This Whole-body Focusing training session began with discovering a new embodying experience within me as I slowed down and connected to my body and presence. I found a deepening body-trusting that the environment will support and hold me, a sense of letting go into gravity and being able to be.
I sat with my breath just “doing its thing” when I was suddenly struck by how the breath in me awakens my unique conscious aliveness. My breath was “switching on” my Cathy aliveness–a shaping movement in my hand came under my diaphragm. With it came a sense of trying to find the shape of my aliveness. It was similar to the sense of awe and wonder I had felt at the birth of my daughters and on first meeting my new-born grandchildren. It was beyond words, a heart-felt “wow” at the creation of this particular utterly new unique and individual life energy, this new little human being and the excitement of who are they? Who will they become?
My body remembered how with my daughters this felt sense of their own energy was there even in the womb. Connecting with these body memories, I felt the unique patterns of their energy shapes, their particular form of aliveness. I suddenly recognised that I know the contours of their life energy far better than I knew my own. A familiar pattern for me – being more aware of the felt sense of the other person than of my own aliveness and sense of self. This pattern was a well-established survival pattern.
My hand continued the arced shaping movement, feeling for the shape of my aliveness: searching for the feeling of me-ness. The felt senses of my two grandchildren came: Meg all pink and sparkly, darting all over the place, an exploding dazzling firework of creative energy. Ethan very different – softer and flowing, leaning into, cuddling up, deep focused concentration and sensitivity, a broad connecting smile.
Addie invited me to sense into myself to find my shape, my energetic movement pattern: this was far more elusive, the old familiar survival pattern at work. Addie encouraged me: a reminding me that I was here with my breath awakening my aliveness.
My Trauma is Not my Shape
Suddenly a light bulb moment happened: a new awareness that for decades I had been “working on” the shape of how multiple traumas had impacted on me and in many senses “shaped” me. But this was not the same thing as the unique “within-me-from-creation” sense of my essence – this was my true shape.
Addie mirrored back to me, both in copying the shaping gesture of my hands and with these words, “This is the shape of your unique aliveness which is the essence of you that is untouched no matter what happens in life in terms of trauma”.
The words and the movement together sank into me. My body was absorbing this new discovery in a way that felt akin to the action of the yeast fermentation process in the bread-dough. “To begin to know the essence of you,” Addie reflected back to me.
A sense of expansion gently occurred within my whole body with this new awareness. And then a mental recognition that this is what I needed to discover and take into myself to be able to differentiate myself from others.
Then I noticed, as I sat with all of this, was how patterns of tightening in my body came, as they so often did. They were old trauma-shape models and I could now “mark and park” them with ease, to use Addie’s phrase. I was able to let them go rather than pursuing them and their paths. I now felt in my body that what would help me more would be if I could connect with the essence of myself untouched by my traumatic past.
Suddenly I realised that I had a sense that my essence was around in me but was hiding! Like a baby deer hiding in the trees and it was watching me. I could feel that this little fawn needed me to be very still and not to startle it, that the fawn was shy and not used to the attention. My hand started moving up and down – a gesture showing me that this place was needing stillness and silence.
In the quiet, I began to feel more of a sense of my shape: not as energetic as star-burst Meg and yet I had her colourfulness and independence. I also had the more muted nature colours of Ethan and his sense of flow and sensitivity – this was the shyness of the fawn.
What is My Shape?
My hands started doing a grasping movement as if trying to capture something that was ephemeral: a curiosity came to do with this fleeting feeling. Was it that this was something more trying to come? Or was it that by my very nature, in my essence I have a sense of the ephemeral? Then the energy of my younger daughter comes: she is an engineer, always has a clear understanding of direction and purpose, and there is nothing ephemeral about her! And in connecting with this, my whole body shifted as it owned that ephemeral-ness was and is part of my intrinsic shape.
A tightness came around my head and the image of trying to fit a round peg into a square hole: my bodily experience of how this being ephemeral can mean I often feel somewhat out of kilter with our external world of left-brain planning and organising. Suddenly something came – this ephemerality of mine it is Gene Gendlin’s “fuzzy edge”. A sense of something not yet entirely known and again on the verge of conscious becoming. Addie invited me to allow all that had come to be here. “The all that had come” sank into my body with each breath.
Suddenly my breath shifted gear, and more came: I had been in a fuzzy edge about my intrinsic fuzzy-edged-ness! My intrinsic ephemerality is the language of my body, and when I sense into and listen to it, then I am in step with myself. That being a fuzzy-edged person is not a “psychological issue” as I had always previously thought, it is not some trauma-derived problem, but it is part of the intrinsic nature of who I am.
For me then, to be in step with myself, I need to invite and be with my fuzzy-edged-ness that this is the healthy way forward for my aliveness and also for healing the residual trauma still within me.