Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Changing Perspective - A Story of an Ant & the Sky

When I was about 12, in the summertime I liked to bring my Barbie dolls into the large backyard where my family lived in Oklahoma, and play pretend.  One day, after some time, I got tired of the dolls and became fascinated with an ant crawling in the grass.  I put the dolls down and laid down on my belly to get a closer look at the ant.  The ant and the blade of grass the ant was crawling up and down looked very small.  But when I got closer, it was as if a whole other world opened up around me. 

What must the world look like from the ant's perspective, I wondered.

The very same small blade of grass and mound of dirt seemed much bigger.  I imagined what it might feel like to be an ant, to walk like an ant walks vertically up and down a blade of grass, among many other blades of grass, each many times bigger than I was. I could feel the cool blade of grass beneath my feet, and the warm sun on my back. The air around me moving gently.  It all seemed quite natural and secure to the ant, who continued to move steadily in the direction it was going.  The mound of ground which included all those blades of grass seemed huge.  The distance from where we were to the fenceline, to the house, seemed very far away.  If I were an ant, it would be a lot of work to travel that far.  And the sky...

I rolled over to look at the sky.  The sky, and the vista of space all around us -- me, and the ant, and the blade of grass -- seemed incredibly vast.  I lost track of time, and began to wonder what it would be like to be a cloud.  

What a blissful day it was.  What a feeling of belonging and connection in my environment.  

This experience I had imagining I was an ant opened something in me - a felt sense of interconnection with access to feel the ant and the blade of grass and the cloud and the sky as a part of me, and that I am also a part of.  That was a gift - that was grace.  

Opening our perspective to new vistas that we can experience in our bodies can feel that way - like opening to a whole new world.  

These days, one of the ways I work with people is helping them shift their consciousness.  While there can be complexity to creating conscious shifts mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually, and relationally, there can also be a kind of simplicity to it with attuned presence.  

I'm grateful for the privilege I had to be free from danger, safe, and with a yard just beyond my back door surrounded by a quiet neighborhood where I could imagine and wonder and just be.  I'm aware not everyone grows up with that kind of access.  

And wherever we are, whatever state of consciousness we currently inhabit, and whatever our background, shifts are possible.  Like the ant, we start where we are. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Steadiness and Ease, Yoga Sutras style

The yoga sutras encourage us to cultivate two qualities in order to master yoga. The sanskrit is sthiram and sukham, which is often translated to steadiness and ease.  Cultivating these qualities applies to the physical and internal practice of yoga poses, and can be explored in meditation, and in our lives.  It's interesting to me that some discoveries in neuroscience and psychology about attachment, human development, trauma healing and the nervous system guide us in a similar direction.  

On the physical level, steadiness refers to grounding, to finding a good foundation in the pose from the ground up. Steadiness allows us to sustain, with a quality of strength free of rigidity or force: not going against ourselves in any way.  On a more subtle level steadiness implies self connection - attentive to our minds, and connecting with our hearts, and even deeper with our values, purpose, or soul.  When we are connected with what is essential we may draw upon an innate quality of steadiness, an inner ground of being.  

Ease implies a quality of spaciousness with a kind or compassionate orientation towards our experience.  In this context, ease is about cultivating right effort in our practice - neither forceful nor lackadaisical, either of which will disengage us. Ease isn’t about avoiding;  it’s about a way of being with.  Ease also implies openness to trust our process, or trust life.  Our individual paths of trusting can be quite diverse.  Balancing and savoring the breath supports us with both steadiness and ease.  Cultivating steadiness and ease creates a physical and internal environment where joy and discovery can emerge.  

Info about my weekly online Yoga & Meditation classes

Friday, May 27, 2022

What if

What if...

we were here to regulate our nervous systems and expand our nervous system capacity?
   self regulation
   relational regulation

we were here to heal?
   self healing
   relational healing
   ancestral healing
   collective healing

we were here to restore wholeness and connection
with ourselves,
in our families and communities,
in the natural world with humans and non-humans alike?

what if...

we were allies in learning, relating, restoring and co-creating
   even with those of us who don't believe we are, and
   even with those who are actively promoting division?

what if...

we can breathe together,
be together in curiosity and compassion?
we can move together,
shake together,
cry together,
laugh together,
feel together,
take action together?

what if...

we knew the state of our nervous systems structure our experience and perspective from moment to moment?

we learned that we can take care of our own nervous systems?

we contribute to the well-being of others' nervous systems?

we actively built nervous system coherence in the groups we already are a part of?

I wonder how that would be, and what would become possible.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

The Heart's Gift: A Never Alone Story Inspired by Ancient Wisdom


The Heart’s Gift

A Never Alone Story Inspired by Ancient Wisdom

Once upon a time in a mystical, magical place there was a lake.  It was a huge lake, still and beautiful and deep.  In it were many treasures and mysteries.  At first look, some seemed scary and mysterious and menacing.

Upon a closer look, it became apparent that there was a great root – a great stem – that emerged from the mud under the very center of that still, deep lake.  That great, long stem bloomed into the most beautiful lotus flower that anyone had ever seen.

When people saw that flower in a dream, or in their mind’s eye, or in their hearts, they began to sing or dance or hum or play.  Sometimes they would run to give someone a hug or begin to spontaneously tickle someone nearby or play hide and seek or laugh out loud.

The flower was so beautiful some people even cried when they saw it.

One day a swan heard about that beautiful lotus flower and appeared on the lake to take a look. The swan and the lotus flower were happy to see each other!  The swan’s eyes reflected the beautiful lotus flower, and the lotus flower began to smell more wonderful than it already did.  The swan wanted to share his* happiness with someone else. She looked into the lotus flower and out came another swan, serene and diving.  “I am here with you,” said the swan.  “I have always been here with you even when you couldn’t see me.”  The first swan was so happy and grateful, she cried tears of joy.  Each swan looked into the other swan’s eyes.  They were seeing through eyes of love.

They swam in the deep, still lake.  They drank nectar from the beautiful lotus flower.  And they looked at each other with eyes of love.

They were never apart again.  To this day, those two swans are in that lake together.

They enjoy the lovely treasures within the lake.  Together, the treasures aren’t scary or menacing at all.  Some things are still mysterious though. 

When you are really quiet and still and hear your heart beating and feel yourself breathing in, breathing out, you might discover the swans’ presence and love right here, in your very own heart. 

*Pronouns include masculine and feminine deliberately, to indicate inclusivity.

Story by Rhonda Mills, Inspired by the Saundaryalahari – Verse 38

(c) All rights reserved. 2010

Monday, July 5, 2021

Responding to Fear is Love & the Most Important Step

The most important step is the one beneath our feet. 

I love growth and evolutionary processes.  I named my business Transformation Playground because I like remembering that there are a multitude of ways to return home to ourselves, restore, discover, transform, create and connect.  I like remembering that transforming can be playful!

And, sometimes I get impatient and want to have a different experience, be further along in my journey, or for other people to be different.  In the moments I am not accepting and inhabiting where and how I am right here, right now, fear is present. 

Fear is a big deal, and must be met, felt, respected, and responded to.  Suppressed fear fragments perception and diminishes possibilities and presence.  Another way to say it is, suppressed fear creates absence, and when we are absent, we turn away from connecting to what is.  

Fear is an emotion which provides an important developmental, evolutionary function -- protection and connection.  In early life, when we've crawled or walked as far from our caregivers as we're ready to, fear calls us to reconnect and return to the lap of our caregiver.

As adults, when we're not aware that we're afraid, we can't respond appropriately as it's hard to respond to something we're not directly aware of.  Also, when we're not aware that we are afraid, our capacity for discernment about what's happening in and around us is reduced -- increasing our vulnerability to manipulation or danger. Depending on how our nervous systems cope with fear, we may shut down, avoid what we need to face, or become reactive and more prone to fighting and violence. 

It's important to acknowledge that fear-related trauma responses such as numbing, avoiding, freezing, and shutting down part of our nervous system are intelligent functions to put aside what we are unable to deal with in the moment.  Our nervous systems have evolved to allow us the capacity to hold unprocessed fear until we have the space and support to allow it to move through.  This is amazing!  Seen through this context, the trauma response is not a problem, it's a gift.  (I want to make clear that I'm not saying that whatever caused the trauma was a gift.  Violence, war, racism, neglect, absence, environmental abuse, genocides, abuses of power, etc. are manifestations of separation which must be attended to and restored individually, collectively and globally.)

Seen in this context, fear is not the opposite of love.  Fear is an emotion which is an expression of love:  an emotion of connection and returning home to ourselves.  

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

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