Stopping for Color

Painting by: Maria Hakasalo

How about stopping for a while and sensing what this picture gives to you?

Drawing and painting were a big thing in my life until it came to a stop three years ago. I could not cope when there was so much to do at the same time, such as studying creative writing and becoming a certified focusing teacher. The yearning woke up a few months ago. I picked up my acrylic painting tools – and noticed how it didn’t inspire me.

A couple of days ago, I found alcohol inks. What I like most about these slightly cloudy works is that I used a somewhat thicker paper that is different from the synthetic paper commonly used with alcohol inks. The thicker paper is an excellent support for color printing. It fits into my current mood.

Maybe you would like to try what I did: Look at a picture and, at the same time, feel the support that the chair and floor are giving to you. Let your gaze move around the image while feeling which colors or spots are attracting or resonating in you for some reason. When you see and feel it, stop and say with gentleness and beautiful curiosity that you want to sense and hear what it wants to give to you. You may wish to close your eyes if it feels right and ask yourself this question: What do I want to give myself at this point in my life, right now? Give it time, don’t hurry. You may begin to feel something in your body. Let it feel. If something pops up for you, greet it kindly and check if it seems to match the picture in any way. If so, you may feel that something is happening to you. A word, image, or movement might open up to you? Maybe it’s something you need today? Perhaps you can welcome it into your life?

When looking at the picture of my painting, I noticed how the white in the painting resonated in me. For me, the white place where there is no color, only pure paper, helped me accept the state of not knowing. I am there right now, and so many of us are. My loved ones are on another side of the sea, not knowing if they can come back from their holiday. The flights may not operate when so many of the flights cannot leave.

Just pure paper with no color yet, and I don’t know what its fate would be. It felt comforting to be with, and I started to feel more peaceful and tender.

Mitä jos pysähtyisit ja katsoisit, mitä tämä kuva avaa sinulle?

Piirtäminen ja maalaaminen on ollut iso asia elämässäni, kunnes kolme vuotta sitten siihen tuli stoppi. En vain jaksanut, kun samaan aikaan oli paljon muutakin, kuten kirjoittamisen ja fokusoinnin ohjauksen opiskelua. Kaipaus heräsi muutama kuukausi sitten. Keräilin akryylimaalausvälineitäni esille. Mutta ei se napannut.

Viikonloppuna löysin alkoholimusteet. Eniten pidän näistä hieman sameista, huokoiselle paperille tehdyistä kokeiluista. Sopii tämänhetkiseen tunnelmaani.

Kun valitsin valokuvaan tämän rajauksen, en tiennyt, miksi työn valkoinen, väritön osa oli siinä niin tärkeä.

Haluaisitko sinä kokeilla samaa, minkä minä tein: Katso kuvaa ihan rauhassa ja tunne samalla tuki, minkä tuoli ja lattia antavat sinulle. Anna katseesi liikkua kuvassa ja tunnustele, mikä väreistä tai kohdista vetää sinua puoleensa. Kun huomaat sen, pysähdy ja lempeästi ja kauniilla uteliaisuudella ikäänkuin kuuntele, mitä se haluaa sinulle kertoa tai avata. Voit halutessasi sulkea silmät, jos se tuntuu paremmalta ja antaa tämän kysymyksen asettua sinuun: mitähän tämä kohta haluaa antaa minulle juuri nyt? Anna sille aikaa, älä kiirehdi. Saatat alkaa tuntea jotain kehossasi. Anna sen tuntua. Jos jotain avautuu sinulle, tervehdi sitä ystävällisesti ja tarkista, tuntuuko se yhteensopivalta valitsemasi kuvan kohdan/värin kanssa. Ehkä jokin sana, kuva tai liike avautuu sinulle? Saatat tuntea, että jotain sinussa tapahtuu. Ehkä se on jotain, mitä tarvitset juuri tänään?

Valkoinen kohta auttoi minua hyväksymään ei-tietämisen tilan, jossa tällä hetkellä olen, ja niin moni meistä on. Läheiseni kaukana lomamatkalla, enkä tiedä, pääsevätkö he lentämään takaisin, kun niin moni lento on peruttu. Pelkkä puhdas paperi, jossa ei ole vielä väriä enkä voi tietää, millä tavoin se täyttyy, auttaa minua olemaan tässä hetkessä. Jokin minussa rauhoittuu ja pehmenee.

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On Becoming a Grandmother / Kun minusta tuli mummu

Some months ago, I became a grandma to a baby and a puppy. I listen to these significant events in my body. I start to feel the liveliness in the bottom of my feet. Then something “awkward” appears in my stomach. How could anything so tricky be related to such beautiful things?

This felt sense is located horizontally, longitudinally in my stomach. It is spherical, maybe about three centimeters in diameter. It has soft edges. Something concentrated wrapped in a sausage casing.

As the delivery of the baby lasted almost two days, there was a moment when I began to think about all the possible ways it had gone wrong. At some point, I was already sure that both my daughter and her baby had died, and no one in the middle of that horror could tell us anything.

Fear of loss.

Is it related to how I lost myself? As a child, I decided that I wouldn’t cause any problems for my parents. I kept the pain and sorrow inside me — even the joy.

The newly-born, both human and canine, have vitality. They are waking up to the outside world and learning as they encounter new experiences. A sharp look that suddenly bursts into a sweet smile, a mouth that meets new sounds. Paws are running into your arms.

I remember a photo we took the day I first met my granddaughter. There was a picture published on social media showing just a little hand of our baby girl in my big, much stronger one. We who loved her saw that she was more than a hand, but we didn’t show it to everyone.

Dear belly, what do you ask for or need?

Loving ears, eyes, and arms that hear see and carry me just as I do with my grandchild. People, animals, for which I am more than a hand shown in a social media photo. Some love my plump stomach, and my lips that grapple with the right words and sometimes find them. And I wonder if I could become even more visible, beloved, and faithful to myself?

These contradictions do not end here, as I now can feel two Prince sausages (in Finland, some short sausages are called Prince sausages) in my belly. Like two attached Prince sausages. A meaty concatenation of sausages. Lots to eat. One is on the left side of my hip. The other is on the heart side and expands under the rib, growing toward my left flank. These are long-legged Prince sausages. Or are they Princesses?

A part of me is against the word Princess. In my childhood, those who wanted to look beautiful were called princesses. Not in an admiring way but like a coquette. It described an awkward person trying to draw attention to herself.

I welcome the Princess in myself. The child who changed her clothes many times a day according to her desires. How wonderful it felt when I did the same during the focusing week-long in Chile one year ago. Or when I change my grandchild’s diapers and think about what clothes to put on her. How will I release my grip on her so that she could choose the clothes she desires as she grows up? And I’m not just talking about clothes now.  When growing up, what kind of look, touch, and words will she need to face, feel, and hear to find herself?

How about me?

Is it time to unload my sausage casing and open up my ingredients for a viewing? Look, I was born from this mass.  Edible but not always digestible. And maybe only for  those who like this kind of sausage.

 

Kun minusta tuli mummu

Muutama kuukausi sitten minusta tuli sekä mummu että koiramummu. Kun kuulostelen näitä isoja tapahtumia kehossani, alan tuntea sekä elävyyden jalkapohjissani, että jotain ”hankalaa” vatsassani. Miten näin kauniisiin asioihin voisi sisältyä mitään hankalaa?

Se sijaitsee horisontaalisesti, pitkittäissuuntaisesti vatsassani. Se on pallomainen, halkaisijaltaan ehkä noin kolme senttimetriä. Sillä on pehmeähköt reunat. Kuin makkarankuoreen kääritty tiivistymä.

Kun vauvan synnyttäminen kesti ja kesti, aloin pohtia, mitä kaikkea kamalaa voisi tapahtua. Jossain vaiheessa olin jo varma, että sekä tyttäreni että hänen vauvansa olivat molemmat kuolleet, eikä kukaan siinä kauheudessa kyennyt ilmoittamaan siitä meille.

Menettämisen pelkoa.

Liittyykö se siihen, kuinka menetin itseni? Kuinka lapsena päätin, että en aiheuta vanhemmilleni mitään ongelmia. Pidin sisälläni kaiken kivun ja surun. Ilonkin.

Vauvoissa, niin ihmis- kuin koiravauvoissakin on elämänvoimaa. Heräämistä ulkopuoliseen maailmaan. Uuden oppimista. Tarkkaa katsetta, joka yhtäkkiä puhkeaa suloiseen hymyyn, suuhun, joka tapailee uusia äänteitä. Tassuja, jotka juoksevat syliin.

Muistan valokuvan, jonka otimme sinä päivänä, kun ensi kertaa kohtasin lapsenlapseni. Sen someen laitettavan kuvan, jossa näkyisi vain pienen tyttövauvan pieni käsi minun suuressa, paljon vahvemmassa kädessäni. Minä itse, me näimme, että se pieni oli muutakin kuin pelkkä käsi mutta emme näyttäneet sitä kaikille.

Rakas vatsani, mitä sinä pyydät tai tarvitset?

Rakastavia korvia, silmiä ja syliä, jotka kuulevat, näkevät ja kantavat minua samalla tavoin kuin minä lapsenlastani. Ihmisiä, eläimiä, joille olen enemmän kuin somessa näkyvä käsi. Jotka rakastavat pulleaa vatsaani, huulia, jotka hapuilevat oikeita sanoja ja välillä löytävät niitä. Ja mietin minä sitäkin, voisinko tulla vielä enemmän näkyväksi, rakkaaksi ja todeksi itsellenikin?

Ei tämä tähän loppunut, sillä tunnen, kuinka tiivistymiä on nyt kaksi. Kuin kaksi prinssinakkia toisissaan kiinni. Tuhti makkaraketju. Paljon syötävää. Toinen niistä on napani vasemmalla puolella. Sydämen puolella. Sivussa, ei keskellä. Se laajenee kylkikaaren alle, kasvaa kohti vasenta kylkeäni. Pitkäsäärinen prinssinakki. Tai prinsessa?

Jokin osa minusta vastustaa sanaa prinsessa, sillä prinsessaksi on minun maailmassani kutsuttu sitä, joka haluaa näyttää kauniilta. Hienohelmaista hempukkaa. Kevytkenkäistä, hieman hankalaa ja huomiota itselleen hakevaa.

Toivotan tervetulleeksi prinsessan itsessäni. Sen, joka vaihtoi vaatekertaa mielihalujensa mukaan. Miten ihanalta tuntuikaan, kun tein tammikuussa Chilen matkallani samoin. Tai kun saan lapsenlapselleni vaippaa vaihtaessani pohtia, millaiset vaatteet hänelle pukisin. Miten irrottaisin otteeni hänestä niin, että hän kasvaessaan saisi valita ne vaatteet, jotka ovat häntä itseään eniten? Enkä puhu nyt vain vaatteista. Puhun myös aatteista. Millaista katsetta ja kosketusta, millaisia sanoja hän tarvitsee löytääkseen sen?

Sitä samaa pohdin itsellenikin.

Olisiko aika purkaa makkarani kuoret ja avata raaka-aineeni nähtäväksi? Että näin, tästä massasta synnyin minä. Syötävän hyvää, ei aina helposti sulavaa. Niiden ruokalautaselle pureskeltavaksi, jotka tällaisesta makkarasta pitävät.

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Don’t disappoint me / Älä tuota pettymystä

Photo Credit: Maria Hakasalo

When I heard the diagnosis of an autoimmune disorder, strong feelings arose in me. it seemed challenging to find a connection to myself with the symptoms caused by the illness. The depression, as I experienced it, was new to me.

Since I started to listen to my body more, my body has started to call me to move. It happens in me during focusing sessions with minor and sometimes major movements in my body, but also I suddenly feel a need to listen to music and move. I stand up, start listening, and then moving in any way my body takes me.

One morning after the diagnosis I felt how my body was longing for movement again. What would I listen to? The YouTube channel had sent me a recommendation overnight, and I decided to listen to it.

The first notes of the song fit perfectly with my sad feelings. I started to move, without noticing the words, until I heard: “Don’t disappoint me, don’t let me down”. The words hit my own situation strongly. My body had deceived me. I was moving and grieving.

Suddenly I felt just like something turned on me. It was no longer me whose request it was. The “sick part” in me asked me not to disappoint it, not to be let it down. Amazing! It has hopes for me. It wants me to hold  it gently, and listen to its needs. It does not want to be left alone, blocked or rejected.

This started a new kind of journey, one in which the disease and I are not separate, or apart. We have a relationship in which  both of us have our needs. I listen to it, and it listens to me.

What kind of movement does this piece of Ruth B. bring to you? What kind of thoughts does it awaken in you?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AwIF_BdOmIY


Kun minulla todettiin autoimmuunisairaus, jouduin myllerryksiin oman kehoni kanssa. Tunsin pettymystä, minua masensi, tuntui haastavalta löytää yhteys itseeni sellaisena kuin mitä sairauden aiheuttamien oireiden myötä olin. Masennus sellaisena, kuin se päälleni vyöryi, oli täysin uutta minulle.

Continue reading Don’t disappoint me / Älä tuota pettymystä

Direction / Suunta

Photo Credit: Juuka, Finland by Maria Hakasalo

I had set a really tight schedule for writing the focusing book. I woke up to reality in January. While attending  a focusing course in Chile I received a request from the publisher to provide them with the title of the book and the back cover by the end of the month. Help! I did  not have a name ready and I was far from home. I thought that I would not think about writing a book at all during this trip.

On the same day we explored the tremendous ability of focusing to open us up to what cannot be measured on a logical scale and where to reach what is even more than logical. First, we created a few sentences to define the word direction. I wrote: “The direction is the path that must pass from A to B so you can achieve something.”

After that, we brought our attention to the body and how the word direction “sits in our body”. For me it started with a feeling of space in the chest and, as a result, my body bent backward in the chair, casually. Rest. My hands followed really slowly. When I tried to move them faster, I feltl how wrong it was and I had to return my hands to where I had started to rush. By hurrying forward my hands were out of sync with my body’s timing and location.

“The direction is something that moves at its own pace, in its own way, and you can’t rush it or make it happen faster,” my body said.

Next, we did a pair exercises where we compared the wisdom given by our bodies in the direction of a real situation in our lives. I compared it to the schedule I had set for the focusing book. In my right hand was the direction, in the left was the timetable. They were not close together, but stayed far apart. I felt energy in both hands, but in the right hand there was considerably more energy than the left. When my partner called me to look more closely at my left hand, I noticed the holes in it.

I called these far away places to meet each other. I asked for a “book schedule” to show up  where the direction is. I moved my left hand toward my right hand. This movement opened up like a curtain to what I had never seen before. I saw deeply, who I really am and how it contradicted with what I thought I should be. It also showed me what made me want to hurry. While I cried for something I am not, I was deeply grateful for what I am.

After talking to the publisher, I woke up to feelings of shame. The shame arose mainly from the fact that I had not at all considered the correct timetable.

The shame revealed a deep-seated pattern in myself: I appreciated speed over everything. Something in me wants me to be fast. What is this all about ? Now I am learning to be slower in what I had wanted to do quickly.


Olin asettanut fokusointikirjan kirjoittamiselle todella tiukan aikataulun. Todellisuuteen heräsin tammikuussa. Ollessani fokusointikurssilla Chilessä sain kustantajalta pyynnön, että ilmoittaisin kirjan nimen ja takakannen tekstin kuun loppuun mennessä. Apua! Ei minulla ole nimeä valmiina ja olen kaukana kotoa, lähtenyt sillä ajatuksella, että en mieti kirjan kirjoittamista lainkaan reissun aikana.

Saman päivän aikana tutustuimme fokusoinnin valtavaan kykyyn avata meille yhteys siihen, mitä ei voida mitata loogisuuden asteikolla, vaan missä tavoitetaan se, mikä on enemmän kuin loogista. Muodostimme ensin kukin muutaman lauseen sanakirjamaisen määritelmän sanalle suunta. Minä kirjoitin: ”Suunta on tie, jonka tulee kulkea paikasta A paikkaan B, jotta voit saavuttaa jotain.”

Continue reading Direction / Suunta

Boundary Wall / Rajamuuri

Photo Credit: Pixabay

I attend a meeting where I suddenly find myself vigorously, downright angry, opposing an initiative to determine  “who will be accepted to our group, and who won’t”.

I Do Not Want Everybody In!

After the meeting, I am with my own anger. Ashamed. What is this about? Why do I feel such strong anger in a matter that is essentially just a matter of conversation?

I start to feel a strong lump in my stomach. The lump is not just a lump. It has boundaries. The walls that guard. Disqualify.

There is a small me inside the lump, who is aware of the boundary because not all should be allowed inside. The lump is not just me, but it is us. “They” belong outside. Those others. Those who are dubious. Different. Those who don’t belong to us.

The lump pushes the diaphragm so that it is difficult for me to breathe. There is right, and there is wrong. Just those two. I don’t precisely know the rules for right and wrong, nevertheless, a part of me feels I should know who belongs to us, and who doesn’t.

There is somebody outside of me, who is part of us and who knows…and is now testing me if I know it too, because I MUST know.

But I don’t.

Continue reading Boundary Wall / Rajamuuri

Peace in Me / Rauha minussa

Photo Credit: Cerro Santa Lucia in Santiago, Chile by Maria Hakasalo

I sit in a subway in Santiago, Chile. My husband sits at the other end of the full car. I am worried. The next day we go in different directions. He will leave by himself for a backpacking trip to Paraguay, to Iguazu Falls in Brazil and later to Argentina, while I will spend a week in Punta de Tralca, Chile. I will be safe–his experience is an unknown. Who knows, it may even be a bit dangerous. Something in me is absolutely scared.

A man gets on the subway car with another man. They are  standing near the door. The man holds on to an adjacent bar. Noticing him, I suddenly start to feel my feet firmly against the floor of the car. Peace begins to rise up all over my body. I look at the man when he speaks to his companion.  Just an ordinary man about sixty years old carrying a briefcase in his hand. He’s taller than other men in the car.

I look at people around me curiously: could I find someone else with the same peace in their face and in their whole appearance? Not a soul.

After a while, the man leaves the subway. Deep peace in me does not disappear.

This experience reminds me of focusing, when I am with issues, thoughts or feelings that can arise, there is resistance, fear, and hardening in me. When I pay attention to the support of the floor, the chair, the environment, the listener, I start to feel my grounded presence and me here that is completely safe and peaceful.

Later, I realize that the peace of that man resonated with the peace that was just hidden somewhere in me at that moment. There is a peace in me, and I can find it even in a painful moment.

I can feel the same when listening to Kevin’s attunement at:

Looking for the Life Support to Move Forward the Complexity of a Growing Me?


Istun metrovaunussa Santiagossa, Chilessä. Puolisoni istuu toisessa päässä täyttä vaunua. Olen huolissani. Seuraavana päivänä me menemme eri suuntiin. Hän lähtee yksin reppureissailemaan Paraguayhin, ja Iguassun putouksille sekä Brasilian että Argentiinan puolelle samaan aikaan, kun minä vietän viikon Punta de Tralcassa, Chilessä. Minä olen turvassa, hän tuntemattomassa, kuka tietää, jopa vaarallisessa paikassa. Joku minussa on todella peloissaan.

Metrovaunuun nousee mies toisen miehen kanssa. He jäävät seisomaan oven suulle. Mies ottaa tukea viereisestä tangosta. Kun näen hänet, alan yhtäkkiä tuntea jalkapohjani tukevasti vaunun lattiaa vasten. Rauha alkaa nousta ylöspäin koko kehooni. Katson miestä, kun hän puhuu toiselle. Aivan tavallinen mies, noin kuudenkymmenen ikäinen salkku kädessään. Pidempi kuin moni mies ympärillään.

Katson ihmisiä ympärilläni uteliaana: löytyisikö joku toinenkin, jonka kasvoista ja koko olemuksesta huokuisi sama rauha kuin miehestä vierelläni. Ei ketään.

Jonkun ajan päästä mies poistuu metrosta. Minussa asuva syvä rauha ei häviä.

Tämä kokemus muistuttaa fokusointia. Sitä, kuinka olen asioiden, ajatusten tai tunteiden kansssa, jotka voivat herättää minussa vastustusta, pelkoa, jähmettymistä. Kun vien huomion lattian, tuolin, ympäristön ja kuuntelijani antamaan tukeen, alan tuntea, kuinka jalkani juurtuvat maahan ja löydän sen osan minusta, joka on täysin turvassa, jolla on täysi rauha vain olla.

Myöhemmin oivallan, että miehen rauha resonoi minussa itsessäni sillä hetkellä piiloutuneena olleen rauhan kanssa. Minussakin on se rauha, ja voin löytää sen kipeälläkin hetkellä.

Kevinin harjoitus vie minut tähän samaan tunnelmaan. Löydät sen täältä

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Silence is a Voice / El Silencio es voz / Hiljaisuus on ääni

Photo credit: Eduardo Esquivel

Silence is a Voice

I look out of the huge windows that open to the sea in the retreat center at Punta de Tralca, Chile. It is the morning. The sea is quiet. The sky is looming pale and it is hard to see where the sea ends, where the sky begins. Yesterday red warning flags waved on the beach. Wild, foam-headed waves wandered loudly to the beach. The water was cloudy brown from the sand.

On the fourth morning of the Focusing Weeklong, during the bio-energetic movement group class, I move according to the sounds of nature in me. I become nature itself. It is not easy, because I am used to the fact that all the sound, which arises from me, should be wise, reasonable or right. I am now the wind, I am swinging in the breeze. I am a seagull skipping on the beach.

Then we settle in a circle. Everyone who wants can step into the middle, move and make the sounds their body wants to express. I step into the middle without making any sound. I look everyone in their eyes swinging my body from side to side. At some point, I feel timid. Is it acceptable to be silent, if we were asked to make sounds?

Is it acceptable to be silent if using our voice is what was asked? This question lives in me until the end. Only at the very end, a new thought sneaks into my mind: silence is a voice.

During the Weeklong I sometimes get tired of speaking English. I don’t understand Spanish at all, or just a word now and then. In the cafeteria, I start to think about speaking Finnish without waiting for anyone to understand me. In this way,  nobody would be confused nor would they find it distracting or worry about the meaning, because that wouldn’t be my point. It would just be…my voice. With this thought in my mind, I try to listen to Spanish with the idea of listening to the “voice of another,” another person with a voice and language different from mine.

Continue reading Silence is a Voice / El Silencio es voz / Hiljaisuus on ääni

Meditation is Continuous Transformation / Meditaatio on jatkuvaa muodonmuutosta

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Kevin McEvenue asked if I can be in contact with Eero Voutilainen, the Finnish Wholebody Focusing pioneer, and ask what meditation means to him.

The life of Eero Voutilainen is currently mainly focused on home due to mobility and balance problems. With the inspiring programs on TV he remembers different stages and turning points in his life that can more deeply open to his consciousness through meditation. These memories, Eero says, are often part of subconscious, in which there  are no words.

Eero has noticed that, at its best, meditation is an acceptance of a wordless space, the space beyond any words. According to Eero

“Meditation is airy, airy licking. It allows us to be free and liberated from our own self, own ego, that easily limits our own reality. In meditation our self is not anchored to anything, but it moves sparingly. It is in a continuous transformation process throughout our life, where the caterpillar re-emerges and becomes a butterfly, all over again. Our self, our ego, is in between the subconscious and superego, and in a continuous transformation process throughout our life. The subconscious is consciousness of something underneath that of which we cannot hold in consciousness. Meditation opens the world that we need to gently listen and receive. Superego is much clearer, each of us can recognize it.”

When I asked what kind of photo Eero would like to be attached to this blog, he answered: “A picture of autumn forest, of one leaf floating in air. All those leaves that are floating to the ground are like letters that, when falling find each others again, merging into words.” This was a memory of his visit at the meditation museum in Spain.


Kevin McEvenue kysyi, voisinko olla yhteydessä Eero Voutilaiseen, suomalaiseen Wholebody-fokusointipioneeriin, ja kysyä, mitä meditaatio on hänelle.

Continue reading Meditation is Continuous Transformation / Meditaatio on jatkuvaa muodonmuutosta