.

My life was walking on eggshells with someone who might react in volatile ways at any moment. I lived without the sense of safety or security, crying myself to sleep at night. I was completely disassociated from my body. I have strained recollections of actually going into physical freeze states in certain situations.

Actually, my body would freeze. I couldn't react, and I think that I entered this extreme disassociated state from a young age because it helped me to reconcile what I was experiencing as a young person, and the only way I could react in a way that felt safe was disassociating the way she spoke to me and yelled at me and showed her.

The anger directed towards me was too much for this young person to handle on her own. So I dissociated. I didn't see a therapist when I was younger. I didn't [00:06:00] know much about mental health. It wasn't trendy back then. We didn't have social media. It wasn't that long ago, but Facebook was not a thing when I was in high school.

We had encyclopedias, we had in school, sex ed, health ed. We didn't have anything about mental health. I didn't know that if I was able to see a mental health professional, I could have received help, but that didn't happen for much longer. Now, after high school, I went to college where I lived quite an isolated life, very private life.

A life of fear and hiding things and keeping secrets from this person who could explode with rage at any moment. My whole life was private and I continued to live this extremely private life that was also full of a lot of shame. I was ashamed of everything, things that don't even make sense to be ashamed, but I was, because in the house I grew up in, Everything was a source of shame or rage [00:07:00] or guilt or fault.

So I had very irrational feelings of shame that were incredibly toxic. So when I started more seriously looking on the spiritual path, a lot of people who weren't so good for me entered into my life. Took advantage of me, manipulated me, exploited me.

When I was exploring the path of Sufism, the path of Islam, while living abroad in the Middle East, I let people change my beliefs. I gave my agency over to them. You might say knowingly, unknowingly, I'm not sure. I thought that the healing path and spiritual path were one and the same. I thought that following the spiritual path, I would find a spiritual teacher who would help me resolve all of the problems I was experiencing in my life.

All the feelings of what I now know to be [00:08:00] anxiety. I just thought I had tightness with the chest and strange sensations. I realize now it's just anxiety. I thought that I'd find a spiritual teacher, just like in the books of old, where teachers guide their students to a better way. They give them a blessing and everything changes for this student when they meet this teacher.

I really thought that I would meet a teacher like that and I was searching for years. I met. A few of them who claim to be that teacher. Knowing that I was very invested in the stories of the old. This is hard to talk about. I've never talked about these topics publicly, only privately and in confidence with friends, and that's why I'm also not going into extreme detail here because this is hard. This is me being really vulnerable. I was so naive and gullible. I allowed people into my life who completely took over my life.

There was one he called himself a Sufi shaykh shake or Sufi teacher, as well as my ex-husband. [00:09:00] They managed to take over my life. They literally told me to stop speaking to pretty much everyone in my life, and that obviously fits the description of a cult. And that way and that they complete dominance over me and control over who I spoke to, who I associated with.

So even though I associated with people, because I was still going to the university and studying, I looked at everyone around me with suspect with. Critical thinking that I had the truth because that's what I was told and everyone else was lost. That they needed the same truth. I had to be on this path.

And, in that context we also talked about being on the path I was on the path to the Truth with the capital T in order to come to , which is the name of , which means, the one who's right, the one who has a truth. And yes, I wanted to know God [00:10:00] so much as a young person. This is the days of university.

In my graduate studies, I have this intense longing because of my, very spiritual being and inquisitiveness. I wanted to know the creator. I wanted to know why we lived on this earth, and I met good people on the way. But I allowed the bad ones, the toxic ones, the ones who recruited me into their cult to have control over me.

I don't know if I allowed it, but I was naive enough that. I gave myself to them. I gave my mind, my soul to them and allowed them to tell me right from wrong. I gave up my agency, but I gave up my sense of discernment. I gave up my intuition because I would rely on them for making decisions.

For knowing what's good, what's bad. I had no ability. I lost my ability for critical [00:11:00] thinking. When I think about these days it's, really difficult. And when I tell the story to people I know now, they're often in disbelief that the person they know in front of them, Rose is the same person I'm describing.

Because it's really hard to believe I'm a different person now. So how did I get from this? This young gullible woman living abroad in Egypt who entered into haphazardly and unknowingly into a very toxic cult where they drained me of my money, my soul, my friends, really, they took a lot from me. How did I go from that to what I am now as a transformational life coach who's walking this healing path, who feels like she is change?

I feel often, not always radiant, life goes up and down, but it's so much better than it used to be, and I tell people, I've been walking this healing path. What is it? So it's really [00:12:00] hard to pinpoint exactly when it began, but I would say that my. First step onto the Healing path.

I always felt for so many years I was broken physically. I never had the best of health, especially when I was married and I became very conservative and I didn't do a lot of exercise. I didn't take good care of myself. I did not have self-compassion. I didn't have self-acceptance. I thought of my body as just a vessel taking me through, and all that matters was my soul.

And I neglected my entire body, not valuing the gift I was given with this body. Probably neglecting the soul as well, but I was doing what I could for my soul. Like I said, I was on the spiritual path, but the healing path was a little bit different over the years. In graduate school, I would see a few different practitioners for my physical ailments, such as physical therapist, chiropractors, homeopathic doctors, and [00:13:00] so on.

And then when I graduated graduate school and became a professor of Religion of Islam, I was. Faced with really difficult circumstances. I primarily was a single mother since when my son was born, I didn't receive a lot of support from my now ex-husband. He gave me some, but he definitely supported me with a catch.

Every time he would support me as in maybe letting me go out and taking care of the baby, he would make sure that I felt. A sense of obligation and that I needed, that I owed him for that. Everything he did, he was helping me out. It wasn't his duty. He was going above and the beyond. And I learned later on that the way he was treating me, the way our marriage dynamic worked.

Had all semblance of a very abusive situation. I just had no idea. I had never seen a good marriage modeled in front of me. A good relationship [00:14:00] modeled in front of me. I thought it was okay, good enough. I just thought, this is how life was. My ex-husband would say that the , this material world is a prison and we just suffer through life so we can receive a good life after we die.

I tried to accept it. I really did. It just didn't work. I knew there was something more, and healing path perhaps is me trying to make sense of finding goodness, beauty, joy in the world that we live in this, material world before we pass away because I don't think we're creating this world to just suffer, to just experience difficulty.

I think that there were moments of joy. That we can bring to ourselves and others that can allow us to have such a fulfilling life, much more than if we just see this world as a dark, an ugly and evil place, and we're just waiting for the end to come. A few different things, half of my life, one thing I remember [00:15:00] is I started seeing a therapist.

I started seeing a therapist when I was a professor because I was being bullied by a male colleague in my department. It was difficult. He told me things that are completely inappropriate for a colleague to say, condescending, patronizing, insulting, and I felt, and I thought that what he was telling me was true because I thought so lowly in myself.

It wasn't until I told a colleague about what he had been saying and how he'd been treating me and his actions. Then I realized that wasn't okay, wasn't appropriate. I didn't have to tolerate this kind of abuse. I took up this, issue with my superiors. I, filed a grievance. My grievance was dismissed.

It wasn't deemed to be serious enough to be a grievance to be filed officially with the university. Meanwhile, my mental health was suffering even more than usual. Dealing with this colleague who I saw everywhere. Not only were we in the [00:16:00] same department, so we met on a regular basis but his office was next to mine.

We overlapped in our disciplinary interest. We overlapped in many different interests on campus and activities on campus. So I saw him constantly, but he had more authority, more seniority than me. So he also iced me out of situations. It was tough. Now I don't want go into this out of respect for some things that are confidential, but it was this situation and not knowing how to deal with a colleague, not a family member, that led me to therapy.

When a family member treat me poorly, I just accepted it. But when a colleague treated me like this, I realized that I needed help. My first scene started seeing my therapist and spoke about this colleague days on end complaining about him and trying to understand what was going on. My therapist started to ask me about my marriage. She saw that I had a strange reaction when she asked me about my ex-husband.

It was that therapist who I later, left because she was also trying to convince me [00:17:00] to leave Islam which wasn't so good. But it was that same therapist who listened and watched me carefully, asked the right questions, and noticed that there was something up with my marriage. 

And then later, another therapist after that who helped. We realize that maybe my marriage was not only bad, but actually abusive. Many other situations happened along the way. that helped me realize as people came into my life, experiences happened, I went places. That all made me realize that my life was not good as it was, and it could be so much better.

Leaving my ex-husband, making the decision to leave him was. Perhaps, the hardest decision I've ever made. Spiritually. He had me entrapped, enmeshed with him. I thought that I left him, I would lose his spiritual protection and that of his spiritual guide, it was so scary. I just speak to people and open up to people that I never was able to trust [00:18:00] before.

Luckily, they heard me. They loved me. They accepted me, and they supported me and heard me as I talked about why I need to leave my ex-husband and they supported me in doing so. That was hard. Those first months when I left him, I thought there was a spiritual battle of the unseen world against me.

That was hard. I felt so broken. It was so difficult. I had to continue with my work, teaching, researching, doing service at my university. As usual, I was a single mother. All of a sudden, my finances were dire. My ex-husband refused to send me money. Things were hard, but I decided to strategically invest in various healing modalities because I knew I wanted to feel better.

I didn't know how, I had a couple of friends who were healers themselves. I asked them, where should I go? Who should I go to? I lived in Los Angeles where there was a. A wealth of [00:19:00] healers, but many of them were extremely expensive and I didn't know how to pick which modality to try, which healer to go to, which one would work, which one wouldn't.

I had no idea. I remember one of the first healers I tried was a Guatemala and American shaman, and I did vaginal steaming, and then she did a ceremony around my body with some stinging and some sort of ritual. I think it felt good because I was receiving love in her space. It was a beautiful feminine space.

I think I just went one time. Just felt good to be seen, to be held. Now I went to many other healers. Since then, my path is unique. When I talk about the healing path, there is not one modality. There's not one path. There's multitude, infinite amount of paths. I would never, ever tell someone what they need to do.

Each person need to figure that out themselves. And then they can ask people who've had more experience what modality they [00:20:00] might try out. Now a someone who's tried out a lot of practices, now I received training in some of these practices and modalities I'm, equipped to work with clients and then if they need to be referred out to other healing modalities and practitioners, I feel confident that I can refer them to the right kind of modality based on their needs.

Be it embodied practice receiving energetic healing, or the analytical talk therapy, whatever it might be. I feel I have the ability to discern what people's needs are. Now when I, excuse me, I'm fasting, which is why you're gonna hear my throat getting a little dry. Now when I talk about my own healing path, I've tried a different modalities.

I'm briefly going to give an overview of some of the things I've tried, but just as a sampling of what one individual myself has tried. Everyone has a different path in my path to try and understand what was going on, trying to fix what I thought was broken. I tried a lot.

I've [00:21:00] tried to take SSRI medications prescribed by a psychiatrist that worked for some time. It didn't feel good to be numbed, but when I was experiencing high anxiety, when I actually understood what anxiety was, when it was a difficult situation trying to. Be a single mother in an expensive city, working an hour away from our home, and the school SSRIs worked for some time.

They kept me balanced. I knew I couldn't continue on them because my body didn't feel good depending on these drugs to keep my nervous system. Balanced, but at that time, I'm grateful for them. I've been to various healers and practitioners. Every time I met someone who was a healer and practitioner, I'd ask them, can they help me?

I was open to receiving help in any source, especially because I didn't have a lot of extra spending money. So if people [00:22:00] were ever offering something, even just a sample, I would accept it. I receive energy healings from a variety of people such as Raiki, Sufi healing as they like to call it. I tried out various forms of breath work, yoga.

I've been over the years to homeopathic doctors, regular doctors. Chiropractic doctors, physical therapist. I've tried things like ecstatic dance, dancing in a dark room full of people. No drugs, no alcohol, just dancing, allowing my body to move in ways. I never allowed it all those years. I was so suppressed within myself.

I had no connection to my body. I was an academic, I was a Muslim who was really quite devout and I ignored my body. In all the different ways and doing things that moved my body, that allowed myself to move it in ways I literally had never moved before, felt [00:23:00] amazing. I tried things like EMDR therapy, which wasn't the best for me.

One of the modalities that really, resonated with me the most was working with a somatic psychotherapist who practices somatic experiencing as well. Again, because I was so disassociated, this is one of my lifelong symptoms of disassociative disorder, that working with her helped me learn to express myself with my body, to feel and be aware of my body, which I literally had no sense of in the past.

That was incredibly powerful. I worked with a variety, different coaches along the way. I received coach training. I worked with breathwork teachers. I received breathwork training. I went to so many workshops online in person trying to understand like, what is the nervous system? What is the vagus nerve?

How does one calm down the nervous system? because as I. Gain more body [00:24:00] intelligence, you might call it. Then I realized I needed more knowledge about how to regulate my nervous system, how to calm myself down. I wanted to escape using drugs for the rest of my life. SSRIs so that I was so invested in learning other modalities that would enable me to leave.

And it was through somatic experiencing in therapy that enabled me to then ween myself off of SSRIs. I've been on numerous retreats where we've tried various healing modalities embodied practices. I've been in a lot of different Sufi musical gatherings living in Turkey for the past two years.

One of the most healing experiences I have on a regular basis is entering to Sufi musical gatherings. Now, these aren't gatherings led by a Sufi guide. These are just gatherings led by musicians singing songs called ELAs and Turkish singing songs about God, about the Prophet Mohamed, and experiencing the live music, [00:25:00] people singing in unison about the praise, their love.

For our creator has really had a healing experience in some of these Sufi gatherings. Sometimes I've learned how to turn, often called whirling, in some contexts. That's been a very transformative practice. To turn my body, to move it in front of others, which I've never done before. Felt difficult. It felt intimidating.

It was transformative as I pushed myself beyond my comfort zone and tried to release some inhibitions. Now my healing journey continues. And I haven't listed everything I've, been through, but I'd say every one of these modalities, these people I've worked with, healers, practices, I've tried on my own in groups with others, they've all helped me on this path, this healing path, which is really just the path of self-awareness of knowing yourself.

There's a quote in the Sufi tradition that says, whoever knows. [00:26:00] Herself knows her creator, knows God. I understood this and I love this quote for many years, but now I really embody this. How do I know God? The first way is to understand what I've been given. Two, by God is a body and a soul, and a mind.

How can I use them to my advantage? How can I heal them? And then how can I use that knowledge I've gained from healing myself to support others? Now, number one thing is that I don't believe I actually was broken when I thought I was broken. When I was suffering so much. Turned out wasn't broken. I just didn't know how to help myself.

 I'm not broken now. I never was broken, but I feel like I've been healing and it's a lifelong process, but now I'm aware of my emotions, my feelings, when they go up and down. I can handle it more or less when I can't handle it. There's people I can call on for support to talk to who can sit with [00:27:00] me, breathe.

I don't feel alone anymore. For so many years I was alone. The healing path is knowing yourself. If you're on this healing path or looking to enter onto this healing path, you need to ascertain what is that you wanna target in your life? What needs the most healing? How do you wanna support yourself?

And most of all, how can you be kinder to yourself and offer more compassion to yourself? Because we're often our worst critics, our worst enemies, really. How can you become a friend to yourself? How can you befriend your inner critic? How can you befriend your ego? Oh, this is part of the healing path.

We all have different, life choices, different context, but if this episode. Got you. Thinking about what the healing path means to you, I'd love to hear from you what your healing path has consisted of. Has it been primarily intellectual, spiritual based on energy healing based [00:28:00] on physical healing or a combination thereof?

We need to support our entire beings. Emotional, physical, spiritual. Until and beyond that many more ways of supporting ourselves.

So I hope this resonate with you in some way, and if you're walking this healing path along with me, hello. And if you're thinking about it, I welcome you onto this path. And also I, in my capacity as a coach, I am always willing and happy to work and bring on new clients who would like to explore this healing path.

I work with women and sometimes men who want to walk this healing path. I can hold your hand. Help you navigate it, help you understand the pitfalls, help you navigate around the difficult obstacles that come across you as a friend, as a guide, but never dictating [00:29:00] to you what you need to do, what you should do.

Always try to mirror back to you the resources that you always have, you already have within yourself. I want you to know that you have. Power to change yourself. You don't need someone else to fix you. Everything you need is within yourself, and I want to help you to understand how to see those resources from within yourself.

Blessings on this path, on this journey. I'll see you somewhere down the road.