West African Healer Brings True Intimacy to Laguna Beach
Eight people formed the Ash Circle. A man, an alcoholic, was one of the spokes. His wife, her turn to speak, told him how his anger and criticisms cut her so deeply over the years that she no longer bleeds.
Suppressed anger is the result of a lack of true intimacy, a knowing and deep understanding between people, says Sobonfu Some, a West African ritual expert, author and teacher. The Ash Circle is an African ritual, says Sobonfu, used to clear conflict and anger. The intent is to tell the truth about the conflict so that the underlying experience can be revealed without judgment, without opinion.
Sobonfu, considered one of the foremost voices in African spirituality and author of “The Spirit of Intimacy,” will bring the Ash Circle and other rituals to Laguna this weekend in an intimacy workshop at the Neighborhood Congregational Church.
According to Sobonfu, everyone has intimacy issues, and as much with ourselves as with others, since we are our own biggest strangers.
Sobonfu will present a talk about the healing rituals from 7 to 9 p.m. tonight, and will lead a workshop on intimacy as “the song of our spirits, a song that no one can resist” from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday.
While one of the most difficult struggles, the creation of healthy relationships, including with ourselves, is a crucial component of happiness, insists Sobonfu.
She believes fear of vulnerability, rejection and getting emotionally hurt, usually due to pain suffered as children, leads people to shut out others, as well as their own feelings. This especially pertains to emotions perceived as unacceptable, such as anger.
“That’s why there are so many people hurting others because they are hurting inside,” Sobonfu said. The African healing rituals she will teach at the workshop help people reveal and release these emotions in a supportive, nonjudgmental community, she said. “There is a different level of intimacy that is created that would not be there if that truth were not spoken,” she said.
The judgment people feel from others, she explained, is the judgment they have about themselves. If they felt others thought they weren’t worthy of love when they were young, they feel unworthy of having anything meaningful in their lives as an adult and will often sabotage the possibility.
“If there’s no closeness, there’s been abandonment,” she states. “For someone not to be able to feel that closeness to other people, there’s a breaking that happened in their life either because the person was not wanted, either because they were abandoned or rejected. Something happened that makes them protect their heart at all costs.”
When we suppress painful emotions, she says, addictions, toxic relationships and disease can result. What it takes to safely reveal our painful experiences and the emotions the pain created is support from people we trust.
The cost for the Friday night presentation is $30 and the Friday night talk and Saturday workshop together cost $200. To register, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 703-505-5152.