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

When Joy Becomes More than a Crumb

Photo by Gabrielle Clark

Today my body bought me a long forgotten memory.
A joyful one!

As I was out walking early in the morning, a little yellow flower caught my eye.

“Do you like butter?”

Instantly, I could hear the sound of little girls giggling with delight as we played this childhood game. It was a simple game we played where you hold a flower under your friend’s chin and if it turns yellow – then you like butter!

It made me smile – and still does – to feel this body memory from long ago.

A forgotten joy.

The joy that is the precious jewel of childhood that no one can take from me. Even a difficult childhood doesn’t stop the timeless innocence, wonder, and magic that each child has available in his or her inner world. A wellspring of wonder.

Rilke says even if you found yourself in the worst prison you would still have it. The magic, wonder, and joy that is inherent in every child.

To savour an ice-cream slowly, trying to catch the drips with my tongue, without an ounce of guilt, enjoying the flavors and taste sensations of fresh passion fruit or feijoa straight off the vine. The total immersion of my whole being when listening to a favourite fairy tale, a song or a story over and over again. The joy and delight of jumping waves at the ocean and running screaming from the water with pure free abandonment. The magic of a mirror and wondering how to get into the world on the other side where the little girl is……

Somewhere along the way, I had let my joy become a crumb.
It is so nice to taste it again.

To feel once again the wonderment and joy the world offers to me when I can pause and listen to my body wisdom.

To nurture the seeds of wonder and joy that live inside me – this is my practice.

My inspiration from Rainer Maria Rilke…

“And even if you found yourself in some prison, whose walls let in none of the world’s sounds – wouldn’t you still have your childhood, that jewel beyond all price, that treasure house of memories?”

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Are We Love?

Photo Credit: Pixabay

I finally found the part of me that wants to be loved and the part that does not believe it is safe to be loved. I also discovered how these two parts rule my planet. My practice is to find a way to hold both the need for love and the fear that it may be harmful with equal regard. There still is a “not knowing” what holding both might feel like in my body.

Maria Hakasalo gave me something to sense into in her post “Peace in Me” when she wrote, “There is a peace in me, and I can find it even in a painful moment.” If Maria can assume that peace can be found somewhere inside of her, could I expect that I will encounter pure love, unattached to human interaction/transaction, inside me? How would that help me be with my fear of love? If love does not rely on someone else’s character but on the essential nature of love, how could it be unsafe? But does it exist as Maria’s peace place existed? This is my current exploration.

When we depend on resources outside ourselves to determine our worth, we may fall short. Can I find pure love devoid of judgment or transaction inside me? How will this change who I am? How will it change how I relate to love and how I relate to others? What would it feel like to know with surety that I am love?

I search for that magical place inside me in which love is present, and love and I are one and the same.

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The “Me Here” Series of Training Conversations

Trainer logo2mergeIn August of 2018, Addie van der Kooy, Kevin McEvenue and I met to discuss what is new in Wholebody Focusing.  Addie and Kevin collaborated on FOCUSING WITH THE WHOLE BODY: A CD-integrated Focusing Learning Program that was published in October 2006.  We wanted to bring together the two people responsible for this extraordinary learning program and to look toward the future of Wholebody Focusing.

That day we filmed until what needed to be said was complete.  The result was the six videos listed below.  The first four are already on the blog.  You may have seen them already.  The last two complete the series and set the stage for what comes next.

My experience as the producer/editor of these videos is that new ground is broken in these intimate dialogues and they may need several views to fully take in what is being shared.  This blog is proud to have the opportunity to make these conversations possible and to be the mechanism to share them with those who would benefit.

These six videos are each part of a flow of exploration so you may want play them in the order they are listed. Once you become familiar with them, you may want to pick and choose which one suits you most on any given day.

Please comment and share how these conversations have impacted you.  This is an exciting way to keep WBF as a vibrant life experience.

The Inner Core Muscle of “Me Here” This Interview discusses training someone to find grounded presence.

The Inner Core Muscle of “Holding Both”   This interview discusses training someone to “hold both with equal positive regard.”

Let Your Experience Be This interview discusses how to be with whatever comes even if it is not what you expected.

Me Here and My Thoughts This interview discusses how to be with racing thoughts that may or may not be true or helpful.

What Is Needed to Start the WBF Process?

Why is establishing an inner structure so important to learning Wholebody Focusing?

 

The End Note: Why Talk About Muscles?

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When an Old Wound Becomes Present to Itself

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Sometimes we know that we do something repetitively that prevents our forward movement. It happens seemingly without explanation. Then one day a connection shows up after revisiting a very familiar place.

The Pattern

I have a difficult time taking medication that I need to take care of myself.  I will take a remedy for a brief period and experience improvement and then suddenly start to have a body sense that instead of supporting life it is causing problems.  Then I stop taking the medication and the chronic problem returns.

The Old Wound

I grew up in a family in which multiple female relatives were victims of sexual abuse from another relative I’ll call P.  P died when I was 14 months old.  I grew up hating P because all I knew about him was how he hurt the women in my life.

In a healing session when I was 40 years old, the Reiki master asked me a question.  “Who do you love?”  It took some time and at the end of the session I blurted out from my gut, “I love P” and began to sob deeps sobs like I never felt before.  All I could think was it is impossible that I could love him. My body; however, was sure that I loved him more than I had ever loved anyone else.  I spent months being with the grief that I had never had a chance to express.

I asked my mother whether I ever had a relationship with P and she said he was quite old and knew he was about to die when I was a baby.  He and I became inseparable.  As soon as we were in the same room, I would be in his arms, and he held me for hours at a time.  That love feels benevolent and pure in my body.

The Dilemma

P was the serial child molester of the women in my life, AND I loved him deeply because I felt most loved by him.  The women he harmed were not capable of loving me and caring for me because of the damage he had caused them. The memory of his energy; however, emerged in my life as the best love I had ever received in spite of what I learned about him as I grew up.  It is challenging to hold both the nature of the love I felt for him and what I also know about him.

The Wholebody Focusing Session

Kevin and I had a session in which I revisited this experience holding both my hatred for P and my sense of pure love that lived in me. In a slow and embodied way, I experienced the dilemma through movement and breath without words.  There was no sensation of a shift nor was there any new insight during the session.

What Happened Later?

After the session, I realized that I needed to take some medication for acid reflux because this new way of being with this dilemma stirred up my digestive tract.  I reached for a relatively new remedy that I had been taking for a few weeks with great success and felt sure that relief was just a pill away.

Before I took the pill, I suddenly had a thought.  I had never checked the label to make sure that this remedy was free from any known allergens.  I took a look and realized that one of the ingredients was brown algae.  I have a severe seafood allergy, and sometimes sea products have a high level of iodine which can trigger a seafood allergy.  I suddenly felt great fear about taking another dose.

Something made me pause before I completely embodied the fear.  Why did I think about whether this remedy was a problem at this time even though I had weeks of taking it without a problem?

I sensed something new was opening up.  I realized that the conflict around the medication was the same dilemma as my connection to P—something that feels so life supporting could also be very hurtful.  How could I trust my deep body sense of being loved when P was its source?  Even though my body sense of the interaction with him was benevolence, my thoughts tell me that it can’t be trusted.

My relationship with medication and food has mirrored my relationship with the feeling of being loved.  When something makes me feel good, fear rises, and I find reasons to stop the interaction.  I am anxious about eating food in the same way.  Something that nourishes can also cause damage.

What is New?

There was a great relief in this discovery.  Of course I fear nourishment and love, my best and most reliable source of love was someone who was also capable of great betrayal.  I have moved from the “not knowing” to the knowing what causes this pattern of trust and stoppage. I can hold space for the part of me that experienced great love and also great disappointment and fear of that love.  My pattern of fearing the very things that may help me is the beacon that lit the path to this moment.  My Wholebody Focusing practice is the vehicle in which this journey became possible.

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When You Help Me Go Further, It Feels so Good

Photo Credit: Kakadu National Park, Victoria by Gabrielle Clark

The first time I tried Focusing something was not right. I was usually good at what I tried, and I could pick most things up easily. Not focusing—I froze, I could not do it. My body would shake, my jaw would shake, no words would come out.

It was so hard! How was it that some people were saying how wonderful it was. I hated it and wished I had never joined the class.

This situation led me on a mission to get it. I would try harder; surely I would get it…eventually. I went to lots of different teachers. I did lots of reading, and I even spoke to Gene on one of his phone courses.

An Encounter with Gene Gendlin

Even given a chance to speak with Gene Gendlin, the founder of Focusing, I couldn’t get the words out that I wanted. They would have been, “please help me, Gene, I can’t do focusing and I don’t know why, please help me.” Instead, I made a statement about the process model. I held my breath and blurted out…“Hi Gene, I am so excited that my body will know what it needs when it finds it.” There was silence for a few seconds “Oh…what do you mean?” he asked gently.

Oh my gosh, I froze. Did I even know what I meant? How will I answer him? What if I can’t remember what I said?  I had rushed it out so quickly, and I didn’t know if it was still there to be found. I panicked. I can feel this now, how I hold my breath and rush the words out quickly, I don’t feel my body at all. I paused and begged my body to bring it back, sure enough, it was there. I tried again.

We spoke back and forth for a while. Gene was not just answering me.  He was trying to understand me and to help me to go on from where I was. He seemed to genuinely care about what I said and even wanted to hear more, to understand me or maybe help me understand myself. He would say something that he thought I had meant and then say “is that right?” so I could check it. It moved me profoundly and brought tears to my eyes then and now- this was so new to me and so wanted.

It ended up by him saying “we need both the words and a body sense. If the body is not ready, then it’s not ready, and if the words are not ready, they are not ready. They will come when they are ready.”

How this Conversation Lives in Me Now

Kevin McEvenue says, “when the story is ready to tell itself it will” and “the secret to your unfolding lies in you not me, I just throw things out now and then for you to check them.” My body likes these statements.

I will never forget this moment, and I think one day, with practice, I will be able to slow down enough to feel both. I will be able to pause and hold both my body sense and my words together and speak slowly and surely from a place of grounded presence. My practice will be to feel me first, then speak from that deeper place. To let it come, to allow the story to tell itself from where it wants to. This new ability is a scary thought both unknown and unfamiliar, but I like it.

No one can teach me how to hold both my body sense and my words together, I have to find my own way, and I am grateful to Kevin and Gene for the way they both hold space for a person to do just that.

To find my own way feels so good.

*****

Gene Gendlin is the founder of Focusing. To learn more about him, please click on http://www.focusing.org/bios/gendlin_bio.html

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When Girls Don’t Move – Part II

Photo Credit: Pixabay

How does Wholebody Focusing Help?

I have a life-long curiosity about my relationship to movement–both negatively and positively.  In one of my first sessions with Kevin McEvenue after being a focuser for many years, all my body wanted to do was move. Those first movements were foundational. I found my powerful body in merely walking in place and sensing how strong my bones were. Whenever I feel like I need some support, I can call in that sensation of the strength in my bones by walking in place in grounded presence.

Next, I participated in the Advanced Training for Wholebody Focusers. I met many people who incorporated movement into their focusing practice. The first time I saw someone drop to the floor during a WBF session, my body knew that anything was possible.  From that point on, my body engaged in a variety of movements. In one partnership exchange, my body pulled me to the floor so that my root chakra was touching the ground. That need for my root chakra to be connected to the Earth lasted for months.

I eventually realized that I could allow movement to come without words. An awareness of the meaning of the action was not necessary. Holding space for what is here now has become the most consistent way for me to allow my body to find what it needs and to heal. I start my Wholebody Focusing practice with an invitation to move and the question “What does my body need now?” when I focus alone, with a partner or with my mentor.

I retired from full-time work now which gives me more time to be with this type of movement. I am willing to be with what comes — the struggle, the joy, and the stoppages.

Exercising as a Wholebody Focusing Session

Recently, I wanted to work out at home instead of at the gym so that I could try out new exercises without anyone watching. I wanted to be able to pause more often and check in with my body for its experience of these new exercises. Being at home allowed me to approach my routine differently. For example, when I was completing the last repetition of a particular workout, I got a strong sense that my body didn’t want to do this now. I paused and asked my body what it needed now. I did not need a verbal answer. Erratic and strong movements of my arms and legs emerged. I was curious where this would lead. Five minutes later my arms and legs came to a rest. Then, I slowly completed the last reps of the series, and it felt like the right thing to do.

I also decided that I would work on my squatting exercise barefooted. I would never do this in the gym for sanitary reasons. Without sneakers or socks, one’s squat is more challenging because you do not have the lift that the heel of a shoe provides. As I rested in the bottom of the squat, my left foot turned out. I instinctively pulled it back to a flat position on the floor (as it is “supposed to be.”) My left foot again turned to the outer edge. I was so surprised this happened because in shoes I have never felt this.

Later, when working with my Wholebody mentor, I started the session by saying “I am me here right now.” I was able to sense into my body and feel the authenticity of the experience I just had.

What also came for me in that session was the memory of being forced to wear orthotics as a child to correct this turning out “fault.” The orthotics made the problem more pronounced, and I eventually stopped wearing them. What I did sense into was the shame I felt for having “defective feet.” In that session I allowed my body to move in the way it needed to support the feeling my feet were holding. That day of “I am me here right now;” however, has left me with a new stoppage of being able to move.

When We Physically Exercise our Core, Does our Emotional Core benefit?

A new thought has emerged. Can working with our physical core impact our emotional core? I’ve noticed that, while I’m not doing the physical core exercises so much right now, and I am still more willing to be with my “unfiltered” self and let others see me more often. That sense of being my more authentic self is new. I am holding space for the possibility that the stoppages that I have experienced throughout my life have been my body asking me to pause to allow a new way of being to emerge and become the new normal before pushing on. Rather than seeing the stoppages as “failures” they may signify attainment of a new phase of healing that needs to time to be noticed, appreciated and integrated.

What is your experience?

Related articles

When I Give My Body Permission to Lead

When Girls Don’t Move – Part I

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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