My Wholebody Focusing practice is mostly silent. I move into grounded presence and give my body permission to move in the ways it needs. Automatic or spontaneous movements emerge. Words or images might surface but not necessarily. I eventually settled on this type of practice because it allows me to remain in grounded presence in a deeper and more sustained way. Without the need to search for words or images, I do not get triggered out of grounded presence as easily and I don’t have to worry about whether I am doing something “right” or if I’m addressing what is needed. My body takes care of that. Whatever emerges from my body is what it needs. I just need to give what emerges my awareness, equal regard and my consent.
Two dominant movements have consistently emerged. The first one is how every session starts. If I stand, my legs shake from the hips to the ankles. This movement first came to me during an automatic movement Qigong session many years ago. If I am sitting, my feet lift off the floor and shake in a different way. I have a vague sense of what is behind these movements. The leg movements seem to have a cleansing quality. It feels like a release of built up tension or static that might get in the way of what my body might need.
The second dominant movement usually emerges while my legs are still shaking. My arms shoot up over my head and stay there. My arms can be moving or still. This second movement emerged in a foundational session related to an image that has been with me for a long time—an image of a small bird with damaged wings that stubbornly preferred not to change in any way. This movement emerged during a health crisis. In a grounded state, I brought my awareness to how this crisis was affecting my body. My arms flew up at the same time a Kundalini-like sensation of a tornado arose from my feet and moved toward the top of my head. My understanding of this movement is that it was a moment in which this little bird tested its wings and found that they actually worked. This was a turning point in this health crisis. This movement emerges each time I am in grounded presence to remind me that anything is possible and to give me courage. Both of these dominant movements ebb and flow through my sessions in relation to whatever else emerges.
As I work in this way, more movements emerge. I have some familiarity with American Sign Language and it came to me that this is my body developing a way to communicate with me using movement. I began to catalogue the new movements by photographing them and writing a journal about what emerges from a particular movement. The movement above is of one hand on top of the other near the top of my chest. It shows up when rage needs my attention. I can check in with my body about the source of the rage. Sometimes, my upper hand strongly pats my body in response to what I’ve identified. I imagine this is an affirmative answer to my identification of the root of the rage.
A new stage of this communication has emerged. My body lets me know something even when I’m not intentionally in grounded presence. I’ve found that my body’s wisdom has become integrated into my daily life, due to the amount of time I’ve spent in grounded presence while offering whatever comes my awareness, equal regard, and consent.
I first noticed this when I was on the treadmill at the gym. I’ve never been an athlete and find that formal exercise often puts me in a triggered state. As I was agonizing over whether or not to increase the speed of the treadmill, my hand reached toward the button that could either raise or lower the speed. I initially pulled back my hand before it could reach its destination wondering why this was happening. I suddenly realized that my hand was making the decision for me. I gave my hand full permission to do what it wanted to do. My hand again reached for the speed button and pressed for a higher speed. This helped me with my anxiety around exercising. If my hand moved to increase the speed, I was sure it was a safe thing to do. From that point on, I waited to have input from my hand before changing the speed. What I found was that my body was not that interested in the speed and rarely increased it. I needed, however, to let go of the “shoulds” I had read about regarding exercising on a treadmill. If I trusted my body to guide me, I had less anxiety about my safety on the treadmill and spent more time exercising.
Recently, I was in a store that sold gems and crystals. The store was quite beautiful and had a large collection of stones. I walked around the displays looking at and touching various stones. When I got to a particular stone, Fluorite, my hand picked up the stone and placed it under my nose. I was quite embarrassed that this happened initially, but my second thought was that my body had picked a compatible stone for me. I read the description and it was extremely suitable to my current situation. It was also important that the stone was placed on the point under my nose that is used in acupuncture and “Tapping” to reduce high levels of stress.
So I wouldn’t feel embarrassed, I took the stone to the register and bought it. Over the next few days, I held the stone to the area under my nose and found myself more able to focus on my work and be more productive. Thoughts of obstacles fell away and I had more space to go beyond recurring anxiety thoughts.
I give my body permission on a daily basis to continue this conversation. I welcome my body’s intervention even after some initial disbelief and/or embarrassment. My body is showing up in its own way and provides me with information to which I normally do not have access.
This is part of a new phase of “self emerging” that I have documented in What Does My Body Need Now and My Heart’s Desire. In addition to automatic movements showing up unexpectedly, I’m also finding myself more frequently at a new edge of personal interactions. I wonder where this will all lead?
It would be wonderful to hear from others about their experiences with silent WBF and what happens when they simply become aware of what’s alive in their body. It is important to document events in which the distance between body wisdom and our conscious selves grows smaller.
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3 thoughts on “When I Give My Body Permission to Lead”
This article is a very important piece for me. You share a direct experience of this kind of spontaneous movement without words, allowing the silence to awaken an inner directed movement that seems to have a mind all their own. You hold it in you consciousness with total acceptance of what comes regardless of how uncomfortable that may be for you in the moment. Things happen, and they seem to build on one another until there is a very specific change of direction happening as something totally new emerges in you. For me this is an experience of life in action engaging with you, that inner wisdom that we all have now activated in this process towards something totally new and never before and amazingly life supporting in some way.
The second pieces you mention in this article seem to illustrated this kind of inner wisdom being activated spontaneously in an every day situation that affirms these changes of behaviour. It is as though there is an opportunity to experience these changes in the way you function to support this new way of being yourself in action. Something you are now aware of even to yourself! This kind of work fundamentally changes us and there is no going back! Kevin McEvenue
Thank you Kevin for responding to the article. What happens for me is determined by what my body needs and what my emotional life is capable of creating. It is wonderful to know that WBF can be so idiosyncratic. There are so many wide open possibilities for this practice that we shouldn’t limit ourselves to any particular way of being or practicing. One of the gifts of your intunements is that each one helps us experience new ways of being in grounded. presence. The more we do this the more our own forms will surface and strengthen us.