Kevin McEvenue explores Participatory Spirituality as a new experience of his ever evolving Wholebody Focusing Practice.
by Kevin McEvenue
Participatory Spirituality: I am introducing a new topic to be shared and explored together.
As I say the words out loud, I notice I stop! I feel confused—as though I don’t know what to think. I don’t know! I pause; I wonder.
I don’t panic or shutdown; I wonder as though I am curious. I am aware of both.
I stop and I notice, and then something comes into my awareness! It feels new—like a new direction—as though a door has been opened in this way of responding. And holding both with equal positive regard.
Something comes that is clearly unexpected and not of my own making. Body, mind, and an awakening that is not of my own making! This is what we will be exploring as this new direction takes us to a place we have not been before, a kind of engagement with life that seems very personal.
Please join me here in this new experience of myself as I explore what happens in me when I take this next step and then the next step, and then the one after that. It seems to have a life of its own. I am given a choice.
“I am stuck, I am so stuck” seems to awaken a very powerful shaking in my body, vibrating all through me. Just a few simple but very clear words, but direct and passionate in its delivery with the full force of intention. “I am stuck!”
A Contribution by Kevin McEvenue
Photo Credit: Diana Scalera, East Village, NY 2009
When the opportunity to tune into myself and hear myself speak out like this, my body responds immediately as though I am having this experience all over again. At the same time, I am noticing that I am doing so. This enables me to hold both at the same time, one after the other. The physical experience in the moment coming alive again, and then to be able to report to you what that brings in my consciousness as a thought about this experience. So, I am trying once again to hold both the experience and then the thought from which the experience has awakened.
This short recording of about 15 minutes seems to have a series of three different physical experiences that seem to follow one after the other, coming with the first outburst, “I am stuck!”
“I am stuck, I am so stuck etc.” seems to awaken a very powerful shaking in my body, vibrating all through me. Just a few simple but very clear words, but direct and passionate in its delivery with the full force of intention. “I am stuck!”
I am almost shocked that I can actually speak out this way as though I have broken some kind of taboo. I say it again because I feel I want to—as though I like the sound of my voice. “I am stuck.” I actually begin to smile—almost into laughter—and say even more clearly with more vigor—as though I am enjoying myself!
This vocal experience, sounding off like this, feels very new and very freeing, breaking through some kind of prohibition that I mustn’t speak. I must not say this or something bad will happen to me. There is also a fear right there that is so familiar, a fear that stops me from expressing myself, fearing that something very, very, bad will happen! A belief embedded in me that comes right there when I have a deep reactive felt response that feels so not right. Yes, something bad will happen, I’m sure of it. This fear is like I will go to hell for all eternity, I will be punished severely, I will break my mother’s heart. Very dramatic fears that hold me back enough to remain silent.
But in this moment, as I hold both the experience and then my awareness, something also happened at the same time that I can mark right now. I can feel the physical vibration, the shaking. The fear is there and the words that come saying, “I mustn’t”! but there is more in this experience that feels new. My body is moving, shaking out, vibrating all the way through me, the very opposite of what one would describe as being ‘stuck’! The stuck is not happening, something new is happening and it seems as a very different experience of what that word ‘stuck’ points to!
The word is still there–‘stuck,’–but the experience has moved on to something quite different from what I believe that word is pointing to: stuck in place, rigid, held, tight etc. That is not the experience I am having right now; something quite different, something that I can’t describe, no words yet but the feel of it is so different! What I also notice is that I am noticing. That I have some sense of space to notice these two different expectations and reactions which enables me not only to notice but also to choose, to choose what I might want, rather than the familiar habitual response (I mustn’t), some form of stoppage. I am actually enjoying it, enjoying my own empowerment that I can choose, perhaps for the first time. And I like that.
The whole situation has changed, and in this moment, by holding both, I can speak and perhaps even begin to put words to what has now happened. Physically, I am shaking all over, and at the same time I am enjoying myself in this experience, enough to keep repeating it with a kind of bad-boy intention, I am feeling so stuck, ha ha ha! Yes, whatever is happening, even before I can put words to it, I know I’m having a life-affirming experience right now and I want it. Yes, that kind of bad-boy sounding out there feels almost sexual and knotty in some way. I am feeling so stuck now feels so good: so stuck, so good! And I’m not in hell! My mother is not there, nothing bad is happening! So, I play with the freedom of that, enjoying the freedom that comes in speaking that way, speaking out against something that I believe must never be said!
I am allowing myself to express “what I mustn’t” with passion! It is as though I am almost daring to challenge life itself!
I realize this is only the first part of the recording. As I enjoy this speaking out in this way and having this enjoyable experience of empowerment, something more comes in my consciousness to remind me of something else about myself. Something of how it was for me as a young boy growing up in the school where I didn’t seem to fit in because my experience was different from those of other boys. This is coming out of nowhere now, but the recording seems to have moved on towards another experiencing that want to be noticed too. Other painful places that are stuck in some kind of old belief systems.
I was reminded about being in grade 3, being taught basic arithmetic. I was taught “1+1= 2″. It was implied that this was the first principle of mathematics; truth number one and all else follows. But I was surprised that what seemed to be the accepted truth was not my experience! In fact, I could not accept that this statement was true at all! I knew I had to comply and pretend, perhaps, that I agree with it. But at the same time, I knew in my heart that this was not true for me. What to do? How to live with that split in me? It is still there, stuck!
So, I took the opportunity here to play with my experience once again with counting the numbers from 1 to 10 and then to notice how that was for me. As I spoke out these words slowly, I was surprised to find myself able to count is this felt way, pausing before the next number presents itself. It seemed to make room for another experience that didn’t exclude the mathematical principle, but it included something more too, a sense of space inside, a spaciousness around me and beyond me, life happening over there too.
So the principle could be accepted as a truth, a function that worked in a particular way, but I also could make room for other experiencing happening at the same time. It was not a question of having to choose one or the other. I have the capacity to hold both. The basic principle of mathematics seems to come from a different place, kind of man-made place. Perhaps an essential place for a man to function today. In short, I was able to hold both for more. So much more which included not only thinking but also feeling, tasting, touching, smelling, seeing, hearing etc. So rather than arguing with this formula, there was room in me to expand my experience of more possibilities that are also true, each in their own way. Not just one truth, perhaps many; many I have no sense of—at least not yet.
Feeling satisfied with this long-held anxiety about basic principles around mathematics and finding some kind of peace with the ability to hold differing ways of thinking and experiencing, something new appeared out of the blue again. What came was the recent memory of a shared experience with another person in a Heartfelt Listening situation. It seemed directly connected to the first experience of “I feel stuck”. That kind of sounding off reminded me when another person just did something similar, similar enough that felt somehow mutual like, “we know this place!”
This person said something out loud as she noticed her hands. Staring at them she cried: “My hands are so busy, they are always so busy, they never stop, they drive me crazy.”
I listened to her outburst and also noticed her hands. I noticed her hands were pulled inward at the beginning and then they seemed to do something quite different when she gave voice to what she felt about that. That kind of direct voicing of such an experience seemed to awaken her hands to expand in some new way. They looked bigger, with a different kind of expressing. She too was struck by happening in here, in her hands, and I heard her say, “Oh my God, my hands feel so different, they feel so loving of me. Wow, I love that!”
That whole thing over there, in her, felt true in me too! It felt like she was speaking ‘truth’. And as she did it, I could see the change happening. Her hands seemed to take on a life of their own, independent of her prior outburst of pent-up frustration. They seem to be coming from a very different place now.
What was also very surprising in me was that my own hands were doing something similar too! Something was happening in my hands that felt good, very life-affirming. And I wanted to speak up. I didn’t quite know how to describe that, so I said something: “It feels like I am borrowing your hands for a moment so that my hands can do something like that for me too.” And as I spoke, I could feel my hands beginning to move upward beside my head space to nourish this part of me that had felt so tight and tense at the start of this recording.
Something mutual had happened between us, a kind of ‘energy presence’ that was not of our own making, a presence that has a mind of its own that was mutually supportive in both of us each in our own way. It felt like a Heartfelt Connection as though I could say, “loving is happening here!” Something loving was happening between us that was life supporting for each of us as needed! The only way I could describe this was that “the life in her hands seemed to awaken the life in my hands for more in some way that was needed in my life too.”
The whole thing seems to be complete and I knew it was time to end the recording. So many different events in my life seemed to come together in one moment of integration and awareness in a variety of very different situations at different times and events in my life. Coming together one after the other right now. So grateful, Amen.
In this latest conversation between Addie van der Kooy and Kevin McEvenue, they explore fear and it’s potential. Given the current state of the world and all the unknowns, how do we find a way to transform fear into a potent ally that can support us through difficult times.
Enjoy this conversation between Addie and Keven and learn how to explore the potential of your own fear.
I look out of the huge windows that open to the sea in the retreat center at Punta de Tralca, Chile. It is the morning. The sea is quiet. The sky is looming pale and it is hard to see where the sea ends, where the sky begins. Yesterday red warning flags waved on the beach. Wild, foam-headed waves wandered loudly to the beach. The water was cloudy brown from the sand.
On the fourth morning of the Focusing Weeklong, during the bio-energetic movement group class, I move according to the sounds of nature in me. I become nature itself. It is not easy, because I am used to the fact that all the sound, which arises from me, should be wise, reasonable or right. I am now the wind, I am swinging in the breeze. I am a seagull skipping on the beach.
Then we settle in a circle. Everyone who wants can step into the middle, move and make the sounds their body wants to express. I step into the middle without making any sound. I look everyone in their eyes swinging my body from side to side. At some point, I feel timid. Is it acceptable to be silent, if we were asked to make sounds?
Is it acceptable to be silent if using our voice is what was asked? This question lives in me until the end. Only at the very end, a new thought sneaks into my mind: silence is a voice.
During the Weeklong I sometimes get tired of speaking English. I don’t understand Spanish at all, or just a word now and then. In the cafeteria, I start to think about speaking Finnish without waiting for anyone to understand me. In this way, nobody would be confused nor would they find it distracting or worry about the meaning, because that wouldn’t be my point. It would just be…my voice. With this thought in my mind, I try to listen to Spanish with the idea of listening to the “voice of another,” another person with a voice and language different from mine.
For me, music is a way in, a way to be with parts of myself that are sometimes unknown or in the background. I’ll hear a song and locate that feeling again.
A Musical Felt Sense
I found this video, Peace Will Come sung by Miley Cyrus and Melanie Safka, during a conversation with my husband about music that influenced him as a boy. We listened to a song by Dion and the Belmonts called The Wanderer. There was a video of Dion singing this song to an audience of elegantly- dressed couples in a nightclub. While my husband was walking down memory lane, I noticed that the men in the audience had big smiles on their faces and the women were looking aghast. I pointed this out to my husband, and we discussed how this song represented an ideal for men of the ’50s and early ’60s that reduced women to objects.
At the same time, my husband was able to identify the body sense of the song for him as a teenager. He said it opened new possibilities of traveling around the world and adventure. He ended up visiting many parts of the world. He didn’t notice how women were treated because it was not any different from what he had been learning about women from the culture of that time.
Who are the Artists?
I had a felt sense that a counterpoint was needed. I wanted a voice that represented a woman’s point of view, and Melanie came to mind. We went to her web site (www.melaniesafka.com) and found the video below and other material that reminded me how, during the ’60s and ’70s, her songs influenced me along with other girls and women by exemplifying independence and candor about the experience of femaleness. There is evidence in some of the video record that she shares, that she also helped men see women more fully as human beings. She was also a strong supporter of ending the war in Vietnam, and that may have been the reason she wrote Peace Will Come.
Miley Cyrus was a Disney star in the 2000s who was the target of slut-shaming in the USA when she hit her late teens for having grown into a sexy beautiful young woman. She now has a successful career as an actor/singer/songwriter who continues to surprise and challenge her audience. She created the Happy Hippie Foundation that sponsors programs that focus on youth homelessness, the LGBTQ community, and other vulnerable populations.
My Felt Sense of the Duet
This duet between Melanie Safka and Miley Cyrus is a Heartfelt Conversation between artists. The beauty of the setting, the support of the musicians who may not have known what would happen next, the interaction between the singers, and the beauty of the song itself and its social context in the ’70s and today all moved me. A sense of well-being and hope emerged in me.
The multi-generational aspect of this performance also touched me. One commenter called it a “multi-generational eargasm.” Miley’s way of being with Melanie helped me remember how important Melanie’s music was to me as a teenager. Moreover, I became aware of how ageism, especially against women, make this kind of Heartfelt Connection very rare. I found the longing in me for the ability to be a part of a community that holds, with equal regard, the contributions of people of all ages.
Please enjoy the loveliness of this moment shared.
As a reader and a contributor to this blog, I’m very touched to hear this audio from Kevin, “Something is Happening That is Good For Me.”
And it turns out that he’s talking about his response to recent contributions and comments on this cyber-gathering place. It’s as though I’m hearing it for the first time—that we are “…participating in something not of our own making…” in these recent writings.
He reminds us that we’re participating—we’re not passive carriers for inspired ideas—instead we‘re active participants in what comes through each of us; something that is uniquely helpful to the writer, and uniquely helpful—in yet another way—to the reader.
And he adds something else that I feel is new: that we are experiencing “…a felt-sense, person-to-person.” And he says “YES” to that, adding, “.that’s why I’m here in this moment, to say YES.”
Lucky us—to have the opportunity to sense into this new-knowing.