The Pine and I

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Photo Credit: Ana Simeon

Maybe it has happened to you, too, that small secret moment of intimacy with a non-human creature. It’s a powerful experience yet easily dismissed by the mind. The one I want to tell you about happened on a trail in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada in northern California. It is a rocky, spare place, steep and windswept and intensely alive. High on a ridge above a mountain lake, the trail weaves among pines and Douglas Fir growing singly or in small groups, huddled around granite boulders. On a hot late September afternoon, their combined scent rose like incense; the air was charged with it. I walked briskly, enjoying the vigorous motion and the give of the trail surface, changing from rock to needles to bare earth to patches of coarse grasses. I became keenly aware of an added dimension, the arrangement of bodies in the middle distance, so often lost in our habitual focus on panoramic views. I mean by that the sense of my body mass relative to trees and boulders, the way trees stood in twos or threes or alone; a pine and boulder together; or the way the boughs formed a screen so that only slivers of blue were visible, and then suddenly parted to allow a full view of distant peaks. My steps slowed to a walk as I absorbed this new pleasure. My hand reached to touch the furry patch of lichen on a granite boulder, the deep furrow of Douglas Fir bark. I put my arms around a Jeffrey Pine, maybe my age in pine years, glowing deep red in the late afternoon light. I laid my cheek against the bark and was enveloped in a light, sweet aroma, like vanilla, very different from the more pungent “conifer” fragrance that rose from the forest as a whole. (I read later that pines, and especially Jeffrey Pines, are unique among North American conifers in distilling this vanilla-like scent.) There we stood for a long while, the pine and I, in a timeless embrace of arms and branches, skin and bark, one breath.

In her book, “The Legacy of Luna”, activist Julia Butterfly Hill describes her relationship with the giant redwood in whose canopy she lived for more than two years in order to save it from being logged. Hill is positive that Luna knew Hill was there to save it, and gave her support in its tree-ish way. Similarly, with my arms around the pine, I felt very strongly, from the tree, a wave of –  encouragement? Support? Was the pine hugging me back? These are human terms and they don’t quite fit. I felt that the pine and the land it sprang from were holding me up, wanted me to continue my work to save the Peace Valley in my home province of British Columbia from being dammed. I was being offered a gift – an experience of joy and unity, and something more: confirmation, confidence and strength to persevere in my work. Joy and gratitude buoyed me as I walked back to the cabin.

Continue reading “The Pine and I”

Habitare Secum

It was like a revelation and a healing bath of presence, warmth, compassion, gentle interest in the connection with the focusers. And an answer to my question of Habitare Secum began to get contours.

Many years ago I met a wise elderly woman. In her youth, she told me, she learned from a Jesuit priest that the most import thing in life is to be at home with oneself. There you will find that you never are lonely. The expression in Latin is “Habitare Secum”. It resonated deeply with me! It seized me! How can I be home with myself?

After the woman and I separated, I named my psychotherapy practice to Habitare Secum. What could be a better name? But still, the longing and the question was there.

Then in summer 2012, I got to know Focusing and Whole Body Focusing for the first time. It was like a revelation and a healing bath of presence, warmth, compassion, gentle interest in the connection with the focusers. And an answer to my question of Habitare Secum began to get contours.

And on that road I’m walking ….

With great affection to you all focusers!

Ulla-Stina

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

 

It’s a Big Deal

“There is a deeper process inside of you that wants to be seen…and heard…and appreciated by you.”

It’s a Big Deal
Intro by E. Morana

It’s a Big Deal is a segment on the power of being noticed that brings us to the completion of the series, Participatory Spirituality.

In his own words:  “It’s a big deal…to notice…to be noticed…to be informed…and to receive and to go with…”

The video below is a shortened version of a webinar which Kevin offered on Zoom to a group of WholeBody focusers in July 2021. In it, Kevin begins by speaking to us of his own experience of what it’s like—for him—to be in a community. When asked to lead a webinar on the value of community, he knew he didn’t want to do it. His past experience had left him with generally negative expectations regarding community. He noticed that. Then he decided to do the webinar and to see what was there.

To Notice

He opens with the statement: “Here I am…so what’s going on in me? Notice me being present to myself.”

After articulating his own discovery, he invites his audience—and now, that’s each of us here on the blog—to turn inwardly and to wait for our own Body Sense to form about being here—in this situation. His words: “There’s a deeper process inside of you that wants to be seen…and heard…and appreciated by you.”

The Big Deal

Kevin has set out to show us something almost miraculous: that when we begin to pay attention to whatever-that-is-in-us, it begins to awaken to itself and it begins to transform. On its own! And it needs us to pay attention to it. It couldn’t have awakened—and couldn’t have begun this new period of growth—without our attention.

That’s what we’ve really come here to learn. Not thoughts-about community, but our direct-experience-here-and-now of me-in-this-community. Instead, we’ve come to practice listening to how it is for me, here, now. Things begin to unfold that could not have happened without it. Surprising things. Good things.

No wonder it’s a Big Deal.

Exploring the Link Between Excitement, Response & the Power of Noticing

The next step in exploring new directions: the curiosity that comes when my body seems suddenly excited by something and what happens as an immediate bodily response to that stimulation. And the question: is there a link between the nature of the excitement and the bodily response when I pause to make room for this event unfolding even before thought or choice appears?

Exploring the Link

In this episode, I make a choice; I choose to touch myself and then step back and notice what happens when I touch a sensitive place near a nipple. I pause, step back, and notice what comes. The physical response is instantly pleasurable, wanting more, an expansion of wanting more.

By pausing and waiting in this way and just noticing, that sensitive part of my chest registers something pleasurable. Something I would want to hold on to, to desire!

Then more connection of awakening begins to happen spontaneously throughout different body parts in some kind of meaningful order. Some pleasurable, some not so—maybe something quite different.

The Power of Noticing

There seems to be a pattern awakened when I do this. I touch myself; that awakens a response. It follows immediately with an activation that seems to be in sync with the nature of that kind of stimulation. And also, something else—new connections that were unexpected or even unwanted.

It is as though a whole story begins to unfold that is not of my own making and yet it seems filled with meaning and not-knowing. I pause and wait for more to come…..what else….what’s next….? A next step happens immediately! And then a next!

Maybe as you hear my story unfold, you could playfully explore this kind of awareness that has excited you—out of the blue. It doesn’t have to be pleasurable; maybe something you are drawn to or something that wants your attention right now?

New Directions
Photo Credit: Kevin McEvenue - Megalithic Carnac Stones in Brittany, France

An Early Morning Awakening and Sitting-With

“This is just the time she left her body. Four years ago this moment.
I waited and watched.”

By Elizabeth Morana

I awoke suddenly and looked at the clock. It was 6:10am.
I realized:
This is just the time she left her body. Four years ago this moment.
I waited and watched.

First, this came:
“Melt into the Arms of God”
I wanted to.
I got only a tiny hint
of It.

Then, this came:
“I make space for Your Glory”

Much later, after restlessness–and then grief, words came:

It’s like striking a match when I let the grief come. Before I allowed it to be felt, it was like hardened material on a little stick. I struck the match against the scratchy surface and the deep sadness ignited into a brief, intense flame. Then, suddenly, my body stretches, toes wiggle, back muscles awaken and warm themselves through stretching. That’s the flame. It flows through me. Then all is still and there’s a glowing light in me.

 From stuckness,
to ignition,
 to flaring grief,
to transforming into
something awakening,
richly Alive,
and finally
to tranquil clarity. 

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

Painting by Elizabeth Morana

Mia Nonna Etrusca/My Etruscan Grandmother

I’ve always had an appreciation of my connections to my ancestors. I grew up in a household where the adults spoke out loud to those who had passed to share news, ask for their help or complain that they had been left adrift.

When I was about six years old, I was in the basement of our house with my grandmother — my mother’s mother. She had a kitchen there for cooking in the summertime before people had air conditioners. It was a big space, and I was dancing by myself behind her while she cooked.

I saw her stop and turn around to say something. I wanted to hear what she might say because we mostly never spoke to each other. She mainly spoke Italian, and I spoke English. She asked me a simple question. “Will you remember me? I recall being overwhelmed by sadness by that question. I thought, “How could she have any doubt that I would remember her?” To me, she was the center of all that happened in my life. I told her there was no way I could ever forget her. She turned around and continued to cook. I wonder if my companionship while she was cooking made her feel loved and maybe a bit worried that that love might vanish with time.

While my grandmother died in 1978, she is still at the center of my life. Every meal I cook, she is there. I sense my grandmother in each of my creative acts. The walls of my healing room are alive with her art. Her old furniture and sewing machine fill my apartment. My other grandparents had already died or died soon after I was born. She was the one who connected me to the ancient world that was part of her essence.

My Grandmother’s Roots

My grandmother was from a small town called Corchiano, Viterbo, Lazio in Italy. When I went there in 1984, it was a tiny town on a precipice in the middle of hazelnut orchards and sunflower fields. She had told me stories about a castle, Etruscan burial grounds, and secret passageways that she and her friends used to play in to dare each other’s courage.

Etruscans dominated this land from 900 BCE to the height of the Roman Empire. When I visited this Corchiano, I found that my grandmother’s wildly fantastic stories were all true. It helped me understand that these ancient peoples were still very much alive to the people who lived in Corchiano, which was founded thousands of years ago.

How We Reflect our Heritage

As I continue to recapture my Italian language, I become more curious about my heritage and culture. I began working on my family tree. I found that names repeat over centuries. So do professions. My father, his father, and all my paternal grandfathers were either carpenters or cabinet makers going back five generations. My brothers also work with wood as a pastime. My nephew, who always eschewed construction work, recently announced he would begin working in construction.

On my mother’s side, the men were barbers. I have a talent for cutting hair. The women on both sides of my family worked with textiles. I’ve made many of the essential clothes I’ve worn during my life and have a love of exotic textiles.

Connecting to Ancestors

I’ve always had an appreciation of my connections to my ancestors. I grew up in a household where the adults spoke out loud to those who had passed to share news, ask for their help or complain that they had been left adrift. When I began to go to a Buddhist temple, and I learned about the rituals to console one’s ancestors, it was as if a missing piece had shown up for me.

I began practicing this ritual mostly about ancestors whom I might have known and some for whom I only knew by reputation. A particular situation arose for me that was related to the actions of some of those ancestors. I decided to ask for their consolation as part of my chanting practice.  An outcome of these prayers that I had hoped for was that my mother’s suffering might subside.

After a few weeks, my mother called me and said that she fired the home health aides that I had helped provide. She wanted them out of her house. My mother is 90 years old and mostly deaf and blind. She also lives in a large multi-level home with lots of stairs. I took in the news and wondered if there was anything to this consolation of ancestors. Now, who would take care of my mother’s daily needs? I also had some space for this being the outcome for which I was asking.

A few days later, I spoke to my mother, and she said: “I am so happy to have my home back.” I have never heard her say she was happy. Even though I fear for her safety being alone, she is sure that she is much better off.

What We Ask for Might Be Different from What Shows up

I am holding space for how, when we ask for a situation to move forward, that forward movement might not look like what we expect. Any changes can also include new things arriving into our lives that we may not even have known would be essential to us.

A few days later, my friend Jim sent me an email about an Etruscan webinar and I immediately registered.

First, I found that so many of the paintings from Eturia were of people with dark curly hair. I had never seen cave paintings with curly-haired people before. Then, I discovered my Etruscan grandmother. The photo of the statue reminded me of a picture of me. I pulled out my likeness and put the images next to each other and felt this fantastic resonance. When I was 26 years old, I needed a photo for my international driver’s license before my first trip to Corchiano, Italy. I sat with these likenesses and checked into my body. I had a sense that I have found my home—a place where others looked like me. It makes me very happy even though these images are from two thousand years ago.

Later, I recounted this story to my acupuncturist. She explained that connecting to one’s ancestors strengthens one’s kidney energy. Establishing a link to a place of origin enhances one’s earth energy—both areas of weakness in my body.

The Help We Receive Is from Timeless Sources

My work in reaching out to my ancestors is unveiling so many new ways to be with who I am and how connected I am to the expanse of time, space, place, and energy.  My Wholebody Focusing training supports me in trusting what my body feels and enhances my spiritual connection to this ritual that connects me to my ancestors.

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

Noticing When Something New is Here

“How do we know that Wholebody focusing works at all?” It is in noticing that something new is showing up in one’s life or that something is showing up more than it did before.

Photo Credit: Selfie of Cristina, Diana and Deni

Wholebody Focusing can be very subtle. For me, especially during a session, sometimes only a movement comes, or pain in a part of my body without words or a “felt sense.” Sometimes I spend a long time with these movements or sensations. It begs the question, “how do we know that Wholebody focusing works at all?” It is in noticing that something new is showing up in one’s life or that something is showing up more than it did before.

We’ve been writing about “holding both with equal regard.” By holding space for all our parts, we recognize that our process is supporting healthy changes in how we live our lives. Because we have new options for dealing with our challenges doesn’t mean; however, that these parts of us that struggle no longer have life in them.

What Was There Before

I grew up with a narcissistic mother who would become angry if I asked for help. I learned never to ask for help and that the outcome of any situation depended on me not showing any need or reaction. Also, I attended a Catholic school that prioritized fear-mongering and punishment over the existence of a loving God. I developed a severe form of anxiety disorder that included both a chronic state of fear, along with spikes of disabling panic attacks.

Psychotherapy, drugs, acupuncture, and homeopathy helped me manage my learned responses to stressful situations. Reiki and Wholebody Focusing have enabled me to live in a new way.

Learning to Open to New Ways of Being

Reiki teaches that we can ask for help from the Universal Life Force, which is available to all sentient beings. It is without judgment and the need to meet some threshold of certain kinds of behavior. One needs only to ask for help to receive it. I primarily use what is called “situational” Reiki in which one asks for support with a particular situation.

I started using this when I began cancer treatments because I needed to meet with doctors. My natural inclination was to believe that the meetings would be harmful or that there would be no help, support, or kindness available to me. To find a new way to be, I would establish my connection to the Universal Life Force. I asked that my highest and greatest good be served along with the highest and greatest good of those who were supporting me. I found time after time that the outcome was so much better than what I would have automatically created. The high levels of fear were still there, but now there was also the belief that Reiki was available to me to support my next step.

I’ve come to rely on situation Reiki throughout my day, not just when I felt my life was in danger. What I am noticing is that before I form all sorts of disaster scenarios, it occurs to me to connect to the Reiki energy to ask for help. I don’t need to be in mortal danger to use this process. I can use it to help me get through a typical day with everyday challenges. It is a far cry from my chronic state of panic that was punctuated by panic attacks. What comes for me now is how automatic and sure I feel about asking for help. No more angry mother to cause me to worry. There is no more punishing God who only helps if you are good enough.

Notice When You Feel the Shift

My trip to Italy helped me clarify my relationship with situational Reiki. I went there to improve my Italian and to attend and present at a focusing conference. I took two weeks of Italian lessons. I also hired a tutor to help me create the transcript that I would read during the workshop I would present. I also had someone who offered to translate whenever necessary.

It was about a half-hour before the participants were set to show up. A mosquito flew toward me, and in an automatic reaction to my fear of mosquitos, my hand hit the iPad screen and deleted the transcript of the workshop. I had an old version that I did quick edits to, but it was not the same. In the face of the outcome of the next few hours being entirely out of my control, I asked Reiki to support the participants’ highest and greatest good as well as my own. As I did this, I could feel powerful energy surrounding me.

Somehow I had the language I needed and was able to understand the participants well enough to meet their needs. The participants were appreciative and enthusiastic, and I felt supported by the Reiki energy, the group, and my colleagues who had gotten me there in the first place. I noticed how new this was for me to feel so much support.

A few days later, I was staying with a family who had two dogs. It was evening, and a strong thunderstorm was floating in. I noticed the dogs were quite upset. I called one to my side and asked Reiki energy to support him in being with the storm. He calmed down and stayed at my side even when I went out on the balcony to watch the storm. The second dog, who had gone into hiding came close to me, and I offered Reiki to this dog. She also calmed down and stayed near. My friend told me usually the dogs run wildly around the house during thunderstorms.

As I have more experiences with the idea that by opening to my own highest and greatest good, the support that I need is there without fail. Even when I ask for help, and the outcome is not what I expect, I can ponder what about this outcome is in my highest and greatest good?

What Is Needed to Experience the New Parts of Us that Emerge

It is in noticing not only that there is space to have new beliefs like there is help available to everyone just the way we are. It is also essential to recognize that those parts of us that don’t think this way may still need support and love. When I was in session with Kevin, and I spoke about my newfound faith in something outside of myself, I noticed how my abdomen was having a spasm. Both are there. I can believe that support and loving-kindness are always available to me, even though my gut goes into spasm when I openly acknowledge the existence of this support.

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

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Holding Our Strengths and “Little Monsters” with Equal Regard

Diana and Ellen discuss how both Spirituality and Focusing live in their bodies and how they support their struggle with “Little Monsters” with a sense of befriending what’s there by holding both with equal regard.

Illustration of a Neanderthal Woman:  John Sibbick (with permission from the artist)

Ellen Korman Mains came up with this title as she reflected on her week and how she’d been relating with a disturbing part of herself. Diana Scalera and Ellen engaged in a conversation about being with difficult experiences of ourselves with the help of our spiritual and focusing practices.

Diana Scalera went to Catholic school until the 8th grade when she gave up on Catholicism and organized religion in general as a spiritual practice because most of what she experienced from her Catholic education was demeaning treatment, punishment, and fear. It was not until she began focusing that her connection to spirit emerged.  In one of her first sessions with Kevin McEvenue, a Neanderthal woman became present in her body to support her in a situation in which she felt weak and powerless. Diana was able to sense into how strong these bones were and how they were being offered as a gift to guide her. From that point on, Diana let go of a traditional idea of spirituality and became open to her own innate connection to spirit.

Ellen Korman Mains grew up in a Jewish home of Holocaust survivors where ties to previous generations seemed completely cut. At the age of 19, she met a Tibetan Buddhist teacher who emphasized trusting direct experience over dogma or wishful thinking, and this began her spiritual journey. Twenty years later, illness and energy work broadened her sense of connection to the invisible world and to the “larger system” that Gene Gendlin referred to. Later still, traveling to Poland to embrace her family’s past led to extraordinary openings described in her book, Buried Rivers: A Spiritual Journey into the Holocaust, as ancestors began showing up to support her. Since 2011, both Focusing and meditation have been important venues for trusting her direction and spiritual connection, and helping others to trust theirs.

In the video below, Diana and Ellen discuss how both spirituality and focusing live in their bodies and how they support their struggles with the “Little Monsters” with a sense of befriending what’s there by holding both with equal regard.

Thank you to John Sibbick for allowing us to use his wonderful drawing of a Neanderthal woman.

We hope you enjoy this conversation about how two individuals find their way.

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

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

%d bloggers like this: