Holding Space for “Me Here” and our Trauma

Image by Hans Braxmeier from Pixabay

Is Wholebody Focusing an alive practice? How does it move into the future? Are there new ideas to explore? How will Wholebody Focusers find out about emerging ideas? These are some of the questions Kevin, and I asked ourselves when we created this blog.

As part of this exploration, we are continuing our collaboration with Addie van der Kooy and his ground-breaking work around the nature of grounded presence and its function in creating a broad definition of what healing ourselves feels like in our bodies. These new concepts of building “WBF Muscles” will help focusers better understand how to hold our trauma so that it has a higher, more nuanced ability to heal itself.

One afternoon in February, Addie van der Kooy, Kevin McEvenue and I filmed a conversation that goes deeper into our relationship between our state of grounded presence and the trauma that may live in us. We will be presenting parts of this conversation as it happened and eventually the full video of the discussion which lasted about 50 minutes. This new understanding emerges out of the work Addie has been doing with his clients as he teaches WBF in this new way.

Heartfelt Conversation – What is New to Explore?

The first video is the intunement that Kevin provided to help us hold space for what was wanting to be heard. There is no new information here; however, it is a beautiful example of how encouraging a state of grounded presence can enliven any interaction.

The second video is an overview of what Addie calls the “Me Here” muscle that supports us in holding space for trauma in grounded presence with no judgment or expectation of change and why this process is the foundation of what might come in the future. As Addie gets more experience working with this concept, more comes for him about how it supports his clients.

We hope you enjoyed this first installment of this exciting conversation which is part of the mission of the blog—to provide Wholebody Focusers with an opportunity to learn more and to add your voice to keeping WBF alive.

Please consider adding your comments and questions to the “Reply” area, and we will answer them as they come in. If you have something new you have learned please write a response and contact Diana Scalera to get it published at: wbf285@gmail.com.

Please consider joining Addie van der Kooy and Cecilia Clegg in “Practicing Presence” workshop on May 11, 2019 from 9:00 – 11:00 AM EDT sponsored by The International Focusing Institute.

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The Worst Has Passed/Il peggio è passato

Photo Credit: Michael Lux – Sitting in a bar in Rome watching Italian soccer

What happens when we become disconnected from all or part of our families of origin, our languages, or our culture?  How does it live in our bodies? I’ve had much time to be with this.

All four of my grandparents were immigrants from Italy who left between 1909 and 1912. None of them ever returned to visit their families. They met their spouses in the USA and created new families that were unlike their own. While they each eventually married someone from their region of Italy, they were from different places. My grandmothers were from small towns, and my grandfathers were from large cities.

The Italian language, food, and culture were part of my parents’ upbringing. Both parents started school in the USA not speaking English. The schools they attended treated them as if they lacked intellectual ability rather than needing to learn English. This experience damaged them for life. Their response to this trauma was to forbid their children to speak Italian because they did not want us to suffer the way they did.

I’ve written about how a body sense that learning Italian is a heart desire for me, something that would significantly improve my life. I’ve been studying Italian and attending Changes sessions with Italian focusers via video conferencing. There was a session that helped me learn how vital regaining access to this ancestral language could be.

During my session with my Italian partner, I decided to hold space for my digestive system that has always been an unhappy part of me.  First came gentle inner-directed movements, then my hands rested on the areas of my abdomen that feel the most pain. There was also some burping and gurgling. As I held this space, a thought came for me “the worst has passed.” I do not understand what this was referring to, but my body was letting go of something, and I felt some relief.

As I was holding space for this part, I had an urge to say this phrase in Italian. I asked my partner to translate it for me so I could say it on my own. She said, “Il peggio è passato.” When I repeated those words, my body understood it differently. My body suddenly bent over toward the table in front of me, and I began to sob. It recognized and responded to this phrase more dramatically in Italian than saying the words in English.

I do not know what accounts for this difference. I want to hold space for what happened without judgment of what it meant so that more can come. Even though there is a “not knowing” why the Italian words were so much more powerful, I can hold space for the fact they were. This experience supports that felt sense that something special awaits me as I learn more Italian. I am also a bit bewildered how that particular phrase happened to show up in Italian when I never spoke any words of Italian until I was in my twenties. I remember thinking that this may be coming from an inherited trauma rather than something I actually experienced.

It also helps me understand that the experience of immigration can take generations to find a harmonious place. Immigration has become a contentious issue in our country right now. My heart goes out to all those who are experiencing the type of life energy stopping treatment that my relatives suffered.

 

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When Love Pays Attention to a Deep Wound

Photo credit: Pixabay
This audio tells us about an unusual solo focusing session—no listening partner—and its extraordinary aftereffect, described by an advanced Wholebody focuser who had decided to sit-with a serious medical condition for which surgery had been recommended.  

He knew he needed to pause.

He speaks succinctly.  No explanations!  No analysis!  When confronted with chronic pain, he simply sat-with what came, watched and consented to the thoughts, the feelings, the inner-directed movements that came directly from the Body—simply present to all-that-came without trying to change it.  Or to explain it.

After two hours of simply sitting-with, the pain was largely gone. And, for all the twenty years since, his chronic, medically-recognized symptom has not reappeared.

I wonder what you will notice when you listen to his story.

And I welcome you to share, here, your own unique transformative experiences that have resulted from your own inner-listening to stuck places.

I know I will open myself to this invitation as well.

Hearing from each other on this blog can be a powerful way for us—as a community—to explore our emerging edge together.

Elizabeth Morana
Adapted from a recording from Nada Lou

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Paused to be Love

Photo Credit: Pixabay

I recently wrote about exploring that place in me that is Love. Here is an experience of that intention.

Change Your Mind

The first day of Spring gave me a lovely present. In New York City, the weather was mild and sunny. It was a beautiful day to walk around my neighborhood.

As I walked toward my favorite organic grocery store in the East Village, I became curious about an old school building, PS 122, that was converted in 1980 into a performance artist workshop operated by the artists. I used to live across the street from this building and went to many avant-garde performances there. It was in a constant state of disrepair and construction. A few years ago, the building got a 37 million dollar gentrification makeover and was taken over by a prestigious art institution in NYC. I never even considered going inside. I felt that it was part of the general destruction of a neighborhood that was once cheap enough for anyone to live and had supported a broad range of art and life.

As I walked by, I paused to be with this new incarnation of the building. There were inviting signs announcing some new performances, and I decided to go in. I spoke to the people at the front desk and found out there was a multimedia exhibition open to the public about the political nature of cells. I spent some time with this exhibit. My favorite part was seeing a video of the sun’s rays shining on the particles that are part of the air we breathe. It was called “This Is Your Living Room.”

I also got a chance to use the bathroom there. It was gender neutral with multiple stalls. This new architectural adaptation felt right to me and something that was needed to reduce gender bias.

While I am sad that I may never see the likes of Penny Arcade’s outspoken rants or Bina Sharif’s insightful plays in this building again, I got a chance to see that there is something here that does support art and life.

Try a Little Kindness

When I got to the newly-opened organic grocery, I noticed a Latino man in his forties putting vegetables on the shelf. He looked familiar to me. As I paused with that sense of familiarity, I found myself asking him if he had worked in one of the other grocery stores in the neighborhood. He had, and the store had closed. I hadn’t seen him in more than ten years, but I remembered his kindness from when he worked in the other store. I felt delighted that he was now working in this new, well-run store and wished him well in his new job. I needed to pause with the surprise that I felt because I recognized someone with whom I rarely interacted simply because his kindness was always so present.

Good Vibrations

As I walked back home, I realized I wanted to pick up a plant for my apartment. There is a fantastic store, EviFlorist, run by a family of Latin Americans who has in-depth knowledge and skill with plants. They also have a fabulous collection of gems and are able to help their customers select plants and crystals that will enrich their lives.

The moment you are near the store the vibrational energy increases. There are so many plants and gems that every breath you take raises your own energy levels. I selected a fresh hyacinth just beginning to bloom. I saw the crystals and thought I needed to bring this kind of energy into my life–more plants and more gems. I purchased a fist-sized Fluorite crystal selecting a particular one by holding them in my hands to see which one had the strongest vibration for me. I chose the one that lifted my hand up and down.

Big Yellow Taxi

As I happily left the store with my purchases, I realized that I couldn’t carry the groceries, the plant, and the crystal all the way home and I searched for a cab. I have a sure fire way to get a cab in NYC. Instead of using my cell phone, I sing a song to myself inviting a cab driver to find me. Within 30 seconds I was in a cab. The driver was a man who wore a Sikh turban. I noticed that he was stressed. I let him know that I was grateful to him for finding me with all these packages and that I was not concerned with the traffic. He relaxed. I saw he was a very young man challenged by the pressures of being a cab driver in NYC. By the time we got to my apartment, he had noticed me. He offered to help me with my bags, and we wished each other a good day.

When I was walking into my apartment building, I found a name for this experience—the Magical Mystery Tour. No drugs needed just Love.

Sister Hazel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y944YxuE1OU

Glenn Campbell  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvswocNN-g8

Beach Boys  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eab_beh07HU

Joni Mitchel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=94bdMSCdw20

Beatles https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8WMGBuNaus

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Inviting Readers to Become Contributors

The mission of this blog is to encourage heartfelt conversation among the Wholebody Focusers from around the world.  We have been quite successful up until now but need more Contributor to keep the blog viable in the long term.

In the past year, contributions have come from eleven contributors.  We are looking to increase the number of voices that write posts on the blog to at least 20.  I will keep everyone informed as we are beginning to meet our goal.

If you have some Wholebody Focusing experience and would like to contribute something that you have experienced as part of your practice, how something shifted in you,  or how WBF is part of the fabric of your life, we would love to publish it. If you speak a language other than English and would like to participate in your own language, we can help you do that.

To Get Permission to Submit a Blog Post to this Site

If you would like to become a “contributor” to this blog, please send an email to wbf285@gmail.com and a reason why you are interested in becoming an author or contributor.  You will be contacted regarding your request.

Contributor

If your request to become a Contributor is approved, you will receive an invitation to become a Contributor.  You will get an email to that effect, and you will need to click on the link in the email and set up your contributor account.  A Contributor can create and edit only their own posts, but cannot publish them.

Please consider the possibility of helping maintain the viability of the blog and to give your own voice a chance to be heard.

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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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Are We Love?

Photo Credit: Pixabay

I finally found the part of me that wants to be loved and the part that does not believe it is safe to be loved. I also discovered how these two parts rule my planet. My practice is to find a way to hold both the need for love and the fear that it may be harmful with equal regard. There still is a “not knowing” what holding both might feel like in my body.

Maria Hakasalo gave me something to sense into in her post “Peace in Me” when she wrote, “There is a peace in me, and I can find it even in a painful moment.” If Maria can assume that peace can be found somewhere inside of her, could I expect that I will encounter pure love, unattached to human interaction/transaction, inside me? How would that help me be with my fear of love? If love does not rely on someone else’s character but on the essential nature of love, how could it be unsafe? But does it exist as Maria’s peace place existed? This is my current exploration.

When we depend on resources outside ourselves to determine our worth, we may fall short. Can I find pure love devoid of judgment or transaction inside me? How will this change who I am? How will it change how I relate to love and how I relate to others? What would it feel like to know with surety that I am love?

I search for that magical place inside me in which love is present, and love and I are one and the same.

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When an Old Wound Becomes Present to Itself

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Sometimes we know that we do something repetitively that prevents our forward movement. It happens seemingly without explanation. Then one day a connection shows up after revisiting a very familiar place.

The Pattern

I have a difficult time taking medication that I need to take care of myself.  I will take a remedy for a brief period and experience improvement and then suddenly start to have a body sense that instead of supporting life it is causing problems.  Then I stop taking the medication and the chronic problem returns.

The Old Wound

I grew up in a family in which multiple female relatives were victims of sexual abuse from another relative I’ll call P.  P died when I was 14 months old.  I grew up hating P because all I knew about him was how he hurt the women in my life.

In a healing session when I was 40 years old, the Reiki master asked me a question.  “Who do you love?”  It took some time and at the end of the session I blurted out from my gut, “I love P” and began to sob deeps sobs like I never felt before.  All I could think was it is impossible that I could love him. My body; however, was sure that I loved him more than I had ever loved anyone else.  I spent months being with the grief that I had never had a chance to express.

I asked my mother whether I ever had a relationship with P and she said he was quite old and knew he was about to die when I was a baby.  He and I became inseparable.  As soon as we were in the same room, I would be in his arms, and he held me for hours at a time.  That love feels benevolent and pure in my body.

The Dilemma

P was the serial child molester of the women in my life, AND I loved him deeply because I felt most loved by him.  The women he harmed were not capable of loving me and caring for me because of the damage he had caused them. The memory of his energy; however, emerged in my life as the best love I had ever received in spite of what I learned about him as I grew up.  It is challenging to hold both the nature of the love I felt for him and what I also know about him.

The Wholebody Focusing Session

Kevin and I had a session in which I revisited this experience holding both my hatred for P and my sense of pure love that lived in me. In a slow and embodied way, I experienced the dilemma through movement and breath without words.  There was no sensation of a shift nor was there any new insight during the session.

What Happened Later?

After the session, I realized that I needed to take some medication for acid reflux because this new way of being with this dilemma stirred up my digestive tract.  I reached for a relatively new remedy that I had been taking for a few weeks with great success and felt sure that relief was just a pill away.

Before I took the pill, I suddenly had a thought.  I had never checked the label to make sure that this remedy was free from any known allergens.  I took a look and realized that one of the ingredients was brown algae.  I have a severe seafood allergy, and sometimes sea products have a high level of iodine which can trigger a seafood allergy.  I suddenly felt great fear about taking another dose.

Something made me pause before I completely embodied the fear.  Why did I think about whether this remedy was a problem at this time even though I had weeks of taking it without a problem?

I sensed something new was opening up.  I realized that the conflict around the medication was the same dilemma as my connection to P—something that feels so life supporting could also be very hurtful.  How could I trust my deep body sense of being loved when P was its source?  Even though my body sense of the interaction with him was benevolence, my thoughts tell me that it can’t be trusted.

My relationship with medication and food has mirrored my relationship with the feeling of being loved.  When something makes me feel good, fear rises, and I find reasons to stop the interaction.  I am anxious about eating food in the same way.  Something that nourishes can also cause damage.

What is New?

There was a great relief in this discovery.  Of course I fear nourishment and love, my best and most reliable source of love was someone who was also capable of great betrayal.  I have moved from the “not knowing” to the knowing what causes this pattern of trust and stoppage. I can hold space for the part of me that experienced great love and also great disappointment and fear of that love.  My pattern of fearing the very things that may help me is the beacon that lit the path to this moment.  My Wholebody Focusing practice is the vehicle in which this journey became possible.

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