I offer a moment-to-moment description of a grounded presence experience that I had with a deer as we both walked through the woods. This example highlights an important Wholebody Focusing practice–holding a “we” space for partners. It also shows how we can have a “we” space with any other sentient being and how both of us are impacted by the relational space they create together.
There he was, Mr. Deer, quietly but unexpectedly just over there. In fact, he was just beyond the clearing of the forest as I began my own walk. I was taking a break from a training that wasn’t going well for me. I wanted to enjoy a walk in the forest to find a grounded sense of myself again.
That is when it happened, that encounter with Mr. Deer. It seemed to startle both of us so unexpectedly. It was a surprise, yes, and startling? Maybe for a split second we both knew that something felt different here and so we seemed to pause and take in the moment with curiosity. It was that pause that seemed to change everything because we both took some space to take in what might be happening that felt so different from what we were used to. What was that? What made us stop and take a moment to become aware of the something that felt new here?
I can’t speak for Mr. Deer. He has his own sense of what was happening in him. For me, as a reflective human creature that I am, I realized I was in a good place. Usually I walk through a forest without really taking much in. But this time I felt differently. I was enjoying this moment of peace and enjoying myself in this wooded environment.
Many of us who are Wholebody Focusers have learned concepts and practices from many other modalities. In a workshop many years ago, I learned about the concept of “heart’s desire.” The practice I was taught in this workshop was to silently wish yourself your heart’s desire and then silently wish those around you their heart’s desire. We also learned that a true heart’s desire can only be for our highest and greatest good.
What Happens When You Wish People their Hearts Desire
I live in New York City and take public transportation so I have ample opportunities to live this practice. It has helped me learn so many things. First, I struggled to remember to wish myself my heart’s desire. It would be ten minutes of concentrating on others before I remembered myself. Then mentioning me felt quite “selfish.” Eventually, it took less and less time to remember me and wishing myself my heart’s desire gave me a surge of energy.
Then I noticed how judgmental I was. I vowed to wish everyone in my subway car or bus their heart’s desire but I felt negative feelings coming about some people. I had to recognize that harsh part of myself that is so critical. Often the criticism would be about someone’s hairstyle or clothing but it also showed up when people seemed different from me too. My practice became noticing what came for me when I thought about wishing a particular person their heart’s desire. I would acknowledge what was there and let it go. When I added the wish for that person, my heart and the criticism would soften. It also helped me be with how all that criticism that emerged was really about me. This practice helped me be with both the wish to generate love for others along with a fierce need to separate myself through criticism of others. I needed hold those parts with equal regard. This eventually has led to much less criticism for myself and for unsuspected random citizens of NYC.
Painting; Riverdale Park in Cabbagetown by Kevin McEvenue
Elizabeth this a response to “It Is for This.” It is the power of her voice, the tone of the sound that is so healing to my soul. My body instantly awakens to her tone of voice even before the words are felt.
I am just allowing Elizabeth’s prayer to be heard and to be felt inside of me. And the words that seem to awaken something deeper in me is this expression that she keeps repeating: it is for this. It is for this. It is for this.
And each time I hear that repetition, it touches me even more deeply because I know that sound. I can feel that sound and I can feel me.
That is what Elizabeth has awakened in me too—that sense of me that knows who I am. What I am.
And I love the feel of it. I love being awakened when I hear someone else is there too. It gives me a sense of myself that feels totally satisfying. It is a feeling of love.
I am Love.
I live love in my body as a whole.
It is me.
This is who I am.
Something more came for me listening to Elizabeth saying what was there for her and how deeply that awakened something in myself about me. It is as though her sound, her voice, her expression, awakened a sense of myself from inside–like awakening a tuning fork of who I am.
Your experience Kevin resonated profoundly in me. When you listened deeply, in searching for a sense of self, an uninvited Trappist monk connected with you – and you came alive. As if listening deeply for life could be as a calling to the universe and something from beyond answered you. Could this be possible?
In the beginning of the nineties I was on a similar journey, in my longing to become alive and be myself. My travel led me to an Orthodox Monastery, named New Valamo, in Finland. During the winter war 1939, some 190 monks fled from Valamo Monastery in Russia. They founded a refuge and a new home in a mansion in the east of Finland. To have somewhere to live they had to rebuild the old barn into monk’s cells. The monks lived and prayed in the barn for years. It was possible for me, as a visitor, to stay in one of the old monk´s cells in the barn. And of course, it was an offer I could not refuse.
The whole night I had deep dreams which felt as some sort of inner rebuilding of my whole life. For the next few days, I walked around the monastery without any thoughts, feelings or words. But with tears constantly pouring down, gently melting, cleansing and making me soft and receiving. I was filled with awe that made me feel fresh and alive.
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.
Being in contact with our energetic bodies means that we have cycles of awareness, feeling stuck, movement, not knowing, and healing. Our bodies also respond to the seasons and the times of the year. The holiday season can be a loving time and can also have some peril. The Haiku that came these past nine days were about what was cycling through me that was preparing for the holidays.
Wholebody Focusing Haiku # 10
A new movement comes
My hand on my crown moving.
Connection to my core.
Wholebody Focusing Haiku # 11
Not knowing is there
To help us be with ourselves
Until we are ready.
Wholebody Focusing Haiku # 12
Of myself and my family.
Let my body move.
Wholebody Focusing Haiku # 13
Begin to find parallels
Parts that need your love.
Wholebody Focusing Haiku # 14
Holiday fears rise
When I think about all that.
Holding space for me.
Reiki Haiku # 5 Universal life force
Please enter my body now.
Thank you for your help.
Reiki Haiku #6
Many ways to share
Your Reiki practice with world
Self, other, distance.
Reiki Haiku # 7 Do you love yourself?
My first Reiki teacher asked.
I became silent.