Wholebody Focusing – Being in Grounded Presence
By Kevin McEvenue
Published in TFI Newsletter In Focus March 2013
The invitation to write this article is a good instance of how it is for me to be in grounded presence. I don’t know why, but when I read the invitation, my body awakened instantly. I felt alive and present in my core. I had a feeling that the person doing the inviting was coming from a sense of her core and maybe this is why I was having this experience of myself so immediately.
My experience in me felt three dimensional. It felt spacious, there was a sense of more me and at the same time I felt seen and heard in a way that gave me the feeling that the person (whom I have never met) knew something about what it was she was inviting and I could relate to that. I was flooded with information about the subject and I knew that I wanted to respond and how to.
However, there was one part of the request that caused me to ‘think’. I was asked to include stories to illustrate how a person can be strongly with themselves and with difference when in grounded presence. I felt stuck. I tried to think of instances of grounded presence in myself and others and nothing came. I felt the disconnect, and so I came back to that sense of myself that I felt the moment before.
Suddenly a whole new experience of myself happened and I was flooded with more information as my core presence intensified and words came, “This is what it is to be in grounded presence. It is an experience of self beyond words!”
When I tried to ‘think’, I lost my sense of me. I went somewhere else. When I returned to grounded presence, I seemed to be spaciously aware of myself and at the same time have a sense of other, separate from me, and that there was lots of a space in me for our differences. Those words came to express what this experience was for me in this situation.
We can see from this story that Wholebody Focusing gives us a structure to be with a strongly grounded sense of self in connection with something outside of ourselves, be it a personal challenge or relationship with other. In Wholebody Focusing terminology, this is what it is to be in grounded presence. It gives me more of a sense of me.
When I feel grounded and centered, I have sense of me that is larger than me. There is a “more than me” quality to it as a resource to be with a situation that feels challenging. I also feel a quality of aliveness that isn't normally there, at least at the level of my consciousness When I feel alive in the situation, what unfolds becomes effortless. Grounded presence seems to offer me a wisdom to be with the situation and inform me about the situation beyond what I think I know.
If it is the stuck part of me that is emerging, I can reach out and invite a relationship between me and the life inside of that stuck part that knows how to be more than it is. Here is an example of a familiar physical issue. If there is something in my knee that feels ‘not ‘right’ I could invite my knee to explore its own experience as a functioning knee. When I do so, it seems to instinctively go out to explore itself in relationship to the whole leg and body. It seems to need this sense of the larger self in order to know itself.
If it is a person, I could invite a connection there between us as a way of knowing how to be with you When I have a strong sense of ‘me here’, I can make room for you there and be in relationship with you in a different way than I am used to. Feeling that connection with you, sensing it, letting it be there, something in me knows how to be with you, be with myself, and know what to say or what to do with you in ways I couldn't know until I felt that connection.
In my own experience I say; "I don't know how to be with you unless I feel a connection with you. When I feel that connection, standing in my own grounded presence supported by life around me, the how to be with you emerges. It is as though something in me knows how to be with you in a way I don't!”
I have noticed how people's lives have changed radically as they move more and more into a sense of grounded presence in their daily lives. It seems that everyone’s life changes as they feel more and more presence and living from their own center of gravity. That pull of gravitational presence is so different from other pulls, powerful pulls that can be very intense and very demanding as though these are the centers that one needs to pay attention to or should live by.
As one person put it; these false centers pull us away from our true centre and feel demanding, tight, held, and anxious. A true center of gravity feels open, supportive of who we are and has a sense of knowing that needs no defending. What often comes as a direct expression of this embodied experience is something like: "I am, I just am, and I know it!"
I have brought up the expression "center of gravity" in the context of being in grounded presence. We have all grown up with a sense of it, whether it was explicit or not, instinctively impacting our experience of ourselves at all stages of our human development, mostly unconscious and not named. And yet, when it is named, it brings back the memories of those times in our lives when we explored our capacity to do new things from a place where we felt solidly grounded in a sense of knowing of how to be and what to do.
It is a kind of pause that comes instinctively, for example, as a toddler learns how to walk, or a little later, how to run and jump. Later still, noticing the pause that comes naturally as a skateboarder or surfer perfects his ability to maintain balance in more complex movements. So much of our early development in sports is about finding our center of gravity in order to function well as an athlete. We do this instinctively and have done so since the beginning of our lives. So why not reclaim this gravitational presence consciously as a way of not only knowing how to be and what to do instinctively but more importantly now, who we are that gives us the space and the resources we need to consciously engage with what seems to be happening in ourlives.
To conclude I would like to mark what is significant about this whole experience of being in grounded presence for me.
My own sense of self comes alive in a very real and palpable way. I can feel that aliveness often through a sense of inner-directed movement. In a vital way, the body begins to reorganize itself towards a better, more whole way of being, which it does instinctively when there is space for it to do so.
I have come to realize that the wisdom that supports any particular part or relationship comes from a much larger whole than what I can imagine. The self in grounded presence, supported by my center of gravity is a much larger self than I thought.