Deep Hunger and Wholebody Focusing

 

How is a sense of deep hunger helped by 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 usual. 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 birth. As I exited the birth canal, I felt free from the stress that I had been experiencing. A new understanding emerged about how my body experienced anxiety.

My History with Hunger

I was my mother’s second child. Her first pregnancy with my older brother was traumatic, and she came close to dying. A few months before my brother was born, my mother’s friend, Mrs. C, a parishioner at our Catholic church, was pregnant with twins. C-Sections were out of favor during more than half of the twentieth century because the medical outcomes were unacceptable due to inadequate surgical procedures and lack of antibiotics.

As a result, there was a heightened possibility that a crisis might happen in the delivery room. The mother or the fetus might be in danger of dying. Because the Catholic Church saw the mother and fetus as two human entities, Catholic hospitals had a policy that prioritized saving the fetus’s life in circumstances in which the doctors could save either the mother or fetus. Mrs.C died in childbirth along with one of her twins. The other twin, a baby girl, was born with severe cerebral palsy. She could not walk, talk, or feed herself.

My mother, having witnessed how this policy impacted her friend’s life and family, felt great anxiety about her fate. Then she also had her crisis in the delivery room. My brother was a large baby in the breech position. The doctor told my mother that she might not survive the birth. Fortunately, both survived; however, my mother was deeply traumatized by the experience. My brother also suffered from this experience. His trauma showed up as severe learning disabilities and emotional difficulties.

Three years later, my mother became pregnant with me. She decided to lose weight during her pregnancy so that the birth would be less complicated. Throughout her pregnancy, the danger she experienced with her first birth and the memory of her friend’s death caused her great anxiety. As a result, my mother starved herself and me during her pregnancy as a strategy to circumvent a possibly fatal outcome.

At the end of a full-term pregnancy, I was born weighing only five pounds. It took me four years to achieve an average weight Moreover, I have had a lifelong struggle with anxiety and panic disorder.

Wholebody Focusing and Anxiety

I always had a felt sense that the level of anxiety I experienced was not all mine– that it was stronger than my constitution created on its own. From this early morning WBF session, I became aware that her anxiety bathed me in my mother’s high cortisol levels for nine months. I carried my mother’s experience of body tension in my body along with my tendency to be anxious. Since that session, my level of chronic anxiety has dramatically subsided. My anxiety connection with my mother had ended. My fear is at a much lower level.

Now, I can be with whatever anxiety emerges in grounded presence. Being grounded gives my body space to carry itself forward in its own way and at its own pace. Under these circumstances, the anxiety sometimes transforms into something else. Before, my stress level was often too overwhelming to be with it in grounded presence. Wholebody focusing helped me experience the release of my mother’s panic from my body and allowed me to understand how it had impacted her and me.

A new awareness about my birth experience happened years later when I attended a week-long workshop at a Catholic retreat center. I often felt hungry because the portions and total amount of food served were inadequate. This experience triggered a bodily sense of hunger, agitation, and anger.

The Intelligence of our Bodies

It wasn’t until early morning on the last day of the conference, during a focusing session, that I sensed what was triggering me. This session started with a felt sense of guilt for my surliness toward the staff in response to the lack of food. An image came to me of working as a young girl in the convent, stirring a pot of soup. I was feeling hunger in the pit of my stomach. I did chores after school in the convent. None of the Sisters ever offered a snack. Finally, one day, I was so hungry that I found the courage to ask for a snack. The sister told me she was not allowed to give students a snack.

It occurred to me in that focusing session that my anger at the staff was due to hunger, a deep historical hunger linked to Catholicism. First, my mother starved us when I was in the womb because of her fear for her life while giving birth in a Catholic hospital. Then there was a longing for food while I worked for almost a year in the convent. Then, 50 years later, I returned to a Catholic environment for the first time in many decades and experienced hunger again. This experience allowed me to be with this deep hunger hidden in my body.

Social conditions, pre-birth experiences, laws or rules that influence medical or educational practices, and other people’s personal decisions can cause trauma. Yet, unfortunately, we sometimes live our whole lives never learning these stories.

Freeing Ourselves from “Not Knowing”

Wholebody focusing gives practitioners a path to be with those hidden parts. One gives their body permission to be with what is there and to move in any way it needs. One’s awareness of something outside yourself and neutrality toward what comes are the only requirements. Often, internal or external movements emerge, and they carry forward without words or images.

The practitioner stays with the movement until a shift happens. In the process, a felt sense, a phrase, or a picture might emerge that gives more information. Other times an agitated movement, for example, might shift to a comforting one without any additional information. When I experienced my birth, I observed the felt sense of my rapid heartbeat during a panic attack. Suddenly, I felt myself moving through the birth canal. I remember what it felt like on my arms and the release of anxiety when I exited the birth canal.

Wholebody focusing trains the practitioner to rely on body wisdom for its information. Body wisdom does not need the right word or image to carry forward. Deeply hidden truths may not have words. Their foundation may not be related to your particular life story. Those places where the unknown parts live also have the ability, with our attention, to tap into the abundant benevolent energy that surrounds us as a support to carry forward our healing. Whenever we rely on only words and images from our narratives, There is a possibility that we may miss the vast resources and stories the universe offers to help our recovery. Wholebody focusing gives us this kind of range of opportunity.

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Boundary Wall / Rajamuuri

Photo Credit: Pixabay

I attend a meeting where I suddenly find myself vigorously, downright angry, opposing an initiative to determine  “who will be accepted to our group, and who won’t”.

I Do Not Want Everybody In!

After the meeting, I am with my own anger. Ashamed. What is this about? Why do I feel such strong anger in a matter that is essentially just a matter of conversation?

I start to feel a strong lump in my stomach. The lump is not just a lump. It has boundaries. The walls that guard. Disqualify.

There is a small me inside the lump, who is aware of the boundary because not all should be allowed inside. The lump is not just me, but it is us. “They” belong outside. Those others. Those who are dubious. Different. Those who don’t belong to us.

The lump pushes the diaphragm so that it is difficult for me to breathe. There is right, and there is wrong. Just those two. I don’t precisely know the rules for right and wrong, nevertheless, a part of me feels I should know who belongs to us, and who doesn’t.

There is somebody outside of me, who is part of us and who knows…and is now testing me if I know it too, because I MUST know.

But I don’t.

Continue reading “Boundary Wall / Rajamuuri”

When Rectangles Become Circles or Am I a stubborn person? / Olenko jääräpää?

Taking photos can be a way to be in touch with parts of you that needs your attention.

Photo credit: Maria Hakasalo

I go out frequently to take pictures with a question in my mind: What wants my attention today?

Recently I went to the forest nearby. On the way I passed an area of an allotment garden. I saw a pile of boards on the ground.  Small rivets were bored through one of the boards. It felt stupid to take a photo of them, so I didn’t. Instead I continued walking. Next to the pile of boards I saw an icy grill on the grass. Even though I didn’t understand why I should take a picture of it, I did because it just felt right. Then, I returned back to the pile of boards and took a picture of it too because of a bodily felt sense that it was the right thing to do for some unknown reason.

I started to see circles everywhere around me. I took a picture of a hole in a stick, a tub which was upside down, a wheel of a wheelbarrow, to mention a few things I saw. All of them were frozen.

I took about 120 photos. As I was doing this, I realized that it was a way to invite certain quality in me to be more fully present. The part of me that is not immediately and strongly opinionated was pushing forward exactly the way it sees the world. It is the part of me that is willing to listen and even to bend in to new perspectives. This part of me has been frozen in certain areas of my life because I thought I should be immediately and completely sure about my own thoughts and opinions.

And suddenly, somehow the world was not as rectangular nor with such clear edges as it normally seems to me. It felt much more circular and soft. Somehow it is easier to live and be.

This body sense continued for a couple of days when I suddenly realized why it wasn’t easy to own that soft side of me. It related to my school experiences and how I always felt like I did  not fit into the group. I tried my best to be accepted—I even tried to change my way of being to be more like the others so that I wouldn’t appear so different. For example, the kind of bag they liked was the one I also must like, the color that was their favorite color must be mine too. For many decades I had difficulties knowing what I really like. What is “my taste?”

I hated the part of me that was waiting for the others to say their opinion first so that I could say the same, the part that wasn’t able to know and recognize what I really, deeply wanted and was just worried about what others would say about me being me.

All these circular things around me are now welcoming back this part of me that has its own point of view.

Maria Hakasalo

***

Lähden usein ulos kameran kanssa tietty kysymys mielessäni: Mikä haluaisi huomioni tänään?

Tällä kertaa lähdin kohti keskuspuistoa, jonne kuljen viljelypalsta-alueen halki vievää kävelytietä. Alueen laitamilla huomasin ensimmäisenä lautapinon, erityisesti yhdessä laudassa olevat pyöreät ”nappulat”. Tuntui hölmöltä ottaa kuva epämääräisestä lautakasasta, enkä ensin ottanutkaan vaan lähdin kävelemään eteenpäin. Lautojen vieressä näin jäisen pyöreän ritilän ruohikossa. Vaikka en ymmärtänyt, miksi ottaisin siitä kuvan, otin kuitenkin, koska se tuntui jotenkin oikealta. Palasin myös takaisin äsken ohittamieni lautojen luokse ja otin niistäkin kuvan.

Aloin nähdä pyöreää joka puolella. Otin kuvan viljapaalista, reiästä puussa, kumollaan olevasta saavista, kottikärryn renkaasta ja monesta muusta. Kaikki kylmän kohmettamia.

Otin noin 120 valokuvaa. Siinä kuvatessani oivalsin, että tällä tavoin kutsuin esiin sitä, minkä olin vähän aikaa sitten tiettyyn asiaan liittyen löytänyt, “pyöreyden” itsessäni. Sellaisen, joka ei välittömästi ja vahvasti heti tiedä, mitä mieltä on ja asetu jääräpäisesti ajamaan ko. asiaa juuri sellaisenaan kuin sen itse näkee. Sellaisen, joka kuuntelee, katsoo monelta näkökulmalta ja on valmis edelleen kuuntelemaan, jopa taipumaan uusien näkökulmien edessä. Tämä puoli oli jähmettyneenä minussa, koska luulin, että minun täytyisi aina olla täysin varma omista ajatuksistani ja mielipiteistäni.

Yhtäkkiä maailma ei ollutkaan enää niin suorakulmainen ja jyrkkä vaan pyöreä ja pehmeä. Jotenkin helpompi elää ja olla.

Tämä tarina jatkui parin päivän päästä, kun yhtäkkiä ymmärsin, miksi minun oli niin vaikea hyväksyä tätä pehmeää puolta itsessäni. Se liittyi koulumuistoihini, siihen, miten en koskaan oikein tuntunut kuuluvani joukkoon. Yritin parhaani, että minut hyväksyttäisiin. Yritin jopa sopeuttaa omaa makuani toisten makuun. Laukun, josta toiset pitivät, piti olla se, josta minäkin pidän, toisten lempivärin kuului olla minunkin lempivärini. Vuosikymmenten ajan minun oli vaikea tietää, mistä minä pidän. Mikä on minun “makuni”.

Inhosin sitä osaa minussa, joka odotti toisten ensin sanovan, mistä he pitivät, että voisi sitten sanoa saman, sitä, joka ei tiennyt eikä tunnistanut, mitä itse syvimmiltäni halusin ja joka oli vain huolissaan siitä, mitä toiset sanoisivat, jos olisinkin se, mitä olin.

Kaikki nämä pyöreät esineet ja asiat toivottavat tämänkin osan, jolla on nyt ihan uusi näkökulma, tervetulleeksi kotiin.

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Beginning a Wholebody Focusing Practice

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”

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 Active Meditation to Welcome What Wants to Present Itself for your Attention

This intunement is about connecting to ourselves without any goal or need to “do it the right way.”   Kevin starts with inviting us to use our breath.  He guides us on a clear path to experience ourselves from both inner movement (breath) and outer movement (whatever shows up).  That is it!

You can choose to stay only with the movement or make space for something wanting to come into consciousness.  He ends by suggesting a gentle way to re-engage with the fullness of the world around us.

This is an intunement to put on your cell phone so that you can pause and take a mini “Me Here” vacation whenever it is needed.

Diana Scalera

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From a Solid Base of Me Here I ask, “What is going on in Me Right Now?”

As I sit listening to Kevin’s voice, I notice a desire to rest my hands on the desk in front of me.  There is a wanting for the stability that this gives me beyond the contact of my feet on the ground.  I feel a stronger sense of safety with this stability.

I let myself be with this new sense of stability.  I notice how my sense of the temperature in the environment has changed as if a cool breeze has swept through the room.  When that passes I notice how my feet want my attention.  They have problems.  The stability of my hands allow my feet to be heard.
Diana Scalera

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