explaining the dictionary game

dave posted a link to this article about the worlds most difficult words to translate.

this statement really hit home for me:
"Probably you can have a look at the dictionary and... find the meaning," she said. "But most importantly it's about cultural experiences and... cultural emphasis on words."
this is my exact reason for playing the dictionary game. i wish to learn more about the cultural emphasis and meaning that different individuals and cultures place on common words. as part of my path of claiming conscious language, i usually tend to have a few words at any time that i am "working on"... working to fully integrate a meaning that feels right throughout my entire being... and i strive to attain some clarity about how the word reflects off of and is interpreted by others. my practice is to come to a clear meaning for what the word means for me and that aids me in staying centered. (i also stay open to an ever-evolving definition... rarely am i satisfied to a point of completion, but i find grounding for the time-being!) this practice has been especially helpful when something is projected upon me with words (projected by myself or another). i find a comforting sense of grounding in this practice.
posted by ashley


mixing of the worlds...

below is a medley of moments gathered from the near-death conference, the open space listserv, and narrative therapy...i'll merge some pieces of these worlds into thoughts to share with you!

a profound result of my involvement in communities of people who have had near-death experiences and other spiritually transformative experiences is the collective story that emerges about consciousness, connection with spirit/god/the universe/oneness, and most significantly to me, the story concerning how and why we live our lives here on earth. the commonality of transformative experiences, the increasing freedom for individuals to disclose and discuss their experiences, and the corresponding shifts in scientific, research-based perspectives of consciousness and spirituality are all adding to the creation of a "new" social story (that perfectly resembles the old, ancient stories from most religions and indigenous cultures).

the narrative metaphor says that "our sense of reality is organized and maintained through the stories by which we circulate knowledge about ourselves and the world we inhabit" (Goldenberg & Goldenberg). Individuals who have near-death experiences or other spiritually transformative experiences are often forced to re-organize their sense of reality, they have to re-write their personal stories about themselves and the world we inhabit in order to incorporate the reality of that which they have experienced. the old stories no longer hold truth and definitely lack importance. these people's attention shifts to a new perspective, to greater purpose, to universal connection, towards countless new ways of seeing, being, and believing.

paul everett posted to the open space listserv about attention:
We make something or someone important by giving it/them our attention, our life's time. The quality of our attention tells how important it is to us. In fact, my guru taught, and I have found this to be true, that 'attention heals', in personal relationships. Lack of attention results in distance, diminishment or atrophy...

...Attention is a choice, every moment what you and I are giving our attention to we are making more important than another moment we might have given our attention to but chose not to. So, attention also creates our future because it contains the decision about what to give our life's time to---the collapse of the wave function in the New Physics. And it is through attention that we become aware, which promotes insight, knowledge, action and results. You can see this, perhaps more clearly, by what you don't give your attention to and hence, what doesn't happen.
To begin with, i am always moved by people who give their attention (and life's time) to their life purpose and their passions.

but on a broader scale, i am moved by the shift of attention that occurs in experiencers, the shift in social acceptance towards such experiences, and the rate of occurrence of such experiences. if i were the kind of person that remembered facts, i'd tell you how many individuals experience cardiac arrest each year. then i'd note that of that population 10-20% have near-death experiences. where my curious mind wanders is to the rapid pace at which this "information" about life and life after death is being shared with our waking, living inhabitants on earth! and with the increase in technology for bringing people back to life (i.e. Automated External Defibrillators and such), it appears this window into another perspective will continue to open for many. it's almost as if our social, collective attention is being re-directed towards the expanded awareness that these experiences and hearing about other's accounts of these experiences bring to our collective consciousness... to the social stories that we co-create and believe with one another.


love this integration ashley! i am fascinated by how people describe having a greater ‘sense of purpose’ after a near death experience. do you think that in our culture we often think of fulfilling purpose as having to do something grander and bigger? whereas the words you are relating here suggest that people are connecting to ‘what already is’...and having more clarity about what they want to give attention to. i just read this from pema chodron last night..con't in next post...
penny | Email | Homepage | 06.29.04 - 12:03 pm | #


‘we already are everything that we need...all the trips we lay on ourselves, identities we cling to – never touch our basic wealth. they are like clouds that temporarily block the sun. but all the time, our warmth and brilliance are right here. this is who we really are. we are one blink of an eye away from being fully awake. we are enough. the reason that we’re sometimes not there for others – is that we’re not there for ourselves in each moment. there are parts of ourselves that are clouded and unwanted and whenever they come up, we run away. because we escape, we keep missing being right here, we keep missing the moment we’re in. yet, if we can experience the moment we’re in, we discover that it is unique, precious and completely fresh! one can appreciate and celebrate each moment, there is nothing more sacred, nothing more vast or absolute. in fact, nothing more!
penny | Email | Homepage | 06.29.04 - 12:04 pm | #


for the third time now, penny, i love these words!

it's so wonderful to me how those clouded and unwanted parts are really such treasures. we're so fortunate to have those come up because they give us the opportunity to stay in the moment and heal. in staying with that murky water we discover how unique, precious and completely fresh the terretory actually is, we transcend its murkiness!! and then we get to appreicate and celebrate the moment... it becomes so sacred... us so vast and absolute in our connection to 'what is'.
ashley | Email | Homepage | 07.02.04 - 2:47 am | #


posted by ashley


posted by ashley


IANDS conference

i'm off to Chicago for the IANDS conference, "Creativity from the Light." here's some information on Near-Death Experiences (NDEs).
For Marilyn, in the emergency room with a heart attack, the pain suddenly stopped. "All at once I just popped out of my body and floated up to the ceiling. I could see dust on top of the light fixtures, and I thought, 'Boy, somebody's going to catch it for this!' I could see doctors working on someone on the table, when, all of a sudden, I realized it was me, I mean, my body. I thought it was kind of silly they were working so hard. My family was waiting down the hall, and I wished my kids could stop crying; I wanted to let them know I was fine, but they couldn't hear me. Then it seemed I had to get back, that it was my job to take care of them, see them grow up okay."

The Gallup Organization and near-death research studies have estimated that, as of 1982, some 13 million adults NDEs in the U.S. alone had had one or more NDEs. Add children's NDEs, all experiences worldwide, and all experiences since 1982, and the figure would be much larger. Near-death experiences are uncommon but not rare.

No two NDEs are identical, but when numerous NDE reports are considered together, a pattern becomes evident. Any single experience is likely to include one or more of these aspects of the overall pattern:

* Feeling that the "self" has left the body and is hovering overhead. The person may later be able to describe who was where and what happened, sometimes in detail.
* Moving through a dark space or tunnel.
* Experiencing intensely powerful emotions, ranging from bliss to extreme distress.
* Encountering a light. It is usually described as golden or white, and as being magnetic and loving; rarely, it is perceived as a reflection of the fires of hell.
* Receiving some variant of the message "It is not yet your time."
* Meeting others: may be deceased loved ones, recognized from life or not; sacred beings; unidentified entities and/or "beings of light"; sometimes symbols from one's own or other religious traditions.
* A life review, seeing and re-experiencing major and trivial events of one's life, sometimes from the perspective of the other people involved, and coming to some conclusion about the adequacy of that life and what changes are needed.
* Having a sense of understanding everything, of knowing how the universe works.
* Reaching a boundary, a cliff, fence, water, some kind of barrier that may not be crossed if one is to return to life.
* In some cases, entering a city or library.
* Rarely, receiving previously unknown information about one's life, e.g., adoption or hidden parentage, deceased siblings, glimpses into future events.
* Decision to return may be voluntary or involuntary. If voluntary, usually associated with unfinished service to loved ones.
* Returning to the body.

Most NDEs are pleasurable, but others are deeply distressing. In either case, virtually all NDErs sooner or later come to see the experience as beneficial.
posted by ashley

dictionary game: curiosity

we've talked about wonder...what about curiosity? when you hear the word curiosity, what comes up for you? do you think of a wide-eyed child drinking in the world around, a nosy individual prying for more information, an insatiable hunger? what is your definition of curiosity?

i found this graphic at a great site, see hear do
posted by ashley


ordinary love is selfish, darkly rooted in desires and satisfactions. divine love is without condition, without boundary, without change. the flux of the human heart is gone forever at the transfixing touch of pure love.
~pramhansa yogandanda


I was just thinking to myself how much you would enjoy Kriyananda's talks on community (since its a main topic that you have been exploring here and elsewhere) He built Ananda village up from nothing and has years of experience and practical advice in building spiritual communities- Here is a great real audio discussion on the topic:

Jeff | Email | Homepage | 06.22.04 - 10:25 pm | #
posted by ashley


create the place

this story from integral naked really inspired in me the passion to "create the life you want." what's stopping us from having the ideal job? merging our loves and passions with our careers? let's join together in creating social change that is inspired by consciously and actively sharing the gifts we each have to offer.
So the solution is not to look for a place like that to work, but rather to create that place in our own interactions at work. Yes, it is true that the administration/higher management may not be enlightened, but if we can create that in our own space, then we contribute to the whole. Perhaps it means that you may be fired, but you have to let that go too. If that fear is inhibiting your evolution, it is time to move on. At least that is what I have told myself. A great release for me was when I decided that I wasn't going to compete for the pittance in raises the University gives for "merit." Once I realized that if I didn't care, then they have no power over me. So now I am a better scholar and teacher (in the truer since of the words) than I was when I was trying to publish 3-4 "scientific" articles every year. I quit hussling for the grants, (they really are like prostitution with the pimp being the one making the profit) and I do the research I want to do. Students who want to learn with me appear. I tell them the limitations of the way I do things and allow them to make their choice. I find myself being able to evolve. Now colleagues are beginning to slowly listen and make similar choices. The community of those I work with is beginning to change. It is slow. I notice Tami has been working at this since 1985. But this has convinced me that we do create the world we want to live in. Fortunately in my role I get to work with teachers to help them do the same with their classrooms. And I see individuals making changes. It gives me faith in the model.
a perfect example of what penny and a friend were noticing:
we were noticing the wonderful things that happen when we are able to emerge out of ego and bring clear heads and clear hearts to our work.


Little by little. Giving one another a glimmer of hope, and setting a slightly better than expected example, and assuming a little more risk.
phil | Email | Homepage | 06.28.04 - 9:28 pm | #


hi phil,

thanks for bringing "risk" into this conversation. it seems that setting a slightly better than expected example and therefor sharing a glimmer of hope, inherently requires stepping beyond the comfort zone and into that place of "a little more risk."

oh how worth it it is, no?
ashley | Email | Homepage | 06.29.04 - 10:50 am | #

posted by ashley


pensive toes

posted by ashley


some interesting research that i read about in the jurnal of counseling and development. the theory being tested was that emotions result from the cognitive labeling of pysiological arousal states.
For example, in one classic study, male subjects walked across either a shaky or a stable bridge and were then asked to tell a story to a woman (Dutton & Aron, 1974). The stories told by the "shaky bridge" subjects contained a greater number of erotic elements than did the stories told by their "stable bridge" counterparts. Shaky bridge subjects were also more likely to call the woman after the study than were the stable bridge subjects. Thus, skaky bridge subjects mistakenly attributed the physiological arousal caused by the shaky bridge to sexual attraction.
interesting, huh?


Maybe they associated love with terror.
phil | Email | Homepage | 06.28.04 - 9:29 pm | #


i think it's the arrousal that both love and terror evoke within a person. they both induce a physical experience that shifts the internal state of an individual.
ashley | Email | Homepage | 06.29.04 - 10:51 am | #

posted by ashley


john kerry

check out these qualities attributed to john kerry in this new york time's article.

He pokes at the perimeter of the campaign bubble that envelops him, constantly trying to break out for a walk around the block, a restaurant dinner, the latest movie.

Landing one sunny day in St. Louis, Mr. Kerry wandered off the airstrip to stroll through a grass patch, leaving his security detail trying to keep him in sight while scores of staff members, supporters, police officers and journalists waited without explanation for an hour.

"Can we walk over there?" he had asked an aide earlier that day, heading for a fund-raiser after a series of radio interviews from a hotel. "I'd love to get outdoors and remember what it's like."

He is a diligent greeter, never speeding through a hotel kitchen without handshakes. He is chronically and unapologetically late — for campaign events, for meetings, even for church. And on Memorial Day, he showed up a half-hour into an hourlong parade in Portsmouth, Va., his only scheduled stop for the day.

He is careful to use people's names

Senator Kerry strums his Spanish classical guitar in a kind of musical meditation.

There is the John Kerry who starts his speeches with throat-clearing thank-you's that last 5, 8, even 10 or 12 minutes

He almost always works in a local line — a reference to the Bedford Angels, for example, at a high school commencement last Sunday — and frequently refers to something a previous speaker has said.
pretty good list, eh? i love that the author mentions using people's names, honoring the local culture, saying thank you, listening to others, and being outdoors. a great mental picture is the combination of chronically and unapologetically late following a stroll through a grass patch... makes me think of this story.
posted by ashley


some blog somewhere out there linked me to these incredible pictures, A Closer Look: Secretory Structures of Aromatic and Medicinal Plants, found at herbalgram.org. this particular picture is Clary sage (Salvia sclarea L., Lamiaceae) showing stalked and sessile secretory glands on the calyx trichomes (Cryo-SEM, magnified 752 times actual size).

when you go to the link, be sure to check out the larger image of the peppermint.

A couple of my friends/classmates are clary sage junkies. I can't help wondering if there's something sex linked about it, because most girls I know are absolutely enthralled by it and have a distinct physical reaction to the smell, but most guys don't find anything particularly special about it. Maybe it's just related to women having better sense of smell...

If I were a cologne wearing sorta guy, I'd have to wear clary sage.

Dave | 06.16.04 - 12:38 pm | #


so interesting... i'm not familiar with clary sage, sounds like i need to become. maybe too much information, but i'm totally enthralled by this picture and think that if i were playing in a reality that looked like that, i'd be sexually aroused in the ut-most playfull way!!
ashley | Email | Homepage | 06.16.04 - 12:54 pm | #


BTW, gorgeous pictures.
Dave | 06.16.04 - 12:54 pm | #


Ya know... I can't say for certain that it's sexual arousal, but it's definitely some sort of arousal. I forwarded the link on to two of my friends, and hopefully they'll give have more to say.

At one party, folks got a little rambunctious with the clary sage, and we wound up with clary sage everywhere, including all down the front of my pants.

If you have Trader Joe's down in TX, they sell a very nice and very effective clary sage household cleaner.

It does look like an absolutely joyous place to romp about. Did you see there was a link to a larger version of the picture?
Dave | 06.16.04 - 1:02 pm | #


what a fun reality you've imagined there ashley! i've always experienced the scent as having very potent clearing and uplifting properties. i've also been told that it has natural hormones in it. my bottle says 'induces feelings of well-being'. all good!
penny | Email | 06.17.04 - 11:08 am | #


this photo and the other ones on the link you included are breathtaking and make me a little dizzy--imagine spending your days in that world as a microphotographer!

about clary sage, dr kurt schnaubelt says of the essential old, "newcomers to aromatherapy often react to this with a light euphoria and giddiness".
Christy Lee-Engel | Homepage | 06.17.04 - 4:04 pm | #


you can even see it in the picture... light euporia and giddiness. it's popping out all over the place
ashley | Email | Homepage | 06.18.04 - 2:48 am | #


posted by ashley


communicating under stress

what happens to your style of communication when you are under stress?

virginia satir outlined five different stances that individuals adopt when they are under stress. (source: Goldenberg & Goldenberg)

placater - acts weak, tentative, self-effacing; always agrees, apologizes, tries to please. body posture is grateful, begging, self-flagellating

blamer - dominates, invariably finds fault with others, and self-righteously accuses. body posture is finger pointing, loud, tyrannical, enraged.

super-reasonable - adopts a rigid stance, remains detached, robot-like, calm, cool, maintaining intellectual control while making certain not to become emotionally involved. body posture is monotone voice, stiff, machine-like, computer-like.

irrelevant - distracts others and seems unable to relate to anything going on, afraid to offend or hurt others by taking a position on an issue. body posture is in constant movement, constant chatter, distracting.

congruent communicator - seems real, genuinely expressive, responsible for sending straight (not double-binding or other confusing) messages in their appropriate context. maintains self-esteem under stress, making certain that his or her inner feelings are matched by clear and direct outer communication and behavior.
do you fit into any of these categories? can you think of other categories? which category might those that you love, those that you work with fit into? how do your habits of communcicating when under stress interact with the communication habits of those around you? just some food for thought!


depending on what's underlying the stress, i can and fit in to any of those categories. also depends on the situation - do i feel incompetent, inadequate, overwhelmed, "all-over-the-place", not heard, or even amongst all that is there a calm center in the storm? definitely..i've been all of the above and more.
how 'bout you?
ryan | Email | Homepage | 06.15.04 - 10:09 pm | #


I second what Ryan has to say and then some since I have the whole female/hormonal thing that adds a whole 'nother dimension to how/when I react. Today while dealing with irrational angry lady at work who yelled at me for 30 minutes straight I think I tried out all of those communication styles but none worked effectively. So then what do you do? She's wasn't worth trying any more beyond that so I just gave up!
cyn | Email | 06.16.04 - 3:33 pm | #


i think i am a super-reasonable, congruent, irrelevant, placater.

if i lose my cool, i am a super-reasonable, blamer.

it also depends on who i'm interacting with.

how about a super-reasonable that adopts a flexible stance, retains an outward calm while allowing himself to internally feel, and can intuit the other's emotions, and seeks a compromise or balance, & sends straight messages in their appropriate context, matching inner feelings with clear and direct robotic words. call it partially congruent reasonable communicator.
ats | 06.30.04 - 10:58 am | #

posted by ashley


counseling/psychology blog

are you interested in psychology, counseling, social work, psychiatry, the general realm of mental health? if so, stick with me while i tell a bit of my story and then share a new idea in the mixing.

as you may or may not know, i am currently working towards my masters degree in counseling with an emphasis on play therapy and transpersonal/integral counseling. as both a therapist and an individual, i strive to co-create spaces that invite exploration of the life that is within us and around us. encouraging one another to be open and present, actively engaging in our lives, appears to be powerful medicine. i have found therapy to be a phenomenal resource for offering people an opportunity, environment and relationship through which to explore one's inner territory and make contact with emotional, physical, and spiritual health.

i moved to texas a year and a half ago because of the strong play therapy program that the university of north texas offers. 2 months after i arrived i volunteered at a conference at the university on near death experiences. at the conference i was in disbelief, here i was in an academic setting with a couple hundred (i'm bad with numbers, it looked like lots of people!) people (IN TEXAS) talking openly about near-death and other mystical experiences. i was moved at a core level, in amazement that there were academic and intellectual circles that had similar conversations to the ones i had with my friends in our living rooms. after the conference i was at p.m.h. atwater's website and i saw reference to UNT in a list of alternative universities offering excellent degree/certificate programs. it became clear to me why i had so emphatically decided that texas was where i HAD to go to graduate school.

Dr. Jan Holden, a counseling professor, president of IANDS, and a practicing counselor whose guiding theory is integral psychology, has been an incredibly valuable asset to my education and a wonderful professor to learn from and with. through her, the world of transpersonal and integral psychology and counseling opened up to me. it's been extremely confirming for me to learn this intellectual language that coincides with much of my experience of and intuition regarding some of the ways of humans and the universe!

my participation in the integral naked forum has connected me with many remarkable people. ryan is one of those people and at his blog, integral awakening, the idea came up to create a counseling/psychology blog. i am extremely passionate about the field of therapy and would love to be a part of a community that is working to propagate a holistic, integral perspective of what a therapist and therapy is. there are so many stereotypes about counselors and psychologists that simply are not true and there is a wide population of people who have been let down and disregarded in traditional therapeutic processes. we hope to use this blog to explore and focus on anything and everything that is related to counseling and psychology.

does this sound interesting to you? do you want to participate?

i agree with ryan , the master mind behind this idea, that "it would be a collective/joint effort that I think would be very exciting because I have yet to come across such an active resource - plus I know it would benefit my development as an individual and a counselor."

post a comment if you're moved to participate and i'll keep you all informed as this project comes to life.

delicious sharing

Ashley, Ryan what I fantastic idea!

I am definitely in and will do all I can to help you guys make the (integral?) counseling/ psychology blog a great resource and experience

It will be exciting to have an outlet to share with like-minded budding counselors.

My outlook, research, and modality is rooted in the prophetic words of Jung- "The counselors role is to objectively validate the subjective reality of the client"

From Quantum physics to post-modern thought, it is becoming more and more evident that reality is a fluid construct- we need an integrally informed, client centered dialog rooted in the moment where principles of mindfulness and awareness reveal layers of the self.
This enables a progressive development of the inner person towards greater freedom, self expression, and in particular toward a natural harmonious way of being in the cosmos.
Jeff | Email | Homepage | 06.15.04 - 4:01 pm | #

Evenin' Ashley,

We met briefly at the Practice of Peace conference last November through
Christy Lee-Engel of Bastyr University. I'm the President of LIOS
(Leadership Institute of Seattle) and Dean of the LIOS/Bastyr University
School of Applied Behavioral Science. We offer a degree track in Systems
Counseling so when Christy forwarded your message about the blog I
stopped by for a "visit". I'm familiar with list serves, but new to
blogs, so we'll see how this goes.

Your vision ("integral counseling") is as intriguing as it is ambitious.
It would be helpful to me to have a sense about what integral means to
you and how you see it being embodied in the counseling context. Is it
a systems approach with a Ken Wilber slant? Is it a mind/body/spirit
approach, something that incorporates current therapy modalities with
things like body work, 5 Element Chinese Model, mindfulness practices,
etc…? Or something altogether different?

Having been a family therapist for 20+ years before being called to my
current work I have an interest in what I think you are inviting. I also
have an intuition that it is a path that in some ways may be “dangerous”
for the profession, in that it has the potential of getting therapy out
of it’s “special” field of practice, it’s niche, it’s “ministry” if you
will, and into a more collaborative, integrative field, where it is but
one dimension of a much larger expression/exploration of what it means
to be alive and sustainable on this planet."

Your “invitation” conjures up questions like “What is the relationship
between therapist and physician; therapist and lawyer; therapist and
school system; therapist and employer (their own and their client’s)?

So I applaud your curiosity and have added some of my own. Hope this
helps. I’m not sure when I’ll return to this site, given the work on my
plate, but I’m pretty good about responding to emails (the web has
trained me well). I can be reached at: dleahy@lios.org

Be Well,

Dan Leahy
posted by ashley


posted by ashley



in co-creating our ideal communities,
We need to stop having timid dreams, pale passions, and hesitant intentions. We need to embrace life with both arms, breathe in fully the universe's abundance of grace. We need to stop apologizing for wanting more.
~ gassho

i often wonder why so many of us keep our dreams small. i am always filled with awe and admiration for those that dream large, for those that aren't afraid to want more, and especially when they believe that they can have it.

on the plane home from israel (the new york to atlanta leg), i sat next to mike cumberbatch. recently he shared his dreams of returning gladness to the human heart. i received this email back in april and was so moved by his words. i want to share them with you because i value his perspective of nurturing LOVE and giving it at opportunity to grow. i want more of that in the world! in order to share this however, i have to confront a fear that i have of being egotistical. sometimes i'm hesitant about sharing stories of amazing experiences i have or meaningfully intimate words shared with me because i don't want others to think that i am full of my self, egotistical... you know the lot. well, i'm trying to get over this nasty little habit:
Hi Ashley,
Recently there are so many things happening worldwide that's upsetting and sad.

If there is any chance for gladness to return to the human heart I believe it must begin with a constant striving to be united with LOVE. Perhaps even in the light of all the evidence to the contrary wherever we find a beach-head of Love in ourselves or another we should be about nurturing it and giving it an opportunity to grow.

I am not suggesting denial of evil in the world, it's there. Instead I'm favoring putting our energies to doing those things that make for the upliftment of the human spirit.

You are one of those people like an oasis of goodness in a desert of pain.

All the best to you in your efforts to be all you can be

May God who is Love continue to richly bless you

honored and thrilled that i can be an oasis of goodness in a desert of pain, i also acknowledge the many reflections of goodness that are present in my virtual and physical communities (more recently mike wrote, "You fill me with hope for the future! There seems to be so many young people living their lives without reflection on the possibility of nobility. Then there's you and your friends! Thank you for intorducing me to your insights and those of your colleagues."). i extend this recognition to the collective YOU that are reading this and encourage us all to continue investing energy in the upliftment of the human spirit, being all that we can be, embracing life with both arms, breathing in fully the universe's abundance of grace, and dreaming grand dreams.
posted by ashley


wonder or radical amazement

ryan, new to the blog world, posted this at integral awakening:
wonder: v. desire or to be curious to know something.

we discussed co-creating and establishing a sense of wonder with a group, which I believe applies to any group, community, or relationship, for that matter...When we are part of a group or community, a key component is "having awareness of others", and more importantly, "others having the awareness of that awareness." ...When we have an awareness of others, we wonder about them - what is happening in their life, what are they thinking, feeling, seeing, believing, being, doing? And in turn, others are aware we are wondering about them, and vice versa. And it is through this mutual awareness, wondering, that fosters and fuels the blossoming of meaningful relationships, groups, communities, and dialogues - it is the lifeblood of groups.
and more wonder from a torah portion on learning to listen
Abraham Joshua Heschel would begin his lectures with a startling announcement: "Ladies and Gentlemen, a great miracle has just happened." People would immediately sit forward, eager to know what happened. "The sun just went down," he’d say. They would stare at him, wondering if he’d lost his mind. Some would laugh, others would shake their heads. Then he would begin to describe the inner life of the religious person. What does it mean to be religious? How does a religious person see the world? He’d challenge the audience: What have you lost when you lose the capacity to wonder at a sunset? What sort of person are you when you’re no longer surprised or impressed, no longer compelled to stop and notice the sun setting? What do you lose when life becomes so dull?

"Wonder, or radical amazement," Heschel wrote, "is the chief characteristic of the religious man’s attitude toward history and nature. One attitude is alien to his spirit: taking things for granted, regarding events as a natural course of things. As civilization advances, the sense of wonder declines. Such decline is an alarming symptom of our state of mind. Mankind will not perish for want of information, but only for want of appreciation. The beginning of our happiness lies in the understanding that life without wonder is not worth living."
i value the presence of wonder in my community

thanks, Ashley, for continuing this conversation. I think your posts help others to wonder more about life. Your quotes really hit home for me, particularly how devistating it is for us to lose our sense of awe about life. Have you studied logotherapy? The concept of existential vacuum I believes ties into this.
ryan | Email | Homepage | 06.10.04 - 4:17 pm | #


i love the suddenness of wonder, how an object reaches out a grabs every ounce of my being, leaving me breathless and bewildered, filled with reverence and the eros of love, silent before this new revelation dissolving my certainties, shifting ego from its grooves.

cool cool water running down my back
thomas | 06.10.04 - 11:30 pm | #



thomas | 06.10.04 - 11:43 pm | #


Ah! Ashley, you are the dazzling and modest embodiment of the Goddess of Wonder and Radical Amazement!

love, Christy
Christy Lee-Engel | Email | Homepage | 06.12.04 - 2:25 am | #


ryan and christy,

thanks for letting me know that my sourcery (hee hee!!) is working and evoking the juices of wonder and amazement. i'd say it's a passion of mine!

i did a quick search on logotherapy... it does seem to tie right in. i look forward to learning more, i'd never heard of it before.


you point out a rich piece... wonder with reverence vs. wonder with skepticism... wonder with reverence invites the object into one's being, encouraging breathless bewilderment and the dissolving of certainties. i'm thinking that wonder (or more accurately curiosity) with skepticism is driven by control and one's need for/dependency upon certainties. instead of the eros of love filling the wonderer, the one with skeptical curiosity wanders into the object... analyzing, picking, piecing, trying to find some ground of certainty.

anyone agree or disagree?
ashley | Email | Homepage | 06.12.04 - 6:39 pm | #


agree! on uncertainty...this from john ralston saul who says that our ability to live with uncertainty is where the 'genius in humanity is released...periodially, we seem to stare at this uncertainty in amazement, as if overwhelmed by such an unsatisfactory requirement. and then we turn back to the utilitarian manifestations of our thousands of talents and characteristics...organizing and measuring and executing...as if these talents were more real and we more mediocre...as if we were incapable of embracing what we are.’
penny | Email | 06.13.04 - 7:14 pm | #


it's a good thing that we know (or are learning) that we're fully capable of embracing who we are!!
ashley | Email | Homepage | 06.15.04 - 10:55 pm | #


...she says with a bit of genius...
penny | Email | 06.17.04 - 6:56 pm | #


only a bit? hee hee!
ashley | Email | Homepage | 06.18.04 - 1:13 am | #


rumi on 'a bit'...

let the drop of water that is you become a hundred mighty seas.

but do not think the drop alone becomes the ocean.

the ocean too, becomes the drop.

the ocean easily becomes a bit of ashley genius !
penny | Email | 06.18.04 - 7:20 pm | #

posted by ashley


community (soap box!)

i recently wrote to brandylee, telling her that cohesion of community and community in general are passions close to my heart. i asked her how she see's cohesion encouraged in a virtual forum... i'm going to make the leap and say that the attributes she responded with encourage cohesion in any type of community. i've toyed with her words a bit... i have such a habit of doing that!
extend yourself to others,
help ensure that noone is overlooked,
lend integrity to a superficial exchange with authenticity,
liven up a dull thread/area with infectious enthusiasm,
revive a dead one with passion and persistence.
listen to people carefully and respond to them reflectively,
don't limit your contributions to certain "strains" of threads/ (certain places in the community)
be exactly where you need to be at any given time!
other thoughts about community have been stirring from some work corrigan has been sharing at parking lot and this wiki. he's working with a small community which is having a serious problem with drugs among their youth. the information and discussions at those two links are extremely valuable. a suggestion for an open space theme for that community was:
how can i contribute to a safe community that gives hope to ourselves and our children?
my current dreaming about community leaves these questions:
what does your ideal community look like?
what do you value in your community?
what do you yearn for in your community?
what are you doing to support those aspects of your community?
how can you contribute to your community, helping to co-create your ideal community?
with these dreams tumbling in my head i received a poignant email from jake:
I think if America sleeps through another election it may just be heading for a coma. I feel like I know how the "minority opinion" must have felt as the Third Reight began to capture the majority of German public opinion and eventually of that nation through media and ideology. It must have been like trying to speak reason to folks in a hurricane.
whatever communities you are involved in, be an active participant. invest energy into creating your ideal community.

Hi Ashley,

You've opened up a very valuable conversation deserving the widest participation.

I've come to the position that we've spent enormous energy of thought and other resources on developing individuals and family while neglecting the bed in which they are set - community! We're reacting to a deep growing sense of alienation and insignificance at the personal level.

I believe the Community is Primary, and if conditions are not put right at source no matter how well we attend to the Secondary, individual and family, their ill-health and or deterioration will continue.

Can a turnaround begin by re-emphasizing thoughtfulness on some of the following - our neighbors, our neighborhood, our children, our values, our responsibility, our commitment to the common good!

It is when these are healthy, I believe, we have the best opportunity to feel safe enough to permit the emergence of our deeper, more beautiful, tender and powerful selves.

All the best

Mike C.
Mike Cumberbatch | Email | 06.08.04 - 2:30 pm | #


Yeah Mike! That's the kind of thing I'm looking at too!
Chris Corrigan | Email | Homepage | 06.08.04 - 10:43 pm | #


me too

right now our camp community has about 35 adults, and we're holding space for 40 youth, who will return to us next week for eleven days.

questions we are asking in our community right now:
what practices (both individual and collective) ESTABLISH and RESTORE: trust, boundaries, responsibility, respect, freedom, flow...

we also have generated a new wheel - experimenting with a medicine wheel pattern as a symbol & guide for being together has been rich. at the center, the place of purpose (or mystery), this one has "passages" - the name of our 11-day camp. becoming. in the east: belonging (& the "village code" that details this- truthfulness, boundaries, connect/respect...). south: freedom. west: power (as in martha graham: keep the channel open). north: fun! (flow)

just a glimpse of tools & touchstones of one emerging community.

chris weaver | Email | 06.09.04 - 5:22 am | #
posted by ashley

photo from starkitten
posted by ashley


red magnetic moon

today, june 6, is red magnetic moon on the mayan calendar. one reason that i like following the mayan calendar is because it provides a tool for measuring the unfolding of reality (time) in a way that differs from the flat, linear, mechanized system of the gregorian calendar.
the ancient Maya understood that if one is using a harmonic template with which to measure the unfolding of reality, then all of existence essentially follows suit and fits into the same harmonic patterning, for life is a perpetual repetition of basic patterns of energy.
from 13moon.com's newsletter.

today starts the 13-day red moon wavespell. the newsletter explains what that means.
Current 13-day cycle: RED MOON WAVESPELL
Red Moon's Code Words:
Action - "PURIFY"
Creative Power - "UNIVERSAL WATER"
Essence/Function - "FLOW"

13 Moon Dates: Crystal 8 -Crystal 20
Tzolkin Dates: Kin 209 - Kin 221
Gregorian Dates: June 6 - June 18

To PURIFY one's self is to sanctify one's self; to claim one's innate and unique divine essence; to consciously embrace and enjoy one's wholeness, accepting ourselves exactly as we are, in the perfection of the here and now.

Definitions of the word "pure" include: free from contact with that which weakens, impairs, or pollutes; clear; clean; genuine; refined; sheer.

The power of UNIVERSAL WATER is vast. It encompasses qualities and characteristics such as fluidity, adaptability, the ability to change states, and constant renewal and recirculation.

It is quite a staggering and beautiful thought to realize that all of the waters that cover the earth have been recirculated perpetually, more ancient than the dinosaurs, continually recycling our most precious resource!!!

To FLOW means to "go with it;" to not resist, to not control, to yield to the momentum of the naturally arising circumstances. Rather than being necessarily passive, I understand this as being receptive, willing and open to cooperate with the divine timing as it reveals itself. The elegance of fluidity and flow seems to require a trust in non-linearity, allowing the inherent order within seeming chaos to present itself and its natural patterning.

Self-remembrance means to acknowledge, anchor, and delight in the glory of our divine nature. We are not separate from the magic and mystery of the Universe, we are an integral unique holographic crystalline shard of All That Is. By flowing our emotions, by following the flow of our natural, primal impulses and our innocent inspiration we are tuning into our self-remebrance of who we are in the purest sense of our beings.

The Red Moon is called "Muluc" in the Yucatec Mayan language, pronounced "Moo' Look". Traditional translations of Muluc include "rain,""water," and "teardrop." The word Muluc can also be translated as "The Reunion of Everything."

As the 9th of the 20 tribes, MULUC is described in the Mayan Factor as: "Raindrop, Cosmic Seed in Gate of Awakened Consciousness, Principle of Communication and Expansion of Higher Life."

Another wonderful quality of Muluc according to the Mayan Oracle is "Self-Remembrance."

The symbol for Red Moon looks like a beacon; a portal inviting us into the truth of our real nature. As a beacon of self-remembrance, Muluc energy invites us to claim ourselves anew, to bask in and exalt who we really are and what we truly stand for.

The Red Moon tribe reminds us to note the Moon's influence over the tides and the cycles of growth and fertility. Indeed, the Moon has a potent effect on the cycles of our physical and emotional bodies, its gravitational forces perpetually shifting the balance of our neuro-chemical equilibrium.

The Hopi refer to these days on Earth as the "Time of the Great Purification." One does not have to look far to be assured that we are collectively processing and purifying all the distortions of the dying World era and its foundation of duality, disconnection from Nature, materialsm and greed. As we are journeying through this collective challenge, may we strive to anchor and incarnate the energies of the imminent New World Age and its foundation of interconnectedness, balance, and attunment of the intelligence of the Living Universe, remembering all thoughts and actions affect the Whole Web of Life.
i'm excited about this one!

posted by ashley



the topic is presence. i'm going to merge together a private conversation with some excerpts from joseph zinker's book in search of good form: gestalt therapy with couples and families.

zinker says presence is...
"that special state of being fully here with all of oneself, one's body and soul. it is a way of being with, without doing to...the therapists' presence is ground against which the figure of another self or selves can flourish, brighten, and stand out fully and clearly."

thomas says:
"it helps to bring out the difference between being and reacting. when you are moving from a place of effortless action, abiding in your true nature, presence simply flows in harmonic currents of being. this is a place of basic trust, it's even beyond trust, it's a direct knowing that all is as it should be.

...pure presence is an immediate, centered, beingness of now, unconditioned, infinite."
whether one is alone or with others, presence catalyzes a beautiful cycle. by simply being oneself, as is, in a place of effortless action, one's own and other people's true nature is inspired to emerge. when we are fully present, we create space in which our own and other people's true nature can flurish, brighten and stand out fully and clearly.

zinker goes on to say,
"presence is the acquired state of awe in the face of an infinitely complex and wondrous universe. presence comes easier when we have already received approval and affirmation -- when our cup is full and we no longer need undue acceptance from anyone. presence is easier to experience when we learn to live with other people's pain and disappointments without having to save or rescue them. presence often comes when we are seasoned and older, when our hot longing has cooled down to a kind of warm, mellow glow."
and thomas says,
"without that basic trust and knowing we continually need others to mirror our soul's potentials. when we are infants we need active mirroring and encouragement of those potentials, loving support so we can recognize and grow these essential forms. as we mature we are then able to integrate our deepest potentials as aspects of our identity."
and in regards to people who are in a state of presence, zinker says:
"in a silent and subtle way, they are grounded and slow rather than light-headed and rushed. in this sate, our breathing is deep, full, even. our sense of time is slow and measured. our body-self is supported and aware...the silence of presence evokes liveliness in the system."
posted by ashley


sharing the love!!

some sharings from my friends:
even the rain is drumming
giant drops, almost thundering,
may it be like giant arms
a whole vibration-embrace
around the giant hearts
of the kids in the cabins
their dreams are drinking in
the rhythm of a million leaves
right now

chris weaver and Under One Sky camp (p.s. it's worth your click to check out the purpose, vision, values, and approach of this amazing camp.)

moving from the rhythm of a million leaves down to the hypnotic patterns in one glowing leaf:

thomas arthur

and if you haven't checked out the photo from chris corrigan of his children in the forest, well i highly recomend a scroll down.

thank you to each of you for sharing with me and our friends here at easily amazed!
posted by ashley


instinct and learned behavior... subconscious and consciousness

BEWARE... heady stuff below!
here is more from dr. bruce lipton i'm still digesting!
As one ascends the tree of evolution, moving from more primitive to more advanced multicellular organisms, there is a profound shift from the predominant use of genetically programmed perceptions (instinct) to the use of learned behavior. Primitive organisms primarily rely upon instincts for the greater proportion of their behavioral repertoire. In higher organisms, especially humans, brain evolution offers a great opportunity for creating a large database of learned perceptions, which reduces dependence upon instincts.

Humans are endowed with an abundance of genetically propagated vital instincts. Most of them are not evident to us, for they operate below our level of consciousness, providing for the function and maintenance of cells, tissues and organs. However, some basic instincts generate overt and observable behavior. For example, the suckling response of the neonate, or the retraction of a hand when a finger gets burned in a flame.

"Human beings are more dependent on learning for survival than other species. We have no instincts that automatically protect us and find us food and shelter, for example." (Schultz and Lavenda, 1987) As important as instincts are to our survival, our learned perceptions are more important, especially in light of the fact that they can over-ride genetically programmed instincts. Since perceptions direct gene activity and engage behavior, the learned perceptions we acquire are instrumental in "controlling" the physiologic and behavioral character of our lives. The sum of our instincts and learned perceptions collectively form the subconscious mind, which in turn, is the source of the "collective" voice that our cell's "agreed" to follow.

In addition to the outward-directed perceptions, humans also acquire inward-directed perceptions which provide us with beliefs about our "self-identity." In order to know more about ourselves, we learn to see ourselves as others see us. If a parent provides a child with a positive or negative self image, that perception is recorded in the child's subconscious. The image acquired of self becomes the subconscious "collective" voice which shapes our physiology (e.g., health characteristics, weight) and behavior. Though every cell is innately intelligent, by communal agreement, it will give its allegiance to the collective voice, even if that voice engages in self destructive activities. For example, if a child is given a perception of itself that it can succeed, it will continuously strive to do just that. However, if the same child was provided with a belief that it was "not good enough," the body must conform to that perception, even by using self-sabotage if necessary, in order to thwart success.

Human consciousness is characterized by an awareness of "self." While most of our senses, such as eyes, ears and nose, observe the outer world, consciousness resembles a "sense" that observes the inner workings of its own cellular community. Consciousness feels the sensations and emotions generated by the body and has access to the stored data base comprising our perceptual library.

To understand the difference between subconscious and consciousness, consider this instructive relationship: The subconscious mind represents the brain's hard drive (ROM), and the conscious mind is the equivalent of the "desktop" (RAM). Like a hard disk, the subconscious can store an unimaginable quantity of perceptual data. It can be programmed to be "on line," meaning that incoming signals go directly to the data base and are processed without the necessity of conscious intervention.

By the time consciousness evolves to a functional state, most of the fundamental perceptions about life have been programmed into the hard drive. Consciousness can access this data base and open up for review a formerly learned perception, such as a behavioral script. This would be the same as opening up a document from the hard drive on to the desk top. In consciousness, we have the ability review the script and edit the program as we see fit, just as we do with open documents on our computers. However, the editing process in no way changes the original perception which is still hardwired in the subconscious. No amount of yelling or cajoling by the consciousness can change the subconscious program. For some reason we think there is an entity in the subconscious that listens and responds to our thoughts. In reality the subconscious is a cold, emotionless database of stored programs. Its function is strictly concerned with reading environmental signals and engaging the hard wired behavior programs, no questions asked, no judgements made.

Through sheer will power and intent, consciousness can attempt to over-ride a subconscious tape. Usually such efforts are met with varying degrees of resistance, since the cells are obligated to adhere to the subconscious program. In some cases the tensions between conscious will power and subconscious programs can result in serious neurological disorders. For example, consider the fate of Australian concert pianist David Helfgott whose story was presented in the film Shine. David was programmed by his father, a survivor of the holocaust, to not succeed, for success would make him vulnerable in that he would stand out from others. In spite of the relentlessness of his father's programming, David was consciously aware that he was a world class pianist. In order to prove himself, Helfgott purposely chose one of the most difficult piano compositions, a piece by Rachmaninoff, to play in the national competition. As the film reveals, in the final stage of his amazing performance, a major conflict occurred between his conscious will to succeed and the subconscious program to fail. When he successfully played the last note he passed out, upon awakening he was irreparably insane. The fact that his conscious will power forced his body mechanism to violate the programmed "collective" voice led to a neurological melt down.

The conflicts we generally experience in life are frequently related to our conscious efforts of trying to "force" changes upon our subconscious programming. However, through a variety of new energy psychology modalities (e.g., Psych-K, EMDR, Avatar, etc) the content of subconscious beliefs can be assessed and using specific protocols, consciousness can facilitate a rapid "reprogramming" of limiting core beliefs.

posted by ashley

perception and community

i seem to be on a science kick. has anyone heard of dr. bruce lipton? in his article about Nature, Nurture and Human Development, he says:

Emerging at the cutting edge of cell science is the recognition that the environment, and more specifically, our perception of the environment, directly controls our behavior and gene activity (Thaler, 1994).

Positive perceptions produce a growth response, while negative perceptions activate the cell's protection response (Lipton, 1998b, 1999).

The expression of the cell is primarily molded by its perception of the environment and not by its genetic code, a fact that emphasizes the role of nurture in biological control.

While every cell is capable of behaving as a free-living entity, late in evolution cells began to assemble into interactive communities. Social organizations of cells resulted from an evolutionary drive to enhance survival. The more "awareness" an organism possesses, the more capable it is of surviving. Consider that a single cell has X amount of awareness. Then a colony of 25 cells would have a collective awareness of 25X. Since each cell in the community has an opportunity of sharing awareness with the rest of the group, then every single cell effectively possesses a collective awareness of 25X. Which is more capable of surviving, a cell with 1X awareness or one with 25X awareness? Nature favors the assembly of cells into communities as a means of expanding awareness.

The evolutionary transition from unicellular life forms to multicellular (communal) life forms represented an intellectually and technically profound high point in the creation of the biosphere. In the world of unicellular protozoa, each cell is an innately intelligent, independent being, adjusting its biology to its own perception of the environment. However, when cells join together to form multicellular "communities," it required that the cells establish a complex social intercourse. Within a community, individual cells can not behave independently, otherwise the community would cease to exist. By definition, the members of a community must follow a single "collective" voice. The "collective" voice controlling the community's expression represents the sum of all of the perceptions of every cell in the group.

Original cellular communities consisted of from tens to hundreds of cells. The evolutionary advantage to living in community soon led to organizations comprised of millions, billions or even trillions, of socially interactive single cells. In order to survive at such high densities, the amazing technologies evolved by the cells led to highly structured environments that would boggle the minds and imagination of human engineers. Within these environments, cell communities subdivide the workload among themselves, leading to the creation of hundreds of specialized cell types. The structural plans to create these interactive communities and differentiated cells are written into the genome of each cell within the community.

Though each individual cell is of microscopic dimensions, the size of multicellular communities may range from the barely visible to the monolithic in proportion . At our level of perspective, we do not observe individual cells but we do recognize the different structural forms cell communities acquire. We perceive these macroscopic structured communities as plants and animals, which includes ourselves among them. While you might consider yourself as a single entity, in truth your are the sum of a community of approximately 50 trillion single cells.

posted by ashley


a meditation graciously shared with me, that i am pleased to share with you. enjoy.
sitting comfortably, leaning against the big ball, listening to movements of breath, sensing subtle threads of charge spinning out from my core, the quiet depths filled with time’s turning tendrils. attention melts into a line of force drawing left scapula down to backbellyribs. intentional amplification following the force, a gentle increasing of effort acknowledging the pull. listening with every beat, now scanning right, releasing all superfluous effort, differentiating from the original impulse. knees, pelvis, belly, right shoulder, throat, face, jaw eyes. quiet, quiet. returning to original contraction, still amplified. finding the space at the bottom of a breath. waiting, listening, pure focus, ready, quiet. slow release of all effort as breath begins my being anew. floating in a pool of gentle waves rippling through my watery cells, a sustained delight of sweet flow opening a vast space of heart-mindedness expanding as an infinite ground.

a colored bead of light rises from the dark blueness, a gathering brightness of will remembering time’s gathered intelligence, wisdom’s intention guiding wholeness home. a return to the original effort, the gentle pulling down of left shoulder. and release. pulling down again, this time, just a little less. release. pull again, gentler still. release. repeating the pattern with every breath, each time with less and less effort. the gentle ringing of the charged bell is quieter still, quieter, still, the effort now as subtle as the fading echo of a lover’s whisper good night, fading into nothing but movement’s purest intention, an organized potential, this then, now released, silence, undivided.

resting in this silent breeze of being, sensation slowly awakening, peaceful, lucid, little drops of thought begin falling into the pond. noticing, smiling, welcoming. there’s one, hello, hey. words return, a deeper voice, a nudge, let’s go share. yes, yes, that i will do. and here, writing as easy as a deep breath upon mountain’s slope.
posted by ashley

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