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Lions Roar : September 2019
To delve even more deeply into how to heal his- torical wounds, they invited in DaRa Williams, a dharma teacher and psychotherapist specializing in trauma healing who is trained in Indigenous Focus- ing-Oriented Therapy and complex trauma. “IFOT is the only trauma-based therapeutic practice I’m aware of that was developed by a non- white person,” Williams says. “By virtue of this, the mind, experience, and community that it arose from are already devoid of many of the colonized ways of perceiving trauma, especially historical trauma. The decolonization and deconstruction that has to happen with other trauma therapies is not needed. Because IFOT is based on an indigenous worldview, it’s accessible and successful at its very core in engaging and transforming multigenera- tional trauma.” Together, the four facilitators began designing the curriculum for the first weeklong Deep Time Libera- tion retreat. Then, in April of 2018, they were joined in New Orleans by twelve meditators whose origins arose from the African diaspora—African Ameri- can, African Caribbean, and African Latinx. Together, the sixteen created a sense of sangha, community, through laughter, conversation, food, drumming, and ritual. The retreatants, along with the facilitators, began by setting up an altar to honor their ancestors. They had been asked to bring pic- tures and other small items that connected them to their ancestral roots. Their readiness to undertake the healing journey was deeply rooted in veneration of their ancestors. After bonding in New Orleans, the group made its way to the Flowering Lotus Retreat Center in The Whitney Planation is the only museum in the United States that narrates the horrors of slavery from the slaves’ perspective. There, DTL retreatants bore witness to the lived experience of their enslaved ancestors. “You have to touch the thing that you’re being liberated from,” says participant Kabir Hypolite.