The Illusions of Others Do Not Define Me

Photo Credit: Luisa Hatem

There are many narratives about First Communion dresses (See Raining Stones). They are often about the parents’ struggle. On some level, these dresses are like prom dresses or even wedding dresses. They trigger parents’ need to establish a sense of prestige in their community and a fantasy about who their daughters are. The high stakes of these garments often overshadow any connection to their daughters or even to the ritual events.

How a Dress Can Hold so Much Meaning

This photo is of two seven-year-old girls who made their First Communion at the same time. One girl is me; the other is my cousin. Her mother was my mother’s sister, who was an excellent seamstress. She worked for a famous New York fashion house as a sample maker. The model Twiggy wore some of my aunt’s samples in fashion shows.

My mother took me to a local department store and bought my First Communion dress. I wanted a veil with a full crown. My mother refused because she said only queens get to wear crowns. I was heartbroken. I had envisioned what I wanted.

My aunt purchased beautiful, expensive fabric and created her daughter’s dress. Afterward, she took my cousin to a photography studio to take pictures of her daughter and the dress.

That afternoon my aunt showed up unannounced at our home with my cousin wearing her communion dress so she could take a picture of us together. My mother was not happy because I was playing in the yard with my friends, and she didn’t want me to change into my dress and get it dirty.

I didn’t want to take the picture because I thought my cousin’s dress was so much prettier than mine, and she had the full crown and veil that I had wanted. Also, my aunt often used me to show my cousin why she was “the best.” I do not know how my cousin felt, but for me, the whole dress experience was full of shame.

A New Perspective

Forty years later, my aunt gave me the photo at the top of the page. I was amazed because my body immediately recognized the shame I felt at having an inferior dress. When I looked closely at the picture, however, I saw how the dresses were almost entirely identical.

The experience of being treated as inferior to my cousin was my designated role in our extended family. It was part of my mother and aunt’s issues with each other. Neither of them thought about how the game they played often impacted their daughters. I do not know how these behaviors affected my cousin, except that now we have little contact with each other.

Letting Go of What Is Not Ours

liz y diana 2

The picture added new information to the experience. There was no inferior dress nor inferior girl, just a need to support an elaborate illusion.  From a felt sense, I played with the photo in Photoshop and removed everything that was not me. Somehow, I found a wise smile hiding in the moment. I keep these two photos near me so that I can always remember that the illusions others create do not define me.

To leave or read a comment, click here and go past the end of the post

A Togetherness

Photo Credit: barebody&soul

A togetherness

Turning inwards,
cultivating a quiet flame,
a seed,
an unfolding
in the dark.

Allowing this light to take form –
a drawing-in to itself
& a spreading-out…

Making space for the surrender,
a togetherness takes shape:

Finding your own metaphor
for this belonging,
beyond you & me.

To leave or read a comment, click here and go past the end of the post

Connect to Kevin’s Intunements

Photo by: Diana Scalera

One of the reason’s for the blog was to create a space for the Wholebody Focusing Community to continue to develop and grow.  Kevin McEvenue has provided our us with  more than 30 audio guided suggestions or intunements to help all of us each day of our lives.  It is important to remind readers of these amazing resources in this difficult time we are experiencing.

The intunements are organized into three “albums.”

  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.

You can find them by clicking on “Find your Favorite Intunement!

Enjoy and be held by Kevin’s voice and wisdom.  Let us know which ones are most helpful and why.

To leave or read a comment, click here and go past the end of the post

 

Una lettera dal nord Italia–Letter from Northern Italy

See English Translation at the end of Italian version.

Oggi qualcosa in me è profondamente scosso e triste. Sto facendo colazione e piango …piango per tutte quelle persone che non ce l’hanno fatta, che sono morte sole, anziane e non, isolate in ospedale perché nessuno poteva avvicinarsi alle zone dei contagiati.

Mi ha molto colpito la vicenda di una nonnina di più di 90 anni , che già era in ospedale, a cui il Covid-19 ha dato il colpo di grazia. Voleva tanto salutare la famiglia per un ultima volta, prima di andarsene , ma non le è stato concesso…una voce in me dice : “No!!!Non è possibile….sarà vero?”

E poi piango per la paura, che come un’ombra scura, si è insinuata nella vita di tanti e anche per l’incoscienza di chi invece non ha esitato a fuggire portando un possibile contagio dal Nord al Sud , dove le strutture ospedaliere sono ancora più bisognose che al Nord.

E infine piango per l mia piccola Confort Zone che, nello spazio di pochi giorni, è stata spazzata via. Qualcuno ieri, alla televisione, ha detto che noi qui in Europa siamo una generazione con la vita tutta “in discesa”. In parte è certamente vero se ci paragoniamo alle generazioni precedenti che hanno dovuto affrontare la guerra e l’Olocausto. E’ vero anche che si tratta di una generalizzazione perché ognuno deve affrontare i propri dolori e le difficoltà della vita anche in un periodo di pace…

Devo andare indietro fino agli anni’70 e all’Austerity per ricordare un paesaggio così “desertico”. Io faccio colazione davanti ad una grande finestra e, in lontananza, c’è una strada che unisce la mia città a Torino…questa mattina posso contare le auto che passano ad una ad una e sento diffondersi un silenzio irreale.

L’immagine dell’Austerity di 50 anni fa mi arriva come associazione ma sento anche quanto quel periodo, ed io con esso, fossimo diversi da adesso. Allora avevo 20 anni ed eravamo sì senz’auto , ma liberi di andare in bicicletta o a piedi e per noi ragazzi era un occasione per trovarci in grandi gruppi e fare gite. Questo ricordo mi aiuta di più a comprendere i giovani di ora che faticano ad accettare ciò che viene richiesto…stare chiusi in casa. .

Questo antico ricordo e come mi sentivo libera e allegra, felice di pedalare è qui, presente nella totalità del mio essere e stride con il presente.

So che una piccola, o grande, parte di me sta piangendo perché le sue abitudini, che sono anche sicurezze, sono state spazzate via e sento anche un qualcos’altro in me che vorrebbe giudicare, che mentalmente elenca tutte le Grandi Anime che hanno fatto fronte a situazioni molto dure e ne hanno fatto un’occasione di trasformazione per sé e spesso per gli altri, Faccio spazio anche a questa voce di sottofondo che elenca Assagioli, il mio primo”Maestro”, Mandela, Ghandi, Madre Teresa….ma molto di me in questo momento si sente una “piccola anima” di fronte ad una sfida grande e allora do spazio anche alle lacrime per quella parte di me che si sente persa e spaventata , che vorrebbe tanto fare una passeggiata con la sua migliore amica ma sa che è meglio lasciar perdere…

Non è facile, ci vuole veramente un grande spazio per contenere tutto e mettere tutto alla “giusta distanza” ma, lentamente sento che il mio dolore si sta calmando e mi affiorano i messaggi dei colleghi Focalizzatori , degli amici, dei gruppi di ascolto ed empatia che stiamo formando in Italia , unendoci localmente ma anche da zona a zona, fra il Nord e il Sud e vedo le risorse e anche la fiducia e mi sento meglio.

Il mio gatto ha sentito tutto questo tumulto interiore ed è venuto ad acciambellarsi accanto a me. Mi guarda e lo sento presente, discreto , qui con me , come avviene nel Focusing … ora posso affrontare questa nuova giornata.

A Letter from Northern Italy

Today something in me is deeply shaken and sad.

It’s breakfast time, and I am crying. I cry for all those people who didn’t survive, who died alone, old or not, isolated in the hospital because no one could enter the ward where contagious people are.

I have been very touched by the story of a 90-year-old grandmother who was already in the hospital, and to whom Covid-19 gave the final blow. She longed to say goodbye to her family before leaving, but it was not permitted. A voice inside me says.” No, it’s not possible. Are you sure it is true?”

Then I cry for Fear, which, like a dark shadow, has crept into the life of many people. I grieve the irresponsibility of those who ran south in the middle of the night from the northern infectious zones. They exhibited no hesitation that they might bring the contagion to areas where hospitals are very far from the excellent quality of Milan’s and where there are many old people–their grandmothers or grandfathers perhaps.

And finally, I cry for my small Comfort Zone swept away in a few days. Yesterday somebody said on TV that we are a generation whose life has been all “downhill.” Compared to the previous generation who had to face wars and The Holocaust, this is undoubtedly true. It is also true that everyone has to meet their difficulties and pains in life, even in times of peace.

I go back to the seventies and to the Austerity period to see such a “desert” landscape. I have my breakfast in front of a large window where, in the distance, I can see a road going from my town to Turin. This morning I can count the cars one by one, and I feel a creeping, unreal, and heavy silence all around.

The times and I were very different fifty years ago when Austerity came to visit us! I was twenty years old and, even if we could not go around by car anymore, we were free to walk or ride a bicycle, and we were happy to meet in large groups and organize trips to the countryside. This memory helps me to better understand young people who are now finding it hard to accept and respect the New Rule. Stay at home and don’t meet other people outside your own family.

I hold space for this old memory of how free and happy I was to ride my bike among my friends. I am here now, present to the whole of myself, and it crashes into the current reality.

I am aware that a little, or a large, part of me, is crying for its routines, and certainties swept away so suddenly. I also sense something else in me that is trying to judge this. Something that, mentally, is counting on all the Great Souls who lived through tough situations and transformed them into a path of light and growth for themselves and, often, for many other people. I make space for this voice in the background enumerating Assagioli, my first “Master,” Mandela, Mother Teresa, Gandhi. There is something in me; however, a lot of me, feeling a pure “Little Soul” facing a big challenge and so I give plenty of space to that part of me frightened and lost, a part longing for a walk in the countryside with her best friend but aware that it is better not to do it now.

It is not so easy. I need a lot of space to hold everything this morning and keep it at the “right distance” but, slowly. I feel my pain is melting away, and messages from my friends and fellow Focusers come to my mind. I know that Listening and Empathy Groups are gathering all around Italy. They link North to South awakening Resources and Trust.

Now I feel better.

My cat felt all this interior turmoil and came to curl up near me. He looks at me, and I feel he is present near me in an unobtrusive way, as we do in Focusing. Now I can go and live a new day.

To leave or read a comment, click here and go past the end of the post

The Common Good, WBF and COVID-19

We are living through an experience like none other in our lifetime. We face a massive pandemic that will have some impact on every human on this planet. How are we holding that in our bodies? 

Different Experiences

When I speak to friends about how it is impacting them, there is a wide range of responses. My Italian friends are living through the worst moments of the pandemic for their country. They are frustrated by the restrictions and also aware that they are safer than people in other countries. They have national health care, a government that is acting decisively, and are expected to Stay Home until April 13. 

Italy is following the same measures that the Chinese had taken. These measures reduced the power of the virus in a matter of 5 weeks. My Italian friends mention a sense of national pride that their country is putting human life first, all human life, despite those who might want to leave out some people. I suspect the Chinese are proud of the efficiency of their government to act quickly, even in light of the high death toll. China is also supplying the medical equipment that Italy desperately needs to boost its treatment capacity. That includes 10,000 pulmonary ventilators, 2 million face masks, and 20,000 protective suits. 

Matteo Renzi, a former prime minister, said that the Stay Home decree was necessary to save all of Europe. Both China and Italy have acted in the common good–for their countries and the world population.  

When Common Good is not a Consideration

I live in NYC. The first measure that the city announced was that it found a place for 51,000 cadavers somewhere on a small island around NYC. Before the City hospitals will test someone, the patient must meet the need to be hospitalized.  Without knowing if we are infected, each person is left to make their own decisions about how to respond to the virus with a few guiding suggestions of wash your hands, do not touch your face and stay away of crowds if you can.  Every person who has not been tested is a potential carrier of the virus.  As of March 10, only a quarter of one percent of the USA population has been tested.

Fox News, a main media outlet, actively supports the idea the COVID-19 is “hoax” whose intention is yet another attempt to impeach the president. President Trump did not want to transfer the Princess Cruise vacationers to land because he “didn’t want his numbers to go up.” There is also a federal censorship decree that demands that government agencies have their “message” approved by Vice President Pence before making it public. Each state is left to come up with plans without resources. California, for example, has a population of 40 million and has only received 400 tests for COVID-19. That is one test per 40,000 people. In the newspapers, there are more articles about the impact on the stock market than the human impact of the virus.

My friends and I debate what to do. My husband is in his 70’s and has COPD plus a compromised immune system. We are both in social isolation not only to protect ourselves but also to protect others because we do not know if some of the the physical problems we face have anything to do with COVID-19. Other friends are washing their hands and not touching their faces. Some are somewhat limiting their contact with others. One friend plans to go on vacation to another country. None of us know or have a mechanism to find out whether or not we have the virus. Our conversation is about our own risk. Sometimes someone mentions their concern about being a carrier of the virus.  

When a Society Ignores the Common Good

It has become evident that the lack of common good in the US government’s reaction to COVID-19 leaves us to decide how we can protect ourselves and others. That will not save us from this pandemic.   When governments do not act in the common good, citizens often lack awareness of their responsibility to think beyond their personal situation. The decision to act in a way that supports the common good becomes a personal one and not necessarily endorsed even by one’s peers. When I explained to a friend that we had decided to isolate socially, he asked, “Did you get your doctor’s permission?”  

Holding Space for All That

Yesterday morning as I was practicing my Buddhists chants, a thought came to me. I needed to find a deeper connection with the chants. I decided to pause after each one to connect to the energy that it brought to me. When I paused, I found my hands moving, tears coming, and energy enlivening my body. I allowed space for this energy until it had wholly moved through me. A safe place emerged in which I felt was present and supported by the energy of the chants. I paused to give my body a chance to enjoy the connection to the power of the chant. I had an opportunity for a deeper relationship with my present self. I found the “self without content” that Addie van der Kooy talks about in his videos.  

That chance to be with what is living in me now in a safe way helps me have more space for me after the chanting. It also gives me a chance for a good cry, which doesn’t come easily for me. It gives me space to feel alive. I also have space for “I am alive right now,” and what that means to me.

“Give space for your inner authority to come, let it be your home.”
barebody&soul

As I interact with my friends over how we deal with COVID-19, the threat to our health, the health of our loved ones, and the future of our existence post-pandemic, I remember how l loved reading about Galileo and how he survived the multiple bouts of plague in Italy during his lifetime. It was a time of study, connecting with friends, other scientists, and loved ones via letters across Europe and parts of Asia as he remained his curious and amazing self by continuing his studies of how the universe unfolds.   

This weekend our yearly St. Patrick’s Day gathering at our home will be via online conferencing so we won’t miss out on being with each other.  

To leave or read a comment, click here and go past the end of the post

The Dance of Life: Finding My Own Space in the World

Each training session with Addie builds upon previous learning. This time having connected with my surroundings, what supports me, the silence, my breath, Addie invited me to notice how the chair is holding the weight of my body.

Then Addie invited a further investigation. He said, “there is an invitation to be held by Mother Earth here in a very simple way… just welcome this and the sense of letting go.”

This changed everything for me. My body started pulling back – it reacted to the concept of “Mother Earth” to the word “mother,” especially. To view my mother as if she were like mother earth or mother rock felt like an oxymoron – solid and dependable was not my experience of her.

What then started to emerge is a newly discovered mode of body-based surviving in me. Then more emerged, sparked by an event that happened to me a couple of days before my session with Addie. I witnessed a very overt poisonous attack of one person on another on social media. This attack activated in my body a memory of being on the receiving end of many similar experiences, fuelled by my mother’s rage and hatred. Then out of this, a whole new level of discovery and connection with my start of life experiencing started to emerge.

Addie encouraged me to stay with this womb experience and invited me to see if I can find a place in my body where I felt this “not believing” feeling.

I took Addie’s invitation and stayed with my body and the felt sense, and then spontaneously, words did come: I have finally found my own space in the world. This felt sense, at the time, felt odd yet exciting. It was so new and so unfamiliar. I was delighted and amazed at what came for me. This experience has created in me a spaciousness and a sense of possibility that was not there before. Yes, I have found my own space in the world.

To leave or read a comment, click here and go past the end of the post.

Holding Space for the Suffering of the Holocaust

Presentation by Ellen Korman Mains

As part of the commemoration of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Kevin McEvenue’s Wholebody Focusing Blog helped sponsor an online gathering, attended by people from at least 6 countries. Author, Holocaust activist, and Focusing Teacher Ellen Korman Mains led a discussion on ways to hold space for and participate in the healing that needs to happen around the devastation of the Holocaust.

This post has an abridged version of Ellen’s presentation to the participants that supported small group Heart Conversation on this topic. Ellen starts her comments with a discussion of time itself. How are the past, present, and future connected? Can we relate to trauma in the past? Do these past actions relate to what is happening now? And, most importantly, how can holding space for the past carry us forward?

Ellen talks about the history of witnessing the Holocaust—how it was avoided by many at first. It is challenging to hold such horrors in our consciousness. She describes the process of becoming a witness and why witnessing matters. What is the impact on the person who is a witness? Can it change the energy of those spirits who lived through this tragedy?

Ellen draws on her work and the work of other healers for inspiration. She describes the process of being a witness at Auschwitz as “shattering” initially; however, if one is able and willing to stay present to the energy of the experience, a peacefulness emerges and extends into a sense of spaciousness and well-being.

This video is about 18 minutes long but well worth the effort to watch. For me, it is a convincing explanation of how we can heal ourselves, the past, and the future through this type of energy work. This kind of holding of space for suffering can also be helpful in many other circumstances in which unattended suffering still has us in its grip.

Sit back and take your time being with Ellen and her wisdom.

To leave or read a comment, click here and go past the end of the post.

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.

To leave or read a comment, click here and go past the end of the post.