How We Find Our Way

Many generations have survived pandemics, wars, and political strife. I’ve looked back at how generations of my family used our need for connection with each other to stay whole and survive.

The Attic

When I was a very young girl, I escaped to the attic to find out information about my relatives. There were steamer trunks my Italian grandparents had used to travel to the US in the early 1900s. At that point, they were full of old photos and artifacts from my parents, grandparents, aunts’ and uncles’ lives.

I would spend hours looking at pictures, trying on dresses, and holding each item in my hands. I could see photos of everyone so many years younger and wondered what secrets these images, old dresses, scraps of material, baby shoes, and other everyday items held. It was my favorite place to be, and it was part of my ongoing need to gather information about the past.

The War Albums

My Dad with his Dog

My favorite images were from my father’s photo albums from when he was in Europe during World War II for three years. He had three albums of photos. I could spend hours looking at these photos and making up stories about who Dad was, what happened to him, and how I could relate the essence of what I saw in the pictures with the man who was my father.

How My Father Survived World War II

My father’s approach was unique for his time. Instead of being caught up in the fervor of nationalism, it was clear to him how the Army used working-class men as cannon fodder in the war. “The Red Ball Express.” was a movie about one of the platoons in which he served. When we watched it on TV, I asked him which character he was in the film. He answered, “the guy who peeled the potatoes.”

As a young girl, I felt crushed that he wasn’t one of the “hero” characters. As an adult, I admire him for being honest even though he knew it wasn’t the answer I wanted. It taught me that jingoistic responses were of no value when you are talking about living through wartime.

Many years later, one of my brothers scanned the albums and gave me the files. On a whim, I set up the photo albums as a screen saver. I was sitting with a friend when the photos started rolling onto my computer screen. My friend and I paused and talked about the images. She loved seeing them and asked a lot of questions.

Later I looked at the photos one at a time. I already had a pattern from my childhood: Who are they? Where are they? What relationship did they have with my dad?

What Emerged from the Photos

Soldiers who transformed rail cars into hospitals  for victims of war

Initially, I saw each picture as a separate story. And then I paused. Something new came to me. These pictures tell the story of a family with a son in the theater of war during WWII. The images were from two locations–Europe and the US. Some were the pictures my father took of his experience in Europe (mostly England). My father worked as a carpenter transforming rail cars into hospitals throughout England. He was mainly on the periphery of the war in small villages that had train stations.

What happened during an air raid in war time
What happened during an air raid in war time

On the back of one photo, my father’s friend documents that his friend kissed the woman he loved at 11:30 pm on April 23, 1943, during an air raid in Swindon. When I read the back of the photo, what came to me was the joy at finding happiness despite the horror. Almost all of the  pictures were of my father being with people on bike rides, in the countryside, dressed in his uniform and street clothes, smoking cigars, working on the railroad, and fixing things. He documented what made him happy. That’s what he sent home to his family.

He had lots of pictures of his fellow carpenters. Each image of a person had a name and address written on the back in a handwriting that was not my dad’s. Most likely, the script belonged to the person in the picture. These were relationships which both partners wanted to keep for longer than the war. Others had commentary from my dad about why the day was essential to him.

There were no pictures of dead bodies, destroyed buildings, or any evidence of war. They could have been a series of images from someone who spent a few years abroad. But it was not. My dad only chose to document his experiences that were pleasant and life-affirming.

He once told me as I was going into surgery to treat cancer that he knew what fear was. My father said he was fearful that he would die each day for three years when he went to war. Dad assured me that there was a way to be with both the fear of the moment and the hope that everything will be okay.

The pictures tell that story. My dad chose to get to know the people he had never met, form strong connections, and enjoy every minute he could. He also documented them to help him keep going. After D-Day, he went to France and participated in one of the most dangerous assignments—he drove gasoline trucks that refueled tanks across France, Belgium, and Germany under fire and mostly without sleep. There are no pictures of those times. Maybe the memory of these pictures kept him going. Maybe there was no time to take new ones.

How the Family Survived World War II

The new generation: Ron, Betty and Marie

His family’s pictures told how, when my father was in the war, his brothers and sisters started their families. They had  had four children while he was in Europe. My father’s twin sister took on the role of the family communicator.

Below is a picture of my grandmother and my oldest cousin. The note from my father’s sister tells him his niece was a timid person. I love this short note and photo because it included my father in the family’s life. He got to see a picture of his mother and his niece, find out something about this young girl’s personality, and also how the family was improving their multi-generational home.

Grandma and cousin Marie during World War II

Many years later, when one of this aunt’s daughters became a nurse in Vietnam during the war, she did the same thing. She documented the family’s life so that her daughter could stay connected. This time they used audiotapes to communicate. My aunt would play the tapes from her daughter for us when we visited. Our nurse mostly talked about what she did when she wasn’t a caring for the wounded.

My favorite picture is the leading photo that I have spent many hours examining over the years. It is a picture of my grandmother’s birthday party (the lady in the back row with the flower on her lapel) in the garden of her brother’s house. Someone took the photo specifically to send to my dad to let him know that they held space for him. There are people you can immediately see in the picture–his parents and aunts and uncles. One can see parts of other people. This photo is full of wanting someone far away to feel loved and remembered.

How We Can Survive

These albums documented how one family used the available means of communication (photography and letter writing) at the time to support each other through a challenging time. They limited their communication to things that brought normality to their lives and shared their stories to reassure each other.  Twenty years later, my aunt and her daughter used audiotapes. Now online videoconferencing is giving us a medium to hold onto ourselves and those we love as we enter the second year of this pandemic. I thank my father and Aunt Virginia for teaching us how.

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Welcoming the new year with a Pause…

Please consider yourself to be warmly invited to our next monthly on-line Pause for Presence gathering on Saturday 16th January (see details below).

In our last gathering the image of the ocean floor emerged with a sense of its deep vibrantly alive stillness, unperturbed by but not separate from the wind-swept waves and cross-currents on its surface.  This felt image spoke beautifully of the dimension of Presence that can be felt inside us as “an underlying energy field of living Presence”, always alive, at peace and undisturbed by the waves of thoughts, emotions and physical discomforts you may experience on the surface.

The idea of these monthly 90-minutes gatherings is to come to rest in this underlying energy field of Presence – a sense of the aliveness felt within the body and around us as a nourishing Presence that holds and constantly resources us: to rest and be nourished by the aliveness of “just being” and allowing the surface to be as it is.  Being together in this way creates a palpable energy field of group Presence which allows you to experience Presence in a much deeper way than if you were on your own.

The format of our gathering is simple.  After a brief guidance into Presence (for those who need it), we silently come to rest in “this underlying energy field of Presence”. There will also be time for any heartfelt sharing that wants to happen.

The details:

  • Time and date: Saturday 16th January from 4 pm to 5.30 pm GMT.
  • Venue: Zoom video conferencing platform. If you have no experience with Zoom, please let Cecelia know for necessary guidance.
  • Fee: £15 (by bank transfer) or £16 (by Paypal which includes £1 Paypal fee). It includes a free audio-recording of the guided sessions.
  • Email Cecelia Clegg at ceceliaclegg44@gmail.com to register.

If you are unable to attend, you can still register to receive an audio-recording of the guided sessions for a £5 fee.

See you then!

Addie van der Kooy and Cecelia Clegg

UK Wholebody Focusing Trainers

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The “Doors of Perception” Comes to Its Conclusion—For Now

By Kevin McEvenue

We come to the last chapter in this exploration of what Perception is for me, how it was first awakened and what my experience is now. As I stop and feel what is there, there is an immediate sense of warmth…sense of love…happiness…a sense of contentment, all around me.

There have been many surprises along the way as my awareness grew in this direct experiencing of Perception. But what surprises me the most right now is how this exploration has come full circle.

Twenty years ago, I wrote a little book entitled “Dancing the Path of the Everyday Mystic” (Available now on Amazon Kindle).  When I glanced over it today, I see how I defined the word Mystic.  It points to leading an inner-directed life. I realize this is just what I have been doing all these twenty years and more—following a life that is essentially inner-directed!

At the same time, it has also moved my life forward. This feels so true.  My life has expanded in so many unexpected ways. It seems to have taken on a life of its own beyond what I could have ever imagined to be possible and to which I have given my consent so willingly.

This concluding podcast speaks for itself. It seems like it’s all coming together in a kind of celebration of life itself!

What I have been searching for in my life has changed remarkably and not even what I thought was wanted or even hoped for. And yet…it seemed exactly what was needed! I was taken care of beyond what I thought I wanted. It helped me avoid some of the pitfalls that I didn’t know were there!

In short: my life matters! I ended up doing what matters. I am able to reach out beyond myself and wait there…invite, and then pause…this is the power of consciousness… Noticing, just noticing! This is the action step that expands me and leads my life forward in spite of myself. It seems to happen almost effortlessly when it feels right! It just happens. That seems to be how it works; perhaps this is how life is meant to work! What I wrote twenty years ago is as true now as it was then. Just lived more fully. So be it!

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The Gift of Consciousness Expanded

by Kevin McEvenue

Once again, I can feel it all coming together in me because Perception is speaking directly to that experience. Something is emerging, coming to my consciousness as I speak, as I feel, and as I express in the presence of another person included in my consciousness. 

This podcast speaks for itself directly, more that I could try to put words to. It describes a clarity of relationship between me, a wounded part of me, and a higher sense of me, all coming together hereA direct experience in myself that is often beyond words. And then maybe words come. The words that come seem to form directly from the experience.

This is me here: me who can actually reach out and engage with something beyond me. I am doing just that now—right now. It is an action step that I initiate by inviting a connection.  And that is enough!

What is so amazing is that something actually does happen. It is like my wounded self is discovering the power of its own consciousness.   This is the power in me, a part of me that can invite and receive, quite different from trying to possess, trying to take from, or trying to make happen. These activities come from very different places.

When I speak about the power of me experiencing this sense of me as powerful, there is some discernment happening at the same time. It is this power that I have been exploring and struggling with in this exploration of perception. What is coming here is the word Presence—to feel myself being present and grounded like how an electric plug needs to be grounded to the earth to make it safe to come alive.  

The capacity to reach out to something more than me where loving happens—something that is not of my own making—is an experience that really can’t be described.  That is it! 

It is something I invite and then I pause, I stay with the desire, and make room for whatever comes—like whatever seems to be the next right step. That is how it works and it requires my consent.  In short, I have reached out, something has come as a response, and I say yes in some way.

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Ambient Grief – Progress

It’s been a few days since I wrote The Ambient Grief of the Moment. I’ve been able to make some progress in finding ways to be with the energy of this ambient grief.  

Ambient energies are more likely to impact us if we have body memories of those energies. My own experience with unexpressed childhood grief opens me up to sensing the suffering around me. WBF helps me know what to do about it.

New Growth

After connecting to this grief, the I first time I noticed that I struggled to understand or explain something, I recognized that grief was present. I took a few breaths and chanted a Buddhist prayer to connect me to a power outside of myself and then took a few more breaths. I also held space for “this is grief, my own, or what is floating around in the world. What I did not do, however, is even more critical.  

Whenever, confusion arose, I had been getting anxious about my health and creating catastrophe scenarios about what is wrong with me. Now that I am aware that grief is engaged here, I can let go of the need to determine what is causing these problems and what I have to do. That is the game-changer. There is no longer a need to see these symptoms as a health problem and go into overdrive to solve them.

I know this is the correct path because the symptoms have lessened since I began holding space in this way for confusion or the inability to function.

I also connected to a flower essence remedy called Grief Relief, made by the Flower Essence Society. There are three ways to administer this remedy. One can spray the mixture into the mouth (has alcohol), on to your skin, or into the aura. This treatment also helps with the intensity of the sense of grief. It gave me hope that progress was happening in how my body is adjusting to the moment. If you use a flower remedy, I recommend that, whether you take this remedy by mouth or on your skin, include the area around your body for the grief that is not yours.  

The Momentum

I hope that others find new ways to be with these energies that are part of our existence at this moment and may get stronger as we move forward in the next few months. Please share what you find with the Wholebody Focusing Community.  Sharing may increase the possibility of advancing the processing of grief by helping others through this difficult time.

Drawing by Diana Scalera

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The Ambient Grief of the Moment

A Colorado woman wrote an article in the New York Times about how her heated car seat provided her great solace physically, sexually, and emotionally. The text was mostly about who invented the heated car seat and why it was so pleasurable. Amidst the light-hearted story, there was an accurate description of what many of us have been feeling: the ambient grief of the moment.

I recognize grief. I felt it deeply 22 years ago when I had endometrial cancer and lost my last chance to have a child. That grief helped me remember my grandfather’s death. He died when I was 14 months old. I had no conscious memories of being with him, but in a Reiki session, my body revealed my baby self’s grief of the loss of the one person who loved me deeply and who I had loved deeply. I cried for many months during this period.

I also had other symptoms. I lost things, essential things like my wallet, many times. I would find myself in the middle of NYC without my purse and any ID or metro card. The only way to get home was to walk a couple of miles. I remember thinking that the cancer treatment had taken away my uterus and was also a sort of lobotomy. It was when I found focusing through an organization called Cancer Care. Focusing helped me find myself again.

Lately, with the rise of COVID to such dramatic proportions, I find myself in the same position emotionally. I’m always losing things. I think I’m doing something that I usually do, and it turns out I missed a couple of steps. The outcome is I have to spend hours fixing it. I’m also losing my ability to explain things.

There is weekly news of friends and acquaintances who have died along with the thousands world-wide. It was impossible to find a world-wide number of deaths, but the US is reporting that one person dies every minute from COVID.

There are also deaths from other things like heart disease, cancer, lung, and digestive disorders. Most of the people I knew who have died lately are not dying from COVID, but some other conditions. It is as if living with a chronic illness in the time of COVID is just too much to bear.

I am a part of a Buddhist organization. There is a recommendation that we chant for the consolation of those suffering from the impact of COVID. I didn’t take this seriously at first, but now I sense how it can help me with the grief I feel.

On the surface, I “handle” living with COVID by plotting how my husband and I can survive this crisis. What I haven’t been paying attention to is sensing into how the situation is impacting my body. Reading that phrase in an article about heated car seats gave me a connection to my symptoms and the cause. It is the collective sense of grief that is overwhelming our senses.

I don’t have a solution, but I hope our readers can share how they are experiencing this grief and if you have found a way to hold space for it while allowing your body to discover what it needs to heal.

Heated Car Seats Are an Antidote to Our Grief  by Hermione Hoby

Photo by: Diana Scalera

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Welcome to the Depth of the Ocean!

Please consider yourself to be warmly invited to our next monthly on-line Pause for Presence gathering on Saturday 19th December (see details below).

In our last gathering the image of the ocean floor emerged with a sense of its deep vibrantly alive stillness, unperturbed by but not separate from the wind-swept waves and cross-currents on its surface.  This image  spoke beautifully of the dimension of Presence that can be felt inside us as “an underlying energy field of living Presence”,  always alive, at peace and undisturbed by the waves of thoughts, emotions and physical discomforts you may experience on the surface.

The idea of these monthly 90-minutes gatherings is to come to rest in this underlying energy field of Presence – a sense of the aliveness felt within the body and around us as a nourishing Presence that holds and constantly resources us:  to rest and be nourished by the aliveness of “just being” and allowing the surface to be as it is.  Being together in this way creates a palpable energy field of group Presence which allows you to experience Presence in a much deeper way than if you were on your own.

The format of our 90-minute gathering is simple.  After a brief guidance into Presence (for those who need it), we silently come to rest in “this underlying energy field of Presence”.  There will also be time for any heartfelt sharing that wants to happen.

The details:

  • Time and date: Saturday 19th December from 4 pm to 5.30 pm GMT.
  • Venue: Zoom video conferencing platform. If you have no experience with Zoom, please let Cecelia know for necessary guidance.
  • Fee: £15 (by bank transfer) or £16 (by Paypal which includes £1 Paypal fee). It includes a free audio-recording of the guided sessions.
  • Email Cecelia Clegg at ceceliaclegg44@gmail.com to register.

If you are unable to attend, you can still register to receive an audio-recording of the guided sessions for a £5 fee.

See you then!

Addie van der Kooy and Cecelia Clegg

UK Wholebody Focusing Trainers

To comment or read others’ comments, click here and go past the end of the post

 

 

 

Feel the Warm and Be the Warm 

By Kevin McEvenue
 

This series, the Doors of Perception, seems to have taken on a life of its own. Something has come to a head; I have recalled the struggles of life and named the basic conflict that seems to always be there. I want so much and I can’t have it in equal proportion. How devastating this has been for most of my life.

Now I feel something has changed; just being with these podcasts seems to have made a difference, being transparent with you present in my awareness at the same time. Something has happened that perhaps could not have happened until I did this: speak out, pausing, waiting for the words to form directly from the experience itself.

This podcast really does speak for itself and I invite you to feel the change of mood and expectation. How something has happened here—how the perception itself has taken on a life of its own, independent of the patterns I so struggle with. I am enjoying that shift as I feel it in my own body this morning. I feel different.  My body is feeling the warmth of itself, physically warm, a sensual feeling, gradually warming every part of me all over, warm and inviting.

What a good feeling that is, to feel myself in this way.  And there is a natural pause to enjoy it as I realize I don’t have to know, I don’t have to understand, I don’t have to do anything. I can enjoy my life just the way it is.

And right now, I am enjoying my warm body being felt all through me. It feels like the struggle doesn’t need to be there—at least not now. It feels like an internalized permission, I don’t have to do anything, I can just be.  My wanting, my desires—they have a place in me to be there.  It is okay.

There is a fundamental change of expectation.  More a sense of acceptance with delight and gratitude. Not a wishing, not a fantasy. There is a quality of hope here that seems to know what is needed. Like a bodily experience of who I am and what I am in my possibilities that seem satisfying. And yet there will be challenges here too, challenges that are manageable, that strengthen me, not drain me. So be it!