The “Holding Both with Equal Regard” Challenge

Photo Credit: Pixabay

How do we live day to day with so much evidence that our society does not support basic human needs? It is like being children and having families that do not meet our needs. I propose that our readers practice “holding both with equal regard” when we are encouraged or disturbed by what is happening politically. Take time to be with the body sense of your experience and share the results in the comments section of this blog.

Election night 2016, my friends and I went to a performance of Coriolanus, a Shakespeare play about governmental corruption and abuse of power. At the end of the play, everyone in the audience turned on their cell phones at the same time and collectively groaned. The news said, much to everyone’s surprise in NYC, that Donald Trump had won the election for president.

From that night on, most Americans have had their concept of being an American undercut in some way. We all do not share the same ideas. For examples, some of us have been horrified by the growth of white nationalism, while others are firmly against the radical changes that some groups propose.

One thing that has happened, as a result, is that more people are taking an interest in politics and discussing it, arguing it, and feeling it in our bodies.

How Can Wholebody Focusing Help?

I propose we do a mini-research on how “holding both with equal regard” can help us to move forward in this challenging environment. This activity is not limited to people who live in the USA.  There are many reasons people in other countries are experiencing the same instability.  I recommend the following:

  1. Notice when you see, read, or hear something that is accompanied by a body reaction.
  2. Connect to your grounded presence.
  3. Pause to be with that reaction by holding both with equal regard. If it is something we like, give your body time to process it. If it is disturbing, also welcome it and allow your body to process this new information.
  4. Let your body show you when it is complete. You might notice that the strength of the reaction has lessened or you have moved on to another idea.
  5. Over time, notice if there is anything different in how you are experiencing the ups and downs of the current political situation.
  6. Send comments to the blog about what you are noticing.

We look forward to hearing from you.

To leave or read a comment, click here and go past the end of the post.

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Holding Our Strengths and “Little Monsters” with Equal Regard

Illustration of a Neanderthal Woman:  John Sibbick (with permission from the artist)

Ellen Korman Mains came up with this title as she reflected on her week and how she’d been relating with a disturbing part of herself. Diana Scalera and Ellen engaged in a conversation about being with difficult experiences of ourselves with the help of our spiritual and focusing practices.

Diana Scalera went to Catholic school until the 8th grade when she gave up on Catholicism and organized religion in general as a spiritual practice because most of what she experienced from her Catholic education was demeaning treatment, punishment, and fear. It was not until she began focusing that her connection to spirit emerged.  In one of her first sessions with Kevin McEvenue, a Neanderthal woman became present in her body to support her in a situation in which she felt weak and powerless. Diana was able to sense into how strong these bones were and how they were being offered as a gift to guide her. From that point on, Diana let go of a traditional idea of spirituality and became open to her own innate connection to spirit.

Ellen Korman Mains grew up in a Jewish home of Holocaust survivors where ties to previous generations seemed completely cut. At the age of 19, she met a Tibetan Buddhist teacher who emphasized trusting direct experience over dogma or wishful thinking, and this began her spiritual journey. Twenty years later, illness and energy work broadened her sense of connection to the invisible world and to the “larger system” that Gene Gendlin referred to. Later still, traveling to Poland to embrace her family’s past led to extraordinary openings described in her book, Buried Rivers: A Spiritual Journey into the Holocaust, as ancestors began showing up to support her. Since 2011, both Focusing and meditation have been important venues for trusting her direction and spiritual connection, and helping others to trust theirs.

In the video below, Diana and Ellen discuss how both spirituality and focusing live in their bodies and how they support their struggles with the “Little Monsters” with a sense of befriending what’s there by holding both with equal regard.

Thank you to John Sibbick for allowing us to use his wonderful drawing of a Neanderthal woman.

We hope you enjoy this conversation about how two individuals find their way.

To leave or read a comment, click here and go past the end of the post.

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Meditation Grounded in the Body

Many of us who practice Wholebody Focusing have other practices that help us sustain ourselves, body and soul.  Ellen Korman Mains, the author of Buried Rivers: A Spiritual Journey into the Holocaust, shares her 45+ year experience of practicing meditation, along with other modalities, and how she eventually recognized a need to become more present in her body in meditation practice.  The video below is the first in a series of conversations between Diana Scalera and Ellen in which she explains how she first came to embrace body awareness.  Future videos will include the role that body awareness plays in her continuing work to recognize and help heal the legacy of the Holocaust.

Please take you time to watch the video below which is the first installment of this series about meditation, grounded presence, and spirituality.

To leave or read a comment, click here and go past the end of the post.

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My New Reality Now

Untitled Collage by Michael Lux

“The whole structure of me has expanded and been transformed by the very trauma that was given to me and that trauma becomes a source of inspiration without which I would have never become me.”
Kevin McEvenue
Founder, Wholebody Focusing

Addie van der Kooy, Kevin McEvenue and I spent an afternoon in February discussing the many manifestations of the “Me Here” muscle as part of our Wholebody Focusing practice. We are sharing more of that conversation through these videos. They document what has been coming for us from our collaboration with our grounded selves and with each other. We listened to each other and found new places—tiny spaces that we did not know were there that emerged on this chilly day in February. We are very excited about sharing them with others who are interested in the continued development of Wholebody Focusing.

A Heartfelt Conversation of Practitioners

The two clips at the end of this post are the result of our desire to be with what we are learning as we move forward with our own healing and the healing of the clients and students with whom we work.

In the first video, we shared our observations which included an example of the quietly holding of space for our trauma while holding space for our sense of “Me Here.” This way to hold space is different from traditional focusing in which one might hold space for the trauma and for a part that is critical of the trauma or not wanting to recognize its existence. As we held space for what came, we were moved deeper into our understanding of the value of this work and its nuances. We brought the information that we shared into our bodies and responded with what came for each of us. At the same time, we connected what we already know about the Wholebody Focusing process to the new ideas that are emerging. We explained what is happening on a physical, emotional and spiritual level. This process is something that helped us find our “New Reality Now.” We used the process of Heartfelt Conversation to get us there.

In the second video, we began to discuss the implications of what we are uncovering, how it might change the way we are connecting to ourselves and, how we are teaching Wholebody Focusing.

How to Watch the Videos

We offer some suggestions on how to approach the content presented here.

You can refresh your memory of the original concepts of this discussion by reviewing: https://wholebodyfocusing.blog/2019/04/28/holding-space-for-me-here-and-our-trauma/.

You can watch Example and Explanation and the Implications video only.

Or, you can take novelist Julio Cortazar’s advice about reading when he was discussing his book Hopscotch. He encouraged readers to read his chapters in any order they choose and to come up with their own understanding of what is written. You can also watch the last four “Me Here” videos in any order and notice if something new emerges.

As always, we invite our readers to share their reactions, comments and concerns as part of this dialogue.

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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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On Being Reactive Versus Being Responsive

Painting: Kevin McEvenue

Dear Kevin,

When the body hears that it’s “directed to do something,” it is not being given a choice. It’s expected to do it. It might refuse, or it might comply. But it cannot come from a natural place because there’s no offer of a choice.

What you are showing us is that we can build in a choice. For ourselves! After you see the typical reaction we all have to being told to do something, and we don’t want to, and yet, we’re going to make ourselves do it. It’s a burden trying to comply, and fighting it as we do.

So you’re showing us that we can turn to our own inner self, and offer a choice—an invitation. Instead of forcing ourselves to cooperate, we can ask the body to choose how it would like to respond.

An option not always offered to children. Or to us, when we were children. Yay for giving the body the chance to do something on its own, creatively. Rather than just feeling forced to comply or rebel.

Yay for offering ourselves the freedom of choice! What would the world be like if we had this option built into us? Would we be a bunch of ‘hippies?’ Or would we be purely self-centered people?

Or would we be a group of kindhearted, peaceful, beings connected to one another in a gentle way?

Elizabeth Morana

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Intunement Beginning Place Part 2

Preamble for Intunement 2

In this audio recording, Kevin tells us more about how the practice of intunements have continued to evolve.  At the risk of missing rich nuance, I’ll say this:  first, he makes explicit that heartfelt conversation is not a one-way-street bringing value only to the ‘focuser.’

Kevin shares:  “….heartfelt connection has a quality of GOODNESS, of light, of wisdom, that—perhaps—is for BOTH OF US….it begins with you—but maybe the life in it also has something in this experience of Alive that’s for me.  That felt new!   And gradually—and only now—beginning to emerge as something that I can claim for myself, and spend time with, and allow that to open more fully in my life too….”  Much like trying to describe a beautiful sunset, it’s hard to give concise words to this, but I’ll say that Kevin seems to be describing that quality of Goodness that forms in a Heart Felt connection and inevitably brings something new for each of those present.

Then he turns to the aliveness that we feel in each part of ourselves—a body part, for example.  And then he goes further, Inviting us to give our attention to something alive to us in nature: “….what we bring to that is our human consciousness…whether a foot or a tree…..we ADD something to its awareness of itself that wasn’t there until we mutually met one another in that way….”
He may not have made his case yet for some of his readers—although he has succeeded, with me.  If so, just hold all of it, all of these ideas, and hold your own not-sure-about and your own even-a-bit-cautious, and see how that shakes out in the coming days and weeks.  Your own questions are seeds of the MORE that can and will grow in this exploration of what is happening when two or more are gathered in heartfelt connection.

Elizabeth Morana

Reference:  Mr Deer and Me and The Pine and I (Stories on the Blog as excellent examples of giving our Heart Felt attention to something alive in Nature, Kevin.)

Mr. Deer and Me

The PIne and I

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