“When a part of me is able to feel loved, it awakens to its own healing!”
Author: Diana Scalera
I am a Certified Wholebody Focusing Professional and Reiki Master Level III. I am interested in the cross-section between Wholebody focusing and energy work. I offer Reiki treatments in person and at a distance. I am also available to train clients in WBF. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
I love to discover the naturalness of Wholebody Focusing in life itself, including in art and music. I found something new listening to Billie Holiday’s version of Good Morning Heartache.
Focusing is based on the work of Gene Gendlin. He worked with Carl Rodgers to research why some people thrive in psychotherapy and others did not. Their award-winning research found that whether or not psychotherapy helped a person with their emotional issues was not related to the type of therapy or the skill of the therapist. It had mostly to do with the client’s innate ability to be aware of their emotional challenges in a meta-cognitive way. Focusing and Wholebody Focusing are practices that help people learn how to become more aware of their inner emotional life in a way that naturally helps one heal.
Good Morning, Heartache is a wonderful example of how as someone becomes aware and accepting of what is there emotionally, healing begins. In this song, Ms. Holiday’s voice guides us through her experience of heartache. She starts with wanting the heartache to “get lost” and cycles through what comes for her by being with these feelings. She ends with lightheartedly offering her heartache to “sit down” next to her. This song demonstrates an important practice in Focusing in which one can hold both the heartache and the not wanting the heartache with equal regard as a part of the healing process.
Please enjoy Good Morning Heartache. This 1946 song was created through a collaboration of writers Irene Higgenbotham, Ervin Drake, and Dan Fisher. It was sung by Billie Holiday with backup from Bill Stegmeyer and his Orchestra.
Christel Kraft is one of the original focusers who worked with Gene Gendlin when he first started teaching focusing. She has been a life long focuser and is now in her 80’s. During a recent Monthly Gathering of WBFers sponsored by Focusing Initiatives International, Christel shared with the group how focusing helps her connect to how her life is now.
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.
We are so happy you have arrived. We thank all of you who have participated in reading, commenting, liking, sharing, and writing for our blog. The blog was created to provide the Wholebody Focusing Community with an open, online place to participate in a Heartfelt Conversation.
Who we are:
This blog started in December 2017. It was created by Wholebody focusers who have studied with Kevin McEvenue and/or Karen Whalen. Some of us are also working on building the First International Wholebody Focusing Retreat in Barrie, On, Canada in August 2018. We started this process because we saw a need in our own lives for a way to stay connected to the Wholebody Focusing and Heartfelt Conversation practices that we have learned. This blog is part of a coordinated effort to create sustainable resources to help WBFers connect with each other and have multiple ways to keep our shared conversation moving forward. We are very lucky to have the guidance of Kevin McEvenue, the founder of Wholebody Focusing, as our mentor and prime enthusiast. He frequently replies to a post when something in it moves him.
There are no financial interests or ads involved. No one is selling anything and participation from Wholebody focusers is welcomed and encouraged.
YongWei Xu lives in a small village, Wu Xi, outside of Shanghai, China. She has been studying Wholebody Focusing with Karen Whalen and her team since 2009. YongWei talks about how WBF has helped her to stop over-thinking her decisions. Her new ability to connect to the physical body and pay attention to physical symptoms, like tense shoulders, helps her connect to her emotions. Instead of running from one goal to another, she pauses to be with what each goal means to her. This process brings her to the question “Is this the life I really want?”
For YongWei, Heartfelt Conversation is “not just a little chat… It really comes from my heart.” It is the way that she and her friends feel united with each other and it helps her to feel less lonely.
In her small village, YongWei teaches Wholebody Focusing. What her friends, her group and her clients learn is a WBF lifestyle to support their daily life. The focusing community provides a warm place to use their curiosity to explore new things about themselves and each other together.
YongWei also offers us a New Year’s wish that, if you have not already learned focusing, you have an opportunity to learn. This will help you have more fun and happiness in your life.
Bruna Blandino and Rosa Catoio, two Italian Wholebody focusers, met to discuss how Wholebody focusing and Heartfelt Conversation has changed their lives. Rather than being who society and their families want them to be, Wholebody focusing and Heartfelt Conversation has given them a mechanism to live more fully in their own truth. Watch their video to hear how this has come about.
Many of us who are Wholebody Focusers have learned concepts and practices from many other modalities. In a workshop many years ago, I learned about the concept of “heart’s desire.” The practice I was taught in this workshop was to silently wish yourself your heart’s desire and then silently wish those around you their heart’s desire. We also learned that a true heart’s desire can only be for our highest and greatest good.
What Happens When You Wish People their Hearts Desire
I live in New York City and take public transportation so I have ample opportunities to live this practice. It has helped me learn so many things. First, I struggled to remember to wish myself my heart’s desire. It would be ten minutes of concentrating on others before I remembered myself. Then mentioning me felt quite “selfish.” Eventually, it took less and less time to remember me and wishing myself my heart’s desire gave me a surge of energy.
Then I noticed how judgmental I was. I vowed to wish everyone in my subway car or bus their heart’s desire but I felt negative feelings coming about some people. I had to recognize that harsh part of myself that is so critical. Often the criticism would be about someone’s hairstyle or clothing but it also showed up when people seemed different from me too. My practice became noticing what came for me when I thought about wishing a particular person their heart’s desire. I would acknowledge what was there and let it go. When I added the wish for that person, my heart and the criticism would soften. It also helped me be with how all that criticism that emerged was really about me. This practice helped me be with both the wish to generate love for others along with a fierce need to separate myself through criticism of others. I needed hold those parts with equal regard. This eventually has led to much less criticism for myself and for unsuspected random citizens of NYC.