Connecting to the Sparks of Life

Take a few minutes and sense into where you encounter forward-moving life energy. For me, sound has been my guide. As a new wave of the international pandemic lays bare how present death is among us, we need to find ways to connect actively to what sparks life in us. Recently, I’ve found that sound helps me find a way to connect to myself and others. This supports the life in me.

The Impact of the Pandemic on our Bodies

The current situation has subtly impacted my nervous system. I don’t feel any different from moment to moment, but I am experiencing panic attacks again, which had disappeared from my life after years of focusing. Just buying groceries, sitting on a bench with a friend, or throwing out the trash includes masking up and putting on gloves—all reminders of the chaos surrounding us.

For example, the other day, I felt my body switch into panic mode in the middle of my virtual Italian class. There was a felt sense, a click in the middle of my chest. After that, I started having thoughts about possible problems with our gas stove.

I acknowledged the felt sense and new thoughts. I also recognized that these were irrational thoughts because I knew no one had used the stove the entire day, and there was no smell to sustain such this concern. I acknowledged that something in me was frightened, yet I did not know what or why.

I recognized “not knowing” the source of the panic and held space for this distress. That allowed me to notice the sound of my classmates’ voices again. We are all very dedicated to learning Italian, and to be a part of this group is very important to me. When the class ended, I held space for this anxiety in a fuller way.  What came for me was that the panic is my body’s way of letting me know that it is on overload. It needs more support. How do we support both– the need to move forward and the horror of the pandemic?

Even though the numbers in New York City are relatively low compared to the rest of the United States, they are still rising. New Yorkers have lived through the worst experience of the first wave and we know where it can go and how fast it can get there.

Recognizing the Sparks of Life

A few days later, I started to prepare to do some errands. I put on a mask, my defogged glasses with a guard strap on the back that keeps them from falling off. Then came my coat and purse and finally my face shield and gloves.

As I began walking to my favorite organic grocery store about a mile away, I noticed that my body was on high alert. First, there was a physical sensation– walking was too difficult. I felt overwhelmed by the mask and the shield. Was I breathing okay? Then came the thoughts about not being able to do the errands I set out to do. “How could I keep going forward while I am feeling like this?”

I kept on walking and hoping the sensation would subside. As I neared Thompkins Square Park, the first thing that woke me out of my thoughts was the sound of a car alarm. NYC banned them a long time ago, so it was a bit surprising to hear. Something, however, was comforting about the jarring sound. Maybe it matched my felt sense energetically. Paying attention to that sound shifted something in me. It broke the spell of my thoughts.

I began to hear someone playing the trumpet. The dogs in the large dog run were barking along with the music.  As I paused to listen actively, I heard so much more. Then an idea came that I should record what I heard because it was so full of life. In the middle of the pandemic, my neighbors found ways to connect and interact in safe and life-sustaining ways. The trumpeter was playing a cheerful tune; the dogs wanted you to know they were there. There were three competing bands, sometimes playing over each other, and occasionally stopping to listen to the other bands. The sounds were loud and were full of life. Each experience could grab you and take you along their journey.

The car alarm helped me ground. The walk through the park, and more specifically, the sounds of life, pulled me into presence. As I exited the park, I noticed how my thoughts had changed. I was able to get through my errands for the day, and I returned home to share the experience with my husband.

I invite you to take a few minutes to listen to the sounds of life that my neighbors shared with me last Saturday that helped me connect to the forward-moving life in me. If you click on Thompkins Square Park you can see some photos of this very special place.

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Trouble Resting

By Elizabeth Morana

I’m afraid of this day
and the demands therein
so I lie awake
electricity a low hum
under me
running through my cells
Two hours before
awakening time

I resist this moment
and keep resisting
Can I let myself Be Here?
In this unwanted moment?

No.
I am caught up with the fear
that I won’t be able to be-in
some future moment of
this coming day

I cannot be-here at all

Oh, how I long to
Be here now.

And having really
Yearned that
My body stretches
relaxes
And I lie down
If not to rest
At least
To be here.

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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.

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Breaking the Spell of Suffering

Before I know it I have lost myself, I am not solid.

I am hard on myself and I need to break the spell of that.

When the overwhelm sets in, it takes over my body.

Before I know it I have lost myself, I am not solid.

I am like a leaf being blown around in a storm.

I am lost. I have no home base.

When I can break the spell of the panic, the overwhelm, the negative thoughts – I feel wider, softer.  I have freedom to move.

The reward from doing that is that I can hear the birdsong and the wind in the trees.

I am available to experiencing life in the here and now.

How I break it is to pause, to slow down, to remember to come back to myself, my surroundings, my breath, the beauty that is there for me as a solid support – 24 hours a day 7 days a week 52 weeks of every year.

Not as a technique that I have learned and must get right, must do a certain way. If I do that, I am going against the unique way my body knows and desires to be.

If I do that, then the trying hard sets in, the sense of failure, I don’t get it, can’t do it.

The words come in and beat me up.

I must pause and find some sense of solidity that is outside me.

I simply pause and wait for the right way for me that is coming from my own unique bodily knowing of how to be in this world.

Finally – I can trust me.

I can break the spell like that and then the magic of the birdsong will appear for me, and I can breathe out.

Because I can trust me and my body knowing of what it needs,

I can trust you and your body knowing.

I know you will find your own unique way that is just right for you.

Thank you Kevin.

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Deep Hunger, the “Not Knowing” and Wholebody Focusing

A few years ago, I was experiencing chronic anxiety due to a stressful situation at work. My body was deeply affected.  My blood pressure, heart rate and diabetes markers were all higher than normal.  I relied on my focusing practice to help me.  In a Wholebody focusing session, a wordless felt sense of anxiety transformed into a sensation of me experiencing my own birth.  As I exited the birth canal, I felt free from the anxiety that I had been experiencing.  A new understanding emerged about how my body experienced anxiety.

dreamstime_m_34661935
Photo Credit: Dreamstime

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The Basic Elements of Wholebody Focusing and the Not Knowing

In this intunement Kevin reflects on the overall purpose of Wholebody Focusing – the embodied experience of “Being Me” – and how this experience can only be sustained and deepened through practice, like an inner muscle that will strengthen through exercise.

After briefly re-visiting the various elements in the WBF journey, Kevin highlights the practice of “open detachment” – a complete stepping back from any need to know and understand what is happening, so that you can be truly open and available to what wants to emerge from a deeper wisdom inside you.

Continue reading “The Basic Elements of Wholebody Focusing and the Not Knowing”

An Inner-Directed Experience

Are you in need of some lighthearted play? Here is an intunement that will move you into an inner-directed body experience without narrative or particular intention other than to experience movement that is generated by your body alone. Kevin narrates the experience of asking his body to stand from a sitting position merely by relying on its own body wisdom sense of standing.

We can be partners in this game. If we invite our bodies, they may want to share the same experience with Kevin, something that takes longer than our own ability to stand and has many nuances that one might not expect.

So ask you body to stand, allow all necessary movement to emerge and let go of any need to create meaning or narrative out the experience.

What will come for you?

Diana Scalera

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Holding Both with Equal Positive Regard!

Holding Both with Equal Positive Regard is the essence of Wholebody Focusing.  It is here that the most benefit will be experienced.  Kevin explains how “holding both” can be supportive of your body’s sense of the next positive or negative event that you will be experiencing.  He also shares his experience of being in grounded presence with the planned events happening for him soon and how his body responds to each event–with pleasure or anxiety.

While holding all that is there for him, Kevin asks his body which, among all these events, needs his attention most?  At that point, he feels the expansion of his experience of himself and he can relax into that feeling.  As the expansion grows, he also becomes aware of the resistance to that expansion. A part of him does not want to expand so quickly.

Kevin feels his hands massaging his thighs. The words come “You’re okay. You’ll be okay. It’s okay.” His hands have a function that is separate from his thoughts.  Kevin holds onto that comfort he receives from the movement of his hands as anticipation resurfaces of an event that could possibly be uncomfortable.

His body is expanding into that spaciousness of being okay and he is aware that while the discussion may not be comfortable, there will be some space to accommodate that discomfort.  He will be okay regardless of what comes.

Diana Scalera

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