Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Reactivity - a meaningful portal to change

One of my activities in 2019 was taking a class organized by the St. Louis YWCA based on the book Witnessing Whiteness, by Shelly Tochluk.  We were a group of 20 white people exploring together the history of whiteness, how and why it began, the unearned privilege that goes along with it, and a beginning discovery of what’s next.  The experience clarified my understanding of myself and the world I live in, and also deepened my understanding of the origins and structure of systemic power abuses, which do not occur accidentally.

To dismantle structural systems of power abuse and domination, I believe that in addition to actions we take in the world, we need to turn toward the places within ourselves where we’ve internalized those systems. In other words, we need to turn towards the personal and collective trauma which resides within each of us: the places where we react instead of respond.  We need to bring our presence and curiosity to the  places in our bodies and nervous systems where a part of us remains stuck or frozen, which, when unconscious, lead to us either unconsciously acting out of power abuse or enabling it to continue to us or around us.

Practice begins with a willingness to be curious and turn towards our own reactivity: to notice when we’re afraid and lashing out in contempt, running away, defending, freezing inside, avoiding or stonewalling.  The first step of noticing our reactivity is easier than it may seem:

In what interactions does your heart pound? Your pulse rate begin to rise or significantly slow? When do you notice yourself planning your response instead of listening? Closing down to possibilities? Endlessly replaying mentally what you wish had been your response? Or fantasizing about another reality? These are some (not all) signifiers of reactivity, which is a wake-up call to embodied presence.  

One of the ways the roots of our reactivity stay hidden from awareness is thinking something like, “In this instance my reactivity is justified because the problem is in the other (person, gender, group, etc.)”   There may be a need to focus on the other, and we may indeed need to take external actions.

However, since abandoning our own inner process doesn’t lead to anything new, innovative, connecting, or healing, we also need to turn within.

Practicing open, curious mind; compassionate heart; and grounded actions / willingness aligns our minds, hearts and bodies, empowers us, and orients us with shared power.  Regular practice makes it easier to notice a drift, so we can cultivate curiosity and turn toward what is happening within us instead.  It’s important to remind ourselves that reactivity and shutting down is part of a coping system:  actually it’s most likely a protection that was beneficial at an earlier stage of development.  One of my teachers, Thomas Huebl, calls these behaviors “childhood heroes.”  I like that because it reminds me that the path is to turn towards what is happening within me not with blame or harshness for my reactivity, but with compassion and curiosity to  enable learning and another possibility to emerge.  This moves me into facing, discovery, relating and responding (relationship and response-ability) which is the ground of dismantling systems of oppression and moving into empowerment and shared power instead.  One step at a time!

As we complete 2019 and move into 2020 - a new day, year and decade, my intention for myself and wish for all of us is turning towards our reactivity with curiosity and compassion to discovery new possibilities that honor the life flowing through each us, and honor our interconnection with all beings. 

Blessings to you and Happy New Year!

P.S.  Join me for my Embodied Integrity Playshop Series - 3 months beginning January 17.  
Details here.  

Thursday, December 19, 2019

About Time, Solstice and Love

About Time, Solstice and Love

In her article about the great turning, Joanna Macy writes, "The Great Turning is a name for the essential adventure of our time: the shift from the Industrial Growth Society to a life-sustaining civilization."

I'm intrigued by processes.  And how a big process such as the one Joanna Macy writes about is composed of many smaller, more intimate and detailed processes, which include the personal level, and even the moment to moment level.  Then I wonder, how am I called to participate within myself, with others and with larger communities? 

I notice when I focus on the whole process, sometimes I feel overwhelmed.  When I locate myself in this moment, include the personal processes of my life AND the intersections with larger cultural movements, I feel excited!

Also, I am fascinated by nature's movements, such as the rhythm cycles of a breath, a day, the moon, and the seasons.  Winter Solstice is one of my favorite times of the year.  I imagine Nature inviting me to embrace darkness, stillness, contemplation, and 'just being-ness', so that I can attune, realign, complete, and discover what is now, and also what wants to emerge through me.  So that I can remember...

We are interconnected (and sometimes we forget).  We are whole and the universe lives inside us.  We individuals make up a larger collective, of families, communities, cultures, nature, and our world.

We are called (and sometimes we don't or can't hear it).  Our personal evolution calls us.  Nature and our climate call us.  Trauma and our personal, familial, and cultural hurts call us.  Inequities call us.  Justice calls us.  Our hearts call us.  Spirit calls us.  Time calls us.  The future calls us.  Loves calls us.

For years, many of us have heeded the call to heal, transform, grow, and work on ourselves and our relationships.  Many have stepped into activist roles to turn the tide toward values such as compassion, justice, truth, love, balance, and sustainability.

And this continues.....  challenging times, with a hurt environment, climate change, species disappearing, racial injustice, genocide, social challenges and abuses of power will require us to inhabit our wholeness, mature ourselves, and show up to face what's happening, respond, and contribute to creative next steps aligned with what matters most.

Aligning with our personal timing, or essence pace, is an aspect of embodiment.  The circles of the seasons, cycles of the moon, rhythms of light and darkness, and movements of our breath delineate our experience of time.  When we harmonize our individual essence pace with the larger movements of nature and the universe, we feel supported, with the wind is at our backs, as if life is being conducted through us, as us.

As we enter into the Solstice, I'm wishing you joy, peace, fulfillment and ongoing discovery.  Also Happy Holidays in whatever ways you choose to celebrate.

with love,


I've created a few events in the next several weeks which resonate with what I'm experiencing, what I have to offer, and what I feel called to step into and share:

I'm delighted to have met Sophia Alexander through my connection with the Thomas Huebl community recently, and to be collaborating with her to co-lead a Solstice Gathering tomorrow evening, as well as an event on January 11.

I'm excited to be offering Embodiment Playshops, and have put together a series of three beginning January 17.  The Embodied Integrity Playshops are my own version of what I've learned from the Hendricks, Thomas Huebl, and my own life experience and practice, including healing trauma.  They include movement, play, meditation, wholeness / interconnection within ourselves, as well as refining our alignment with our hearts, our purpose, calling, and generously expressing and sharing in our lives.

Let me know if you have any questions.