A Love “Connection”
March 2019 Issue
by Nina Greenplate
Photography by Marvin Rivera,
Picture This Photography
Iris Ar-Raheem has a light about her; a gentle radiance that shines from her eyes and beautiful smile. Owner of Bhava Vibes on Hilton Head’s south end, Iris’ intentional love for others is a compliment to her profession as a natural, energy healer. Bhava, in Sanskrit translates to: worldly existence; becoming; birth. “Our world is spectacular,” she says. “There’s a collective consciousness that connects everyone to ourselves.”
This belief is rooted in her training as a Reiki Master, and Ho’oponopono Practitioner. Reiki originated in Japan; an alternative healing technique that uses one’s energy to encourage emotional and physical transformation. “Everyone is unique,” Iris states. “Mind, body and spirit work synergistically.” Ho’oponopono is a Hawaiian spiritual method of blessing others to correct and restore relationships. Meditation intersects these beliefs and is vital to her work. It brings order to disorder and provides wisdom. “Be still, wait, and breathe deeply,” she smiles. Both ancient healing practices require an open mindedness and a depth of love for oneself. “I aways want to give more than I receive, believe more than I doubt, and love more than I hate.”
Self-love wasn’t always easy for Ms. Ar-Raheem, as personal growth sometimes requires us to move through tough seasons. Iris was once married and once engaged, both at a young age, before meeting her current loving husband, Lewis. In her two early relationships, both men were highly abusive. “I grew up in a happy bubble,” Iris says. “My parents were good and encouraging people who didn’t argue.”
The sky’s the limit and dream the impossible were regular mantras to Iris and her sisters, Safiyyah and Fatimah, spoken by their parents, Sultan and Aminah. “I didn’t know someone could be so cruel, and I thought I was doing something wrong.” She credits a schoolteacher and her priest with helping her recognize her strength, leave the situations, and eventually tell her parents.
Iris’ life is fueled by her faith in a higher power. She was raised in the Muslim faith, and continues to appreciate many of those disciplines. Yet, she doesn’t identify with any one religion. Biblical Christianity also speaks deeply to her, and she was ordained a Gospel Minister in 2003. She credits a divine relationship with God and the Holy Spirit who guide her daily. They do a work in her, so she, in turn, can do a work in others. Iris’ spiritual growth had an interesting genesis. She was impacted by several religious influences early on, in addition to her upbringing. One particularly intense experience occurred at the age of 15 while attending a Christian revival with a friend. What she describes as a burning sensation in her toes slowly moved up the length of her body and became an unbearable and nauseating three-hour ordeal. Panic stricken, she recalls having flashes of her future life, and being unable to speak coherently. Friends told her she was uttering in tongues unknown to her! Iris awoke in baptismal waters, as the pastor felt it was the best way to cool her body and bring her back to full consciousness. The experience was frightening and confusing. Iris would not attend any church for years in fear it might happen again.
She continues her story with a bit of sparkle in her eyes, blended with a bit of trepidation: She tells of an incredible happening 12 years after the revival event. This occurrence helped open her heart to God’s love and to her healing gifts. “Don’t ever put a question mark where God has put a period,” she says with seriousness in her tone. On a bus to Atlanta for job training, she noticed a young man repeatedly glancing at her. His head was shaved; he had many tattoos and wore a leather jacket. She didn’t know him, nor did she judge his surly appearance; however, she felt uncomfortable and did everything she could to avoid his stare. After a time he walked over and sat down next to her.
“He told me that I had had an unanswered question in me for some time,” she said. “I had absolutely no idea what he was talking about.” He handed her a piece of paper with a bible verse and said, “God knows about your question.” The bus made a brief stop. The man exited for several minutes. Iris looked up the verse: Acts verse 2 describes Jesus’ followers encountering the Holy Spirit: the spirit came down upon them in the form of fire and gave them the ability to speak in unfamiliar languages.
When the man returned, Iris told him she understood his message. Visibly moved, he told her how unhappy he had been with some of his life choices, and how honored he felt delivering this message to her. It was confirmation for him that God can use any of us for good. For Iris, she knew without a doubt that this connected back to the church revival years earlier. She was excited to move forward in her faith journey, as this message was a comfort. “There is nothing more powerful than a changed mind,” she states.
Taking the time to connect with and love on others is Iris’s life work. “Time is our greatest tool; there is time to turn hate into love, poverty to riches, and empty to full,” she smiles. Our world could certainly use more healing love like this.
Children: Five beautiful children—Anastasia, Giovanni, Mario, Najia, Nilah and one beautiful grandson, Giovanni, Jr.
23 & Me: Her lineage traces from the island of Trinidad, to its north-east, the island country of Barbados
Good Hair Day: Her favorite salon is Fakha’s African Hair Braiding.
Rock It: Black Market Minerals in Coligny Plaza, HHI, is her favorite store.