I'm sitting here with a glowing-sort-of-excitement, as if I'm on one side of a door and you're on the other side. [each time I read that statement aloud, I feel the excitement anew, and begin to smile.] I love knowing how this Community List of ours will connect us---that we'll begin to “meet” and “know” each other here in the special way of Wholebody Focusing/Heartfelt Connection. And that brings even more excitement!
But I have struggled through so many drafts of this. [have you, too?] At this point, my writing about WBF/HFC has felt like elephants trampling over your Grandmother's crystal.... It's not how I'd like to begin getting to know each other. My preference, always, is just to sit together---in the safety and wholeness of Grounded Presence, as we allow our Meeting and Being Met to begin. Whether we're in the same physical space or across the world on Skype, we begin in this way.
To my non-WBF friends, I simply refer to my work as my Listening Practice. I have Listening Partners throughout the world, and we sit together..., Listening. While there's nothing untrue about this, the “listening” we do together is quite unlike any other. I might say the same about our “speaking”. Of course we use language to express ourselves, or sometimes just a small gesture or a PAUSE. But ours is a language-of-listening, language-of-sensing, language-of-stillness. It is language-of-just-the-way-I-am. Language-of-sensing-something-in-you-which-touches-something-in-me. [It is 'language' that needs many words to try describing it'!]
I didn't begin my life in this way nor did my adulthood have any of the gifted beauty that Kevin's work has brought me. Maybe that's one of the reasons I value our WBF/HFC, what we all do together---how we are together. All of that, my partnerings and teaching, brings something new to every encounter I have in my 'regular' world.
From my first experience with Kevin, I found a safe and gentle way of approaching mySelf. Along the way, my heart 'came out of hiding'---though I hadn't known it was hidden. Each partnership, each teaching, each learning together has brought More..., which I understand now is More Me. All my life I have learned through my teaching. As I share WBF/HFC, my Grounded Self has become more...: more solid, more aware of the “medium” that connects us across space, more spacious inside me, more connected with the space around me, more gentle, more strong, more safe.
Other aspects of Me have continued coming forward through the gift and grace of this work---the 'way' and 'how' that we're in relationship together. While the 4 years of Advanced Certification training have opened new vistas for me, it is being a member of the Working Group for this page that has been as life-changing as my first workshop with Kevin.
Laura Dickinson's exquisite guiding allowed the “work” of our group to become a process of exploration. “Product” emerged organically, in ways none of us had ever before experienced; there was nothing linear or hierarchical about any of it. And here we are now, on this page, initiating conversations. On the way here, through the blessed safety of our group, I found more of mySelf---as did each of us. More Me, more We, more Something-we-don't-have-names-for.
I look forward to our Community, this 'tribe' of Us, finding opportunities to come together---to share who we are in relationship with each other in our WBF world and in the larger world. I also hope that others who are curious about WBF/HFC will be drawn to something that's been shared here. I don't want to suggest that you'll have similar experiences, but I hope that our sharing might touch something tender or yearning in you.
And now, my glowing-sort-of-excitement is eager to know something about you....
I've had the privilege of studying regularly with Kevin since 2003 and certified with him in 2008. In 2010 my WBF world was enlarged and given further shape when Karen joined him. I can measure my life as “Before-Kevin” and “Since-Kevin”, “Kevin” being the short-hand for WBF-in-my-life.
“Before-Kevin”, I had been teaching the Alexander Technique since 1991. Earlier, I had produced children's theater at The Smithsonian Institution; been a free-lance actor, director, teacher, delivered singing telegrams---often unemployed...; an artist-in-residence in a D.C. Public School; a member of a children's theater company, and on the dance faculty at the University of Maryland. From the time I was little, I loved being involved with dance, music, and theater. The obvious through-line in all of that was movement---of body, sound, energies, qualities. But what I understand now is that my real passion was supporting and witnessing the magic aliveness that flowered in others. I'd seen that aliveness, been thrilled and moved by it, but I couldn't 'name' it or know how our relationship had nurtured it.
I came to the Alexander Technique because of an injury and became a teacher so I could share what I had learned. I didn't know then what it could bring to my Life. Similar to Focusing, AlexTech teaching is in the realm of serving as a guide---helping people find their way towards more comfort, presence, and stillness. In 2003, my AlexTech students ranged in age from teens to seniors---each wanting to stop struggling with pain, regardless of its source. 'Pain' brought them for lessons, but 'Comfort' invited them to continue. Their weekly lessons were time for personal recalibration, returning to Self. We engaged in an ongoing process of exploring, coming into what Gendlin calls 'right relationship'---more accurate structural relationships, more comfortable relationships with family, colleagues, the world---right relationship with themSelves. Yet something in me was struggling and I didn't know what was missing.
Then one day a colleague said, “this guy, Kevin, is coming from Toronto and you have to work with him”. I got the message! In that first weekend workshop I witnessed a man able to “listen beneath” people's words and connect with them in a powerfully gentle way. Kevin brought me into my body's Grounded Presence and something in me was forever transformed.
The language and sensory communicating of WBF immediately affected what I shared with my students. I had access to a deeper way-of-being. As I reflect on that time, I now understand that something had been awakened in me, I was becoming more Me. Since AlexTech and WBF guide people into a Direct Experiencing of themselves, WBF helped me connect others' experiences to fresh language that resonated for them. My own constantly-refining sensing abilities, developed through AlexTech training and years of teaching, found a welcome home in WBF. Through WBF, my students and I were invited to be in relationship with 'struggle' or 'joy' without denying pain or wholeness. I'd begun a journey I had needed all of my life.
Since 2003, my life has changed in other ways, too. I had been widowed since 1999, living in Washington, DC. In July, 2006, I moved across-country to Santa Fe, New Mexico, a place where I can “just be”; in August, 2006, I attended the first FISS; a few months later, at my own house-warming party, I met my Beloved. We married in 2009. What came alive in me through WBF and the communal energies at FISS has allowed me to “see”, allowed me to Become More Me, and to know from my body's sensing which life-choices and responses are right for me.
In recent years, I've offered monthly CIRCLES of SIX, introducing people to the ways I bring them into their bodies, guiding them to connect with their Embodied Self as they begin exploring their inner- and outer-atmospheres. Experienced Focusers discovered a sense of 'body' different from what they'd experienced elsewhere. And those unfamiliar with Focusing found Embodied Self and Relational Listening---new ways To Be. Lately, though, I have more pleasure engaging in two or three sessions rather than just one. I want more time and space for Embodied Self to move consciously towards Relational Listening, not be merely a starting place. In the near future I'll be working with a group of like-minded, like-spirited people in South Africa who are curious about WBF/HFC, and wanting a cheaper alternative to international travel. I'm ever so grateful for their interest and initiative in bringing us together.
Lately I've also worked with people before their surgery for cancer. WBF/HFC's grounding and presence allows them to connect with themSelves in ways that bring forward a personally-sensed and -created document that they can meditate, visualize, or focus on. What we co-create in our few sessions provides them comfort and empowerment. Research shows improved outcomes for patients who prepare in these ways: less anesthetic, fewer pain medications, better recovery times. Through the processes of WBF/HFC, I invite people to become conscious, active participants in their own healing.
My practice today is WBF/HFC. It is my Practice of Presence, of Stillness, of Be-ing. Today I call it my Practice of Relational Listening---that is the name for the flowering of that magic aliveness I had witnessed years earlier. I can name it, and I understand now how being in relationship with another in this particular way nurtures the flowering.
Without Kevin, I would have none of this. Without what he and Karen have co-created and shared in our trainings, I would be emptier, less alive. I am so grateful, so very fortunate to have him and our Community in my life. Thank you, Kevin, for creating and holding this space for us to meet and share here.