Focusing with One’s Body

Photo Credit: Michael Lux The Creative Little Garden NYC

As part of our Trainers’ Corner, we are offering a series of short training videos. The videos demonstrate what happens in a Wholebody Focusing session.

This first clip is from a session between Kevin McEvenue and Diana Scalera. It is from the end of a meeting whose theme was of being with what is new in our lives while honoring what was there before. What you will see in this video is how this situation lives in Diana’s body and how Kevin supports the forward movement of how these challenges live in her body.

Please consider sharing what you notice about the session, what you learned, or maybe that which you want to know more. Use the link below to send your comments, and we will respond.

In the week after this session, my right shoulder pain that would show up after a night’s sleep in the same position disappeared. There is still pain on the left side. What did change in a big way was that I have a broader capacity to face challenges with more confidence and clarity.

Let’s see what happens when my left arm has a chance to be fully heard and becomes more aware of itself.

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How to Start Wholebody Focusing with a Partner

Photo Credit: Diana Scalera

When I attended the Scambi 2019 in Albano Terme, Italy this past summer, I presented my workshop Focusing Around the Dinner Table using mostly Wholebody Focusing as the vehicle to access this theme in our bodies. Since then, some focusers have been asking for help to learn Wholebody Focusing. I have begun working with some of the Italian focusers and have come up with a way for them to get started on their path to incorporating Wholebody Focusing into their Focusing practice. Below is a description of the steps of a session with Cristina Griggio via Skype. It can be a starting point for focusers who would like to add some Wholebody sensibility to their practice. 

  1. Both partners need to be willing let go of the need to have an agenda for their session and actively hold space to what your body prioritizes. Each partner can take a turn being the person who is focusing, and the other person is mostly silently holding energetic space for their partner while noticeing how what happens to your partner impacts your body.  
  2. Establish your energetic connection with your partner. If you are in person, make sure you have a sense of each other’s energy. If you are working via the internet, find your way to connect in this situation.  
  3. The Focuser asks her body a simple question “Where does my body need attention now?” Let your body choose what it needs. Let go of any narrative and your thoughts about what is necessary in this moment. Your body might have a different point of view.
  4. Wait and hold space for whatever comes. 
    1. Acknowledge the body’s sense of what is there without adding a narrative. Stay with the bodily sensation.
    2. Let what is there know that it can be just the way it is and has all the time it needs to be present to itself.
    3. Give your body permission to move, especially your hands, which may be able to support parts that are struggling.  
  5. Stay with whatever comes. Ask for help from other parts of your body, from the earth below you, the sky above, the air you breathe, or the chair in which you sit. 
  6. Let your body indicate when it has found a resting place (or ask your body to find a resting place).
  7. When the Focuser has come to a resting place, the partner can share how that experience with her partner impacted her body. The Focuser can also share more if they choose with their partner about their experience.  
  8. After the session, both Focuser and Listener should pay attention to whatever comes that relates to what happened in the session. According to Addie van der Kooy, each opportunity we take to spend time with our bodies in grounded presence causes changes (from minor to monumental). Our lived experiences after our sessions let us know what has changed.  

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When Joy Becomes More than a Crumb

Photo by Gabrielle Clark

Today my body bought me a long forgotten memory.
A joyful one!

As I was out walking early in the morning, a little yellow flower caught my eye.

“Do you like butter?”

Instantly, I could hear the sound of little girls giggling with delight as we played this childhood game. It was a simple game we played where you hold a flower under your friend’s chin and if it turns yellow – then you like butter!

It made me smile – and still does – to feel this body memory from long ago.

A forgotten joy.

The joy that is the precious jewel of childhood that no one can take from me. Even a difficult childhood doesn’t stop the timeless innocence, wonder, and magic that each child has available in his or her inner world. A wellspring of wonder.

Rilke says even if you found yourself in the worst prison you would still have it. The magic, wonder, and joy that is inherent in every child.

To savour an ice-cream slowly, trying to catch the drips with my tongue, without an ounce of guilt, enjoying the flavors and taste sensations of fresh passion fruit or feijoa straight off the vine. The total immersion of my whole being when listening to a favourite fairy tale, a song or a story over and over again. The joy and delight of jumping waves at the ocean and running screaming from the water with pure free abandonment. The magic of a mirror and wondering how to get into the world on the other side where the little girl is……

Somewhere along the way, I had let my joy become a crumb.
It is so nice to taste it again.

To feel once again the wonderment and joy the world offers to me when I can pause and listen to my body wisdom.

To nurture the seeds of wonder and joy that live inside me – this is my practice.

My inspiration from Rainer Maria Rilke…

“And even if you found yourself in some prison, whose walls let in none of the world’s sounds – wouldn’t you still have your childhood, that jewel beyond all price, that treasure house of memories?”

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When You Help Me Go Further, It Feels so Good

Photo Credit: Kakadu National Park, Victoria by Gabrielle Clark

The first time I tried Focusing something was not right. I was usually good at what I tried, and I could pick most things up easily. Not focusing—I froze, I could not do it. My body would shake, my jaw would shake, no words would come out.

It was so hard! How was it that some people were saying how wonderful it was. I hated it and wished I had never joined the class.

This situation led me on a mission to get it. I would try harder; surely I would get it…eventually. I went to lots of different teachers. I did lots of reading, and I even spoke to Gene on one of his phone courses.

An Encounter with Gene Gendlin

Even given a chance to speak with Gene Gendlin, the founder of Focusing, I couldn’t get the words out that I wanted. They would have been, “please help me, Gene, I can’t do focusing and I don’t know why, please help me.” Instead, I made a statement about the process model. I held my breath and blurted out…“Hi Gene, I am so excited that my body will know what it needs when it finds it.” There was silence for a few seconds “Oh…what do you mean?” he asked gently.

Oh my gosh, I froze. Did I even know what I meant? How will I answer him? What if I can’t remember what I said?  I had rushed it out so quickly, and I didn’t know if it was still there to be found. I panicked. I can feel this now, how I hold my breath and rush the words out quickly, I don’t feel my body at all. I paused and begged my body to bring it back, sure enough, it was there. I tried again.

We spoke back and forth for a while. Gene was not just answering me.  He was trying to understand me and to help me to go on from where I was. He seemed to genuinely care about what I said and even wanted to hear more, to understand me or maybe help me understand myself. He would say something that he thought I had meant and then say “is that right?” so I could check it. It moved me profoundly and brought tears to my eyes then and now- this was so new to me and so wanted.

It ended up by him saying “we need both the words and a body sense. If the body is not ready, then it’s not ready, and if the words are not ready, they are not ready. They will come when they are ready.”

How this Conversation Lives in Me Now

Kevin McEvenue says, “when the story is ready to tell itself it will” and “the secret to your unfolding lies in you not me, I just throw things out now and then for you to check them.” My body likes these statements.

I will never forget this moment, and I think one day, with practice, I will be able to slow down enough to feel both. I will be able to pause and hold both my body sense and my words together and speak slowly and surely from a place of grounded presence. My practice will be to feel me first, then speak from that deeper place. To let it come, to allow the story to tell itself from where it wants to. This new ability is a scary thought both unknown and unfamiliar, but I like it.

No one can teach me how to hold both my body sense and my words together, I have to find my own way, and I am grateful to Kevin and Gene for the way they both hold space for a person to do just that.

To find my own way feels so good.

*****

Gene Gendlin is the founder of Focusing. To learn more about him, please click on http://www.focusing.org/bios/gendlin_bio.html

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