Open to Gratitude

Effective Self Care Practices during Challenging Times

Welcome to my website and I hope this finds you well. There is so much going on in the world right now and it is especially important to focus on self care, especially when we feel pulled into a phase of depression, anxiety, or despondency. Although these are not simple times, there are simple things you can do to support yourself. There is currently a short waitlist for psychotherapy and bodywork, but feel free to message me here if you are interested.


1. Create a Gratitude Practice


What are you grateful for? Think of three things every morning and every evening and write them down, think about them consciously, or journal about them if you have more time. This is an extremely powerful self care practice. One client I worked did this every day for a few months while he was job-searching. He reduced his anxiety and was chosen out of 365 people for a coveted sales position. Granted, he’s a bad-ass and earned that position, however the positive mindset helped him shift out of negative cognitive patterns. In his book “Tools of the Titans”, Internationally known author and podcast host Tim Ferris suggests adding the following:



  • Three things you are grateful for

  • One thing that could make this day better

  • Three affirmations that speak to you (“I am kind”, “I am whole”, etc.)  


  • Write down anything amazing (or good) that happened that day

  • How could you have made that day better?


2. Consider a Cleanse or Gentle Detox



These are challenging times and the world is experiencing ecological and social disasters like never before. We are a global community and even those of us fortunate enough to have supportive resources may be persistently inundated with external stimuli, or internal preoccupation that gets in the way of self care.


Feelings of overwhelm, exasperation, and fear can be debilitating and may lead to unhealthy coping strategies, like consuming excess sugar, alcohol, processed food, or drugs. Disassociating with TV or gaming is also an unhealthy coping mechanism when done in excess.


The body will tell you when you are ready for a cleanse. It is important to desire change and be ready to limit or remove unhealthy behaviors. Now when I say “ready”, I don’t mean doing cartwheels ready. Cleanses may be difficult.  And in my experience, once I get going, joy and balance are provoked through the process of consciously honoring and clearing out the body.


Cleanses support us to slowly (or rapidly) eliminate things that are bad for us, and through the detoxification and rebuilding process, we are better able to feel the positive effects of healthy food, movement, supplements, and clean water. When the body starts to recognize what healthy and normal is, we build healthier habits for the long-term.


I am inspired by a product line that supports and nourishes the cleansing process and increases good self care habits. I have been using these products and have seen amazing results. There are so many benefits, but I’ll list just a few. The all-organic, GMO-free green shake and amino acid/gut health supplements have regulated my moon, cleared my skin, and supported motivation and productivity.


If you are interested in beginning your own transformational cleanse and would like to learn more about these products and receive support, message me here.  It is an amazing experience that may transform your life and wellbeing.


3. Move Your Body Every Day



This is not rocket science, but unfortunately the mind loves to paint it that way, or recruit the inner critic instead of the inner bad-ass. If you’re out of practice, do something every day that moves your blood and body. Start with twenty minutes and slowly increase. Or, commit to a hour, three to four times a week and notice how you feel. If you miss a day or a week, don’t beat yourself up and try again. 


Movement supports the production of dopamine, serotonin, estrogen, testosterone, and increases endorphins, so there is no question that movement, alongside therapy (and in some cases medication), is crucial for the treatment of anxiety and depression. Studies have shown that a brisk walk combats depression and when done regularly, increases the efficacy of therapy by 75% (Scientific America, 2015).


Some Ideas: Walking in Nature, Yoga with slow, deep breathing, Stretching (add music or a podcast if you are easily distracted), Ride your bike, Strength-training, Dance, etc. Youtube has an awesome free fitness channels as well.


Go-to stress relieving breath practice         

*If you do not meditate, try this instead in the morning Set a timer for 5-15 minutes


Inhale for a count of 4
Hold your breath for 4-8 counts
Exhale 5-7 counts



4. Social Support



Developing a healthy social support network is crucial for mental health and self care. Make sure to be in regular contact with your closest friends and family members. Schedule activities, phone calls or videos chats weekly, especially when you know you are having a hard week. My out of town friends and I love the app “Marco Polo” for video exchanging. It works better than Face-time if you’re busy and can’t get to your phone in real-time.


Click here to read my article on trauma fatigue and how to better understand the body’s fight/flight/freeze response. Additional video resource for empaths below.


Sending healing wishes your way,





Being an Empath Today: Surviving and Thriving with the Gift of Sensitivity: I appreciated this Video by Dr. Judith Orloff  which offers insight into what empaths experience, as well as some basic tools. 

Feel Good in Your Body in 2014

Photo: Kimberly Green
Photo: Kimberly Green

Speaking of resolutions and new years and all that….I felt inspired to bust out a little fitness inspiration this evening because WE ALL NEED IT. It is fascinating how this thing (exercise) that makes us feel so amazing (dopamine, yay!) is also something some individuals are fervently resistant to. When students or friends ask me questions about having a strong core, or having the “toned abs” thing, here is what I say… Be consistent. You don’t have to do a lot of exercise to be healthy and in shape. You DO need a CONSISTENT PRACTICE that involves strong blasts of exercise, almost every day.

Yoga doesn’t have to be a 90 minute class. Your gym stint, hike or run doesn’t have to be a hour to be effective, but do KEEP YOUR PACE UP to see better results and improved cardio vascular health. Although there are a lot of gimmicks out there, the “7 minute” Ab thing can work, if you do it 4-7 times a week (ideally mixed with cross-training).  Ride your bike to the store, a meeting, or your friend’s party. You should do that anyway to reduce your carbon footprint, and you might meet an attractive eco-hipster along the way. Just remember to not act so cool you forget your helmet like this guy…


Just do SOMETHING, almost every day. I promise you’ll be feeling so good and so into it, you will start extending those 7-20 minute time windows to 60-90 minutes.

And first and foremost, do your best to love your body and tell your inner critic to take a hike, he or she doesn’t help your progress or confidence. The incisive, less-than-elegant prose of the inner critic is deeply saturated with environmental conditioning or self-deprecating hoo-haw most likely projected onto us when we were young, vulnerable, and impressionable. Which is why it is even MORE IMPORTANT to..


“Yoga chitta vritti nirodha” – Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations (whirlpool) of the mind (thought)

-Patangali’s Yoga Sutra

meditation page pic









Calming the mind via meditation and yoga supports us to feel more spacious inside and out. A mindfulness practice is like a Zen slayer, who unhooks the insolent talons of chitta (mental chatter) and reminds our inner waters to flow quietly, sans whirlpool (vritti). It may take some time, but a true Yogi tirelessly attempts to peacefully slay that darn chitta like some kind of Hunger Games apparition. If you are a beginner or busy, try meditating for ten minutes 3-7x per week and slowly progress to 20-30 minutes. Practicing in the morning will support you to feel clear, empowered and sparkly for your day.











Take it from me, I am a masterful procrastinator, and will find every reason to stay on my computer or organize things until I have to run out the door, only to feel disappointed with myself or self-critical that I didn’t do something active. One thing that helps me, is looking at the clock about a hour before I have to leave and committing to take at least 10-30 of those minutes for myself; to sweat, move, sit, or find a hill somewhere. When I can carve out 2 hours and hit the mountains, gym or a class even better.  The point is, it’s OK to take only 10-20 minutes to be active. It’s better than sitting on your bum, or getting drained by Facecrack, a project, or the news.

Speaking of Abs, here are a few core-strengthening options you can do which also strengthen the arms and legs (especially if you do them all).  Lately I have been into this 15 minute workout my busy Ph.D candidate friend recommended. If he can do it and write a 1000 page dissertation, so can we! It’s even more effective when mixed with other activities, or practiced on off-cardio days.

Have a beautiful 2014 and remember to MOVE YOUR BODY and CALM YOUR MIND. You will be handsomely rewarded.

One love


Self Healing Exercise

Human Field image

Have you been struggling with another person lately? Perhaps a friend, lover, business partner, or family member? If this is the case, it may support you to look at the polarity present in the situation. When we can see “other” as our mirror for personal growth, we evoke the potential to explore deeply hidden, vulnerable parts of ourselves.

Sitting comfortably, ask yourself some of these questions:

Do you find yourself longing for something that you believe only another person can provide?

When you have this longing, does it seem to take you away from yourself? Ie: your own inner strength, calm, motivation, and creativity?

Have you judged yourself lately? Was it necessary?

Have you vilified someone recently because you yourself are not happy?

Did you cast your energy outward – towards another – because what you really desire is to be more settled within?

If any of the above seems true for you, try this meditation. You only need 10-15 minutes.

Consider how you might be abandoning a part of yourself. For example, what have you wanted to fill by another? Try not to get too heady about it in terms of long-winded thoughts and sentences, but rather tune into some simple needs/desires, as well as a place in your body where you feel any kind of lack, or emptiness. Notice whatever sensations that may arise. Breathe.

As you are tuning into those sensations, feel your breath and visualize giving energy back to yourself. If there is an area in the body where you feel a void? Notice that area, keep your attention there and breathe. As you do this, various thoughts may arise that are connected to any of the above questions.  As you tune in, keep exploring how you can feed yourself in some significant way. What are you denying yourself by wishing others would provide it for you? Remember, other human beings are crucial for our development, so this is not about being so independent that you don’t need others. What we are tuning into here is how not to seek outside ourselves for much of the inner power, love, and creativity we are able to cultivate within.

From a place of inner peace and expansion, supported by things like yoga, nature, and meditation, we are more capable of giving to others, and receiving what they have to offer us.  Sit for a bit, and see what wisdom your body-mind provides.

Much love and Happy Holidays,


Yoga & Healing Retreat to Peru! Join us in the Sacred Valley of the Inca ~ May 2014

Yoga and Healing Retreat in the Peruvian Andes
With Romi Cumes M.A. & Lisa Veit
May 8-17, 2014

10 day, 9 night All-Inclusive Package
Email romicumes at for complete information/itinerary
$3100 land cost only (excludes airfare). Register by Nov 1st for $200 off.

Expand, Transform, Prosper & Thrive!

Peru Final Flyer 2014- Web Only

Join Romi Cumes and Lisa Veit for a transformational retreat to Peru. This top-quality, ten day, nine night package beings and ends in the beautiful city of Cusco. Guests stay at the exquisite Willka T’ika Garden Retreat Center in the Sacred Valley of the Inca, and receive first-class guide service to sacred sites, villages, and ruines. Enjoy the rich scenery of Machu Picchu, Cusco and other sacred sites, as well as Willka T’ika’s spectacular gardens, accommodations, and organic cuisine. Additional overnight accommodations in Cusco and Machu Picchu are also included in this package.

New Headshot-Kimba

Romi Cumes M.A. is a Therapist, Bodyworker, Yoga Instructor, and Performance Artist with over fifteen years of experience. She supports people to embody their most authentic state of Being, so they may live in a more full and balanced way. Drawing from a background in somatic psychology, Romi integrates clinical training with intuitive capabilities to proactively work with trauma, physical distress, and psycho-spiritual blockages. She founded Transformative Healing Arts in 2004 and is currently in private practice in Santa Barbara, California. Romi has been traveling to Peru for the last twenty years, where her mother, Carol Cumes, founded the Willka T’ika guest lodge and the Willka T’ika Children’s Fund, a 501(c)3 that supports four Quechua schools in the high Andes.


Lisa Veit is an internationally known Intuitive Life Coach, Speaker, Regression Therapist, Owner of “Be You Come Alive”, Mother, and Creator of The Art of Embodiment Meditation CD. Her life experiences triggered an epic spiritual inquiry within, and an insatiable study of the human potential. Lisa has explored in great depth the many facets of life, energy, and consciousness. She is committed to empowering people to discover their unique capacities, and to assist all of those that choose it, to come alive at their greatest capacity. She lectures nationally and currently lives with her family in Santa Barbara, California. For more info visit

To Register and receive detailed Itinerary
Contact: Romi Cumes MA, LMT
(805) 448-4111

July Workshops

Introduction to Yoga: 3 Week Intensive
July 9th -25th (Tuesdays and Thursdays 8:00pm-9:45pm)
$70 for six, two hour classes


Introduction to Somatic Psychology: Tools for Empowerment and Healing
July 12th 6:30-8:30pm
$20 (no one will be turned away for lack of funds…)
Facebook Link with Full Info (or scroll down)

Both Events will be located at the Santa Barbara Yoga Center (32 E. Micheltorena St.)

Introduction to Yoga Starting July 9th: Three weeks of Detailed Yoga Instruction

The Introduction to Yoga Course at the Santa Barbara Yoga Center is the perfect place to begin the exploration of Yoga, or reawaken your practice. A short series of slower paced, informative classes will provide you with a strong foundation in the practice of Yoga and prepare you for ongoing beginning and mixed level classes. Also suitable for practitioners of all levels needing to brush up their skills and awareness.

The Course includes:

-A brief discussion of the historical and philosophical background of Yoga
-Detailed instruction of fundamental Yoga postures including correct body positioning, anatomy, structure and alignment
-Detailed instruction on how to combine breath, energy, and movement
-Hands-on adjustments, bodywork, restorative yoga poses, and Aromatherapy
More Info

To Sign up: Call: (805) 965-6045
Or stop by the Santa Barbara Yoga Center at 32 East Micheltorena St.
July 9th-25th (every Tuesday and Thursday)

For more info visit Romi’s Website
Or Santa Barbara Yoga Center

About Introduction to Somatic Psychology

The word “somatic” means of, or relating to, the body and is especially distinct from the mind and mental capacities. When we give the body our full presence, its inner wisdom becomes visible. This visibility offers us tools to deconstruct
protective and repressive mechanisms, often manifested as body armor. This workshop will assist you to get in touch with your most authentic state of Being. From a place of somatic authenticity, we become more present, and can therefore show up in the world in a more peaceful and powerful way. This workshop will offer both lecture, and experiential exercises to support participants to tap in to innate body wisdom. We will also work with asana (yoga postures) to explore how somatic awareness is inextricably linked to yoga and other mindfulness practices.

Key Points

-Review of Polyvagal Theory (evolutionary stress response, social communication, self soothing behavior)
-Tools for interpersonal connectedness and harmony
-Utilizing somatic awareness in your yoga and mindfulness practices
-Partner exercises exploring nervous system response
-Relaxation/Guided mindfulness practices

Romi Cumes, MA founded Transformative Healing Arts in 2004, which offers yoga instruction, bodywork, performance art, counseling, workshops, and international retreats. She holds a masters in clinical psychology,emphasizing on somatic psychology and is in private practice in Santa Barbara, CA. Romi has been teaching yoga since 1998, and at SB Yoga Center since 2000. Yoga Students receive 25% off their initial bodywork, counseling, or healing sessions with Romi.

Learning to Love More Often

You’ve heard it before, “What you think is not always the case”. I received a valuable lesson about this yesterday while teaching a yoga class. A girl in her late teens or early twenties entered the studio about ten minutes late. Let’s call her “Mary”. Mary’s energy was mildly disruptive and slightly unaware of the people around her. Throughout the class, every bit of instruction I attempted to offer went “dismissed”. I put that in quotations because that was my perception of what was happening. It was true that she didn’t seem to acknowledge words and instruction, yet that was not necessarily due to any overt inconsideration on her part. I noticed her checking out many times during the class and just went with it, because often yoga is about letting people work things out for themselves. When we had fifteen minutes left in class and everyone was relaxed and winding down, she decided to leave. When I saw her trying to exit, I noticed all her props were piled up on the ground and not put away. Embracing the Junior High school P.E. teacher part of myself, I firmly asked Mary to put the props away. She obliged quietly, yet painstakingly before leaving the room. As I finished the class, I formulated an opinion about this girl’s ethics and character structure. There it was, a stuck belief that conveniently housed my sense of rejection and threw my frustration a consoling bone.

After class I noticed Mary waiting for me in the lobby. Her sad eyes diverted as she apologized to me for leaving. As I asked her a few questions about how she was feeling, her body froze and she began sobbing profusely. She had been having a very difficult month, was exhausted, and hadn’t slept much for the last three weeks. It made sense now why the basic postures were uncomfortable for her and the class structure seemed alien. I reflected back on those moments during class where I took Mary’s behavior personally, as if something was wrong with my teaching or as if she just simply didn’t care. What a lesson. I stood and spoke with her and hugged her for a some time before I had to go to my next appointment. I will probably see her privately this week.

We all have this phenomenal filter, to project charcoal traits onto other people who really seek luminosity. Our upbringing, our patterns, and our environment make it It so easy for us to choose opinions that relegate other people – often whom we don’t even know – to lower vibrational classes.

What keeps revealing itself, over and over again in my healing arts and personal life practice, is the opportunity to experience how compassion and empathy galvanize the somatic (body-based) truth that really exists within us all. Although this insight can feel fleeting, especially when some people just don’t act all that cool, it is remarkable what happens when personal opinion and judgement can become demoted by the authenticity of real human connection. There is a world of experience within each individual, and I am finding it helpful to remember that often an individual’s less-than-desirable displays not only give us an opportunity to look at how we too operate from our pain bodies, but also how such behavior offers us an opportunity to love, and offer love more. Happy almost May


The Debutant at the Paradox Ball

Random relationship musing by Romi (2011)

Inner exploration and interpersonal relationship: Symbiosis or the ultimate paradox?

One might feel the need to escape into the depths of his or her inner process, and within those dark folds of self-speculation, are infinite threads of relational longing. Those threads are cast out like thin and sticky strands, each one longing to anchor to something; so that the soul, once separated from Source, Other, God (insert prolific synonym here), can be healed again. Albeit delicious in its complexity, diving into a solitary abyss of self-discovery can be a fleeting journey.  Some fortunate individuals discover that through interpersonal exchange, they are capable of bringing light to the dark cavernous places within the self. So why is relationship so hard?

Maya is a venerated debutant at the paradox ball. A skilled dancer, she glides between conscious escapism and radical interpersonal exploration. “Is escapism really that bad if it’s thoughtful? And perhaps my quest for growth through union is also an escape?” she thought to herself with a big sigh.

Maya is a debutant, not a Buddha, and her explorations are frequently fueled by large swells of avoidance. The paradoxically-inclined debutant seeks a black and white answer to a technicolor question.  Her cerebral cortex is skilled at constructing a checkerboard-lined psyche.  She longs for the simpler life at times, although deep down she knows that would be boring.  For just one linear moment, she ponders black and white squares, placed on top of each other in a most dainty fashion. “It would be so easy that way!” she thought.

Maya flashed back to her childhood dance instructor, Jeanne. Jeanne was a bitter, powerful woman, weathered by years of hard knocks, split leaps, and a succession of failed relationships. But damn, did Jeanne know how to dance. She would say things like:


        “No, not like that….”

        “Let go!”

        “Stop trying so hard and feel!”

        “You can’t put choreography in a box, dance outside the lines!”

Thinking back to her dysfunctional dance instructor, Maya had a revelation. “Why not apply what I learned in Jazz class to my love life?” she thought excitedly. If we are able to acknowledge pain as part of our development, and dance outside the lines, interpersonal experience becomes more colorful and less black and white. Love exists in the presence of pain and love is the most powerful force of all. Love resembles chutes and ladders and pain resembles a checkerboard, and everybody knows that chutes and ladders rule.

The debutant at the paradox ball used to think that interpersonal challenges implied a relationship was destined to fail. Her sensitive New Age boyfriend told her she fit the role of “Tragic Romantic” on the Enneagram wheel. She actually liked the sound of that, but denied it at the same time.  Maya wanted to hold on to her teenage belief that right relationship was like a juicy peach covered in frosting.  And where there was no fruit, only two things resided: a lot of avoidance and a black and a white checkerboard.

Although endearingly deluded at times, Maya knows that there are few people on this earth who don’t experience hurdles while playing their heart’s beautifully complex board game. She also knows it is very possible she will not pass go and collect $100. It is also possible she will live on Park Place and climb ladders. The only thing she knows for sure is that the actual love part is easy; it is the rain gliding over that proverbial peach.

It may often feel necessary to dive in alone, because essentially, we are all alone.  But if that was entirely true, beautiful folk singers like Joules Graves would not sing songs about the “fine line between being Alone and All One”.  Or Unity, although drenched in inexorable political mumbo-jumbo, would not have been the democratic party’s winning slogan in the 2008 election. The slogan was actually Change to be precise, but it was unity woven into a national desire for change that got Obama into the White house.

For many of us, black and white squares appear medieval and antiquated. They are not the symbolic representatives we are looking for in terms of radical self-inquiry and spicy, interpersonal growth. Green and purple slides are ebullient and sensuous, and ladders are Rajasic transportation devices. May Maya help us remember that by climbing ladders and sliding down chutes, we are acting as significant cosmic game pieces, and the kind of interpersonal epiphanies we seek are brightly colored.

My favorite bumper sticker says, “Creativity is revolutionary, express yourself”.  If this bumper sticker had a inanimate romantic counterpart, it might say, “Relationship is the ultimate tool for self-discovery, dive in”.

December, 2011