gestalt and happy couples

we're reading and discussing In Search of Good Form: Gestalt Therapy with Couples and Families by Joseph Zinker in the gestalt training group that i am in. we spent some time on this passage this morning (and i want to share it with you!):

Happy couples and families, by our definition, usually possess some combinations of these features. They
* hear each other
* own their feelings and ideas
* exchange ideas so that a good fit is achieved
* ask each other questions, rather than making assumptions
* disagree and accept differences without fear
* accommodate each other
* fight for what feels "right" and "good" for each other
* start, develop, and finish a discussion or event and then let it go
* share pains, curiosities, regrets, resentments, tenderness--a variety of needs and wants
* learn to accept a "yes" gratefully and a "no" graciously without holding onto resentment
* move from one experience to another without getting stuck
* let go of wanting something that is hopelessly unavailable
* laugh at themselves
* influence each other
* support each other's interests and projects
* show pride and compassion for each other's accomplishments and setbacks
* respect each other's privacy and, at the same time, intrude when another withdraws in pain
* "mind each other's business" when it comes to important matters
* tolerate strange and novel ideas from each other and
* dream together

what would you add to this list?
posted by ashley


coming alive

i found this at gassho today... gassho is an incredibly inspiring site, well worth wandering into. jack shares "gassho (gah-'show) is a zen affirmation of life from an intention of humility, gratitude, and mindfulness." that's right up our alley!

"Don't ask yourself what the world needs - ask yourself what makes you come alive, and then go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."

--Howard Thurman, Philosopher and Theologian


i was recalling Willis Harman's three-part answer to the question "what can we do?" -- in my skittish memory banks it goes something like this:

personal level: 1. try something you're passionate about

community level: 2. pay attention to the feedback

planet level: 3. do more inner work to discern a better answer to 1 (because you are the planet healing itself)
jeff aitken | Email | Homepage | 04.30.04 - 11:53 am | #


does anyone have suggestions on how to help people tune into what they are passionate about. i find it hard for many to uncover this truth within themselves... and thus they give up before they even get to step 1.
ashley | Email | Homepage | 05.01.04 - 1:22 pm | #


I find meditation to be one answer...

posted by ashley


there is a moment when our pulpy delight is suspended at the peak between
willful intention
surrender to gravity's grace,
no longer rising, not yet falling.
in that perfect moment of absolute stillness we may gaze into each others eyes
as dear friends,
recognizing the quiet poise of our fully lifted nature.
linger(ing) in the intoxicating juiciness of your nested peaks.

When I see people
I smile
I AM so beautiful
When I see Nature
I smile
I AM so beautiful
When I see garbage sites
I smile
I AM so beautiful
(one summer noon, us street kids, put on a 'theather' for our mom's on garbage ash/ground site, (when it got cleared away), and everybody smiled
When I'm sad
I try to remember
When it is raining
My eyes are wet

recognizing the quiet poise of our fully lifted nature.
WE ARE so beautiful

p.s. i only did a little bit of cut and pasting!
posted by ashley


toning and sounds

there's been a conversation between thomas and i in a comment box below filled with talk of... well, all kinds of things! one of the topics has been toning and the power of sounds. a few mentioned were ahhhhhh, oops, chk chk, mmmm, Huuu, Hmmm, and Haaa! Peggy Jentoft writes about Sound, and Toning
Music is used to still the mind and to incite passion. to commemorate triumph and mourn loss. to comfort and to anger. Whether tonal, melodic or rhythmic, music, sound, noise, vibration reaches the essential nature, touching the primitive mind and the advanced soul equally. Sound has been used in virtually every sacred tradition: to invoke changes in consciousness, and as an aid in healing . Those few which have not used music have often dramatically rejected it.

People and animals and even plants respond mentally and emotionally to vibrations of certain frequencies and rhythms. Some sounds please us, some don't . Sound has been used to invoke changes in consciousness and
as an aid in healing in virtually every culture and spiritual path since the dawn of recorded history . "In the beginning there was the word " Many spiritual teachings of ancient knowing teach that the instant of creation was sound .

Most of us have had the experience of being carried away by music or having a song or piece of music stir us in ways that have nothing to do with lyrics but with the effect of the vibration on our bodies minds and spirits. Some people issue warnings that certain sounds and music can do damage destroy character promote incivility whatever. I recall campaigns against Rock and roll and Rap music and there were objections to jazz as a dangerous force at one time too. On the other hand much music is promoted and used to create specific effects on the intellect or physical body or on the spirit. Even if you have never done anything that you associate with sound healing or music therapy if you have ever selected music to calm a child , excite a lover , or wake you up then you have practiced music therapy of sorts....

Most people who do vocal toning work intuitively . You can tone even if if you cannot hold a tune at all .This is about vibration rather than about musical perfection . You can tone for yourself even if you have no interest in doing it for others . You can simply and spontaneously create and allow whatever sound wants to come out to come out or choose mantra , sets of sounds or words

One grounds and opens the mouth and allows sound to come out . Many people start with the vowel sounds. Do not be concerned with doing it right, allow sound to come out open your throat for a full round tone Support your deep breath with in your diaphragm. You can often feel the vibration effecting the areas of your body and being that the sound resonates with. As you tone allow your body to resonate, feel the vibration of the tones throughout your body . most tones are held as long as possible though there are staccato and shorter tone forms as well. Do not be concerned with how long you can hold a tone or whether or not you are on pitch. start by trying to spend 5 or ten minutes a day toning . Many people find that this gives them both increased vitality and inner calm.

for those of you with busy lives on the go... i find the car and the shower to be wonderful places to open my mouth and let whatever sounds feel like flying out of my mouth.... fly out of my mouth!


all too often, i find all sorts of sounds coming out of my mouth when i'm in the car. they seem to coincide with me coming across nasty drivers. teeheehee
becky | Email | 04.27.04 - 2:59 pm | #


There is nothing in this world which does not speak. Every thing and every being is continually calling out its nature, its character, its secret; the more the inner sense is open, the more capable it becomes of hearing the voice of all things. --Hazrat Inayat Khan

Monday afternoon, migration route on the Pacific coast, incoming tide, wind from the north, sun in my eyes, no humans in sight.

I am at the tideline in the midst of several thousand hungry sandpipers. After an hour of silent standing I am no more than a tall chunk of driftwood rooted in the sand listening to the chattering peeps creating a lovely melody over the roar of the surf. A long line of birds stay within a few feet of water's edge, racing in and out with the waves stopping only to dip their long beak into the wet sand for tasty snack.
thomas | 04.27.04 - 9:01 pm | #


Suddenly a large wave rushes in faster than scrambling legs can move and the flock rises as a single organism, a dark mass of flight curving into an astonishing flash of white belly then around again as a silhouette on the blue sky. Squadrons of twenty or so begin peeling off from the main group and circle back to the beach, spinning me with delight.

Soon the whole flock is again running to and fro chattering about this beautiful weather! and my, my, such a fine day of dining! and did you hear that piece of wood over there barking like a laughing seal? ? ?

thomas | 04.27.04 - 9:02 pm | #


here in the hardwood forest of the southern highlands i am feeling the great leaf-out as a toning, how each new leaf cries out in wonder&awe at birth and all the young translucent leaves are singing...they have a night song, and a morning song, a rain song...the tulip-poplar leaves are being birthed up both sides of this valley, on this south-facing side about 500 feet higher than across on the north-facing side, like children racing to the top, and all the kinds of oakleaf babies are rolling up behind with their ancient olivey voices pealing, pealing, pealing each of us listening open just like a banana...
chris weaver | Email | 04.28.04 - 11:18 am | #


yes, yes, dear weaver of truth,
trees mend us with a magnetic tone rooted through a branching spray of light.

and how perfect and good it is
to lift your voice in the shower
and on the road, giving shape
to the sounds of your soul.

and when you need
to hear the voice
of your beloved
whispering your true name
over and over
above and below
sit under your quiet tree
gently breathing your tones
listening to the subtle harmonics
resonating in the chambered flow



thomas | 04.29.04 - 2:56 pm | #


morning rain.
young trees lean out over the creek, open eyes on the sky.
clouds visit the high ridgelines & touch each holding-out trunk & twig in the most personal sacral way.
now is the time when longing doesn't last long!
acute teacher, precise pointer, slips in the heart's door
trying to look like longing by half-concealing the menagerie of beings of fulfillment, a whole unruly party of elves & faeries under his robe.
far away across the water, the sound of a hand drum in the bow of a cedar dugout.
close at hand, blue garden girl's toes kiss the ground in parting.

as somebody awake once said,
there's no end to any of this.
chris weaver | Email | 04.30.04 - 9:56 am | #


i love
days i feel so out of tune
i cringe to hear myself
if i just give up and let go
and let my voice be what it must
it hurts at first
but to my surprise
no matter how off key
it still finds resonance in the
karabrown | Email | 04.30.04 - 12:24 pm | #


from http://www.wie.org/collective/

"The remarkable dance of birds in flight, the bonds between people and their pets, the creative synergy of a sports team in flow—these are but a few of the examples that this pioneering biologist uses to illustrate how social animals create fields of connection. In fact, Sheldrake argues, when a group field is created between people, then telepathy becomes a natural extension of our biological nature."
ashley | Email | Homepage | 05.01.04 - 11:13 pm | #


posted by ashley


routines, rituals and dopamine!

oh, how i'm loving this book I Love You Rituals. i think you'll be hearing about it for a bit! most of the words below are direct quotes...

Routines -- help children learn to tell time and regulate their own internal clocks...they learn to predict what happens next... the goal of routine is continuity.

Rituals -- the goal of rituals is connection. Rituals create a sacred space designed for togetherness and unity. Rituals are the glue that holds the mosaic of love together.

Dopamine -- symbolically dopamine says "Focus on this; Pay attention." It helps us stay focused....Dopamine motivates us to achieve our goals. It says, "Go for it; get what you desire." Dopamine helps us take action toward achieving our goals, rather than passively wish things were different. Dopamine also is instrumental in creating the positive emotions we feel when we experience successful social intereactions.

The dopamine system appears to be "jump-started" and calibrated in the early years of life...The secret ingredients appear to be eye contact, touch and the bonding these interactions provide. Watch a caring adult interact with a six-month-old infant: Their eyes meet, and a connection is made between them. It is similar to later experiences we call love at first sight...

(I would expand the love at first sight to include the general feeling of falling in love. falling in love with another person, falling in love with a flower, falling in love with a song, falling in love with a thought, falling in love with the smell of coffee, falling in love with a moment.)
The allure of this mutual intimacy overrides the self-consciousness of even grumpy adults...I Love You Rituals are designed to foster eye contact and bonding. In the process, the dompamine system of children (and adults) is strengthened, as are attention span and social development.

Children who are surrounded by chronic bickering or tension at home may learn to tune out the unpleasantness to survive... (she goes on to explain a situation when a couple was arguing and the 10 year old child was) stoically staring out the window, his facial expression unfocused. He was doing what all of us have done at one time or another: He was "becoming invisible" and removing the fight from his pereceptual field. He was relieving the tension by lowering his ability to attend and thus depressing his dopamine level....

I Love You Rituals provide daily tune-ups...the journey to reconnection comes through communication. Communication occurs through the simultaneous engagement of eyes, touch, and loving words--all of which are provided in I Love You Rituals.

i adore how these words ring so true. in regards to tuning out the unpleasantness, i find it meaningful to recognize how much the tuning out process served us in our past. it was a habit that we created or adapted to as a survival technique. however, as adults, we have the ability to let go of that habit. we can tune back in now! breaking old habits is difficult and takes effort.

we each have different methods and practices for tuning in and connecting... for meeting this inherent human need... for being in flow. how do you tune in?
posted by ashley


a present

I started reading the book I Love You Rituals by Becky A. Bailey today. I am currently writing a lesson plan of rituals to complement the 10 week parenting group that I have been facilitating. The model, type of therapy, that I have been studying is called Filial Therapy. There are various methods for leading a filial therapy group. The common bottom line intent, however, is to strengthen the parent-child relationship. although the links provided are from different sources then the model I have been trained in, they all complement one another. this book by Becky Bailey is not connected with filial therapy, though, again, they complement one another.
As I began my personal journey, I found out something very surprising: I was frightened of the present moment. This understanding was inspired by the work, friendship and love of Carol Howe. The saying goes, "When the student is ready, the teacher appears." This was the case with Carol, who is my teacher, mentor, and friend. The present was where my feelings were located. I had spent so many years staying busy, exercising, achieving, and taking care of others; I never realized these were different forms of compulsion to drown out my feelings. I also thought that if I relaxed and let down my defenses, people would see me as incompetent or unworthy. What I discovered, with Carol's guidance, was that when I chose to relax and be in the present, I felt connected and loved. My fears melted away. The more I could stay in the moment, the more I could engage with children. Just think about it. If young children live in the present and adults spend most of their time in the past or in the future, we have abandoned our children to some degree.

This book, I Love You Rituals, came out of my journey from being lost in the past and projecting my thoughts into the future to rediscovering myself in the present. I once read, "The true gifts of life lie in the moment. That is why we call it the present." We, as a culture, have replaced presence with presents.

Each moment we have a choice to be fully present and loving or available yet disconnected....These I Love You Rituals are my present to your presence. Good journey!

if anyone wants to donate some of their own family rituals to this project, please do share!

with love and gratitude,
posted by ashley


work as practice

charlesb posted this at integral naked in the discussion about work as practice

Work is one of the three main channels for the realization of human potentials. What Michael observed about it supports the notion i found to be true, that at best, work is a barometer of consciousness. If we take some simple task, one well known and beyond reach of the learning curve, say washing a dish. And the dish falls from our hand and breaks! If that little shock causes us to examine carefully just where we were at in our head at the moment, its possible to see that ‘we’ were off some where else, probably indulging ourselves in some form of negativity.

It’s most useful for me to see work in terms of karmayoga. The rules for which are quite simple: Do each thing for its own sake, in its own time, without consideration of reward. Work does not, however, happen in a vacuum. It’s inextricably tied to the giving and receiving of affection, and understanding –the other two main channels of realization. This means that the more the task is loved the better is the possible outcome, and the greater is our capacity to understand it in fuller context. In practice it matters little which of these three serve as entrance, and the highest levels they prove not to be separate at all.

so i gather:
channels for the realization of human potential
1. work
2. giving and receiving of affection
3. gving and receiving of understanding

~a barometer of consciousness
~simple task -->little shock -->examination -->new insight
~Do each thing for its own sake, in its own time, without consideration of reward
~the more the task is loved the better is the possible outcome, and the greater is our capacity to understand it in fuller context.
posted by ashley


Kook and Intention

here's a little diddy from a translation of Abraham Isaac Kook, Lights of Holiness

The Renaissance of Intention

Humanity must go through extensive development before it will recognize the great value of the intention and the will, of the hidden idealism in the depths of the soul, which continually adorns itself in an array of new colors that disclose some of its treasure and majestic greatness.

All the great moral deeds in the world among individuals and societies are only small expressions, tiny sparks of the great torch of intention when it has reached a state of perfection.

Intention is everything. The revival of intention is the revival of the world.

Prayer with intention, the affirmation of God's unity with intention, the commandment and the duty performed with intention, the direction and development of life with intention, and intention in itself, as a rational and moral concept -- it's beauty and majesty, its splendor and holiness, its endless unfolding, its divine aspects -- and intention when it is expressed in letters, words, each letter and dot of which stands fro vast oceans of life, will aspiration, and enlightenment, of potency and courage, spirituality and nobility; and intention when incarnated in hold corporate beings, pure idealistic people, for whom equity and good, in practical affairs and in morals, is the whole joy of life; the living, creative intention -- what a luminous phenomenon this is in the world.

And the divine mystery comes and links the soul stirred by intention with the sources of life's aspirations, with their ultimate roots, and the light of the En Sof, the light of the living God, continues to stream forth, reaching every thinker and man of action.

Intention is where action is conceived. And the higher intention, the intention that is permeated with the divine life, embraces every thought of peace, of the battle for righteousness and equity, every assertion of wisdom, of a good and desirable order of things. Every act that perfects the word is embraced in it.
posted by ashley


do, be, are?

some gathered thoughts from around the neighborhood.

***empowerment illustrated***

'What would you do if you knew that you would die tomorrow?'

"Who would you BE, if you knew that you were going to die tomorrow?"

who are you dying to be?

***easily amazed comments(!!)***

what we *are* is really fully precious.
posted by ashley


There is a vitality, a life-force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action. And because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any medium and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions.

It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open...whether you choose to take an art class, keep a journal, record your dreams, dance your story or live each day from your own creative source. Above all else, keep the channel open!

~Martha Graham

notice the fierceness of martha graham's original quote compared to the one making the internet rounds.
There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique, and if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium: and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how it compares with other expressions, it is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.

You do not have to believe in your self or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer Divine Dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than others.

- Martha Graham to Agnes De Mille
posted by ashley


soul twins

this is really wierd... i googled kara brown to see if there was anything in the computer world to link to her name in the post below. kara brown is my soul twin. we're always amazed at how this relationship reveals itself to us... here's the latest:

Miss Rodeo Texas: Kara Brown Ashley Cooper: Kansas Pageant

is there anyone else in the miss rodeo circle that i'm forgetting? (this is so funny)
posted by ashley

humble humility and more!

i've been collecting thoughts on humility and humbleness... here's what some of the experts have to say:

daniel lebel:
humility, how do we make that grow?
beginning and ending with
thank you
one idea: we model it. we show that we can be strong and humble at the same time. vulnerability and humility make us shine brighter, live fuller, feel whole-er...
we model the type of power that radiates with humility verses the popular type of power that suppresses and condemns humility...
...both provide nourishment. But one stays flat and humble while the other fills itself with hot air...As long as we are full of delusions of self-importance, there's no way to break out and grow to a new level. Once we make ourselves small, we can fit through any bars and fly past any cloud.
I wonder if sacred humility, and sacred vulnerability, might have in common the quality of exposing/acknowledging/opening the tender underside, one's down-to-the-ground ordinariness?
when we step into humility, allowing our ordinariness and partialness, being no higher off the ground than any other one--that might be a position that actually protects the vulnerable places. Whereas those precious and secret and tender parts that we are nervous to reveal, are often (I think) the *extra*ordinary and the particular (and, we're afraid, the incomprehensible and unlovable).

Love can be found in it's offshoots: compassion, humility, peace, harmlessness, joy, trust, patience, acceptance, gratitude, generosity. These qualities are not words but they can be seen felt from behind the words.
it seems that humility opens space for our true self to shine, connecting us with our callings, our gifts, connecting us with our higher self...a higher power


being humble gives credit where its due
we can take pride in be ing part of a process
but by giving up this energy
we be come aware of being an active part of this process, and create more space inside of us for the next experience, something new!
karabrown | Email | 04.16.04 - 10:32 am | #


take a step out of your world into somebody elses....you will find humility and learn to be humble...travel outside of your comfort space into another place and learn so much more of who you are and how the world is...
amanda bloom | Email | 04.17.04 - 10:37 am | #


sing it sisters! (hi amanda!)
ashley | Email | Homepage | 04.19.04 - 1:13 pm | #


(from the Edge site: http://www.edge.org/q2004/page7.html#myers)

Myers' Law of Self-Perception:

Most people see themselves as better than average.

Nine in ten managers rate themselves as superior to their average peer. Nine in ten college professors rated themselves as superior to their average colleague. And six in ten high school seniors rate their "ability to get along with others" as in the top 10 percent. Most drivers–even most drivers who have been hospitalized after accidents–believe themselves more skilled than the average driver. "The one thing that unites all human beings, regardless of age, gender, religion, economic status or ethnic background," observes Dave Barry, "is that deep down inside, we all believe that we are above average drivers." Excess humility is an uncommon flaw.

(I love the Dave Barry part!)
Christy Lee-Engel | Email | Homepage | 04.19.04 - 7:44 pm | #


from grace:

Dilemna by David Budbill

I want to be
so I can be
about being

What good is my
when I am
in this
Grace: "what is the language that inspires trust?"

Truly naked, real and honest sharing inspires trust. Dropping our walls and revealing our vulnerable, imperfect and flawed egos inspires trust. Dropping our defense...our need to be right...our need to be invulnerable...special, above, or in authority. Being able to listen and admit our arrogance, our ignorance, our mistakes: admit that we are ordinary...human..and not special or above another in any way.

So humility is the language that inspires trust. Fuck being enlightened...just give me humility, dear lord, give me humility!
ashley | Email | Homepage | 04.25.04 - 11:00 am | #


more on humility from grace:
For me, humility means this, quoted from one of my favorite nonduality teachers, Leslie Temple Thurston;

"Power and powerlessness battle each other. When humility comes, that is the end of the battle. Humility is the state of acceptance for ourselves and others and it is the state that encompasses both sides [of the power and powerlessness polarized state/egoic pattern]"

"Humility is the non judgment of oneself and others. In humility, we do not induldge in feeling wothless, or induldge in feeling especially self-important. Humility is not meekness, implying sort of weakness in being humble. It goes beyond being humble. We find our true inner power in the state of humility because it is in alignment with higher consciousness...."
ashley | Email | Homepage | 04.25.04 - 2:20 pm | #


"the two sides of a pair of opposites create a pendulum effect. Consciousness swings between the two sides. It is the swinging between the two sides that causes suffering in life. By letting that feeling of insecurity...and security...and insecurity...and security...pass right through us, we are in a state of humility. It is the state of non-rebelliousness, non-willfulness, a state of acceptance, a state of quiescence in the mind and emotions. It comes from detachment and seeing that everything is perfect just as it is"
ashley | Email | Homepage | 04.25.04 - 2:20 pm | #


from Helen beeth at integral naked:

Interesting to see how loaded the term "humility" can be. So I got to wondering what my slant on that might be... And I actually think that for me humility is nothing more or less than brutally realistic. "I'm nothing more or less than what I am and I don't need to be" is one. The other is "I'm of no significance here, what's important is how I can serve best interests of the situation." Or words to that effect. It's such a RELIEF!! Just another way of surrendering to WHAT IS.
ashley |

posted by ashley



from the new york times: (p.s. can anyone tell me how to make the quote indent?)

On April 15, the Environmental Protection Agency will release a list of about 500 counties that violate or contribute to violations of ground-level ozone, more than double the number listed under older standards. Ground-level ozone, which is odorless and invisible, is a major component of smog on hot summer days. Prolonged exposure causes the equivalent of sunburn to the lungs.

Almost 300 counties are expected to be deemed in violation of the revised ozone rules on Thursday. But about 200 neighboring counties will face restrictions because they are considered contributors to the ozone pollution in the counties that violate the rules. In all, about 160 million people will live in areas affected by the revised standards, up from 110 million affected by the old rules.

"There are counties that could take all their cars off the roads, close their factories and clean up their power plants and still not be in attainment," Mr. Leavitt said at a Senate hearing last month. To combat that problem, the agency has proposed reducing pollution from coal-fired plants in the eastern United States by allowing plants to buy and sell the right to emit sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, with a lowering of overall pollution limits over time.

Many states and locales are reviewing strategies that would intimately affect how people live — from cutting speed limits by 5 miles per hour, to discouraging house painting during summer months, to giving tax breaks to businesses that encourage telecommuting.

posted by ashley


wisdom of children

here is a posting by leelajade at the integral naked forum. it's in response to my post in the comment box below about parenting. leela's words really moved me and remind me about the wisdom that children have and their patient way of waiting until we recognize it. i've heard similarly moving stories from others of you that i know read this site. thank you to each of you for sharing... your stories, yourselves, and your children!!

"With my daughter I have found its more a process of getting my fear and projections out of the way so that who she is can really shine through.

One day when she was nine we had the most amazing talk. I had been molested when I was her age so I saw the world very differently than she did. It dawned on me and I told her this, "I have no idea what its like to be a happy well adjusted 9 year old girl honey. But I do know a lot of things about the world that your don't totally understand yet, so how about if I guide you on the rest of the world issues and you guide me on the happy nine year old issues." She looked into my eyes and said, "I have been waiting for you to understand that, its a deal!"

She came here from the non dual, who the hell am I to put stumbling blocks in her path or assume I know better than her about who she is or what she came here to do? My job to to help guide her and she seems to trust me best when I show her that I trust her most.

I am blessed!
posted by ashley


word game

here's a new word game. it's a twist between the game memory and those magnets that may be on some of yours or your friend's refrigerators... you can either scatter the words together in sentences or pick two that you think go together... (or if you have another idea...do that!)

**********humility ********** freedom ************ giving ************ hope ************** unbounded
entitlement ************ grin ***************** boundless ************** nourishment *************
*********** love ************* language ************** container ********* crisp ********* rare bird *****
passionate *********** potential************ ordinariness ********* existence ******** grok ********* healing
******** whole *********** transparency ********** unfurl ******** surfboard ********* optimism *********

have fun!
posted by ashley


entitlements and responsibility

in response to the dialogue about parenting and invoking individuality, i was told that i am entitled to nourishment and encouraging as well as being surrounded by positive light. WOW... what a blessing that we are each entitled to such divine attention.

the same person went on to say that "entitlements are best enjoyed (in my humble opinion) when they eventually evoke a sense of responsibility as to how to internalize and actualize all the feelings and then determine how and to whom you are going to pass them along. You obviously embrace this responsibility."

i love this notion of evoking a sense of responsibility to internalize, actualize, and share.

i think that i feel more comfortable with the word "gifts" than "entitlements"... but i also know that i get hung up on the word entitlement. any thoughts?


and then entitlements... these things that come with our names, our births, our being here... the word works okay as reminder to give these things to myself... but what about when these entitlements are things from or through others that might subtly or not so subtly define or name us? the entitlement language is trickier then. gift language seems more to do with the flow and esp outflow of time, talent, treasure, leadership, hope, attention, that must flow through all of us... seems less about making some mark or statement on or about us... still mucking about it this for sure.
michael herman
posted by ashley


"you are not accidental. existence needs you. without you something will be missing in existence and nobody can replace it. that's what gives you dignity, that the whole existence will miss you. the stars and sun and moon, the trees and birds and earth -- everything in the universe will feel a small place is vacant which cannot be filled by anybody except you. this gives you a tremendous joy, a fulfillment that you are related to existence, and existence cares for you. once you are clean and clear, you can see tremendous love falling on you from all dimensions."
posted by ashley



birgitt williams posted this on the oslistserv:
"For those who study the ICHING, you will know that the first hexagram is all
masculine or dynamic energy. I see this equal to the energy of wanting to
scatter seed (very masculine) anywhere, see where it lands and whatever
happens is the only thing.... The second hexagram is all feminine or
receptive energy. This provides the container for the seed to have a place
to land and to flourish."

to which jake stewartresponded:
"The energy potential held in a container of fertile soil certainly surpasses the kinetic energy of a tossed seed."

and this line was among a quote from christy lee-engel:
"God creates an empty space, and only then, in that space, can the world emerge from the divine womb of being!" Rabbi Marc Gafni

as i string these three jewels together on a necklace to hang around my neck, i'm thinking that the divine womb of being is analogous with a container of fertile soil... and the energy potential of tossing seeds into such a place, the land upon which they'll flourish, is the role that each of us plays in the emerging of the world.

what do you think? what kind of seeds are you tossing? what kind of seeds do you think need to be tossed?


i think the divine womb of being calls forth her own workers too.

all the potters with muddy hands, the basketweavers working by night.

and all the microbial activity of de-conditioning y'all were talking about yesterday. tireless, relentless, sometimes solitary, breaking down non-useful forms into nourishment. all the shedding skins, all the little deaths.

the night-time noises from the forest floor, the music-before-music.
chris weaver | Email | 04.08.04 - 2:35 am | #


I'm playing with the idea of a container right now, not doing much but holding open the potential for everything to unfold. Working with one group of youth and I'm in the self-appointed role of "One-Who-Believes-That-Anything-Is-Possible" and letting the youth take care of the rest. When they hit a snag I just say "anything is possible!" and they conmtinue on their way.

Boundless optimism is the quality of good compost...even weeds grow beautifully in it...and the weeds I'm taking out of my actual garden right now have this lovely strong vibrant quality about them. So I toss them back in the compost!
Chris Corrigan | Email | Homepage | 04.08.04 - 3:00 am | #


wow that smells good chris!

thank you so much for the One-Who-Believes-That-Anything-Is-Possible mantle - can i just put that on?

we have 84 teenagers arriving for camp on monday, and you have just invited me out of stressing over logistics and into holding space.
chris weaver | Email | 04.08.04 - 4:06 am | #


in my masters in organization development, our teacher antonio nunez used to piss us off royally.

we'd ask him, antonio, what do you do with your clients? and he would say, i love them.

no, antonio, really, what do you do? and he would say, really, i love them.

(antonio was one of the original openers of space - brought hho to CIIS on my birthday in 1989 for my first taste.)
jeff aitken | Email | Homepage | 04.08.04 - 2:20 pm | #


so it wasn't until recently that i began to really grok what antonio was saying. what a gift.

now "one who believes that anything is possible FOR YOU" might be a definition of love?
jeff aitken | Email | Homepage | 04.08.04 - 4:19 pm | #


welcome jeff... and chrises... what treasures you each have scattered in this comment box. delight-full!

i would definitely say that believing anything is possible for another is a definition of love. i like hearing you say that this was a line that your professor said. i often bite my tongue in my counseling classes...

at this point in my career, the bottom line for me with my clients is to try and fall in love with each of them. to open the space for any type of growth, healing, and awareness that they desire to be possible... for them and for me. i love them, but i also find a part of them that i can fall-in-love with. this opens the door for me to fall in love with the entire person. i can't think of a better type of therapy!

but unfortunately language is still a bit limiting here in denton (north of dallas)... there's a strong flavor of the "fix-it" menatlity. and a constant challenge that i watch professors struggle with... how do you teach empathy?
ashley | Email | Homepage | 04.08.04 - 4:52 pm | #


Boundless optimism ... that sounds related to the medicine of unbounded joy that i've been drinking lately.
ashley | Email | Homepage | 04.08.04 - 4:54 pm | #


Music-before-music: like "your face before you were born"? The pure potential of each of us present in the transparency, before its unimaginable density abruptly flung itself infinitely outwards (at least, in that creation story!)

To see another's potential, to hold that particular spacious container, can be tender and electric. Especially when they recognize in a flash that what you see is true.

And this container/comment box! Full of such concentrated seed energy, entirely invisible till conditions are right, and then voila, boundless optimism and unbounded joy are unfurled! (like sea monkeys!--do you remember those?)
Christy Lee-Engel | Email | Homepage | 04.09.04 - 1:29 am | #


hi jeff, hi christy
no words, just smiling
Anonymous | 04.09.04 - 7:53 am | #


"To see another's potential, to hold that particular spacious container, can be tender and electric. Especially when they recognize in a flash that what you see is true."

what does one do when fear accompanies this recognition that the potential is real? fear and a yearning to pull away, run...

do tell more about the sea monkey, por favor.

and christy, your words answered some deep questions of mine in quite a timely manner. thank you.

with love,
ashley | Email | Homepage | 04.10.04 - 2:31 pm | #


i've posted about this on the oslist in response to birgitt and of course it ties in with what you're saying in my comment box today, too, ashley... so now i post here just to be obviously here in such good company!
michael herman | Email | Homepage | 04.10.04 - 9:29 pm | #


Oh, yes, the fear part! (and I think it can be scary &/or embarassing for the recognizer as well as for the recognized when the recognition is rejected!) ...fear of being judged for not living into one's possibility, and fear of disappointing the ones who believe in them. And maybe fear that growing into what's possible will be too hard. So, I think, the love that sees that anything is possible for someone is also love that assures that person that even if they shy away or somehow miss what they *could* be, what they *are* is really fully precious. I have had a few patients who didn't come back for a year or three, and when they did come back they were ready to step into their lives in such a fuller way.
Christy Lee-Engel | Email | Homepage | 04.11.04 - 12:32 am | #


Oh, and sea monkeys! They were (are?) advertised in the back of kids' comic books, with a cartoon of little monkeys in a fish bowl. Really they were dried up brine shrimp who magically unfurled back into life when you dumped them into the water. What's not to love about something that comes back to life from dried-up nothing?-- speaking of believing that anything is possible!

Ashley, I'm so happy to know that our thinking is mutually supportive!

love, Christy
Christy Lee-Engel | Email | Homepage | 04.11.04 - 12:41 am | #


so if humility and vulnerability are related... then when we vulnerably give way to fears of being judged for not living into our possibility, and fears of disappointing the ones who believe in us. And maybe fears that growing into what's possible will be too hard. when we vulnerably open ourselves up to these fears, we are showing humility.

through this sacred humility and vulnerability emerges assurance that even if we shy away or somehow miss what we *could* be, what we *are* is really fully precious.

i like that!

posted by ashley


lama surya das spoke about conditioning.

everything is about conditioning. re-condition skill-fully to de-condition.

osho speaks of society as being the force that constructs personality. we must de-condition this personality and re-condition our own individuality, individuality that is given to us by existence. Osho states that society "gives you a personality, a cozy personality, nice, very convenient, very obedient. Society wants slaves, not people who are absolutely dedicated to freedom. Society wants slaves because all the vested interests want obedience."

the world is amuck (can i use that word that way?) with people dedicated to freedom. one exciting endeavor is an Open Space Giving Conference in Chicago in july. the word about it is buzzing around these wires of computers and contraptions. visit wealth bondage, global chicago, or parking lot to find some varying twists on the tale.


i agree with you that society tries to condition people's personalities to conform, but i think too that it's the parents' responsibility to encourage a child's individuality so they grow up to be a unique nonconforming but still contributing member of society. i think the fact that we're writing about this in a venue like this means our parents succeeded in that endeavor, don't you? granted we're not JUST a product of our upbringing, but models in the home are generally the models we follow in the beginning. and if unconventionality is the model we see, then that's what we'll more than likely become. hopefully!
becky | Email | 04.07.04 - 10:22 am | #


I diagree becky...I think I'm actually writing here IN SPITE of my ubringing, in a lot of ways.

For me, it's most important to find that freedom within ourselves, taking our own responsibility for cultivating it and putting it out there. We can only empower ourselves, and although that sometimes means overcoming disempowering situations, it can't ever happen if we don't do it ourselves.

I'm thankful to my parents for some of the privlege I had growing up, but I dodged a number of bullets that came with those privleges too, bullets my friends and family didn't necessarily dodge. And I think my mom would be the first to tell you that I didn't at all work out according to the plan. She is "easily amazed" that I worked out at all!

The answers are right here, right now! And so are the questions...
Chris Corrigan | Email | Homepage | 04.07.04 - 5:47 pm | #


i think that regardless of what the parent encourages or discourages, it is the task of a living being to unwrap the identity one is given and grow into the individuality that one is. by letting go of attachment to our personality, we set free the potential of our individuality. this seems to be the process of skill-fully re-condtioning ourselves. right here. right now.

i am immensely thank-full, however, for the individuality that my parents encouraged and nurtured in me. and equally as grateful for the positive light that they shined on being a non-conforming citizen!
thanks mom and dad!
ashley | Email | Homepage | 04.07.04 - 11:48 pm | #


yes, everyone has to unwrap the identity one is given... and please dispose of all wrappings in the receptacles provided near each door. [grin] m
michael herman | Email | Homepage | 04.10.04 - 9:38 pm | #


that's kind of like: please leave your "shoulds" at the door before entering.

posted by ashley


a little dallas flavor.


posted by ashley



in the jewish religion, we celebrate the first night of passover at sundown tonight. i'd like to share with you some words from a hagadah (the book that guides the evening seder) that my friends Mandi and Brad Rubenstein wrote:

"The Passover Seder...provides a setting of family and love and unity in which all can rededicate themselves to the ideal of human freedom...We gather tonight to tell the ancient story of a people's liberation from Egyptian slavery... We must re-taste the bitterness and must rejoice over our newfound freedom...We remember slavery in order to deepen our commitment to end all suffering; we recreate our liberation in order to reinforce our commitment to universal freedom."

"Tonight we drink four cups of fruit of the vine. There are many explanations for this custom. They represent, some have said, the four corners of the earth, for freedom must live everywhere; the four seasons of the year, for freedom's cycle must last through all the seasons; or the four matriarchs: Sarah, Rebecca, Leah, and Rachel."

"Our celebration today is also shadowed by our awareness of the continuing sorrow and oppression in all parts of the world. Ancient plagues are mirrored in modern tragedies. While we may rejoice in the defeat of tyrants in our own time, we must also express our sorrow at the suffering and the many innocent people who had no choice but to follow."

"Just as the food of our Passover supper has nourished our bodies, so the experience of the human spirit gives meaning to our lives. As a full expression of the hope and joy of this combination, let us sing..."

may we all honor the suffering and the joy, and find strength in the human spirit and the meaning in our lives.


In each one of us there is an Egypt and a Pharaoh and a Moses and Freedom in a Promised Land. And every point in time is an opportunity for another Exodus.

Egypt is a place that chains you to who you are, constraining you from growth and change. And Pharaoh is that voice inside that mocks your gambit to escape, saying, "How could you attempt being today something you were not yesterday? Aren't you good enough just as you are? Don't you know who you are?"

Moses is the liberator, the infinite force deep within, an impetuous and all-powerful drive to break out from any bondage, to always transcend, to connect with that which has no bounds.
ashley | Email | Homepage | 04.05.04 - 10:52 am | #


But Freedom and the Promised Land are not static elements that lie in wait. They are your own achievements which you may create at any moment, in any thing that you do, simply by breaking free from whoever you were the day before.

Last Passover you may not have yet begun to light a candle. Or some other mitzvah still waits for you to fulfill its full potential. This year, defy Pharaoh and LIGHT UP YOUR WORLD. WITH UNBOUNDED LIGHT.

-words and condensation by Tzvi Freeman
ashley | Email | Homepage | 04.05.04 - 10:54 am | #


Thank you Ashley, for the role you played in liberating a part of me this year.
Chris Corrigan | Email | Homepage | 04.05.04 - 3:12 pm | #


hi chris.

moses meets moses, on the beach?

chris weaver | Email | 04.06.04 - 5:40 am | #


Heh. ...yeah.
Chris Corrigan | Email | Homepage | 04.06.04 - 3:58 pm | #


you two are making me blush. the one who likes to preach about compliments feels a little shy!! (thank you!)

you're welcome, chris c.

hey, let's all keep at it. let's just keep liberating parts of ourselves until there's nothing left to liberate. freedom exploding every where! it's the new game that all of the cool kids are playing!!
ashley | Email | Homepage | 04.07.04 - 12:48 am | #


ashley, I am not sure if i liberated a part of me that i don't remember or i got cought in cyberspace without a speller after a sleepless night just by double clicking to see your Passover wisdom...
Help! and thank you
Tova Averbuch |

posted by ashley


as many of you may know, i enjoy following the mayan calendar and a 13 moon calendar as a way to keep up with a different rhythm than the pace that is set by the gregorian calendar. for me, the mayan calendar has been a tool that allows me to play with the concept of time. it's helped me notice when and where my own dependence on and my culture's dependence on time gets in the way of the natural flow of life. i am also intrigued into belief at how my own states of being will correspond with the mayan tones and tribes that make up the 260 day cycle. i enjoy focusing my attention according to the different connotation that is placed to each month. today, sunday, 4-4-04, is the first day of the moon of manifestation. yesterday was the last day of the moon of intention. on the mayan tzolkin there are days that are called galactic-activation-portals. starting today, we move into a window of 10 of these days in a row. if you look at this picture, these days are the black ones and we are in the second long column right now. here are some words about these next 10 days from a newsletter that 13moon.com puts out:


Beginning on tone 3 of this wavespell, White Electric Worldbridger (Kin 146;
Planetary 1; April 4) they span through tone 12, Blue Crystal Eagle (Kin
155; Planetary 10; April 13.)

What is a galactic activation portal? Within the 260 energies of the
Tzolkin, 52 of them are called portals for they form the "Loom" on which the
entire Tzolkin matrix is woven upon.

As far as "what this means," what you can be sure of is heightened
energies; access to amplified awareness and sensory experience; greater
opportunity for information exchange and multi-dimensional insights.

As a Portal kin myself, (due to my galactic signature being Red
Self-Existing Skywalker) I offer the following: The 52 specific energies which constitute the Portal kin can create openings through which we are transported into the depths of the ocean of consciousness. The energies of Portal kin can offer lucid reflections and revelations, accelerated clarity and understanding, as well as good ole' INTENSITY. Their primary role is to convey and circulate potent and relevant information/energy/light providing unique ACCESS to
realms of being and knowing, customized to the ever-changing now moment!
Portal kin invite us to contemplate and experience the opportunities and
subtleties of the symphony of life!

Let us also note the standard college dictionary definition of PORTAL:
"An entrance, door, or gate, especially one that is grand and imposing."

May we invite the power of these portals to activate dormant potential and
evolutionary transformation!
posted by ashley


christy lee-engel commented on "the quality of exposing/acknowledging/opening the tender underside, one's down-to-the-ground ordinariness?"

i start to shiver all over thinking about and feeling individuals and whole social systems exposing, acknowledging, and opening to their tender undersides. of honoring down-to-the-ground ordinariness. accepting each other and ourselves, completely as is.

anyone want to share a moment of down-to-the-ground-ordinariness?
i'll start. right now, i feel that nervous tickle beneath my stomach, that tightens as i pose a question that possibly no one will answer or even read. it's a "what if" kind of feeling. there's another piece of my tender underside that keeps looking out the window and melting in the glow of the green. the sun is dancing and reflecting off of the fresh, delicate green of spring. i marvel at how often i keep such treasures and joys of my eyes a secret.

is this related to your original thought, christy?


thanks christy & ashley for sharing your interchange in the last comment box.

the way i'm experiencing sacred humility & vulnerability lately is when i move between the different "rooms" in the house of my life. in one room, i feel like i am so skillfully riding the surfboard of evolution and expansion. then i move into the next room, where suddenly i am stuck in the mud, head-first. what i used to do was to be in the mud-room as little as necessary, and while i was there, to be reminiscing about the surfing room. over the past couple weeks i am accepting my mud rooms more, pulling my head out, washing my face, sitting there in the mud & being present to the relationships there.

& look, at the edge of the mud in the salt-marsh - an ibis. have you been there so patiently, all along?
chris weaver | Email | 04.04.04 - 5:46 pm | #


Hello Chris, hello Ashley! Chris, your rare bird on the edge of the mud reminds me of a book I saw of wild animal photos, which included the photographer's technical descriptions of lenses & film, and clever camouflage, and the incredible patience required. In order to get very close to the water birds, he lay still on a raft covered with reeds and such--as if he himself was mud, basically (though, head-first--that's advanced!)

Ashley, I sat on the ground in my garden today weeding and planting and thinking some more about sacred vulnerability and humility, and it occured to me that the two might also be distinct in a way:
Christy Lee-Engel | Email | Homepage | 04.05.04 - 2:16 am | #


because when we step into humility, allowing our ordinariness and partialness, being no higher off the ground than any other one--that might be a position that actually protects the vulnerable places. Whereas those precious and secret and tender parts that we are nervous to reveal, are often (I think) the *extra*ordinary and the particular (and, we're afraid, the incomprehensible and unlovable).

At the same time, though, I notice that your own brave willingness to be vulnerable, to be seen, to be true, doesn't try at all to be anything special--so, humility accompanies vulnerability again!

love, Christy
Christy Lee-Engel | Email | Homepage | 04.05.04 - 2:18 am | #


hmmm... in the mud?
mud bath, mud wrestling, mud wrap, squish it between your toes, use it as warrior paint, mud pies!

christy, thank you for noticing me. i'm still pondering the humility and vulnerability relationship. now i wonder about humbleness...
ashley | Email | Homepage | 04.05.04 - 10:19 am | #


i remember a wonderful cartoon by r. chast called humble pie. it was a picture of a pie, who was murmuring lots of things, such as: "oh, it's not me - it's the ingredients."


now that i've seen your tuesday sharing ash, there's now something called a "dallas grin!"
chris weaver | Email | 04.06.04 - 5:36 am | #

posted by ashley


animated with divine love

"a world animated with divine love."

if you're interested in going on an intense and delicious head journey, filled with conscious language (language in which every word has deep meaning), please spend 27 minutes listening to this conversation, A Political Pilgrimage to Your Highest Self, between ken wilber and rabbi marc gafni. you can join the site for free for the first month.

here's a taste of what has me buzzing!

they go into detail about "no self" and "Self", using crisp, passionate language (watch me flail as i try to convey the essence to you!). a fundamental point is to embrace the infinite depth of one's story, of one's singularity... entering into the personal depth of one's human story..when one participates in the fullness of one's name is where one meets their divine name...

sacred humility
infinite uniqueness
a symphony of spirit

akosmic humanism... gafni talks about when the divine god voice speaks through the throat of moses.
"moses was so present in his mosesness, he was so fully there, he was so fully in his eros, that he merged with the divine voice and the divine voice flowed through him."

"what you're doing in the world is so incredibly important. opening up a whole world... and energetically in the world-- in the world of streams of sacred consciousness -- the weaving that you're doing eactually is moving something in the world..."

sacred holy battle
a knight of faith


Yes! I am also finding their conversation enchanting and transporting, and have been listening to it over and over this week, letting the words sift through. I especially love what they say about the holy Name, how it is deeply encoded in us to know that the name of every created thing, and the name of god, is the same name. (my current favorite name of god is "yah")

I made a copy to give to Rabbi Ted (http://www.betalef.org) tonight, and it was lovely to hear him describe in his talk the same communion between the divine and the intensely particular as Rabbi Gafni does:

(ooops too long!)
Christy Lee-Engel | Email | Homepage | 04.02.04 - 2:18 am | #


(here's the rest!)

emblematic of the path of creation ("which is how Nothing becomes Something"), the "Ayin" (Hebrew for "no-thing", the indescribable, spelled aleph-yod-nun) becomes "Ani" ("I", or "I am", spelled aleph-nun-yod). Ted thinks of it as "the Universe opening its I", Marc Gafni talks about "being infused with eros", with "I AM-ness"

And then plunging into the "infinite depth" of "I am-ness" is the path back from Some-thing to No-thing.

Happy Pesach, Ashley!
love, Christy
Christy Lee-Engel | Email | Homepage | 04.02.04 - 2:19 am | #


hi Christy!

another thing that's been spinning inside of me and that i found myself in again after listening for the 2nd time, was how much more i feel conencted to verbs (as in "i am-ness" vs. "i"). i'm noticing how any way of defining the opening of myself in comunion with the divine, inculdes me "being" and not what i'm being. I think about that eternal question "who am i?" and how much that stumps people as they try to fill in all of the labels that define who they are...

the tricky part, however, is that all of those defining labels are perfect for embracing the infinite uniqueness in all of us. for embodying it so fully that we can dance intentionally and join in the symphony of the spirit.

looking at the words that i posted, i notice sacred humility. is that related to sacred vulnerability?

thank you also, christy, for giving me the link to rabbi ted. he opened such a key place in my heart at POP.
happy pesach, christy

filled with love,
ashley | Email | Homepage | 04.02.04 - 10:20 am | #


I have an image of all of one's defining labels on top of and adjoining each other, forming the facets of a stone/jewel--beautiful (or not), unique, seemingly solid and bounded. Whereas the verb-ing way inspires in my imagination a sensation of movement, energy, permeable and undefinable interfaces. But maybe the labels are really transparent, if you catch them in just the right light.

I wonder if sacred humility, and sacred vulnerability, might have in common the quality of exposing/acknowledging/opening the tender underside, one's down-to-the-ground ordinariness?

love, Christy
Christy Lee-Engel | Email | Homepage | 04.03.04 - 12:37 am | #


your words enchant me, christy.

"maybe the labels are really transparent, if you catch them in just the right light." and the different ways of looking at them is synonymous with standing in varying light.
ashley | Email | Homepage | 04.03.04 - 4:21 pm | #

posted by ashley

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