Sunday, March 7, 2021

Identity as a Verb

I've long been interested in various systems to explore identity, such as yoga, the enneagram, astrology, archetypes, defensive character structures, Myers & Briggs, personas, and ego / essence.  I've found each of these useful.  And, my experience is that each system can become an obstacle if I fixate on a identify definition which I perceive as 'me' or 'not me.'

The ancient tradition of yoga suggests that we may not be who we think we are.  For example, a quote by Ramana Maharshi is: “The question, ‘who am I?’ is not really meant to get an answer, the question ‘who am I?’ is meant to dissolve the questioner.”

What is particularly interesting to me is shifting identity from a noun to a verb.  Verbing identity is a process of exploring how we organize ourselves in a given moment.  Habitual ways of organizing were originally developed in response to something from the past (our past difficulties, early environments, or even ancestral or cultural difficulties).  Habitual, repetitive ways of organizing identity can unconsciously continue to frame our perceptions and eliminate our conscious choice as long as it is invisible to us.  

Inquiry about how we are verbing identity can be through any system, such as the ones I mentioned above in my first sentence, with the intention to use the system as a gateway to understanding how we are relating.  Inquiry in service of what we want for ourselves, connected with somatic presencing, allows an unfolding self-intimacy resulting in new possibilities we can gently move toward as we become aware of them.

How cool is that?!





Friday, January 29, 2021

Recognizing, Witnessing & Healing Trauma

One of the ways we can understand how trauma is manifesting in our world today is to look at ways we separate from one another.  Consider the many conversations that are polarized, on topics such as: politics, COVID-19, religion.  We here in the U.S. +hold many different perspectives and beliefs about our current situations.  Even when we can agree on the current situation, we often polarize on ways to create change. In addition, we tend to believe that we have the right perspective, which leads us to lose curiosity and believe that others are wrong. Among us, we seem to hold quite different ideas of what is in integrity, what is true, and what is just.  

My understanding is that aligning with truth, with justice and with care is an ongoing whole-bodied experience.  We can begin by noticing our experience of body sensations, the state of our nervous system, our emotions and heart openness or closure, our thinking, connection with essence, the divine, and what we hold most dear.  We can witness:  Is our awareness holistic and inclusive of these various aspects of ourselves?  The polarizations in the world tend to exist inside us as well in some form, in the ways we include or exclude aspects of ourselves as well as levels of development.  An additional level of complexity is presence with our whole selves even as we relate with others, and with the systems of our culture.


With all the complexity of relating inside and with others, it’s easy to blame someone else or even ourselves for how we participate or don’t participate in life.  Blame may offer a temporary reprieve from the discomfort of whatever is not working, however since blame does not address the source of an issue, blaming tends to keep issues recycling.  Through witnessing ourselves and the world around us, new possibilities and choices gradually emerge.  Witnessing is a whole-body activity of seeing, feeling, and sensing what is happening, growing our capacity to discover an aligned response which is essentially creative.  From our wholeness and grounded presence, we can turn toward whatever is not working inside or around us, and respond, choose, create, and invite collaboration. 

Collective trauma makes itself known to us as symptoms of disconnection, polarization, harm, lack of balance, stuckness, and injustice in our societal systems and social norms.  For example, when a child asks a question about why something that doesn’t make sense is the way it is, and we answer, “that’s just how it’s always been,” we are likely touching on a collective trauma symptom.  

To heal, restore wholeness, and create systems that are grounded in integrity and also responsive will likely take many individuals practicing on their own and together to create a body of coherence that can begin to witness our collective issues.  We will need to learn to see to the root of things with wisdom and not blame, so we can create accountability, healing, and systemic change and restoration for people who have been systemically oppressed or systemically oppressive.  

And so we practice…

~~

Introduction to Listening & Subtle Competencies for Healing

I'm offering two free sessions.  Please pre-register to attend either at least one day in advance:
 

Friday, January 8, 2021

Belonging and Relational Structure

In my studies with Thomas Huebl, I am learning about space, energy and structure.  I've studied these qualities through other lenses such as Yoga in the Himalayan tradition and the work of the Hendricks, and always find it interesting to bring in new perspectives.  

Space correlates with being-ness, the root chakra, and the right and space to be here in life. It also connects us with stillness, consciousness and the capacity to witness.  Energy correlates with becoming, learning and evolving, movement up the spine, and movement generally.  There are many aspects of structure such as things that make up the material world and most intimately, our physical body, which is a complex, evolutionary structure.  Structure correlates with the manifestation of life into form, with the horizontal field of connecting with others, and our belonging in life.    

In this post, I want to focus on the structure of belonging, which is the aspect of our relational networks and the ways we are connected with other people, animals, our environment, our planet, and the systems that are part of our lives today.  Examples of systems include governments, voting processes, medical care, money and banking systems, etc. So often when we think of these larger structures which began long before we were born, we feel disconnected from them and see them as something other than ourselves which we cannot impact.  From an energetic point of view, these structures are actually part of us, and we are part of them.  We are always contributing something to the structures of our lives, and they are contributing something to our lives.  (Part of the study of systemic oppression is how the systems we live in impact different groups of people differently, as well as the history and purpose of such differences.)  When we believe we are disconnected, nonessential or helpless related to our relational structures and systems, what we contribute is our absence.  

Absence is a symptom of trauma, and we all carry some trauma.  In other words, we all carry many or fewer symptoms of separation or absence within and around us.  This is not bad, per se, as absence serves a function.  When we or our ancestors were unable to face and deal with something in an integrated way, separation occurred.  When it was too much to process, the human nervous system wisely numbed what was overwhelming and could put our survival or functioning at risk.  Today we can call this absence (or trauma).  

Turning toward our own absence related to the structures around us is the first step toward healing and restoration. What we can (begin to) witness can begin to move, heal, and gradually be reconnected into wholeness.  

Even when we cannot see the results of our participation with the systems around us, our contribution always matters regardless of how small or insignificant it may seem.  Since we are in effect an individual manifestation of life, nature, and of the divine, it is up to us to discover what is our appropriate relation, participation and contribution to the structures in and around us.   

When we discover and enact our unique participation with our relational structures and systems, we contribute to healing our belonging.  Since each being alive in this moment belongs to life, restoring our belonging through right relationship ripples out and contributes to restoring belonging for all of us.  I believe our individual movements to participate and restore right relation with our structures and systems is fundamentally our purpose, each in our own unique way.  

May this year be a year when we all fine-tune our presence so that our unique participation contributes a healing, restorative flow into the structures in our beautiful world. 

Monday, December 28, 2020

Solstice & New Year's Contemplations

 TO KNOW THE DARK BY WENDELL BERRY 

To go in the dark with a light is to know the light.
To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight,
and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings,
and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings.


Feel free to explore what comes up for you, whether or not it seems to be a direct answer to the question.  Take what resonates for you, and leave the rest…


Wonder Question:  

How can I connect with and embody the sacred life moving through me and us, which is ever emerging, structuring and re-structuring, and available for to me to express as creativity?


Related to the Solstice / Season of Long Nights here in the Northern Hemisphere:   
  • What healing aspects of light and darkness can you connect with as a resource in your life?
  • What supports and sustains you (on a physical, emotional, mental and/or spiritual level)  when you experience times of darkness?
  • How are you supported by your past experiences?  What aspects of the past (personal, ancestral or collective) are you presently available and supported to turn toward, for purposes of healing and restoration?  Can you connect to a felt sense of resilience of those who have come before you / us?
The great conjunction, Jupiter & Saturn, occurs in the sign of Aquarius on January 21.  Jupiter will be in this sign for nearly a year, and Saturn will remain here for around 2 1/2 years, so these qualities will remain and ripen for some time...  How do you relate with these qualities in your life:
 
Jupiter – healing, magnification, expansion
Saturn – pruning, grounding, structuring
Aquarius – air, breath, fixed nature, communication justice, balance, the collective


  • What part of your life is emerging a whole new way of being for you, going forward? 
  • How can you befriend the qualities of Jupiter, Saturn and Aquarius?
  • What support, practices, rituals, connections, etc. are important, alive structures for you?  What habits / rituals support you and what need to be pruned or changed?
  • How do you integrate to stabilize your expansion?
  • What aspects of your life feel resonant personally and with the collective?   Another way to wonder about this is, what are you doing / how are you being collectively that also feels good and replenishing to you personally?
Related to the Gregorian Calendar New Year...
 
  • What did you learn in 2020?  What was lovely about it?  Is there anything you will miss?  What awarenesses awakened in you?  What did you learn?  What did you let go of?   What do you appreciate about yourself and your life?  
  • What qualities do you want to embody, or begin to embody in 2021?  Are there simple steps, practices, or rituals you want to create to support your evolution?

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Wise Body: Nature's Expression through Us

Sometimes we ask someone, how old are you?  We tend to think of how old our particular body is, and how many years since we were born.  I am 56 years old or 20 years old or 80, etc.  

Another perspective involves taking a longer view.  Our ancestors have been around for about six million years, and the modern form of humans for about 200,000 years.* Each person that is born comes into life at a particular moment in history, and carries the benefits and wisdom developed up to that point.  Our bodies carry the impacts of whatever historical and collective trauma experiences were not yet able to be fully integrated.   We also carry resilience and wisdom and a healing impulse.  Our bodies are an expression of nature through us as individuals. 


What's it like to contemplate nature and the environment not as out there, but also as in here, and right here as my body and yours?  I find it interesting to note how and when I do feel interconnected and a part of nature, and also when I don't, and to wonder about that seeming gap.  In those moments, am I simply numb to the connection between me, my body, my emotions, and nature?  Are you?  Are we all numb, to some extent?  

Numbing is not wrong.  It's a protective function which is one of the symptoms of trauma.  When something is too overwhelming for our nervous systems to process or was too overwhelming at some point in the recent or distant past, numbing allows a portion of the nervous system to be put aside in a sense, so that functioning can continue.  Discovering how we experience numbing and disconnection from our bodies and from nature is a healing movement, and a foundational step to heal the disconnection and move toward wholeness and integration.   

Integrating and deepening our connection to our bodies is easier together.  You're invited to join me for a yoga class, or an embodiment session, if that resonates for you.  Visit my website for details and information. 


* From an article on University Today.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Yoga as Unity

In the tantric philosophy of yoga, yoga means wholeness, to yoke or join together.  This is distinct from the classical yoga definition which orients to the goal of kaivalya:  to abide in one's soul (and not placing as much value on the more transitory aspects of humanity, such as our bodies, emotions, and thoughts).  




Personally, my practice of yoga and meditation is geared toward the tantric aspect of wholeness and integration, bringing our souls / essential selves fully into our bodies, our relationships, and into the world.  One of the ways we can practice to embody the tantric philosophy of wholeness and interconnectedness, is to join together the different aspects of ourselves. To be human includes how we:

- Inhabit our human bodies

- Befriend and connect with our emotions

- Discover our needs and values

- Honor our vulnerabilities as well as our strengths and gifts 

- Honor the past and how we got here

- Be in touch with love and purpose and light and possibility

- To include the places where we have less development and unconscious patterns, (both personal & collective)

- Open to learning and to witness our impact on others,  

- Align our actions with all these aspects of ourselves in a way that serves our connection, sense of belonging, growth, love, and serves the well-being of all of us.

It's not a small goal, this turning toward wholeness!  Living our yoga is a process not a destination.  Every moment is an invitation to start again.  Unity is a process, and the first step is with our most intimate circle of intimacy - our own selves.

Our practice is quite simple really even as practice includes all aspects of ourselves in some way.  Breath and movement and stillness, sensing and feeling, refining our perception, discovering, and most of all caring for ourselves compassionately. Each of us is an inseparable part of the whole that is comprised of each of us, all other species and nature itself.  We practice to remember, to turn toward the embodiment of this yoga as unity: day by day, moment by moment, breath by breath.


You can find my current classes, and other ways to work with me, here.

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Bridging Past to Future: Facing Racism and Reconnecting with our Hearts

One of the callings of our times is to become a bridge between our past and the future we want.  We become a bridge by cultivating an ongoing connection with what is even as we align our actions with what wants to be born through us.    


Photo by Martin Damboldt from Pexels
Photo by Martin Damboldt from Pexels

Facing 'what is' includes facing how 'what was' still radiates through our current experience.  Unfinished, unprocessed experience is sometimes called karma.  Another name for it is trauma.  Trauma exists in individuals, in families, in the collective, and in the systems of our society.  

One collective trauma that I am facing into every day is racism.  

Racism isn't just a word.  It's a code (as all words are) which carries the energetic legacy of trauma which is woven into the very foundations of our systems for hundreds of years.* 

I've been actively learning about whiteness for only about a year, and I'm not an expert.  Writing about my current perception of whiteness and racism (even as I'm still learning) is part of my response to the collective trauma of whiteness, or what the author, Resmaa Menakem calls white body supremacy.  

One of the things that keeps racism going is for people who are systemically in the oppressor role (that's me, with skin known in our world today as white) to not see, feel or take action related to the dehumanizing violence that was perpetrated and became embedded in our systems and the world around us. We told cultural stories that racial violence was over or mostly over, but it isn't.    

I'm turning towards it every day.  

Lifting a veil of unconsciousness and facing systemic oppression and violence is painful. The seduction of continuing to not know, not feel, and not respond to the cultural domination system we were born into is strong.  We are all woven into racist systems and for many of us, our participation and enabling remains unconscious.  Even as we wake up to face, the tendency for us to become overwhelmed, shut down, or otherwise disconnect is powerful.  

My experience is becoming conscious of the water we are swimming in is an ongoing process.  We may see it but not feel it.  Face part of it but not all of it.  Bame others.  Feel but remain unable to respond and take action.  Get overwhelmed.  And so on.      

When abuse of power is occurring, it's healthy to see, feel, and respond to what's actually happening.  Even though facing it is painful and often confusing, the waking up process reconnects us to our natural grounding, to the beauty of our own hearts, and to the natural resources of life.  We re- align with our inner compass, and with the best of our humanity.  We become both the bridge to what is possible, as well as the people who walk over the bridge into an equitable future, one step at a time.  


*"400 Years of Inequality is a diverse coalition of organizations and individuals calling on everyone - families, friends, communities, institutions - to plan their own solemn observance of 1619, learn about their own stories and local places, and organize for a more just and equal future." They are "dedicated to dismantling structural inequality and building strong, healthy communities."  - 400 Years of Inequality website