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…


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Friday, January 8, 2021

Belonging and Relational Structure

In my studies with Thomas Huebl, I am learning about space, energy and structure.  I've studied these qualities through other lenses such as Yoga in the Himalayan tradition and the work of the Hendricks, and always find it interesting to bring in new perspectives.  

Space correlates with being-ness, the root chakra, and the right and space to be here in life. It also connects us with stillness, consciousness and the capacity to witness.  Energy correlates with becoming, learning and evolving, movement up the spine, and movement generally.  There are many aspects of structure such as things that make up the material world and most intimately, our physical body, which is a complex, evolutionary structure.  Structure correlates with the manifestation of life into form, with the horizontal field of connecting with others, and our belonging in life.    

In this post, I want to focus on the structure of belonging, which is the aspect of our relational networks and the ways we are connected with other people, animals, our environment, our planet, and the systems that are part of our lives today.  Examples of systems include governments, voting processes, medical care, money and banking systems, etc. So often when we think of these larger structures which began long before we were born, we feel disconnected from them and see them as something other than ourselves which we cannot impact.  From an energetic point of view, these structures are actually part of us, and we are part of them.  We are always contributing something to the structures of our lives, and they are contributing something to our lives.  (Part of the study of systemic oppression is how the systems we live in impact different groups of people differently, as well as the history and purpose of such differences.)  When we believe we are disconnected, nonessential or helpless related to our relational structures and systems, what we contribute is our absence.  

Absence is a symptom of trauma, and we all carry some trauma.  In other words, we all carry many or fewer symptoms of separation or absence within and around us.  This is not bad, per se, as absence serves a function.  When we or our ancestors were unable to face and deal with something in an integrated way, separation occurred.  When it was too much to process, the human nervous system wisely numbed what was overwhelming and could put our survival or functioning at risk.  Today we can call this absence (or trauma).  

Turning toward our own absence related to the structures around us is the first step toward healing and restoration. What we can (begin to) witness can begin to move, heal, and gradually be reconnected into wholeness.  

Even when we cannot see the results of our participation with the systems around us, our contribution always matters regardless of how small or insignificant it may seem.  Since we are in effect an individual manifestation of life, nature, and of the divine, it is up to us to discover what is our appropriate relation, participation and contribution to the structures in and around us.   

When we discover and enact our unique participation with our relational structures and systems, we contribute to healing our belonging.  Since each being alive in this moment belongs to life, restoring our belonging through right relationship ripples out and contributes to restoring belonging for all of us.  I believe our individual movements to participate and restore right relation with our structures and systems is fundamentally our purpose, each in our own unique way.  

May this year be a year when we all fine-tune our presence so that our unique participation contributes a healing, restorative flow into the structures in our beautiful world.