Reflections, Rabbits & Rumi: Highlights From Week 2!
Posted by Bonnie Rose on Jun 22, 2016
“You have no idea how hard I've looked for a gift to bring You. Nothing seemed right. What's the point of bringing gold to the gold mine, or water to the ocean? Everything I came up with was like taking spices to the Orient. It's no good giving my heart and my soul because you already have these. So I've brought you a mirror. Look at yourself and remember me.” - Rumi
Our call began with a moment of silence.
Then three questions were posed to inspire the check in:
What is a practice you tried this week? Did anything surprise or stand out to you from it?
OR What is one way your inner world affected outer world (and vice versa) this week?
OR What is a way someone has helped you grow in inner transformation?
Penny - shared how she stretched past her comfort zone by relating to her mother like a friend. She also danced vigorously at a wedding while pregnant! Through this activity and the reactions of others, she became aware of social norms we impose on people. She mentioned a heightened awareness of the intricacies of nature unfolding in her pregnancy. She shared an idea of leaning into the discomfort of leadership. Then she shared how in her organization of over 300 volunteers, thanking people can feel like it sets up a hierarchy. She questioned, “How can one create a space where people share gratitude with each other?”
Paraq - shared the subtleties of his self-observation practice. He noted the ability to be attentive to his non-attention, to observe his not-observing. He shared his noticing that reading deeply vs. just offering a casual read, can help keep him anchored.
Monica – shared that she has flipped many norms. Also, the practice of inner transformation has been constant in her life. In the past, she has felt the need to practice the concept of “don’t ask for anything, trust that all is provided.” She recognized that she still has yearnings and noticed her self talk – “I should be better; I should not ask for anything.” She practiced accepting the value of where she is now and asking.
Manu – shared how the practice of breathing deeply brought greater stillness and depth while it helped alleviate discomfort. The practice made her more present and able to transcend the chatter of the inner voice and emotions. She also shared a moment from the past where she found herself in an unexpected place of leading a circle. After the experience, a friend mirrored for her that the circle participants were not expecting her to lead. The next time, she tried stepping back and everything went beautifully.
Jaideep – shared that in talking to an old friend, he found that service is a common thread that connects everyone. He recognized the importance of sharing as much as possible, reaching out, and being the one willing to start conversations.
Hang- was having trouble with the audio and was unable to share verbally. She modeled the practice of gracious listening. This input is from the feed – something Hang shared regarding someone who laddered her growth: “Dr. Ha Vinh Tho once told me that many peace movement activists became angry & aggressive because they didn't take care of their inner peace and that from inner transformation to social changes. Since then, i focus on my circle of control and not my circle of concern.”
Donna – shared that she went on a run. Rather than engaging in her habit of staying inwardly focused, she looked up and out. This connected her to all the good going on in the world around her. She also stated that she was working on her website in terms of “freely vs. free.” She is shifting the language a bit and embracing the idea of donation. She expressed gratitude for a 15-year relationship with her yoga teacher. They read Rumi together, which brings her to a place of awe.
Bonnie – spoke of the recent shooting in Orlando and feeling into what to say about it in her Sunday sermon. She experimented with the inner practice of refraining from second guessing herself. Sunday morning felt even more loving than usual, when she showed up with heightened authenticity and included herself in the circle of compassion.
Amir – also spoke of authenticity and his observation that he adapts his personality in certain situations. He tends to be bold, but feels he is not being as bold as he would like to be. He is exploring the breaking down of ego, power, and hierarchy that he observes in his workplace. He asked “how can I flip this script? How can I leverage better whenever I engage one on one?” He recognized that part of his work is to bring his authentic self to work. This gives permission to others to be authentic. He spoke of viewing life from an intellectual perspective and the desire to offer more heart perspective. He is contemplating ways to inspire greater gratitude at his work – perhaps a gratitude wall.
Ameeta – shared her reflections on the phrase “I am not my mind.” She said that in the past, she has felt like she had control and is now realizing how little control we have. She shared that she is working on surrendering to what the universe presents, accepting things as they come, and being at peace with the idea that the universe knows what it is doing. She is grateful for her sister who helps her on this journey.
Birju – reflected a deeper understanding of the non-linear process of transformation. He noted that during the week, he had opportunities to offer himself more deeply and chose not to do so. He is hugging himself in this process. So while we can’t really rest on our laurels because every day we have the opportunity to practice love, part of love is releasing the “shoulds” and being where we are.
Audrey – shared her practice of actively reaching out to others for no reason. She remembered a mentor who encouraged her on this path. She observed her tendency to become task oriented or find a reason to act. She practiced having no agenda other than sharing space and seeing what happens. She reported that this small shift made her week fuller (in a good way).
Somik - shared his journey with a friend whom he had helped in the past who was now sending messages that were strange and accusatory. Through the process, he observed his thoughts and feelings. He got in touch with what is most important, which was concern for his friend’s well-being. He was able to connect with that intention.
Once check in was complete, the call proceeded to an open mic discussion.
Audrey shared a story of Buddhist monk. This monk was staying at a place in the woods. He noted that when he approached a rabbit, the rabbit did not run away. The monk pointed out that the sacred space had held the consciousness of gentleness for at least 20 years. It takes time to build trust.
Audrey noted that sometimes rabbits run away from her. :) She was tempted to judge herself, but instead asked several questions: “What is the context that creates a space of trust? How much of that context is internal vs. external? How much is systemic and how do we design a system that supports goodness?”
Somik encouraged us to explore the edge between inner transformation and outer service. “Is inner transformation enough?” he asked. He wondered if he was being attentive, or actively engaging, or taking shortcuts. He pointed out that authenticity takes work and practice.
Somik also shared two pieces of advice he got from a monk: Service will not get you far.You have to focus on inner transformation.And;
Inner transformation will not get you far.You have to focus on service. Birju reflected that we are here because we believe that inner transformation is important. Science says this is real. But how do we incorporate this beyond book knowledge? What does it mean to attend to your transformation?
Monica spoke of her Yin/Yang symbol and the power it has for her. It represents the dynamic interplay of self-healing and world-healing, inner transformation and outer service. Both compliment the other. She wondered if we can walk both paths simultaneously and stated that it can be hard to show up as you are. She is an ex-monk who loves Salsa Dancing. She found that once she accepted herself, the world mirrored self-acceptance back to her.
Jaideep spoke of serving people with rudimentary amenities. He can see inner transformation in a rural setting, but how do you inspire or scale inner transformation? He identified that it takes time.
Ameeta offered that when we move toward inner transformation, that inspires others to do the same. But we can’t force our own agenda on others: “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.”
Birju asked, “If I can’t give transformation, can I give something that would invite it?”
Monica offered that we can give tools and create inner riches through discussion.
Donna suggested the importance of living by example. She continues to challenge herself, use her unique voice and step into her transformative journey more. Mind, body and spirit are all in play. Gratitude and mindfulness play significant roles in her process.
Amir recognized the importance of being mindful of authenticity and connecting with what feels right. This inner transformation leads to deeper connection to his authentic self. This plants seeds for others to find their own authentic path. He also raised the point that not everything is ours to “fix.”
Birju chimed in with praise for the value of speaking at one’s edge of comfort, even if we are not sure it’s completely coherent.
Ameeta revisited the Orlando shooting. She recognized, with Thich Nhat Hanh, that people who commit crimes of this nature are suffering deeply. Their self-hatred spills into the world. She asked, “What if we could understand suffering and greet it with love?”
Penny shared that remote places and big cities like Sydney both contain the questions of how do we Ladder people? She noticed that sometimes people resist transformation, even simple things like silence or check-ins.
Birju asked “How do we think about practice to encourage transformation?”
Monica suggested that we find the energy of spaciousness where people don’t feel forced. For example, she does a casual, stealth check-in at her Salsa Class.
Bonnie shared the importance of having a circle of companions to keep one focused on values. She spoke about her tendency to be hypnotized by appearances and expressed gratitude for the Laddership circle.
Parag reminded us that the outer world is a reflection of the inner. There is no privacy between inner and outer. He raised questions about the difference between change and transformation, modification and mutation.
Birju asked “Does inner work lead to outer transformation?”
Somik revisited Penny’s earlier comment regarding how gratitude can create hierarchies. He said that everything we do is a system. Only life begets life. Reverence for life is important.
Audrey reminded us about icebergs. When we see an iceberg, only 5-10% is above water. She shared the story of Julio Diaz and commented that this was just one small story in the life of this Social Worker. She raised the question “Who are we when no one is looking?”
Manu questioned the importance of the outer. She spoke of the pressure to scale up and change the world. Just being is important. Maybe being mindful and kind is enough, especially if the inner and outer are the same. She also said that transformation may or may not take time. One way we can help others is to hold a mirror and work with the willing. She said, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink, but maybe the water can be a mirror.”
Ameeta revisited the rabbits! She grew up in Nebraska with Hindu parents. The rabbits knew that it was safe to visit their garden.
Then Birju began winding down the discussion by sharing a story about Bolder Giving. This was a company that invited people to give abundantly. At one point they were about to shut down. Through a series of discussions, the company was inspired to be in a place of no strings attached unconditional giving and/or receiving. Shortly thereafter Melinda Gates approached them and launched the giving pledge – a pledge that asks the very wealthy to donate a large percentage of their income to good works.
Birju closed by reminding us that the causes and conditions of an offering create external changes that we can’t imagine. He urged us to give unconditionally and trust the ripples.
Then Audrey reminded us about the reading for next week and we closed in a circle of gratitude.
It was an honor to create this blog for you all. I hope I captured the words and sentiments with heart and accuracy. Please let me know if I can serve better. With Love, Bonnie