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Retreat To Spirit: Ancestral Trauma

Have you heard of ancestral trauma? Or perhaps generational curses? While we don't believe in curses through generations, we do understand (and our work is steeped in) helping those who are dealing with intergenerational trauma through healing, restoration, and reclamation.

"There has been academic research and thought-provoking discussion regarding intergenerational trauma and its cultural impact on Native Americans and Holocaust survivors, yet its effect on African American culture has been tragically ignored. The discovery that intergenerational cultural trauma unconsciously impacts the contemporary behavior of African Americans is transformational. Understanding the impact of intergenerational cultural trauma is essential to a culturally competent understanding of African Americans", says Howard Denson, publisher of The Transformational Agenda Magazine and The Black Pages Business Directory.

We noticed many people, mainly of African descent, were weighed down by trauma via COVID, racism, and other factors. This prompted us to create our Trauma Conscious Training: an interactive program that allows people to unpack their triggers, traumas, and healing journey and to understand the healing journey of others impacted by trauma.

For Black Americans who descend from enslaved people, the trauma experienced by their ancestors has been passed down through each generation. This trauma was explored in detail in the work of Dr. Joy DeGruy Leary, who wrote the book Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome: America's Legacy of Enduring Injury and Healing. There is also evidence of the legacy of settler colonial trauma within Africa and the Caribbean. Three crucial outcomes of intergenerational trauma deserve further exploration: self–esteem, health outcomes, and internalized oppression. [Asare, Janice Gassam. “3 Ways Intergenerational Trauma Still Impacts the Black Community Today.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 14 Apr. 2022,]

For much Black youth, especially those from deprived and under-resourced communities, learned helplessness may be another consequence of intergenerational trauma. Learned helplessness is the perception that no matter what a person does, they cannot change their situation or condition. Though frustrated, people who feel learned helplessness will stop trying to change their circumstances. As a provider of mindfulness programs for incarcerated youth in the state of Delaware, Amina Naru, co-founder of Retreat to Spirit, sees trauma's impact on the youth's self-esteem. "There is an underlying belief of hopelessness embedded in some of the youth expressed in statements of unworthiness, helplessness, and physical body posture," says Naru.

The continued and ongoing effects of navigating racist environments can harm a person's health. Studies have shown that racism contributes to accelerated biological aging of black women, hypertension, psychological issues, and poor sleep patterns in the black community. Young adults aged 18-28 who experienced discrimination were more likely to "experience psychological distress, to be diagnosed with a mental illness or to report excessive drug use."[Asare, Janice Gassam. “3 Ways Intergenerational Trauma Still Impacts the Black Community Today.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 14 Apr. 2022,]

The Retreat to Spirit Trauma Training unpacks the importance of understanding the trauma of racism and other complex trauma to help each other on our healing journey: supporting the coordinated care of our community and the communities we serve. To learn more through our trauma-conscious training, visit our website and sign up for our newsletter at

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Who are we?

We are two African American women with a deep passion for assisting in the paradigm shift that is taking place on our beloved mother earth. Spiritual evolution is rapidly awakening humankind, and the necessary tools, education, and compassionate spaces for growth are not always accessible or offered. As internationally recognized leaders in the field of service and yoga with over 30 years of combined experience, we invite you to explore contemplative practices with us to enhance your livelihood to include more joy, peace, and happiness.

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