I’m here with Rev. Dr. Anthousa Helena of Southern Florida. Welcome, Anthousa.
Anthousa is going to talk to us about transforming our pain and suffering into the gifts that are here for our soul. She likes to say, “There will be times of pain, but suffering is optional.” I love that quote from you. Anthousa was part of the While We Were Silent Project. I got a note on Facebook of one of the posts about the launching of that project. It was an interview series with women who were survivors and thrivers of sexual trauma. What Anthousa is going to be talking about is take your pain, transform it from suffering into the gifts that are there for your soul so that you can help other people and help yourself along the way. This was a project for women who had experienced sexual trauma, but transformed their pain, done their own healing work and each had different modalities to share with people on how to heal.
Anthousa was a part of that. The interview series was also turned into a book which is available on Amazon, While We Were Silent: 12 Experts Share Their Stories of Healing From Sexual Trauma. Her story is powerful. To witness her transformation is empowering and healing in and of itself. She is a walking example of this and it’s beautiful what she’s come through. She’s got her personal experience and journey. She’s got a whole bunch of professional training and certifications. She brings a lot of pieces together. She puts it together in a comprehensive way that rolls out the healing. Her process is fabulous. For that reason, this episode is one of my favorites. I don’t want to name favorites of all of the episodes, but hers was close to the top.
Dr. Anthousa Helena is the Founder and Developer of Sollite Integrative Medicine. This holistic medical approach addresses the entire being on physical, mental, emotional, energetic and spiritual realms for healing and conscious awakening. Anthousa is both Nationally Board Certified and State Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Massage Therapist. She has a Doctorate of Divinity, specialized in Spiritual and Energy Psychology. With 43 years of professional experience, Anthousa has facilitated thousands of private clients, groups, lectures and workshops. She has trained professionals in her field of Integrative Medicine. She has been on radio, television and featured published writer, author. Sollite’s mission is to heal the illusion of separation and enter into unity consciousness by remembering the truth of who we really are. Utilizing Integrative Medicine to bridge the gap between medicine and spirituality. You can find more about her at her website, Sollite.com. If you know anything about me, you know why she and I hit it off well and why our work jives together. Anthousa, I know you have a lot for us. Why don’t you give us a little bit about you and your journey?
The soul is talking to everyone all the time consistently. Some of us get disconnected due to a lot of reasons, especially those of us that have had some experience of trauma, whether it is sexual, verbal, physical or the experience of life. For instance, right now is traumatic on people. That makes it more difficult because you lose that connection, the gut feeling, the inner trust and the intuition that you were born with and innately have. This is the practice that we want to encourage to become more aware and aligned with the way the soul speaks to you.
For example, if you’re in a situation of communicating, let’s say with another person and maybe there’s something that you are saying that isn’t totally 100% honest or you’re trying to hide something. Mostly we do that because we’re afraid of how the other person’s going to react or we’re trying to reach out in a particular situation, maybe to get a job or new client. When that happens, you’re not in alignment, you’re in misalignment. What you have feeling if you’re able to feel yourself is that you contract and you start to shrink. Even your shoulders might go a little bit forward. To learn how to listen to the soul helps you stay in alignment.
Another challenge staying aligned with your Soul is the fact that Along, with what I just stated, in the fact that consciousness in and of itself is paradoxical because of the ego-self with its illusions and the mind cannot comprehend what conscious awakening if so you add one more thing into the mix creating an added challenge.
The structure of our brain is physically hardwired for duality and separation. This was founded by Dr. Hans Selye. He was an endocrinologist, researcher, scientist in the 1950s and he developed the stress model response, which most of you might be familiar with. He also proved this area specially in the center of our brain. He called it the OAA, the Orientation Association Area, which created the sense of Self as opposed to the Other, in essence Separation. When we’re children, we are united and one, everything’s one, that’s all we are aware of but between ages 3 to 5 years old, we start to realize that there’s an Individual Self and Another separate from ourselves. If you want to label it ego self, you can.
They realize there’s a separate you out there and then they have their identity of their self-personality and also spacecial objects. Whereas when they’re younger than that, they are mostly always in unity and don’t have that area activated. The thing with this OAA or duality in the brain, is it was meant to be a survival instinct and it is in all mammals, and we as human beings are mammals. It was to keep us in safety. It was to keep us out of danger because in the olden days, we didn’t have a lot of luxuries we have now. Man was out there hunting, a caveman was trying to survive, maybe there were dinosaurs around. They had to have this survival instinct, a danger warning mechanism. Like you see your cat or your dog or some other animal when they get afraid or startled, they go into sudden, “Uh-oh.” That sudden “uh-oh” is the autonomic nervous system going into the stress response model of the fight, flight or freeze response that happens in the nervous system.
Let me talk about suffering, which is the topic today, “pain and suffering”. Buddha stated that you reach Nirvana through Samsara. Those of you that might not know Buddhist words, Nirvana means you’re awakened or enlightened or whatever language you utilize to label this in your own understanding. Samsara is the suffering that we go through, learning lessons or living life in general. He says, “Nobody’s going to get out of this incarnate life without some degree of suffering.” I say that, but I also don’t want to diminish in any way that there are some areas of suffering which we are not able to avoid. It’s not optional like what’s happening now during the pandemic, the economic despair and distress people are going through; starvation, displacement of people from their homes and maybe even famine, the food supply in many areas of the world, and racial injustice which causes conflict and eventually wars. Those things have repeated throughout history, they are innate in humanity suffering which Buddha also said, “You’re not going to rise above that because it’s going to happen.”
In addition, because there are a lot of people that deal with trauma in the audience listening today, post-traumatic stress disorder is also something that is challenging to go through without experiencing some degree of pain and suffering. Stress is the root cause of illness and toxic stress causes despair and eventually, even death. The brain and the nervous system get affected through cumulative stress. That’s when you can’t handle anymore after you keep piling on one stresser after another. Eventually too much stress takes its toll and can create brain damage along with other health-threatening life issues. When chronic stress comes to this level of cumulative, it becomes chronic and that usually is where we enter into the realm of post-traumatic stress disorder. Much of this is due to the effects of trauma, however the good news is that the brain is plastic therefore it can be revived and renew itself through being rewired. This in psychology is known as neuroplasticity.
Back to trauma, I know some of the audience possibly are still healing from abuse, whether it be childhood or later in life in various areas whether it be in the form of sexual, violent attack and or verbal mental and emotional. I don’t want it to diminish that by any means. Everybody has their own story, their own situational experiences. Some are more intense than others and it does create challenges, especially if it’s been in childhood early on in our formative years for how we view the world. It does take a while to be able to go through this healing journey and to find resolution and a healthy way of living and interacting in the world and relationships.
There are many modalities out there. Many of the people that co-authored the book and are on the private group page also, including Debra herself; we all offer different modalities. This healing journey is an individual one even with the help of professionals. You may not want to do what some people are offering. I was a yoga teacher for 28 years. For example, if you go to a yoga class, you might love yoga, but maybe you don’t connect with that particular style of yoga or that teacher. You try another teacher and another style until you find and resonate with what suits you the best. Not all modalities are going to work for each individual person because we are unique and it is our own journey. When you find what works for you, go for it. This is part of listening to your inner wisdom or what is known as your ‘Inner Physician’.
Going back to what are our sources of pain and suffering which cause the inner and outer conflict we experience as humans.. What are they and where do they originate from? They’re coming from our conditioned patterns, habits, belief systems that we’ve acquired from the trauma, the emotional effects of these belief systems and thoughts. It also comes from collective mass consciousness, the realm of the entire human psyche, which all of us are affected by, especially people that are in the healing field and are healers. You need to go inside and listen to your inner wisdom because sometimes what you’re feeling or what you’re going through is not yours 97% of the time it’s not. You’re tuning into the collective mass. That’s why it’s important to listen to your inner soul, your heart, your intuition and your own inner knowing..
Other source areas are ancestral and your own cultural lineages. We pick up conditioned patterns, thoughts, and beliefs through our traditions and what’s passed down from one generation to another generation through our ancestry and genetic DNA coding. One of the other most important things for people with trauma, which also includes and affects all people, is the narrative of your own personal story. The story we repeatedly tell ourselves over and over again in our minds. We need to at some point in time, stop that repetitive story because we are more than this narrative. These are the things that we want to work through to help us heal and awaken.
I have an added fact here, which shocked me as I was doing some research related to our beliefs and conditioned patterns; we have 60,000 to 80,000 thoughts per day, equating to 2,500 to 3,300 thoughts per hour. All these thought-forms contain energy beliefs inside which create imprints in our cellular memories within ourselves and they all have an emotional reaction attached to each thought. These are pretty overwhelming facts. Don’t you agree?
The good news is pain, whether it is lodged within your body, mind, spirit, emotional and or energetic fields is an important signal. It’s attempting to get your attention and give you a message. It is a Gift. It’s an opportunity to grow, learn whatever lesson you need to learn, move beyond it, and consciously awaken through the process of spiritual growth. More good news is that 90% to 95% of our suffering is optional. That’s a huge percentage. Optional in the sense that there is a misalignment with reality occurring. That’s why I mentioned having a keen feeling sense perception and knowing your soul language, how your soul communicates with you. When you’re aligned, you can differentiate what is true with your reality and what is not. Often,when we’re suffering, we are experiencing a conflict between what we perceive as reality and the way reality really is. When this bumps up against you, it creates physical, emotional, and psychological pain. It creates the inner war and feeling of conflict within.
This might be a good time to share a bit about your story. One of the things that fascinates me about your story and which was appropriate for the While We Were Silent is how you were threatened early on and along your journey, you lost your voice more than once. You’re an incredible example of how this works and how you overcame it. Can you say a little bit more about that? It’s such a powerful example for people. It might help people to relate to you, to what you’re talking about and to find that inside themselves, “What are the things inside myself that I can relate to at this moment?”
Ok I will expound on your question, Debra. My abuse started way before three years old, it created for me a perception of the world of total unsafety and lack of trust. I was misaligned and was not living in the reality of how the world is or the truth of reality. One of the things I said in the book was that some of my trauma happened at such an early age for me. I had a near-death experience during one of my abuse occurrences where I had been in a situation where the person that was violating me physically had already gotten to the point where I passed out. Remember, I’m a small child. I was already unconscious.
After years of psychotherapy and spiritual work, I realized that I’ve had visions that an angel came in and stopped it right there because I was supposed to keep living. My biggest thing at that time, which I didn’t realize a lot of until later in life, was I spiritually disconnected at that moment in time because of the instinctual survival mode that I’m talking about. I was in danger. My life was in danger, I was dying and there was no safety net because I’m little and this other person is older and bigger. I started to realize that what happened was not true because a lot of people that have been abused when they’re young, hide it so much. It gets so extremely hidden and buried inside that when it comes out through experiencing flashbacks and memories, you deny it or I denied it right away because I thought, “That didn’t really happen to me.” However It was imprinted and held within my cellular memories and it did happen.
I denied it for a long time even though it was brought to my attention in my 30’s. I started working on myself at that time with psychotherapy. The way it first came up for me to my attention was during a craniosacral therapy treatment. At the time, I was working for Dr. John Upledger at his Head Trauma and Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Center. Every once in a while, he would take a weekend and the employees would work on each other and he oversaw the work. When that first came to my awareness, I fought with him for a year saying, “This is not true.” It is funny because you don’t normally deny the person that’s the expert in the field that you’re learning from and working for as an employee, that they don’t know what they’re talking about. I honestly struggled with it.
Even though I started psychotherapy and continued all other modalities, many years later, I developed vocal cord cancer and lost the ability to speak. That’s why this book, While We Were Silent, was important for me when I heard Debra was doing the project. Even though I knew about it and I accepted it at some point and I was in therapy and on my spiritual journey in many different ways, there was still this lack of confidence and there were things that I wouldn’t talk about. I never had a voice to express myself fully. It had been taken away from the abuse incident. There were many conditioned beliefs and traumas here that I’m talking about. There were layers upon layers that needed to be brought to the light, consciousness, purified, healed and worked on. Going through the healing process of vocal cord cancer was one of the other avenues for me to be able to regain my voice. To continue to follow another different spiritual path, which has led me into what I believe, even more wisdom, knowledge, healing and understanding.
Thank you for sharing that first. I don’t want you to share anything that you’re not comfortable with sharing. It helps people to understand where you’re coming from. I know there’s more to the story. I’m not going to push you on it. I do appreciate everything that you are sharing and I know there are specifics in your story about being told not to speak and then losing your voice. Your healing processes with getting your voice back after you were told specifically do not speak and then lost your voice. That was what was in line with what you were talking about and that is a lot about how we’re wired and how things work. You could have gone into victimhood and never spoken again, but you have that resilience and strength in you. You knew enough about your own journey, healing and how this works, where you took it into your path and said, “What else is this giving me the opportunity to heal and how can I walk through this to heal myself even at deeper layers and move through it?” You came through. That’s the powerful part right there.
Like I originally stated I initially became aware of all this through a craniosacral therapy treatment. Then I started psychotherapy for over 23 years to work on the mental and emotional aspects of the trauma. The next challenge of shutting my voice down again as you just asked about wasn’t from the perpetrator himself because the perpetrator was not living anymore. At a certain point in my healing process, I decided to approach their companion and say, “This is what happened. I know it happened. Let’s heal this. Let’s talk about this.” What happened then was I had about a twenty-minute conversation where I laid this out and presented it to this person. They told me never to speak about it again and never to tell anybody else, especially in my family or any relatives about what I had shared with them. They were aware that it was true and that their fear was not only within themselves, but also that they were trying to protect other members as well from any knowledge of this harm. I understand that now. I didn’t understand it then for sure. It took a lot of years and work to learn to see the other person’s point of view because the hurt and pain is not only the perpetrator but the persons involved with them too. There’s shame and things that go on with them too and they want to keep it hidden and more comfortable that way instead of going on the journey of healing and truth.
My belief now is that “Hurting people Hurt people.” If somebody’s been abused, most likely they were abused as well in whatever way. It’s a generational thing passed along through genetics and left unhealed, which is why I was bringing up ancestry. If that person isn’t ready to look at it or heal themselves, then you’re adding more harm that continues onto the next generation. In the moment, that was not how I felt at all. I had lots of unforgiveness, anger and more injury piled on to what was already there to work with.
That happens to people that are in recovery centers for some addiction, whether it’s alcohol, drugs, gambling, sexual addictions or maybe even eating disorders, I don’t know all the addiction recovery programs. I know that there’s a step in the 12 step recovery programs where you’re supposed to go and ask forgiveness of people that you have harmed. I know that’s always a tricky step because you don’t know how that other person’s going to respond or react. That’s the same situation. I got stifled again and a few years after that, I ended up with vocal cord cancer. I was still unprocessed within myself and also hadn’t gotten to the level of understanding, having love, mercy, compassion and forgiveness for myself or the other as well.
I highlight that point that you said, even if the other person is not ready, wherever they are is where they are and you still have a choice to move forward and do your own healing work. You come out the other side even more powerful, centered in yourself and aligned with the truth of who you are. The other person’s position does not have to hold you back from doing your work.
I’m not sure that we ultimately do have a choice. I’m going to throw that out there. In addition to having this inner wisdom and physician within ourselves, our connection with our own soul, we also have an innate spiritual instinct that wants to awaken. Couple that into the factor that life is a process and life is our medicine. It’s going to keep pushing you to evolve. What I like to do, inspire, and help guide people to not wait until that point where you’re getting beat over the head with a baseball bat or end up with vocal cord cancer. Listening is such an important thing. Listen to your soul and to what’s happening, and keep doing your work in whatever ways that you can. One of the sentences I paraphrase in my outline here says, “Personally, I wasted too much time on healing and self-judgment, negative thoughts while hurting myself and hurting others as well.” That’s one of the things that I want to help people try to avoid.
Dr. Hans Selye gave some remedies or suggestions on how to deal with this OAA center in our brain structure named by me as the illusion of separation. These are meditation, prayer, contemplation, craniosacral adjustments and rewiring the brain. I’ve put together my own method called the STOP Method.
When you are doing self-inquiry, contemplating or meditating, simply ask the question, “Who is it that is suffering? What can I learn from each bit of suffering if I go inside and sit with it for a while?” There within these questions and there within you, lies the help, the answer and the doorway to transformation to change your situation. Maybe you understand this or maybe not, but I wrote a blog on the subject called “Who is it that’s suffering?” I posted it on While We Were Silent facebook group page as well as on my website: www.sollite.com. The acronym STOP stands for the different cranial bones explained more in detail below..
Dr. Hans Selye said, “This survival mechanism can be altered or changed when you have some cranial adjustments.” In the middle of your head, right in between your eyebrows and straight down the center of the top of the head in the middle of your head, that is the OAA, the place of separation. There are many structures there. Mainly the amygdala and the hippocampus hold all our belief systems, our emotional traumas, all of our emotions especially fear, anger, etc., whether they’re related to trauma or not. It’s also what gets triggered by the fight or flight, freeze model of stress response, this area of our brain. That center holds an actual joint in the middle head which holds the top and the bottom of the head together, it’s called a Sphenobasilar Joint. That’s the S in the STOP Method. The T are the Temporal Bones. Everybody knows the temporal bones it’s right by the little indentation by your eyes.
The O in STOP is the Occiput. This is the base of the head known as the Foramen Magnum, where your whole nervous system travels down your spine which is your communication network from your brain to the rest of your body and energetic field. The P in STOP Method are the Parietals are the top of the head. This great big dome on the top of your head is the crown of your head. What I want you to think about when we go into this meditation exercise is to open up the top of your head and the base of your head, open up the temporal areas, the sides of your head to feel opening and expansion. You’re making space physically for yourself to get into that center of your head, the OAA center. This is all imaginary and possible. We’re energy beings anyway therefore you can do this energetically through intention.
The next step in the STOP Method is one of them is active, the other one is passive and you can do one before the other, whatever you like. The passive part is the meditation steps. The active part is when I’m utilizing and bringing in the divine qualities of light and sound codes that are linked to this brain center. Meaning that it’s active because if you say these quality names out loud, it works on your physical level. If you whisper them, it works on your emotional and energetic level. If you say them to yourself silently, it’s working on your soul level. That’s a medical Qigong technique.
I will explain the qualities first because I’ve only picked three out of a list of 99. An-Nur is The Original Light. We’re bringing in light to the head. Al-Jami is The Gatherer and it brings the two hemispheres of the brain together, right and left hemisphere. What we’re doing is bringing unity to override in that duality. The last one is Al-Alim, the All-Knowing. It opens up the third eye area and it unites the mind with the heart. Those are the three that I’ve chosen. I want you to relax. You can take your time doing this on your own as much time as you want 5, 10, 20, 30 minutes one hour or longer, whatever feels right to you.
Ok starting the experiential portion of this interview with the STOP Method. We start with those cranial bone areas that I explained previously. Think of your head opening up and separating. Focus on that place in the middle of your head, that joint where the OAA is and where all your belief systems, conditioned habits, emotions and traumas are stored.
There are five steps that follow in this meditation exercise. First, you Stop. Stop means you pause. You’re letting go of struggling by coming to a moment of pause. You’re stopping everything. Next breathe, three full-body inhalations and exhalations. When you breathe, fill up your breath to the lower abdomen, all the way up to your head. Fill your body, side to side, expand your chest, front and back. Fill up your body as though it’s a balloon with air, life force energy and spirit. When you exhale, you contract it all out. It’s a natural process of nature to expand and contract. When you do three full-body inhalations and exhalations, it helps give the signal to your brain and body that it’s time to relax, and prepares for releasing and letting go.
The next step is Surrender. By surrender, let everything be the way it is, your inner and outer environment. Whatever experience you’re having, if you have thoughts and emotions come up, let it be. They will go away and change. If you have noise in your environment, let it be part of your experience. That also will go and change because change is constant. The next step is to let go. Let go of any holding, avoiding the process and grasping to try to reach a goal or to do something. Let go of muscle tension, emotions and thoughts. Allow them to be there but don’t invite them in to stay for tea. “Let go of trying to figure anything out.”
The last step is Abide. Abide meaning rest in the recognition of awareness and consciousness. Have that feeling sense perception of who you are, and abide in what that opens you up to. The more you stop, breathe, surrender, let go and abide, something will open up, a new doorway will open. You will experience taking a deeper journey layer by layer, step by step, remembering to allow everything to be as it is along the way. You could stop with here and sit with it for as long as you want.
I’m going to now bring in the qualities for you so you can experience the resonance, vibration and frequency. The act of bringing in the healing light and sound codes can be reversed with the passive meditation exercise instead, you can try either way to see what you like the most and switch it around on a daily basis if you want. I am repeating these following codes 33 times for this interview but remember you can do as long or as short as you desire at various times. Allow yourself to be enveloped by the sound, the light, and the frequency of vibration that rises and shifts within and around you. Feel into it. (Also remember, om is the original sound).
First, An-Nur, the original light. The next one, Al-Jami is bringing unity in the hemispheres at the brain together, right and left hemispheres, male and female energies. Let’s get your own sense, feeling and perception of the unity of the brain matter and all else that you resonate with. The last quality of the all-knowing, Al-Alim, is going to open your third eye and unite your mind with your heart, placing you in unity with your knowledge and your wisdom of your heart. Connecting both brain and physical hearts energetically. Have a sense of the expansion and connection of your heart with your mind.
Rest and take time to be in their remembrance of the truth of who you are. Rest in silence, stillness and see what comes. Thank you very much for joining me. Thank you, Debra, for giving me this opportunity share.
Thank you, Anthousa. This has been healing, powerful, enlightening and informative. Thank you very much. It’s been a beautiful process. That ties many pieces together, the spiritual, physical and even in the experience. The experience in the body as well as the intellectual stimulation, knowledge, and direction for the mind. I appreciate the way that you do that.
I want to remind people that you’re not alone. All of humanity goes through this journey and we all experience the same journey. Whether we are aware or talk about it or not, we’re here to learn our lessons, to evolve and to be connected in unity with one another and to realize that there is love, mercy and compassion in the universe. Reach out any time, ask for help from whoever you feel to ask for help and support from because you are worth it. Thank you.
Thank you. That’s beautiful. If I can add one more piece to that, I’m speaking from my own experience because I went through this with a time of thinking, “My trauma was small compared to what some people go through.” I was like, “I don’t have anything to ask for here because other people go through much worse and survive it. I’m okay. I don’t have to give much thought, attention or voice to this yet.” My experience is my experience and how I relate to it and what it does in my body, heart and spirit is significant because this is what’s there for me, for you, for each person has given us what they need in order to receive what they receive and give what they’re here to give.
Interestingly, when I did get some counseling and some sessions from someone, she was like, “I can’t believe.” I was like, “That was life. That wasn’t anything and other people go through a lot.” It’s all relative. Don’t discount what you’re experiencing and what you’re feeling. If you cannot compare it to others and then discount it as nothing, if it’s something that you need, it’s something inside of you as it could use some help, support and attention, then by all means, give that to yourself. Whether you take these practices in for yourself, you reach out to Anthousa and to me for support or to whoever is a person that you trust and believe in, then it’s valid and it’s worth it.
I did mention that before. Everybody is different. It doesn’t matter the intensity, it’s all relative to some degrees. It’s part of your journey and what you’re here for in your life lesson. Each individual persons’ gifts and talents are needed and essential to humanity. It’s worth it to come out and offer yourself and your gifts to the world because everybody is special and has something to offer to humanity to help others.
Thank you so much. This has been wonderful. Thank you, everyone, for being here.
Interview collaboration with| Joyfully Living Wellness