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!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


April 5 at 2:58pm

I’m writing to you about a topic near and dear to my heart (and my stomach), and something that I’ve been experiencing, welcoming, dancing with lately: Fear. Lots has been written about it. I know of many perspectives on fear, and ways to deal with it, and I’m guessing you do, too.

What I want to know is: How is your relationship with fear? Do you ‘handle it’? Presence it? Dance with it? Judge it? Ignore it? Feel it? Play with it? Magnify it? Empathize with it? Transcend it? Transform it? Something else…?

What’s fear like for you? How does it feel? When you’re scared, how do you know you’re scared?

Hmmmmm, I wonder…

Sometimes when I feel scared, I notice it first as a sensation in my body – such as a clenching under my ribs. Sometimes I notice fear as a quickening of my heartbeat, and a (sometimes subtle) jerking, flinching, surging sensation through my body, rather than the flow and relaxation that is often present inside me. Sometimes I experience myself stopping – holding my breath briefly after a shallow inhale, or abruptly stopping / freezing my shoulders – and it is not until the next breath begins that I notice that I had been ‘stopped,’ afraid.

Sitting in my office chair downstairs writing this, I feel some tension under my collarbones. I notice a voice inside saying that I am not ready to be writing to you – that I have not grown and developed enough yet, and that I should wait. This voice wants to protect me and keep me safe, and also to keep my life predictable. Also, underneath this voice is a desire to excel at what I do. I’m breathing, noticing my collarbones expanding and lightening, and feeling a knot under my ribs. As I breath, the sensation under my ribs grows and grows. Now it’s excitement! I’m asking the voice who desires excellence to help me be as excellent as I can in writing this to you, and as excellent as I can be in my life. Yes! I’m writing this to you now from a unified sense inside me, excited, eager to share, open, ready to learn, and ready to accept whatever happens. Feels like I am all here now. Zowie!

I am curious about how fear can affect taking action (or not taking action), and have been wondering what I can learn about fear, action, and timing for the last several weeks. What I’ve noticed is that when I’m afraid and relax deeply into acceptance and welcoming everything happening inside me, sometimes the sensations of fear dissolve within seconds and I easefully shift into action. At other times, it is as if the fear is calling me to rest, lay low, be still, to integrate, breathe, and just love and accept myself as I am in that moment. To love myself just because. I find that taking action, especially forceful action, when something deep within my being is calling for rest creates a split inside me. Through presence, love, and openness to learning, I’m resting into a more trusting experience with life more often than I ever have before. I feel an expansion in my throat and jaw, like a sunrise. Marvelous!

One tangible result of my recent explorations of fear is that I am finding myself consistently able to be more present with the people I am close to, even in situations where previously I didn’t have the capacity. This is a big celebration to me. Right now I am thinking of my children, and how much I like feeling close to them … my heart feels warm.

I’m celebrating all the people who have joined this group so far, celebrating so many wise ones who I know and love from the Para Yoga, NVC, and Conscious Loving communities. Will you share something about how you experience fear and what that is like for you?

I feel so happy when I imagine us sharing about fear, learning, being in community.


P.S. This letter was originally posted to my 'Celebrate Life with Rhonda' group on facebook.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

New Year's Resolutions - Creating Lasting Change

January 3, 2009

Happy Creation Time ….

New Year’s, for many, is a time to evaluate how life is going, a time of setting goals and making resolutions. Or for some, a time when they remember they’ve given up making resolutions, discouraged about lack of success in creating lasting change in their lives.

How can we create lasting change in our lives?

Basically, the only reason we don’t make a change that we say we want to make is that, at some level we’re more committed, either consciously or unconsciously, to what we’re already doing (or not doing). In other words, what we are currently doing—or not doing—is meeting more needs than the change we wish to make.

Often the needs that are being met by the experience we are already having are in the shadows of our consciousness -- are unknown or unacknowledged by ourselves at some level. By accepting ourselves, choosing to love ourselves and what we are currently experiencing (including actions/inactions, thoughts, feelings—all of it), we open to ourselves. Through unconditional self-love, we each open to our deepest self.

This self-love frees us from our aversion to what we are afraid to see, or know, about ourselves. We are free to wonder, “hmmmmm what beautiful quality am I attempting to fulfill by what I am currently doing/not doing?” “How can I appreciate my effort to fulfill this beautiful quality, however unhappy I may be that I’ve been doing it unconsciously?” “hmmmm what can I learn from this ….. I wonder how I can continue to fulfill this quality, maybe even more fully than I am currently experiencing AND make the change I’d like to make?” “hmmmmmmmmm, I wonder…..”

“I won’t look! I won’t see! No – that’s ugly, bad!” In my own experience with aversion to seeing a part of myself that I haven’t welcomed, or feeling feelings such as anger that I’ve been conditioned by our culture to believe are “inappropriate” or “bad”, I have an image of myself as a stubborn 2-year old, with my jaw clenched and my hands covering my eyes or my ears. She likes to hide under the covers, or stand up and stomp her foot. “NO” is her favorite word. I feel so grateful for her. She helps me set boundaries in my life. She’s a gift to me. I’m grateful that I’ve learned to know and love her, and that I get opportunities to choose to love her, and to play with her, again and again.

Knowing ourselves deeply equals power. Knowing why we do (or don’t do) whatever it is we are currently experiencing, is powerful. When we know and accept/welcome/love ourselves at that level, we touch ourselves right at the very place of choice and creativity. The place where we can make another choice, if we wish. A choice that arises not out of ‘against-ness’ to any part of us, but rather out of ‘with-ness’ of whatever it is that we would like to embody or experience.

To me, this is living life creatively. And the process of exploration into this deep inner place of power and wellspring of creativity, and back out into manifesting and embodying the change I want to be, is life’s greatest adventure, greatest promise, and greatest gift.

I’m reminded of a verse from the Upanishad’s, an ancient Yogic text, which I will paraphrase this way --- through practice (and it’s referring to the deep inner contemplation and practice such as I’m writing about, along with cultivating the steadiness of mind and nervous system that supports this deep inner work) it is possible to overcome any obstacle, and to achieve ‘almost’ anything your heart desires.

Happy Creation!

Note: I draw from processes of Compassionate Nonviolent Communication, Para Yoga, and Body Mind Vibrance to facilitate these changes in myself and others.