Being Like a River: Felt Community in Action

Many of us value our Focusing partnerships as a place where we can be in Grounded Presence with ourselves and another human being from a very deep inner place. A Focusing partnership is a beautiful path of committed practice of witnessing and being witnessed, and over time can permeate even the most challenging aspects of life with a sense of openness to new possibilities.

A long-term Focusing partnership or a solo Focusing practice imply their own next step – a carrying forward into Felt Community. In this spirit we are inviting you to consider joining us next summer for a Wholebody Focusing Retreat where we will co-create activities that support the forward movement of life in each of us.

A free, undammed river flowing down a mountainside and into a floodplain will naturally spread out in many streams and rivulets that join and separate in an ever-shifting pattern. Hydrologists call this natural way of being a river a “braided river”. A Focusing Retreat is just like a braided river: many streams of felt sensing flowing together, flowing apart, whirling around deep pools, moving alluvial soils to a new place to create fertile ground for new growth.

“Co-created” is the operative word: unlike a Focusing workshop or week-long with a set program, the retreat is what we -you and I and he and she and they – make together. What does that look like? There will be learning activities facilitated by participants who wish to do so; time for partnerships and time alone; opportunity for vigorous movement assisted by canoes and bicycles; and many, many Heartfelt Conversations. ‘Smores and campfires are a definite possibility!

For more information and to reserve your spot please click here.

The retreat will take place on the shore of a lake on beautiful Vancouver Island in British Columbia, nestled within extensive gardens and a second-growth fir forest. We will invite our bodies to sense into the presence of nature and how it may support our Grounded Presence and well-being.

In a time of climate upheaval and warlike posturing that threaten human extinction, we believe that intentionally being with each other in a Focusing way is a gift to ourselves, and to present and future generations.

Ana Simeon, with Barb Fotta, Joya D’Cruz and Melinda Darer, the 2020 Retreat Planning Committee. Please contact  if you would like more information.

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The Pine and I

Photo Credit: Ana Simeon

Maybe it has happened to you, too, that small secret moment of intimacy with a non-human creature. It’s a powerful experience yet easily dismissed by the mind. The one I want to tell you about happened on a trail in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada in northern California. It is a rocky, spare place, steep and windswept and intensely alive. High on a ridge above a mountain lake, the trail weaves among pines and Douglas Fir growing singly or in small groups, huddled around granite boulders. On a hot late September afternoon, their combined scent rose like incense; the air was charged with it. I walked briskly, enjoying the vigorous motion and the give of the trail surface, changing from rock to needles to bare earth to patches of coarse grasses. I became keenly aware of an added dimension, the arrangement of bodies in the middle distance, so often lost in our habitual focus on panoramic views. I mean by that the sense of my body mass relative to trees and boulders, the way trees stood in twos or threes or alone; a pine and boulder together; or the way the boughs formed a screen so that only slivers of blue were visible, and then suddenly parted to allow a full view of distant peaks. My steps slowed to a walk as I absorbed this new pleasure. My hand reached to touch the furry patch of lichen on a granite boulder, the deep furrow of Douglas Fir bark. I put my arms around a Jeffrey Pine, maybe my age in pine years, glowing deep red in the late afternoon light. I laid my cheek against the bark and was enveloped in a light, sweet aroma, like vanilla, very different from the more pungent “conifer” fragrance that rose from the forest as a whole. (I read later that pines, and especially Jeffrey Pines, are unique among North American conifers in distilling this vanilla-like scent.) There we stood for a long while, the pine and I, in a timeless embrace of arms and branches, skin and bark, one breath.

In her book, “The Legacy of Luna”, activist Julia Butterfly Hill describes her relationship with the giant redwood in whose canopy she lived for more than two years in order to save it from being logged. Hill is positive that Luna knew Hill was there to save it, and gave her support in its tree-ish way. Similarly, with my arms around the pine, I felt very strongly, from the tree, a wave of –  encouragement? Support? Was the pine hugging me back? These are human terms and they don’t quite fit. I felt that the pine and the land it sprang from were holding me up, wanted me to continue my work to save the Peace Valley in my home province of British Columbia from being dammed. I was being offered a gift – an experience of joy and unity, and something more: confirmation, confidence and strength to persevere in my work. Joy and gratitude buoyed me as I walked back to the cabin.

Continue reading The Pine and I