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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Something in Me Hurts!

In the first 12 intunements, Kevin helps us strengthen our sense of Me Here.  Something in Me Hurts is the beginning of a new phase of this this work–a phase that guides us to being with the parts of ourselves that need our attention and love.  This new group of intunements helps us hold both Me Here and something else. The first intunement of this group works with a painful part.

Something in Me Hurts!  is an intunement that supports us when we need loving kindness for a part of us that has pain or is suffering.  Kevin walks us through, in real time, what happens to him when he awakes to a painful shoulder.  He connects to himself and to the part that hurts which allows both to become more aware of themselves and each other. Through this process something new emerges.

Feel what happens when you share this experience with Kevin.

Something in Me Hurts! Intunement

For more intunements please visit Find your Favorite Intunements 
Or visit Kevin Speaks  for more of Kevin's work.

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Something is Happening That is Good For Me

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.

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To Feel Good about Myself is Desirable

It is very warm this morning.  I have the overhead fan on to keep me cool.  As I hear Kevin suggest that I connect to something outside myself I notice the sensation of the cool air on my skin.  And then Kevin suggests that the sensation of something outside myself can be how my skin feels.  He asks me to wait for something to come and I realize that my feet are already moving and my arms are wrapped around each other. My body is here with me today. Is there any goodness in me today?  I wait for the answer.  My thoracic spine releases the tension it was holding.

Diana Scalera

 

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When You Help Me Go Further, It Feels so Good

Photo Credit: Kakadu National Park, Victoria by Gabrielle Clark

The first time I tried Focusing something was not right. I was usually good at what I tried, and I could pick most things up easily. Not focusing—I froze, I could not do it. My body would shake, my jaw would shake, no words would come out.

It was so hard! How was it that some people were saying how wonderful it was. I hated it and wished I had never joined the class.

This situation led me on a mission to get it. I would try harder; surely I would get it…eventually. I went to lots of different teachers. I did lots of reading, and I even spoke to Gene on one of his phone courses.

An Encounter with Gene Gendlin

Even given a chance to speak with Gene Gendlin, the founder of Focusing, I couldn’t get the words out that I wanted. They would have been, “please help me, Gene, I can’t do focusing and I don’t know why, please help me.” Instead, I made a statement about the process model. I held my breath and blurted out…“Hi Gene, I am so excited that my body will know what it needs when it finds it.” There was silence for a few seconds “Oh…what do you mean?” he asked gently.

Oh my gosh, I froze. Did I even know what I meant? How will I answer him? What if I can’t remember what I said?  I had rushed it out so quickly, and I didn’t know if it was still there to be found. I panicked. I can feel this now, how I hold my breath and rush the words out quickly, I don’t feel my body at all. I paused and begged my body to bring it back, sure enough, it was there. I tried again.

We spoke back and forth for a while. Gene was not just answering me.  He was trying to understand me and to help me to go on from where I was. He seemed to genuinely care about what I said and even wanted to hear more, to understand me or maybe help me understand myself. He would say something that he thought I had meant and then say “is that right?” so I could check it. It moved me profoundly and brought tears to my eyes then and now- this was so new to me and so wanted.

It ended up by him saying “we need both the words and a body sense. If the body is not ready, then it’s not ready, and if the words are not ready, they are not ready. They will come when they are ready.”

How this Conversation Lives in Me Now

Kevin McEvenue says, “when the story is ready to tell itself it will” and “the secret to your unfolding lies in you not me, I just throw things out now and then for you to check them.” My body likes these statements.

I will never forget this moment, and I think one day, with practice, I will be able to slow down enough to feel both. I will be able to pause and hold both my body sense and my words together and speak slowly and surely from a place of grounded presence. My practice will be to feel me first, then speak from that deeper place. To let it come, to allow the story to tell itself from where it wants to. This new ability is a scary thought both unknown and unfamiliar, but I like it.

No one can teach me how to hold both my body sense and my words together, I have to find my own way, and I am grateful to Kevin and Gene for the way they both hold space for a person to do just that.

To find my own way feels so good.

*****

Gene Gendlin is the founder of Focusing. To learn more about him, please click on http://www.focusing.org/bios/gendlin_bio.html

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Life just ‘Moves’. Just ‘IS’. That is what it is to say ‘I Am’!

Kevin McEvenue, Addie van der Kooy, Patricia Manessy and I, as participants in this blog, have been engaged in a conversation about a new edge of Wholebody Focusing.  Addie presented us with the idea that “I can be okay, whilst not feeling okay.” Patricia let us know how important this concept is to her.  Kevin’s intunement gives us an example of how to achieve that sense of wholeness with movement while holding whatever is present in the body.

What came for me today while listening to this intunement was the pure joy of moving without searching for its meaning.  I was able to feel joy in my movements as I was aware that I woke up this morning with some emotional heaviness.

This is a great intunement to connect you to your natural ability to move from an inner directed source of self, to become solidly grounded, and possibly to be able to hold both a strong sense of “Me Here” and whatever is wanting your attention.  This may alleviate what is suffering in the moment and may also lead to some longer lasting shift in that suffering.

Diana Scalera

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Let Your Experience Be

Welcome to the second video blog of a recent conversation between Kevin and UK Wholebody Focusing trainer Addie van der Kooy.  In the first clip Kevin and Addie explored the “inner core muscle” of “Me Here” and in this clip Addie speaks about another inner core muscle that can be activated by the practice of Letting Your Experience Be – a letting go of any notion of what your experience should be in each moment.  Enjoy!

Addie van der Kooy (avdkooy@outlook.com)

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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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