Open Hearts as a Door to Social Justice

How can individuals find their own personal way to let go of the bias and inequities in our society and participate in its healing.

Photo Credit: Ellen Korman Mains – Broken Heart Monument at the site of a former children’s camp in Lodz, Poland

Addie van der Kooy’s Wholebody Focusing concept of “holding both with equal regard”  can help us open our hearts and sense our personal role in promoting social justice and perceiving bias. It can also be a guiding principle in developing ways to support social justice in the broader society. As white supremacy roils the U.S. and I prepare to attend an important Holocaust commemoration in Poland, while Diana tends to her own ancestral legacy in Italy, here is another segment from our conversation that touches these issues. It also touches on the inherent vulnerability and truth of the human heart that flies beyond bias and sees basic goodness and equal regard as fundamental to reality, not just a technique we do.

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Letting In The Sunlight of Being

To sense the vitality of Presence within and without recharges our body and mind and resources us in ways nothing else can.

It is a real pleasure to welcome you to our next monthly Pause for Presence gathering on Saturday February 27th.  Life in lockdown during these dark, cold and sun-starved winter months (at least here in the northern hemisphere) is a perfect time to pause and let in the “sunlight of Being”.  To sense the vitality of Presence within and without recharges our body and mind and resources us in ways nothing else can.

Letting in the Sunlight–Addie van der Kooy

In one of our last gatherings the image of the ocean floor emerged with a sense of its deep vibrantly alive stillness, unperturbed by but not separate from the wind-swept waves and cross currents on its surface.  This felt image speaks beautifully of the dimension of Presence that can be felt inside us as “an underlying energy field of living Presence”, always alive, at peace and undisturbed by the waves of thoughts, emotions and physical discomforts you may experience on the surface.

Letting in the Sunlight–Cecelia Clegg

The idea of these monthly 90-minutes gatherings is to come to rest in this underlying energy field of Presence – a sense of the aliveness felt within the body and around us as a nourishing Presence that holds and constantly resources us: to rest and be nourished by the aliveness of “just being” and allowing the surface to be as it is.  Being together in this way creates a palpable energy field of group Presence which allows you to experience Presence in a much deeper way than if you were on your own.

The format of our gathering is simple.  After a brief guidance into Presence (for those who need it), we silently come to rest in “this underlying energy field of Presence”. There will also be time for any heartfelt sharing that wants to happen.

The details:

  • Time and date: Saturday 27th February from 4 pm to 5.30 pm GMT.
  • Venue: Zoom video conferencing platform. If you have no experience with Zoom, please let Cecelia know for necessary guidance.
  • Fee: £15 (by bank transfer) or £16 (by Paypal which includes £1 Paypal fee). It includes a free audio-recording of the guided sessions.
  • Email Cecelia Clegg at ceceliaclegg44@gmail.com to register.

If you are unable to attend, you can still register to receive an audio-recording of the guided sessions for a £5 fee.

See you then!

Addie van der Kooy and Cecelia Clegg

UK Wholebody Focusing Trainers

Previous workshops:
Pause for Presence

Welcome to the Depths of the Ocean

Photo Credit: Diana Scalera Labyrinth at Kripalu. Stockbridge, MA 

Raw Desire Awakens to the Power of Choice

You can connect to one’s raw desire which awakens your power to hold space with equal positive regard to the wanting and not wanting to acknowledge the desire.

I can feel it in my body that I want to say something; it is like an energy—the energy of desire wanting to say something. At the same time, I am aware I don’t know the nature of that desire; it feels like a raw energy. That immediately brings an almost equal response of resistance that seems to say, “I can’t” or maybe, “I won’t!”

Power

It also feels like I have been here before, possibly in the Intunement Series describing the steps of Wholebody Focusing. I can hear myself saying “I know this place; I know that step.” Thinking—as I pause—it is about holding both with equal positive regard, all about wanting and not wanting.

But this is a different experience; similar—but not the same. What is familiar is the ability to describe this step as a WholeBody focusing experience. What is different is that I am fully immersed in this activity. A desire standing alone on its own power without specific content. I am also aware of the resistance—the mustn’t!—but without the familiar intensity. I am full of desire and at the same time I don’t know! They seem to come from very different places in me.

Raw Desire Awakens Power

Here I choose to pause and stay with the desire. I make room for whatever comes directly out of that power: desire! I wait for more to come from that core sense of wanting and desiring. Raw desire feels neutral at first, but as my awareness connects with the desire, something more happens between us that is rich and surprising.

They feel almost independent of one another, enough to be able to say “hi!” The whole bodily experience seems to expand the whole of me that actually feels palpable! Yes, there is an engagement happening that is remarkably palpable! A feeling of mutual connection with one another that feels not only mutual, but also fulfilling—with appreciation and respect. It is happening and it is good and we know it.

These are movements of active participation with one another, powerful forces activated by this connection. It is for me to just hold the space!

I invite you to share with me what comes; starting with desire, the resistance and the not-knowing. Notice how more seems to be activated and stimulated by this raw energy as we pause and wait with an attitude of curious wondering!

Other writings by Kevin McEvenue

Carnac Stones, Brittany, France.  Photo Credit: Kevin McEvenue

Loving-Kindness Changes the World

When I saw the loving embrace, I could feel my relief and my sadness when I realized that my body expected a negative response. Watching this interaction allowed me to be with this part of me with compassion. I could be the loving elder to my young, distressed heart. I hold this precious memory whenever I need a reminder that there is love and support when we need it.

Loving-kindness changes the world? Is it possible? The other day I was walking down the street. There was a group of adults and a ten-year-old girl standing and talking to each other. The men were in deep conversation. There also was a woman and a girl. I was thinking about my COVID stance vis-à vis this group–worrying if there would be enough distance between us as I contemplated walking past them. But something else came.

I noticed that the girl was distressed. The woman looked directly into her eyes and listened intently as the girl explained why she was distressed. Then, the girl had said what she needed to say. The woman pulled her into her chest and held her in a loving embrace. Watching this interaction of two people whom I do not know was deeply felt. In general, it was an act of love. The woman listened in a way that helped the young girl feel deeply heard and embraced her with love and compassion after she said what she needed to say.

Evidence of Loving-kindness

I knew that I was watching something that I deeply desired, and I also knew that I doubted that such an emotion could be genuine. It was not just that someone would hold another’s distress so lovingly but also that one could accept that offering of kindness without fear that something else, something dark, would emerge. Such an action was absent from my childhood, and I have never wholly believed it could exist. Watching this interchange as I walked around the group helped me sense into that longing and fear.

Nevertheless, here it was, evidence that, in any given moment, loving-kindness could prevail. I noticed it and held space for what it meant for me. It helped me appreciate how delicate this part of me is and how much it longs for this kind of interaction. I felt joyful knowing that this young girl could be heard and loved for who she was.

When we see something for which we have a longing, it can touch us in a healing way. As I was watching this interaction, I identified with the ten-year-old girl. I connected to her distress. The women responded to that distress with her heartfelt attention.  I felt worried that she would act harshly or mockingly. And just the opposite happened.

How Loving-kindness Changes the World

When I saw the loving embrace, I could feel my relief and my sadness when I realized that my body expected a negative response. Watching this interaction allowed me to be with this part of me with compassion. I could be the loving elder to my young, distressed heart. I hold this precious memory whenever I need a reminder that there is love and support whenever we need it.

So share Loving-kindness as much as possible. You never know who might be watching.

Painting by Isobel Bennett Hennman

A Life Changing Walk

I also feel that it was not actually a mistake to take a life changing walk along the Mountain Lake Road. It was meant to happen. Someone from heaven knew my adventurous mind, and wanted to give me a life long gift.

I had a life changing walk during the fall 2021, at a time when I felt a strong fear of making mistakes. On Saturday, 18th of September, I made two huge mistakes, which surprisingly changed my relationship with making mistakes.

From Friday to Sunday, I was in a silent and writing retreat at a lovely old village school in the middle of Finnish countryside, or wilderness, you may say. When arriving on Friday, I was allowed to choose a room from three options. Two of them were on a shadow side and I could feel how my body shrank when checking if one of them was right for me. Third one was on a bright side, and the view out the window was uplifting. Light was calling me in. I made it my home.

On Saturday morning, for a writing assignment we went outside to find something in nature that spoke to us. A plant, a stone, a tree, whatever. I had heard that if I took the road to the left, on the highest point of the road there would be a beautiful, open field on both sides of the road. I went there and had a meaningful discussion with a flower on the side of the road.

When turning back, I decided to still walk a little in the other direction, instead of going back to the retreat site. I saw a crossroads and a sign of Mountain Lake Road. The name of the road was fascinating. There was a barrier at the beginning of the road. The forest on both sides of the road looked dark and menacing. I could sense a threat in my body. However, I decided to get around the barrier. I wanted to see the mountain lake.

A Life Changing Walk

While walking down the road, I still wondered if it made sense to move on towards something that felt menacing. When I saw a gorgeous carpet of moss under tall, dark spruce trees, I thought you can find something beautiful out of something threatening. I took some pictures, and continued walking. When I then checked from Google Maps how far the lake was, I realised it was too far, and I would miss the prayer time if I went there and back.

Suddenly I heard a voice. “Tumps”. A moose, I thought. I peeked to see if I could see it. I didn’t. I took my notebook and wrote down a thought that popped into my mind about the flower I saw before. “Tumps” again. I wondered how big the moose might be. I felt fascinated to see it and considered stepping out to the forest and walking to see it from the place where I thought the voice came from. It felt too challenging, so I decided to walk back up the road.

Then I saw it, or her, I feel, on the left side of the road. She had a round, brown back and butt, and a coat of fur that looked so thick, soft, and slightly lumpy. Only two meters from me, having her back to me there was a bear rumbling something. She turned her head to look at me.

I Survived

I started running as fast as I could and hoped that she would not run after me and catch me as prey. One of the first thoughts I had was that I need to take a picture, otherwise nobody would believe me. I did not do it. Then I remembered that if you encounter a bear, you should be as immobile as dead (later I read that one should peacefully walk back, not turn ones back on it and in no case run.) No way, I ran!

She didn’t come after me.

I Survived!

At night, it was hard for me to fall asleep. The thought that was constantly going around my mind was: What if I never recover from this encounter?

What if this fear stays in my body forever?
I tried to read, I tried to write, I tried to listen to music. After trying all this and still feeling exhausted, I said to myself: “Okay, I will go into my body to see how all of this feels in my body.

With the felt sense in my torso area I found out that yeah, fear of making mistakes, this time I didn’t have it. I made two major mistakes: 1) I didn’t stop and turn back when feeling the threat in my body, and 2) after seeing the bear I did exactly the opposite of what you should do in this situation. So the truth was that I made two major mistakes. And I survived! For an odd reason I could sense a huge release in my body. And fell asleep.

A Life Changing Walk Was Not a Mistake

The following day, when eating lunch, I suddenly heard the music (there was always peaceful background music during eating times) calling me to dance and move. I let my body move the way it wanted. My head started to turn over my shoulder to look back, turning my upper body, as well.

I did it again
for both sides
and I realized I was the bear
in her own space watching a passer-by
not getting nervous, as I sometimes do
“Aah, a human,”
and continued eating.

The first lessons from her were:
Take the space that belongs to you.
Don’t push yourself back to the darkness when you are called to come into light.

Appreciate your body wisdom much more than you currently do.

This embodied bear has continued to talk to me by encouraging me to find clear boundaries and keep them, and to concentrate on my own task, not letting others disturb me. I can feel her strength in me, and am really grateful for her coming into my life, not necessarily wanting to meet her or any of her classmates again.

I also feel that it was not actually a mistake to take that road. It was meant to happen. Someone from heaven knew my adventurous mind, and wanted to give me a life long gift.

Artwork by Maria Hakasalo

On Becoming a Grandmother / Kun minusta tuli mummu

How will I release my grip on her so that she can 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?

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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Something is Happening That is Good For Me

As a reader and a contributor to this blog, I’m very touched to hear this audio from Kevin, “Something is Happening That is Good For Me.”

And it turns out that he’s talking about his response to recent contributions and comments on this cyber-gathering place.  It’s as though I’m hearing it for the first time—that we are “…participating in something not of our own making…” in these recent writings.

He reminds us that we’re participating—we’re not passive carriers for inspired ideas—instead we‘re active participants in what comes through each of us; something that is uniquely helpful to the writer, and uniquely helpful—in yet another way—to the reader.

And he adds something else that I feel is new:  that we are experiencing “…a felt-sense, person-to-person.”  And he says “YES” to that, adding, “.that’s why I’m here in this moment, to say YES.”

Lucky us—to have the opportunity to sense into this new-knowing.

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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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