Thursday, July 5, 2018

Love is Space; Love is Specific

There are so many ways to try to escape reality, to escape the here and now, and to escape really participating in our own lives.  We can escape by dwelling in the past.  We can get so caught up in our habits that we pick up the road of our pasts behind us, and lay that road in front of us to repeat again and again and call it our future; but it is not our future, simply a replay of the past.  I heard Thomas Hübl use this metaphor to describe how we can repeat the past, and I really resonate with it.  We can escape into a fantasy that we call our vision of the future, but is really just a pretty picture to get us away from something we don’t want to face in this moment.  We can escape by telling ourselves we are having the wrong experience.  Whatever is happening shouldn’t be happening, because it is not what we planned, or what we wanted.  We can also escape by telling ourselves everything is perfect, and attempt to rise up out of the difficulty of our human experience by trying to paint it in spiritual colors, so we can bypass the pain in our emotional and physical bodies and escape to a spiritual realm, far above.  We can escape from our present moment by blaming ourselves for how things are, or blaming other people for how things got to be this way.   And of course, we can turn to any number of numbing or addictive behaviors - drugs, drinking, sex, eating in an unhealthy way - to try to be anywhere else but here.

And, at some point, it all seems fruitless.  My experience is, when I finally locate myself in my body and notice what is happening in the vast field of my body-mind system, when I allow the river of experiences that is flowing within and around me to be as it is, I feel relieved.  I may feel a lot of other things too, and I think it is important to point out that relief is one of them.  It’s a relief to drop resisting facing what is.  It’s a relief to let go of the energy eaten up in trying to escape, which involves building a dam to hold back the energy of what is real, the life energy flowing, pulsing and throbbing which so wants to live through the field of my body. I find life is a continual call to presence and participation.  What a challenge, and yet what a joy to surrender the life I conceptualized, and become available to the life that is actually happening!

Sometimes life breaks our hearts.  Heartbreak invites us to expand, to allow the unexpected and unwanted to be here, and to allow the spacious grace of possibility, of spirit, to come in and make more space in and around what’s here, to become a large enough version of ourselves to presence what is here, now.  One of my favorite kirtan artists, Deva Premal, has an album called Love is Space, which I adore.  My mentor and friend, Kathlyn Hendricks, says that love is the ability to be in the same space with something or someone, and my experience is this definition of the spaciousness of love is true and powerful.  Being available to soften my defensive edges into presence, while simultaneously opening to the river of life energy flowing through what is actually happening, which is also presence, is expansive and makes me feel stronger.

I’m learning lately that love is also in the details: The particular sculpture of whatever life challenge I am facing becomes interesting and inviting once I allow my resistance to morph into presence and willingness.  The detailed practice of presence within myself -- my actual here-and-now sensations in my body, connection with the movements of emotions and energy, noticing the nature of my thoughts -- is a gateway to a rich relationship with life, which involves a continual willingness to open and allow myself to evolve and grow new capacities.  

This poem by David Whyte captures the beauty of love being in the details: 

Start close in,
don’t take the second step
or the third,
start with the first
close in,
the step
you don’t want to take.

Start with
the ground
you know,
the pale ground
beneath your feet,
your own
way of starting
the conversation.

Start with your own
give up on other
people’s questions,
don’t let them
smother something

To find
another’s voice,
your own voice,
wait until
that voice
becomes a
private ear
to another.

Start right now
take a small step
you can call your own
don’t follow
someone else’s
heroics, be humble
and focused,
start close in,
don’t mistake
that other
for your own.

Start close in,
don’t take
the second step
or the third,
start with the first
close in,
the step
you don’t want to take.

~David Whyte, River Flow: New and Selected Poems

There is only one you - unique in your history, your particular recipe of qualities and gifts - and your showing up in your authentic fullness in the world allows the river of life to flow through you back to the source.  Your full authentic expression equals fulfillment for you as you express your gifts to add to the rich tapestry of life here and now that we are weaving together, as well as a contribution to all of us, since nobody else can contribute just what you have to offer. 

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The turn of the seasons - some practices, and upcoming offerings

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Happy Holidays!

Are you 'taking advantage' of this opportunity at the turn of the seasons to let go, complete things, and to create space to wonder into what you'd like to create? I hope you are! This is one of my favorite times of the year because the increased hours of darkness invite us to turn inward, be still, and know ourselves deeply .... To contemplate and wonder about who we are, what we desire, and how we can live more authentically and in-tune with our deepest nature. So, from my dining room table -- with the sun streaming in from a window, my Christmas tree nearby with decorations on it from the middle to the top where the newest kitten can't take them down as easily ;), and Steve Gold's 'There is So Much Magnificance' playing on my stereo -- I'll share some suggestions with you for the next few days.

Create some stillness:

* Contemplate what you'd like to let go of. Do you have clothing or items in your home that you haven't used for a year or more, and no specific plan to use in the future? If so, consider giving them away, selling them, moving them out. Make an agreement with yourself with a 'by when' you will take this action.

* Contemplate what you'd like to complete.
- Are there project that you've begun that you'd like to complete? Filing? Clearing your desk? Now is a great time to clear things out by making completions. Make an agreement with yourself by when you'd like to complete, or simply to take the first step toward completion if it's a bigger project.
- Are there projects you've begun that you no longer wish to continue? Consider whether you'd like to change your agreement with yourself about completing something. For example, maybe you began an artistic project that you no longer have energy or passion to finish. You might complete the project by disposing of it - recycling it somehow, etc. This is creating completion by consciously changing your agreement.

* Contemplate completion in your relationships. Is there something important that remains unspoken between you and someone you are close to, or want to be close to? Is this unspoken 'elephant in the room' continually draining your energy as you notice it, and not take action? If so, clear the air. Speaking what is true for you in unarguable ways (i.e. revealing your feelings and needs as a gift / not to transfer responsibility for or to blame) creates flow and closeness in relationships.

* Create space for creativity. Feel your body and your breathing. Shift and move your body anywhere you feel tight or stuck to feel more pleasure. Breathe deeply. Gently move toward your inner sensations, like an inner embrace. Notice where you feel the greatest sense of sweet spaciousness in your body. Breathe into and expand that area. Now float some 'wonder questions.' Hmmmm I wonder how I can express my full creativity ..... I wonder how I can have a great time doing what I love to do .... (add a few of your own.) The idea is not to point your attention directly to the answers, but more to invite and expand the sense of wondering, and the sense of spaciousness you are experiencing. The more time you spend in this 'spacious zone' the more creative you will be in your life. When a specific idea does arise, ask yourself what is the easiest step I mght take today (or soon) toward this creation?

These are practices for this time of year, for a lifetime, and for every day. See how much fun you can have completing and wondering!

Now, here are a few of my upcoming offerings:

** Yearlong Program ** Celebrate Life Yoga Teacher Training and In Depth Study Program at the Healing Arts Center.

(Jan - Nov, 2010)

The training format is ten weekends - one a month starting in January, skipping July, and ending in November 2010. I invite you to check out the details on my website to explore whether this learning opportunity is the answer to your longing for self-transformation in a dedicated community of learners.

** Morning Workshops for Dedicated Yoga Practitioners ** at the Healing Arts Center

Saturday January 16 - 9:00 am to approximately noon
Sunday, January 17 - 8:00 am to approximately 11:00 am
and each other weekend the Yoga Teacher training meets. (All dates and details are on the link above.)

The weekend morning practices are open to all experienced Yoga Practitioners. Workshops will include asana (yoga poses) and some combination of the following: pranayama; meditation; visualization; chanting; relaxation; movement improvisation; ecstatic dance; contemplation and exercises using processes from Nonviolent Communication; The Work of Byron Katie, or Gay & Kathlyn Hendricks; and other transformational and connecting games and practices.

The specific focus of each workshop will be published as the date approaches. These workshops are offered by donation, and no pre-registration is needed. To attend, arrive 10 minutes early for the workshop.

** Weekly Yoga Classes ** at Big Bend Yoga Center

Mondays, 5:45 - 7:15 pm - Level 1-2 (Intermediate)
Mondays, 7:30 - 8:45 pm - Basics (for beginners and people with significant physical limitations)

Classes are offered on a drop-in basis. Please arrive 10 minutes before class begin the first time you attend.

** I will be sharing other upcoming offerings (Nonviolent Communication workshops, etc. ) in the next few weeks as details are solidified. **

Many blessings on your journey!

With spaciousness, love and joy,

Rhonda Mills
St. Louis, Missouri

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Love Shift

An invitation:

Bring to mind a time when you felt love. It doesn’t matter which way the love was flowing … it could be a time when you felt especially loved, or when you felt loving toward someone, even a pet, or with nature, or in an experience of meditation or prayer. As you remember, notice how you experience love in your body. What sensations do you notice right now? Stay present with the feeling of love, the sensations you feel, and your breathing. Rest into the experience of love, and let it expand inside you.

It is often the aspects of ourselves that we don’t love which show up when we least want them to. It is the parts of ourselves we don’t love which we bring into our relationships, wishing someone else would love them for us. It is often the part of ourselves we don’t love which we project onto others. However, there is hope. When we learn to love ourselves precisely in the moments we find ourselves the most unlovable, profound change happens.

To love yourself, it’s not necessary to understand yourself fully, to know what causes you to do what you are not liking or even to be connected with feelings and needs you are not meeting. It all starts with your willingness to love, right now. You have the power to bring love to any part of yourself or another, and to any situation. Loving does not imply approval or agreement. Loving is a state of being, and loving creates a shift. It is from the experience of love that learning can happen, growth happens, peace happens, connection happens, insight happens. Everything becomes possible.

I invite you to play with love in this way! What is it that you deny in yourself? Try the love shift…

Appreciating sharing with you,

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Including and Abundance


Today I invite you to notice where you think in "or's" and "but's" and to play with the word "and" -- especially when it comes to what you are wanting and needing.

And equals abundance! ... Including all your needs, desires, thoughts, ...all parts of yourself in a hug of wholeness. This is the beginning of experience and creating abundance at the microcosm.

I invite you to make this an easy exploration in this moment ... For example, right now I am wanting to write this note to you -- to connect and contribute -- and needing movement. In this moment, I am sitting in my chair, happily typing this, feet flat on the floor, spine tall and swaying. Bliss!

Warm hug,

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Enjoying Your Learning


When I think about what skills are the most helpful in my own life, the first thing that comes to mind is my relationship to learning, especially what happens in the moment that I first become aware of something I didn’t know about myself, or didn’t know I didn’t know.

I remember when I first learned that feeling all feelings was positive and helpful in life and would bring me in connection with my deeper needs and aliveness. I was surprised! I thought some feelings, such as anger and fear, were a bad thing, and if I were feeling those feelings something was wrong. At that time, I didn’t understand the differentiation between feeling feelings and taking actions – for example, feeling angry and expressing myself to another person are two separate steps. When I first started learning about feeling feelings several years ago, my first response was sadness that I hadn’t known how to be with and feel my feelings before, along with some judgment of myself for not knowing how to be with and feel my feelings before.

The moment when a person first learns something they didn’t know before, is the moment I want to draw your attention to. In my experience, bringing awareness to this particular moment is very powerful and can create a big shift in people’s lives. I’m reminded of these stages of learning that I first heard Wes Taylor, a Nonviolent Communication Trainer whom I like and respect, share in a workshop. The four stages of learning are:

1. unconscious incompetence – you don’t know something that would be helpful to you to know; you don’t know you don’t know.

2. conscious incompetence – you have noticed that you don’t know something or have a skill that you’d like to learn or embody. You catch yourself in your old, habitual, way of doing things that is not helpful to you.

3. conscious competence – through awareness and practice, you start to do what you’d like to do, not do what you’d like not to do, and to embody your learning.

4. unconscious competence – you have integrated what you wanted to learn, and it is easy and natural for you.

The moment I am referring to is the beginning moment of step #2. In the moment when you first notice yourself in an old, unconscious or habitual way of doing something that you’d like to change, cultivate a sense of appreciation of yourself for noticing. Acknowledge to yourself that this is progress – this is a step toward mastery!

What currently happens for you when you first become aware of something you didn’t know you didn’t know?

I invite you to wonder how you can love and appreciate yourself for noticing, and make the shift to appreciation. If you’d like, try on this statement out loud to yourself, “hmmm I wonder how I can create friendlier learning for myself …. ?” “mmmm how can I enjoy myself more as my learning unfolds …. ?”

I invite you to share your experiences and learning with me. If you'd like to share publicly and/or see other people's posts, visit and join my 'Celebrate Life with Rhonda' group on facebook, or post here.

With love from my kitchen table and laptop,

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Desire - having what we really want

Hi there,

I’m enjoying a relaxing, sunny morning herein St. Louis.

My topic today is desire.

As I thought about writing this, it seemed so simple. Now as I sit down at my laptop, laughing, I have many thoughts and memories arising, and am remembering many different teachings about desire.

How about Rumi to begin? “Aspiration is the wings of humankind.”

I heard this from one of my teachers, Yogarupa Rod Stryker, who may have been paraphrasing an ancient scripture, “God is both desire in the awakened mind of a sage and one who sees the futility of desire. However, until you have enjoyed and fulfilled the path of desire, do not renounce it.” Even yoga renunciates renounce worldly things because they desire to be closer to God!

Yoga, Nonviolent Communication, and Conscious Living & Loving methodologies all hold desire as life-enhancing. Here’s what I’ve learned:

• Our internal states, our feelings, desires, wants, needs, provide an internal guidance system to help us live authentically and in harmony with our deepest selves and with each other. Suppressing desire isn’t helpful, as what is suppressed often arises again stronger than before. Keep in mind that knowing and accepting what we desire is not the same as taking action. What I’m referring to is coming into harmony with ‘what is’ inside us – being with and breathing with ourselves in a given moment.

• We can best know what we really want and take actions to have what we really want when we’re in a state of contentment and fullness; when we’re in harmony with what is right now.

• To move into the state of contentment, sometimes we need to face and accept something, or feel some feelings, that we haven’t faced, accepted, or felt. This non-resistance liberates us to be content with where we are and what we have or don’t have. Paradoxically, when we’re free-er from the wanting, we also become free-er to have what we want!

• It’s helpful to be connected to the qualities alive in what we want. When we become fully connected and “fulfilled” with the qualities, sometimes we may find we don’t actually want the thing we thought we wanted. And sometimes we still do want it, from a place of inner fullness.

• From knowing and accepting ourselves as we are, including our feelings and desires, we become more whole and enjoy ourselves more. And simultaneously we become more loving and accepting of others. People love being accepted and loved!

So, what do you really want right now? Perhaps it’s a drink of water, or a stretch. Start simple, in the present moment. Many present moments lived in harmony with our deepest desires lead to a life aligned with deepest desire.
I’m celebrating that my own inquiry into what I really want -- which I have been thinking was a relocation for me and my family to California creating a circle of love and beauty around me and the kids -- has, after much facing, accepting and mourning old sadnesses, morphed into wanting to stay right where I am! I’m so delighted with my exploration, and I can tell you, it’s a very different experience for me than it would have been if I had just told myself I really should stay right where I am. I appreciate the dance I do with life, and the surprises and delights that greet me in my commitment to live authentically and in integrity with my essence. Today, I’m celebrating the circle of love and beauty that I am experiencing right where I am.

Here’s to you deeply knowing and having what you want. As you thrive, the whole universe thrives.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Living Creatively - Commitment

I love living creatively, each action I take like another brushstroke of paint on the canvas of my life, or the next line in my story. I enjoy making it up as I go along, learning from every situation, loving me unconditionally, and choosing what’s next …

One way I do this is to claim ownership of what’s happening in my life whether I like it or not, like ‘Today is Tuesday and my house is messy.’ Then noticing how I feel and breathing and moving with my feelings, letting myself be. Then wondering what I want… aaah this I my favorite part! As I have clarity about what I want, next is stepping into my willingness to have, be or create what I want, breathing, feeling the fear or whatever feelings emerge as I acknowledge what I want and open myself to the possibility of having it. When I am ready, breathing and flowing with my own willingness, next comes commitment. I experience commitment as a statement to life, the universe, God, that I am a creator. I am taking responsibility for my life. I choose to create! What a miracle to see, feel, and acknowledge my own power as a wondrous, creative human being this way. I step forward, as I say out loud, “I commit to …. ”

Go ahead! I invite you to take on this practice if it’s new to you! Will you share about how things unfold?

Keep in mind, commitment is not just once. There’s choosing, committing, feeling, learning, drifting, choosing again (recommitting), not necessarily in that order. The creative process of life is ongoing.

To life! and to companionship on the journey :)

P.S. I have created a Facebook group called "Celebrate Life with Rhonda" and I invite you to join me there!