Wednesday, January 3, 2024
Tuesday, August 2, 2022
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.
Friday, May 27, 2022
What if...we were here to regulate our nervous systems and expand our nervous system capacity?
we were here to heal?
we were here to restore wholeness and connection
in our families and communities,
in the natural world with humans and non-humans alike?
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?
we can breathe together,
be together in curiosity and compassion?
take action together?
we learned that we can take care of our own nervous systems?
we contribute to the well-being of others' nervous systems?
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
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
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
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
*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
The most important step is the one beneath our feet.
Sunday, March 7, 2021
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
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…