My Journey

I have an abiding faith that each person is first and foremost a spiritual being.

roma-hammel-realization-process-aboutLight emerged slowly through the darkness of my troubled past. Recollections from childhood that kept me alive – the luminous lakes and white birch trees in northern Minnesota, the sparkling eyes of young children as I taught them imaginative dance, and the vibrancy of classical piano music – as I loved practicing for hours. I also loved reading after dark by the light of the transistor radio and chewing saltine crackers while trying to whistle. I loved solving math problems on Saturday mornings, canoeing on the boundary waters, and learning new languages. I eagerly married and moved to California to teach French and German.

Adulthood, however, also offered fierce challenges. Five discs in my back ruptured during my second pregnancy, and I became paralyzed. Bed-ridden for most of the next five years, I learned to meditate to alleviate pain and suffering. Gradually, very gradually, I let go of my fears and my grief. I came to terms with a profound sense of loss. Slowly, every so slowly, I grew to treasure small joys such as blooming daffodils, little children laughing, neighbors bringing food, and teen-agers folding my laundry and taking care of my kids. After a third major surgery, I miraculously learned to walk again. Unimaginably grateful, I felt wondrously alive.

I learned to swim, ride a bike, play guitar, and ski again. Subsequently, I returned to my great love of teaching. I taught high school English teacher and AVID (Advancement via Individual Determination), headed anti-racist efforts, and initiated systemic reform in public schools grades 4-12, universities and graduate schools. Then a mid-life divorce broke me open, uprooting childhood traumas that I had buried.

At that point, I knew my body needed deep healing. So I began practicing Qigong multiple hours daily. Seeking freedom. I explored what philosopher Alan Watts calls the false premise – that the self is something that can be known, that the self is the body, the sensations, the thoughts, the consciousness.

I went to graduate school at the California Institute of Integral Studies and was deeply influenced by the transformational visions of consciousness of integral philosophers such as Haridas Chaudhuri, Raimon Panikkar, Jean Gebser, Henryk Skolimowsky, Yong Ming Tang, Ken Wilber, and transformational actions of leaders such as Robert Vachon, Peter Reason, John Heron, Robert Kagan, and David Abrams, and the seminal views of philospher Thomas Kuhn and anthropologists Gregory Bateson.and Marimba Ani, and feminist bell hooks.

My dissertation Dark Grace: A Heuristic Inquiry into White Consciousness documents that visionary leadership to essential in order to radically shift structures of consciousness and worldviews which are themselves supposedly constitutive of what it means to be human, or fully human, and earned me a Ph.D.

I realized that inspiring others to engage in concrete social activism designed to facilitate personal, group, organizational, and institutional change (at educational institutions including the California Institute of Integral Studies, Stanford University, San Jose State University, San Diego State University, and in my local community) requires a high degree of coordination, communication, and cooperation. Establishing an emotional connection is essential to engage in transformational interactions. After more than three decades of service as an educational activist, mentor, and teacher, I retired from a career as a teacher-leader, with gratitude for the support of friends and allies and with appreciation of the importance of embodied nondual spiritual practices,

As my children had grown up and left home by then, I dedicated time to studying Buddhist sutras weekly for five years with Shaila Catherine, led weekly Buddhist study groups for over a decade focused around the sutra translations of Bhikkhu Boddhi and Thanissaro Bhikkhu, and the writings of Phillip Moffitt. I also led a weekly study group focused on the writings of, Adyashanti for five years. I was deeply influenced by the writings and dialogue processes explicated by David Bohm and led monthly Bohmian dialogue groups for three years. I took dozens of online courses with Sally Kempton and went on multiple retreats with notable teachers such as Adyashanti, Reb AndersonJack KornfieldAngeles Arrien, and Alan Wallace. I completed a year-long Nondual Teacher Therapist/Training Program with Peter Fenner and a three-year Embodied Life Mentorship Program with Russell Delman.

Since meeting Judith Blackstone, founder of the Realization Process at Esalen in 2007, I’ve studied intensively with her (more than 1200 hours). When she asked me to replace her at Esalen in 2012, I was humbled and excited. A Senior Realization Process teacher now, I’ve taught RP thousands and thousands of hours at Esalen, at my home in Los Altos Hills, CA, in New York, and globally.

I’ve practiced Qigong for more than 15,000 hours. In 2018, Sifu Joe Hingkwok Chu authorized me to teach the Tao. The path is direct. It’s tantric. Tantra, translated as ‘the thread,’ refers to both the transmission of enlightened energy and the continuum of our original nature. Through practices transmitted heart-to-heart, we recognize our original nature and are freed of our defilements.

We directly recognize that the nature of the kleshas arises from within our own consciousness, thus potentiating their transfiguration into:

  • compassion, instead of hatred, aggression, aversion anger, dislike, fear, pride, inflation, jealousy, competitiveness, and such …
  • generosity, instead of greed, attachment, desire, clinging, longing, and such …
  • wisdom, instead of delusion, ignorance, laziness, narrow-mindedness, and similar emotions

As the three doors of our body, speech, and mind open, we realize the nonduality of our innate nature.

We experience the Nirmanakaya (the flesh-and blood physical body that lives and dies, the emanation body, the movement of energy arising from the inseparability of emptiness and clarity).

We experience the Sambhogakaya (the bliss body, the clarity of the natural state, the body that experiences the totality of enlightenment, the body that enjoys the fruits of enlightenment).

We experience the Dharamakaya (the truth body, the essence of the universe, the unity of all things and beings, unmanifested, the emptiness of the natural state of reality, the absolute basis of reality from which all phenomena emanate).

In the Adamantine Songs, Saraha describes realization as “the great bliss experience of the freedom of the void, the supreme bliss that seems to well up from human beings’ deepest experience of reality.”

I am grateful to artist Lian Quan Zhen for his permission to share his artwork on my website. In his book Chinese Painting Techniques for Exquisite Watercolors, he writes about the artist’s spirit  “blending … with the rhythmic vitality of nature… When painting a bird, it … is essential to capture the essence of the bird: its texture, activity and sound – its life. The bird should be able to communicate with its viewers.”

                My deep faith that each person is first and foremost a spiritual being is grounded in this realization:

                I directly experience the intrinsic luminosity of each person’s spiritual essence.

I teach the path that I have been traveling.