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.
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.
I follow the MeToo movement closely because it addresses a reality that is central to my existence. Sexual abuse trauma dominates my emotional life. I was never sexually abused, however, my mother was. Her sexual abuse impacted her ability to be a mother to me. I recently became aware of the depth of this reality when I read a paragraph about what it is like to be in relationship with a narcissist.
A relationship with a narcissist is a desperate relationship where you
are always feeling vulnerable, worthless, hated, constantly explaining
yourself, silenced, punished, and traumatized. What is it that you are
actually doing wrong? Nothing!
This describes what it was like to be my mother’s daughter. Extreme abuse can engender a particular type of narcissism–one that is based on an absence of self. My mother, a victim of sexual abuse, needed to throw her own negative feelings about herself onto me in order to live with the unbearable wound of her experience. I experienced my relationship with my mother as always feeling a need to defend myself and the surety that there was no love or margin for error available to me.
The dominance of this felt sense in my life became clear to me one day while I was preparing for a medical test. I was extremely nervous about the procedure and, try as I might, I could not find grounded presence. Thoughts of random moments in the past in which I felt traumatized by interactions with others kept surfacing. There were so many from such a wide variety of different points in my life that I became completely overwhelmed. I paused with this sense of overwhelm. A new realization eventually emerged—it wasn’t about the fast shifting narratives floating through me.
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.
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.
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.
This intunement is the last one in the “Coming Home” series of intunements that is the simplest and most gentle guide to grounded presence. All that is needed is a desire to be with Kevin in grounded presence. It is also a transition to the next series of intunements that support a deep level of being with all that is present in our lives. Being able to pause is essential to being able to hold whatever comes. The pause allows these parts to find their own way home when they are ready.
Repeated use of this intunement can lead to the deeper sense of self that supports our ability to observe and hold, with equal regard, all our felt senses and body wisdom that emerge.
This intunement is especially suited to those of us who have learned to live our lives moving ahead at all cost without enough time for reflection or observation of what is there for us. This intunement can be bookmarked on your computer and/or mobile devices in order to be easily available whenever there is a need to pause with a guiding voice as support for us to connect to our own “Me Here Now.”