When Girls Don’t Move – Part I

Photo Credit: Pixabay

My focusing practice is mostly about my relationship with my moving body so you might think that moving is easy for me. That is not the case.  I have a difficult time maintaining not only my WBF practice of moving but also being able to stick to an exercise plan.

For most of my young life, moving was not encouraged and many times vociferously discouraged. For me, not moving was a way to contain the anger that I felt being a member of my family. If I didn’t move, I didn’t feel anything. As an adult, I can choose to move. My question has become, “When I move, what happens on an emotional level?”

For my mother, keeping me still contained her anger and fear of the sexual abuse she had experienced as a young girl. I spent the summer of my twelfth year sitting on the steps in front of my house as an observer of the movement of my neighborhood. A friend joined me because I was forbidden to go anywhere else and our other friends stopped playing street games.  They now had responsibility for running their households because their mothers were working.

How Not Moving Moves Us

The funny thing about this restriction is that it turned our focus on what our parents were trying to avoid. All we thought about was boys, being sexy, being competitive, and imagining ourselves as independent sexual beings. We had nothing else to do. Our favorite activity was determining whether another girl or woman who went by was “competition.” If a boy or man passed by we calculated whether or not he was a potential liaison. After a few weeks of seeing the same people over and over again, we developed elaborate narratives about each of these unsuspecting neighbors—we never; however, made any attempt to act out the stories in real life.

Our stillness was not only the result of our parents’ fear; it was pervasive at that time that girls should not move. We should not play sports because it might cause infertility. We should not swim because there might be human predators in the water. Dancing was no longer okay even if we had dance lessons when at 6 or 7 years old. I got to high school never having played on a sports team.

When I tried joining the basketball team in grammar school, the nuns banned the idea of a girls basketball team. In high school, my parents felt it was not their responsibility to get me to and from basketball practice. There was no other way for that to happen. One night of being left on a street corner alone to find my way home was enough for me to get the message of their intense disapproval and enough to stop me from playing basketball.

As an adult, I tried to integrate movement and/or exercise into my life. A pattern emerged. I would start to move. At first, it was a big struggle. It then began to become more natural. Then, one day it felt ecstatic. That put an end to my movement. I would stop whatever type of movement got me there. This pattern has repeated itself throughout my life no matter how determined I was to change it.

What is your experience?

I’m in my sixties now, and I am a Wholebody Focuser.  I hold space for the part of me that is screaming to move while another part of me needs to put a stop to all movement no matter the cost.  Sometimes I hold space for both while I’m moving.  Sometimes I hold space for both while I’m still.  That’s all I know right now.

How do you manage to hold both in situations that present fundamental challenges to moving forward?

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A Heartfelt Duet – Peace Will Come

Photo Credit: Carmen Scalera

For me, music is a way in, a way to be with parts of myself that are sometimes unknown or in the background. I’ll hear a song and locate that feeling again.

A Musical Felt Sense

I found this video, Peace Will Come sung by Miley Cyrus and Melanie Safka, during a conversation with my husband about music that influenced him as a boy. We listened to a song by Dion and the Belmonts called The Wanderer. There was a video of Dion singing this song to an audience of elegantly- dressed couples in a nightclub. While my husband was walking down memory lane, I noticed that the men in the audience had big smiles on their faces and the women were looking aghast. I pointed this out to my husband, and we discussed how this song represented an ideal for men of the ’50s and early ’60s that reduced women to objects.

At the same time, my husband was able to identify the body sense of the song for him as a teenager. He said it opened new possibilities of traveling around the world and adventure. He ended up visiting many parts of the world. He didn’t notice how women were treated because it was not any different from what he had been learning about women from the culture of that time.

Who are the Artists?

I had a felt sense that a counterpoint was needed. I wanted a voice that represented a woman’s point of view, and Melanie came to mind. We went to her web site (www.melaniesafka.com) and found the video below and other material that reminded me how, during the ’60s and ’70s, her songs influenced me along with other girls and women by exemplifying independence and candor about the experience of femaleness. There is evidence in some of the video record that she shares, that she also helped men see women more fully as human beings. She was also a strong supporter of ending the war in Vietnam, and that may have been the reason she wrote Peace Will Come.

Miley Cyrus was a Disney star in the 2000s who was the target of slut-shaming in the USA when she hit her late teens for having grown into a sexy beautiful young woman. She now has a successful career as an actor/singer/songwriter who continues to surprise and challenge her audience. She created the Happy Hippie Foundation that sponsors programs that focus on youth homelessness, the LGBTQ community, and other vulnerable populations.

My Felt Sense of the Duet

This duet between Melanie Safka and Miley Cyrus is a Heartfelt Conversation between artists. The beauty of the setting, the support of the musicians who may not have known what would happen next, the interaction between the singers, and the beauty of the song itself and its social context in the ’70s and today all moved me. A sense of well-being and hope emerged in me.

The multi-generational aspect of this performance also touched me. One commenter called it a “multi-generational eargasm.” Miley’s way of being with Melanie helped me remember how important Melanie’s music was to me as a teenager. Moreover, I became aware of how ageism, especially against women, make this kind of Heartfelt Connection very rare. I found the longing in me for the ability to be a part of a community that holds, with equal regard, the contributions of people of all ages.

Please enjoy the loveliness of this moment shared.

 

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How Does Wholebody Focusing Live in Me?

Elizabeth and Lynn discuss how Wholebody Focusing manifests in their lives.  This “way of being” helps them connect to themselves in a new and more profound way.

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The Unbearable Wound

 

I follow the #MeToo movement closely because it addresses a reality that is central to my existence. Sexual abuse trauma dominates my emotional life. I was never sexually abused myself; however, my mother was. Her sexual abuse impacted her ability to be a loving mother to me. I recently became aware of the depth of this reality when I read a paragraph about what it is like to be in relationship with a narcissist.

A relationship with a narcissist is a desperate relationship where you are always feeling vulnerable, worthless, hated, constantly explaining yourself, silenced, punished, and traumatized. What is it that you are actually doing wrong? Nothing!1

This describes what it was like to be my mother’s daughter. Extreme abuse can engender a particular type of narcissism. My mother, a victim of sexual abuse, needed to throw her own negative feelings about herself onto me in order to live with the unbearable truth and pain of her experience. I experience my relationship with her as something in me that always feels a need to defend myself and is sure that there is no love or margin of error available to me.

Wholebody Focusing as a Way to Heal Sexual Abuse Trauma

The dominance of this felt sense in my life became clear to me one day as I was preparing for a medical test. Try as I might, I couldn’t clear my mind and relax. Thoughts of random moments in the past in which I felt traumatized by interactions with others kept surfacing. There were so many from such a wide variety of different points in my life that I became completely overwhelmed. I slowed down and connected to the energy of the Earth.  I paused with this sense of overwhelm.  A new realization eventually emerged—it was futile to try to hold space for any or all of the fast shifting narratives floating through me.

Continue reading The Unbearable Wound

Deep Hunger, the “Not Knowing” and Wholebody Focusing

A few years ago, I was experiencing chronic anxiety due to a stressful situation at work. My body was deeply affected.  My blood pressure, heart rate and diabetes markers were all higher than normal.  I relied on my focusing practice to help me.  In a Wholebody focusing session, a wordless felt sense of anxiety transformed into a sensation of me experiencing my own birth.  As I exited the birth canal, I felt free from the anxiety that I had been experiencing.  A new understanding emerged about how my body experienced anxiety.

dreamstime_m_34661935
Photo Credit: Dreamstime

Continue reading Deep Hunger, the “Not Knowing” and Wholebody Focusing

Pauses Big and Small

This past week I had my first class with Addie van der Kooy and Cecilia Clegg called “Practicing Presence.”   I came away from that workshop with some homework—pause and find your grounded presence whenever you can even if you are just waiting for the kettle to boil.  The experience of these pauses helped me learn so much about myself.

One task I needed to do was to put together my bookcases that I had dismantled when the painters came to freshen up my apartment. For months I’ve been promising myself I would make some sense out of the mess so I could actually find a book I might want.

I began sorting my books into piles. I paused to be with all the categories looking for meaning.  The first thing I noticed was how many journals I had.  Even though writers are supposed to be people who wrote in journals all their lives, I never thought of myself as a journal writer.  I found 11 full journals.  Who knew?  They are mostly from extended trips abroad and times of strife.  This was the first big pause.  I stopped to sense into “Who was this person who wrote in journals and what did she write about?”  There were texts of prose, letters to angels, dreams, schedules, poetry and many different types of art—painting, drawing, collage, and textile design.

I paused with each journal in my hands.  I found the text below in a journal I had written when I was struggling with cancer and my relationship with my mother.

The Rage Temple has Gone out of Business

You have rage that’s too dangerous to express?
Open up an account with me. 
Just tell me your problem
And I’ll deposit it in my body.

And when my body explodes with rage
We are sorry.
Now these Temple doors are closed for good.
How long will it take to empty the inventory?

I had these journals. I never read them. I didn’t remember writing them.  I didn’t remember me.  A pause changed that.  The pause got me to open the journals and remember the me who wrote them.

The next pause helped me notice what books I have been reading.  There were a large number of books about all sorts of energy healing, diet, health, wellness, etc. There’s a considerable number of books about Focusing and WBF.  There are also books about Reiki, Flower Essence Therapy and Homeopathy.  These are all practices that are now as normal to me as breathing.  I paused with the books and I sensed how I loved learning about these modalities and how they have saved me and helped me move toward my highest and greatest good.

The next pause that came was around artistic endeavors. There are books on crochet, drawing, creating Flash cartoons, dance, poetry, and feminist literary criticism.  As I was putting some odd books away, I paused again.  Where should I put my bound copy of the Master’s thesis?  It is study of two Spanish women writers who wrote about breaking free, or not, of their patriarchal limitations. They do this through writing self-begetting novels about women who read Fascist romance novels as children and are trying to create new structures for novels about women’s lives. It suddenly occurred to me that my thesis should go with the other books of feminist literary criticism.  Some of these books were quoted in my work.  Rather than being just an activity that I did to graduate, I could understand now that this work is a companion to the other books of feminist literary criticism that I had.

Each time I paused, I felt more like myself.  I felt more appreciation for who I am, the struggles I’ve survived and the beauty I created along the way.   This is an appreciation I had never felt before because I was always too busy trying to change myself to be something or someone “better.”  Instead, I now know that this treasure trove of information about me is readily available and that whenever I pause and hold space with equal regard for what is there, something new about me will emerge.

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Wholebody Focusing and Zen Buddhism

Fusako Nakamura is a long-time Wholebody Focuser who experiences an essential connection between her spiritual practice of Zen Buddhism and Wholebody Focusing.  On the evening of the filming of this video, a monk from the local Buddhist temple came to chant at her door just as we were about to start filming.  We get to hear his chant as part of the video and feel the integration of Fusako’s spirituality and WBF practice in real time.

What she shares with us is how the importance in Zen Buddhism of honoring ancestors is enlivened by her Wholebody focusing practice.  Please enjoy the aliveness in Fusako’s spiritual practice and how Heartfelt Conversation helps her to feel connected to others and allows her to feel less lonely.

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Find Your Favorite Intunements!

For those who would like to use the Audio Guiding Suggestions/Intunements that Kevin has provided to the blog for their practice,  here is an easy way to find them on the blog.  Below you will find an index of the three albums of intunements that are available.  The three albums have different themes:

  1. First Intunements is for anyone who wants to start or become more proficient at Wholebody Focusing;
  2. Coming Home is for anyone who has some basic understanding of Wholebody Focusing and wants to deepen their practice; and
  3. Exploring the Unexplored is for anyone who wants to extend their practice in ways that they may not have yet experienced.

These Audio Guiding Suggestions/Intunements are here for your free use and enjoyment.  Our greatest wish is that they bring healing into the lives the people who listen to them.

Please find the Audio Guiding Suggestion/Intunement you are interested in below. This list will be on the home page for three days.

After a new blog appears on the home page,  you will be able to:

  • Use the  “Search by Theme” menu and click on “Audio Guiding Suggestions/Intunements.” This index will be the first page that comes up.  Just click on the links on this page and it will get you to the intunement  for which you are searching.
  • You can also access this list on the Home Page menu option “Audio Guiding Suggestions/Intunements Index.”  Once again, click on the name of the intunement, it will take you to the page where you will find it.

Below is a list by album of all the intunements.

First Intunements Cover

Painting by Kevin McEvenue

First Intunements

Beginning Intunement
Intunement # 1 Finding Me
Intunement # 2 We Need a Physical Connection to Find Me
Intunement # 3 What Feels Alive in Me Right Now?
Intunement # 4 Gravity: Accepting Life Itself Unconditionally
Intunement #5 Tuning into a Direct Experience Awakens a Connection with the Embodied Self
Intunement # 6 To Feel Good about Myself is Desirable
Intunement # 7 The Experience of Something that has a Consciousness all its Own!
Intunement # 8 Finding a Safe Structure to Experience Life Fully Inside Me as Me!
Intunement # 9 Explore the Power of Listening Silently to the Alive, a Force, in side of all of us!
Intunement # 10 From a Solid Base of Me Here I ask, “What is going on in Me Right Now?”
Intunement # 11 Looking for the Life Support to Move Forward the Complexity of a Growing Me?
Intunement # 12 Meet that Inner Power in each of US: It Knows How to Put us Together Again!

 

Coming Home LayersPainting by Kevin McEvenue

Coming Home – Intunements to Deepen your Practice

Intunement # 13 Something in Me Hurts!
Intunement # 14 The Felt Sense of What Feels Alive and the More that Emerges from that Alive
Intunement # 15 Asking, What is There in Me? Just Noticing the Different Body Responses!
Intunement # 16 A Shared Body to Body Listening & Understanding Beyond Trying to Think
Intunement # 17 An Active Meditation to Welcome What Wants to Present Itself for your Attention
Intunement # 18 Me & Planet Earth That Sustains Me & More
Intunement # 19 Life just ‘Moves’. Just ‘IS’. That is what it is to say ‘I Am’!
Intunement # 20 An Active Meditation to Invite a Question: “What is Alive in Me Right Now?”
Intunement # 21 Holding Both with Equal Positive Regard!
Intunement # 22 An Inner-Directed Experience
Intunement # 23 Active Meditation with the Breathing Self as “Me Here!”
Intunement # 24 The Power to Pause and Wait For!

Explore 3

Photo Credit: Michael Lux – Mohonk Preserve

Exploring the Unexplored

Intunement # 25 Felt Sense Naming and Reflecting a Body Experience
Intunement # 26 Coming Home to Me Again
Intunement # 27 The Arm Raising Exercise
Intunement # 28 A New Way to be with Pain
Intunement # 29 The Basic Elements of Wholebody Focusing and the Not Knowing
Intunement # 30 Active Meditation to Inform Me about Me
Intunement # 31 Listen to the Warm
Intunement # 32 To Discern & Unpack What is There
Intunement # 33 What do I do When Something Feels Right?
Intunement # 34 Something Is Not Right!
Intunement # 35 Asking for Help!
Intunement # 36 Who Am I?
Intunement # 37 Asking: Who Are You?

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