When Rectangles Become Circles or Am I a stubborn person? / Olenko jääräpää?

Photo credit: Maria Hakasalo

I go out frequently to take pictures with a question in my mind: What wants my attention today?

Recently I went to the forest nearby. On the way I passed an area of an allotment garden. I saw a pile of boards on the ground.  Small rivets were bored through one of the boards. It felt stupid to take a photo of them, so I didn’t. Instead I continued walking. Next to the pile of boards I saw an icy grill on the grass. Even though I didn’t understand why I should take a picture of it, I did because it just felt right. Then, I returned back to the pile of boards and took a picture of it too because of a bodily felt sense that it was the right thing to do for some unknown reason.

I started to see circles everywhere around me. I took a picture of a hole in a stick, a tub which was upside down, a wheel of a wheelbarrow, to mention a few things I saw. All of them were frozen.

I took about 120 photos. As I was doing this, I realized that it was a way to invite certain quality in me to be more fully present. The part of me that is not immediately and strongly opinionated was pushing forward exactly the way it sees the world. It is the part of me that is willing to listen and even to bend in to new perspectives. This part of me has been frozen in certain areas of my life because I thought I should be immediately and completely sure about my own thoughts and opinions.

And suddenly, somehow the world was not as rectangular nor with such clear edges as it normally seems to me. It felt much more circular and soft. Somehow it is easier to live and be.

This body sense continued for a couple of days when I suddenly realized why it wasn’t easy to own that soft side of me. It related to my school experiences and how I always felt like I did  not fit into the group. I tried my best to be accepted—I even tried to change my way of being to be more like the others so that I wouldn’t appear so different. For example, the kind of bag they liked was the one I also must like, the color that was their favorite color must be mine too. For many decades I had difficulties knowing what I really like. What is “my taste?”

I hated the part of me that was waiting for the others to say their opinion first so that I could say the same, the part that wasn’t able to know and recognize what I really, deeply wanted and was just worried about what others would say about me being me.

All these circular things around me are now welcoming back this part of me that has its own point of view.

Maria Hakasalo

***

Lähden usein ulos kameran kanssa tietty kysymys mielessäni: Mikä haluaisi huomioni tänään?

Tällä kertaa lähdin kohti keskuspuistoa, jonne kuljen viljelypalsta-alueen halki vievää kävelytietä. Alueen laitamilla huomasin ensimmäisenä lautapinon, erityisesti yhdessä laudassa olevat pyöreät ”nappulat”. Tuntui hölmöltä ottaa kuva epämääräisestä lautakasasta, enkä ensin ottanutkaan vaan lähdin kävelemään eteenpäin. Lautojen vieressä näin jäisen pyöreän ritilän ruohikossa. Vaikka en ymmärtänyt, miksi ottaisin siitä kuvan, otin kuitenkin, koska se tuntui jotenkin oikealta. Palasin myös takaisin äsken ohittamieni lautojen luokse ja otin niistäkin kuvan.

Aloin nähdä pyöreää joka puolella. Otin kuvan viljapaalista, reiästä puussa, kumollaan olevasta saavista, kottikärryn renkaasta ja monesta muusta. Kaikki kylmän kohmettamia.

Otin noin 120 valokuvaa. Siinä kuvatessani oivalsin, että tällä tavoin kutsuin esiin sitä, minkä olin vähän aikaa sitten tiettyyn asiaan liittyen löytänyt, “pyöreyden” itsessäni. Sellaisen, joka ei välittömästi ja vahvasti heti tiedä, mitä mieltä on ja asetu jääräpäisesti ajamaan ko. asiaa juuri sellaisenaan kuin sen itse näkee. Sellaisen, joka kuuntelee, katsoo monelta näkökulmalta ja on valmis edelleen kuuntelemaan, jopa taipumaan uusien näkökulmien edessä. Tämä puoli oli jähmettyneenä minussa, koska luulin, että minun täytyisi aina olla täysin varma omista ajatuksistani ja mielipiteistäni.

Yhtäkkiä maailma ei ollutkaan enää niin suorakulmainen ja jyrkkä vaan pyöreä ja pehmeä. Jotenkin helpompi elää ja olla.

Tämä tarina jatkui parin päivän päästä, kun yhtäkkiä ymmärsin, miksi minun oli niin vaikea hyväksyä tätä pehmeää puolta itsessäni. Se liittyi koulumuistoihini, siihen, miten en koskaan oikein tuntunut kuuluvani joukkoon. Yritin parhaani, että minut hyväksyttäisiin. Yritin jopa sopeuttaa omaa makuani toisten makuun. Laukun, josta toiset pitivät, piti olla se, josta minäkin pidän, toisten lempivärin kuului olla minunkin lempivärini. Vuosikymmenten ajan minun oli vaikea tietää, mistä minä pidän. Mikä on minun “makuni”.

Inhosin sitä osaa minussa, joka odotti toisten ensin sanovan, mistä he pitivät, että voisi sitten sanoa saman, sitä, joka ei tiennyt eikä tunnistanut, mitä itse syvimmiltäni halusin ja joka oli vain huolissaan siitä, mitä toiset sanoisivat, jos olisinkin se, mitä olin.

Kaikki nämä pyöreät esineet ja asiat toivottavat tämänkin osan, jolla on nyt ihan uusi näkökulma, tervetulleeksi kotiin.

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This Hurts!

Photo Credit: AdobeStock

The Wholebody Focusing  Blog  seems to have expanded and has become more inclusive as it awakens the stories of other participants who share experiences of themselves so powerfully. Several stories have touched me deeply as they further validate my own story of myself. In fact, there have been surprising expanded new directions and new possibilities for me to be open to! (Look for another posting about what feels so unsatisfying at another date!)

One was a story of a generational trauma passed on from one family to the next, based on faulty belief systems that have been so destructive to healthy living for generations.

Another explores the power of the ‘Pause’ as a way to stop and fully appreciate what is there and to give it the space it needs to expand and complete itself more fully. 

In my own story in this recording, I explore the experience of pain. The reality of the moment is that it hurts. It is as simple as that and yet my tendency is to try to understand it or do something with it. Anything but actually open up to and accept it. In fact, I block it.  I seem to want to cut off the experience itself and go to a place to try to do something about it rather than let it do something in its own bodily wisdom! 

In this recording, I am sharing a very concrete moment of an event in me that hurts! I suspect everyone has those moments and could say simply, this hurts!  But we often don’t.  We don’t just stop there, and pause, and give it the space it needs to be aware of itself. We seem to need to react! Why?

I invite you to hear my story and see if it resonates with something that is familiar to you, both as a story of a painful situation and the habit that comes right there as a way of “dealing” with it. Before I can even ask myself how it is—I react!! The experience itself has been denied and I have moved on to that part of me that is essentially reactive!

My story of This Hurts may open up new possibilities that offer something else for you to ponder. Please make room for what comes in you and mark it and maybe even share that.

Kevin

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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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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