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.
I felt a shift in me that was so palpable. I knew something in me had fundamentally changed. It was like now I see the world upside-down or down-side-up—that kind of change of perception.
I’m envisioning a Daily Practice in Wholebody Focusing: to embody and sustain that sense of Me-Here as a body-sense of my Self as the foundation place—an Inner-Directed Experience of who I am and what I want to do.
Over the years, it has become clear to me that we seem to desire to start with an Intunement, to begin to have a fresh sense of ourselves as a Wholebody Focusing experience—to get in touch with what might be there in us right now.
How am I? What is going on right now? How can I make room for that? –that kind of attention. We seem to need some kind of solid grounding, something that we can hold onto, to allow those kinds of questions to emerge.
We usually start with some form of an Intunement to find that place in us that awakens what naturally wants to come alive and to inform us about ourselves and what is happening when it feels safe enough to do so!
It works when we can do this, and a sense of gratitude often follows when we spend time with ourselves in this way. It also initiates a relationship—it is not just a thought, it is an experience of me and something out there, a not-me, that together awakens a sense of feeling alive to myself beyond stuck-me! Continue reading “Beginning a Wholebody Focusing Practice”
This past week I had my first class with Addie van der Kooy and Cecilia Clegg called “Practicing Presence.” I came away from that workshop with some homework—pause and find your grounded presence whenever you can even if you are just waiting for the kettle to boil. The experience of these pauses helped me learn so much about myself.
One task I needed to do was to put together my bookcases that I had dismantled when the painters came to freshen up my apartment. For months I’ve been promising myself I would make some sense out of the mess so I could actually find a book I might want.
I began sorting my books into piles. I paused to be with all the categories looking for meaning. The first thing I noticed was how many journals I had. Even though writers are supposed to be people who wrote in journals all their lives, I never thought of myself as a journal writer. I found 11 full journals. Who knew? They are mostly from extended trips abroad and times of strife. This was the first big pause. I stopped to sense into “Who was this person who wrote in journals and what did she write about?” There were texts of prose, letters to angels, dreams, schedules, poetry and many different types of art—painting, drawing, collage, and textile design.
I paused with each journal in my hands. I found the text below in a journal I had written when I was struggling with cancer and my relationship with my mother.
The Rage Temple has Gone out of Business
You have rage that’s too dangerous to express?
Open up an account with me.
Just tell me your problem
And I’ll deposit it in my body.
And when my body explodes with rage
We are sorry.
Now these Temple doors are closed for good.
How long will it take to empty the inventory?
I had these journals. I never read them. I didn’t remember writing them. I didn’t remember me. A pause changed that. The pause got me to open the journals and remember the me who wrote them.
The next pause helped me notice what books I have been reading. There were a large number of books about all sorts of energy healing, diet, health, wellness, etc. There’s a considerable number of books about Focusing and WBF. There are also books about Reiki, Flower Essence Therapy and Homeopathy. These are all practices that are now as normal to me as breathing. I paused with the books and I sensed how I loved learning about these modalities and how they have saved me and helped me move toward my highest and greatest good.
The next pause that came was around artistic endeavors. There are books on crochet, drawing, creating Flash cartoons, dance, poetry, and feminist literary criticism. As I was putting some odd books away, I paused again. Where should I put my bound copy of the Master’s thesis? It is study of two Spanish women writers who wrote about breaking free, or not, of their patriarchal limitations. They do this through writing self-begetting novels about women who read Fascist romance novels as children and are trying to create new structures for novels about women’s lives. It suddenly occurred to me that my thesis should go with the other books of feminist literary criticism. Some of these books were quoted in my work. Rather than being just an activity that I did to graduate, I could understand now that this work is a companion to the other books of feminist literary criticism that I had.
Each time I paused, I felt more like myself. I felt more appreciation for who I am, the struggles I’ve survived and the beauty I created along the way. This is an appreciation I had never felt before because I was always too busy trying to change myself to be something or someone “better.” Instead, I now know that this treasure trove of information about me is readily available and that whenever I pause and hold space with equal regard for what is there, something new about me will emerge.
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Who am I? Kevin asks.
And then he adds something: “…to receive information about me from a place that’s actually larger than I think myself to be.
Right away, I hear something within. It’s so loving. It’s addressing me, telling me something. I know right away that I will not share it here in this preamble. I won’t risk it.
Then my throat tightens and is a bit painful, knowing that I have something I won’t share with others. I’ve decided I can’t tell someone else what I heard from a place that’s larger than I think myself to be. Even though what I heard was totally loving.
Then I hear Kevin say: “….let that be felt, that sense of desire to know, who I am….and step back…”
There’s a billowing out in my body. A sharp pain in my right shoulder. I sit back and ask the question again, and something in my throat tightens again. Tears come, that don’t express one emotion but a cloud of emotion.
And now I change my mind: I’ll tell you one part of what came—it answered that I am beloved.
And I notice how hard it is to tell you that.
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I’ve listened to this intunement today—more than once, as there’s so much.
Kevin says that there’s a vast body of information available to us. And it’s accessible! Something rises up in me, and it says, Yes, that’s true! Somehow, I am very, very sure there is a vast-universal-awareness-of-knowing, and that we can know it.
Then he adds, And it’s not me making it happen. A lot of energy rises in me when I hear this. He’s sharing this from his Whole Self—like a grass fire that spreads, and awakens in me a memory.
And there’s so much more—he noticed he can awaken that in someone else—and it wasn’t just him doing it! Hearing that, this comes: There’s this flame in me, it receives from beyond-me, and it speaks.
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The Arm Raising exercise is something I created. It helps me move forward when a desire to do something is stopped by an equally powerful feeling of “I mustn’t”. There is always something in me that needs to take control of life at all costs. When I desire something there is an equal desire to stop that from happening. This is a very physical mind-body exercise to find a way to awaken a third option beyond control and letting go. It invites a quality of movement beyond thought and understanding in a focusing modality. It offers a physical pathway to move us beyond what we know.
It brings us to the very crux of the discomfort at that edge between the two. By being present to both, holding both with equal positive regard, we wait and see if something new appears beyond our expectation. That is the purpose of this exercise to explore something in us that knows how to move us beyond our stoppages in a way we think we can’t. And yet discover something in us can. And it feels like a very, very different experience that emerges which is very clearly something not only desirable but something that is not of our own making and yet it is just what is wanted beyond our expectations. Good luck.
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Kevin shares a deep—and I want to say ‘unfolding’—insight into something unusual that his long-time focusing partner said to him, and how this statement opened up to him over a period of sitting-with-it. He’d fallen into the details, the talking-about. He’d lost the being-with.
Here’s what his partner said: Kevin, I need you to come back to me.
Over time, Kevin realized: This isn’t about my partner! And he explores, in his here-right-now-way, what was revealed to him. Yes, you guessed it: it’s about coming home to me again.
And then, he gently invites us to contemplate these words too—these words that, he tells us: have their own life, their own physical presence in me.
Kevin invites us, here, to join him in an exploration that covers some really revolutionary material that most of the world doesn’t entertain—that we can develop a relationship with our own bodily experiences. There’s a whole lot here, so feel free to pause this audio to really take it in, as he draws us forward through the many nuanced steps toward a relationship between our consciousness and our felt sense.
I was especially energized to hear his words: what emerges is not of your own making. Years of socialization make that difficult for me to take in. And another personal favorite: it’s almost as though the body waits for your connection…. ….almost as though it appreciates your attention. Even now, I have a sweet spark of surprise when I realize that a relationship is forming:
Here I am, and there that is. We are in relationship.