Personality: Robert Sneed

7/20/2023, 6 p.m.
Lifelong Richmonder Robert Sneed is constantly in pursuit of the present.

Lifelong Richmonder Robert Sneed is constantly in pursuit of the present.

He says that living in the moment is the best thing his parents, Sonny and Mary Lee, taught him.

“My dad would try to help me navigate the anxiety I would be experiencing around something that happened yesterday or an event that was looming ahead in the future,” Mr. Sneed shared in a recent email. “My dad could see how being present in the moment would help minimize the anxiety and he would often remind me to think about the present moment. I really did not fully appreciate the concept until much later.

“My mom was very patient, kind and authentic,” he added. “Amazing gifts from amazing people.”

Mr. Sneed has “long been a fan” of the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung and in 1988 he began his own journey of self-discovery in a more serious way.

In 1994, Nancy Milner founded Chrysalis with a vision to be a space where the Richmond community could seek transformative psychological and spiritual growth that was informed by, but not necessarily tied to, religion. Mr. Sneed’s involvement, though peripheral, began right at the start when he organized a group of contractors to build a labyrinth at the corners of Loxley and Westmoreland avenues.

The Innerwork Center’s (formerly the Chrysalis Institute) website describes the labyrinth, an ancient mystical tool, as “a walking meditation used by many cultures and traditions around the world. Unlike a maze, there is only a single, clear path in and out. Walking through a labyrinth has come to symbolize the spiritual journey.”

The Innerwork Center’s mission remains the same as when it was the Chrysalis Institute: Providing programs that inspire curiosity and cultivate mindfulness.

“I really love The Innerwork Center and what we offer the Richmond commnity,” Mr. Sneed said. “I’ve personally experienced transformation. I want others to experience the same.”

On July 1, he became the nonprofit’s board president and says that outreach will be his No. 1 goal. He wants to share the center’s mission and programs with every community in Richmond, and plans to do so by communicating what it offers and how it can make a difference in people’s everyday lives.

As the name of the center suggests, the real work done “begins within and ripples out.”

“Our impact often occurs on a level that is not easily defined because inner work looks different for everyone,” Mr. Sneed said, explaining the benefits of mindfulness. “When we focus our attention on the present moment, we enhance our ability to gain clarity, act with intention, reduce stress and embrace life more fully.”

One thing Mr. Sneed is working on for himself is embracing his eventual retirement from the nursery business he started 46 years ago.

“It is proving very difficult to shift gears into retirement,” Mr. Sneed confessed.

He says he’s looking forward to “being in” retirement and he sees that as continuing to do things such as contributing to The Innerwork Center, but being able to stop to truly appreciate the beauty of the contribution and the loving community that exists there — something he encourages everyone to come and experience for themselves.

“The Innerwork Center is for all who desire to know self, peace, joy and love.”

Meet a Richmonder who believes in the power of positive transformation and this week’s Personality, Robert Sneed:

Volunteer position: President of The Innerwork Center board of directors.

Occupation: Owner of Sneed’s Nursery.

Date and place of birth: April 18 in Richmond.

Where I live now: Richmond.

Education: Some college and a lifetime of experience.

Family: Wife, Diane, daughter, Vanessa, and two grandsons, Jake and Tyler.

The Innerwork Center is: A unique beacon offering the Richmond community tools for a rich non-religious spiritual journey.

Mission: We are a catalyst for well-being through programs that inspire curiosity, cultivate mindfulness, and awaken the spirit.

Backstory of name: The original name of The Innerwork Center was Chrysalis. Chrysalis in biological terms defines the state of growth/transition from pupa to butterfly. The butterfly offers a beautiful image of transformation. The Innerwork

Center sustains the reference to transformation by suggesting that all work on oneself “Begins Within” and ripples out.

No. 1 goal or project: Work with our board and staff to continue building strategies to communicate/ share our mission with the Richmond community.

Strategy for achieving goals: Continue to offer public programs that contribute to cultivating a life of meaning. Increase our outreach programs to public school teachers, health care providers, and first responders. Expand our reach to all communi- ties within the Richmond area. Spread the word!

No. 1 challenge facing The Innerwork Center: As a nonprofit, we are working to increase our budget to expand our reach throughout the community in order to adequately share our mission of inspiring curiosity, cultivating mindfulness, and awakening the spirit.

The Innerwork Center and racial equity: We are actively working to establish a Culture of Belonging — a culture where everyone feels welcome to be their true selves. That only happens with explicit effort from all of our stakeholders. We value each other’s diverse experiences, our common humanity, and our interconnectedness.

Ways The Innerwork Center helps heal race-based stress and trauma: If hurt people hurt people, imagine what people on a healing journey can do. Inner work is a tool that can address race-based trauma from the perspective of BIPOC, for example our monthly program: Coming Home — a Community for Black and Brown People. It also can be from the perspective of waking up to your whiteness, for example our class of the same name. We offer many options on The Innerwork of Race on our website https://innerworkcenter.org/innerworkofrace

Richmond and compassion: You’ll often hear us say at The Innerwork Center that we are working toward a wiser and more compassionate RVA — but what does that mean exactly? When we talk about compassion, what we mean is seeing the suffering of others and wanting to alleviate that suffering. Sometimes it’s our own suffering that we work to alleviate. Compassion is a source of resilience and when we’re able to feel connection amidst suffering, it can be a life preserver that keeps us afloat.

How The Innerwork Center, truth, and reconciliation work together: We can increase our wisdom through strengthening our ability to take perspective — seeing the big picture, looking beyond the current moment, considering our deeper values, and understanding the viewpoints of others. With this type of inner work, we grow wiser!

The Innerwork Center is for: All who desire to know self, peace, joy and love

Upcoming events: Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) for the BIPOC Community on Thursday, Sept. 21-Nov. 16. Retreat Nov. 4.

The Innerwork Center partners with: We show up for/with/ to so many beautiful individuals and organizations in this work. Reach out to our executive director, Rachel Douglas, or our marketing and community engagement director, Felisha Jones, with your ideas for collaboration! hello@innerworkcenter.org

How I quiet my mind during challenging times: Along the way of the mindfulness journey, you will hear about being a “witness” to life’s events. It is in that “space” that you are both present and unattached at the same time. It can be as simple as counting to ten to create that space between your conscious and unconscious behavior.

How I start the day: A friend told me she started every day with curiosity. I really thought that was unusual but decided to try it. I try to start the day by being open to that which is and will be.

The three words that best describe me: Tenacious, introverted, contrarian.

If I had 10 extra minutes in the day: I probably would not notice.

Best late-night snack: Smoked salted almonds.

The music I listen to most: Grateful Dead and Jam Band Rock.

A quote that inspires me: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” — Lao Tzu

At the top of my “to-do” list: Get rid of my to do list (not original but fun to contemplate).

Book that influenced me the most: “The Red BooK” by C. G. Jung. In its very unique way it reinforces the possibility for each of us to experience the journey to knowing the divine love within.

What I’m reading now: “The Broken Mirror “by James Hollis. Mr. Hollis is very experienced at “translating” C. G. Jung into language that conveys the heart of Jung’s message and relates to the real world. It is a collection of essays written by Hollis using real-life examples that help unwrap the intricate concepts that Jung’s work uncovered. For example Chapter 2. “The Zen Paradox: What you have Become is now Your Chief Problem.” It helps us see the ongoing necessity to Begin Within, again and again, when trying to unravel the Mystery of our Being.

Next goal: Finding BEING in retirement.