Lately I’ve been revisiting Focusing – connecting with and describing the Felt Sense in the body – and diving in much deeper than in the past, discovering that we have this innate wisdom in our bodies and if we can learn to really listen with open curiosity and presence, we have all the answers inside us.
When my husband became really sick two years ago, I became hyper-vigilant – listening for every sound, every bump. He became very thin and unsteady and sometimes would fall over and hit his head. And my body got stuck in fight/flight – jumping and reacting to every unusual sound, especially during the night. After he died and the reality of continuing life without him really started to sink in, the sensations of fight/flight that I was especially waking up with every morning became really intense.
Around dawn or even pre-dawn, I would come into conscious awareness – the whole front of my body alive with sensations that I couldn’t really describe or, just as I felt able to describe them somewhat, they would change. Sometimes, they were like millions of pin pricks, sometimes swirling, sometimes like a huge thick iron plate, sometimes like a suit of armour, and other times like a massive turtle shell covering the whole of my torso. The sensations were fickle and slippery, like I couldn’t grasp them or understand them and they would subside within a couple of hours of waking and getting up.
My psychologist assured me that they would settle down over time, but I got impatient and determined to unlock some secret or message they seemed to be holding. I tried a deep body-based therapy process with a friend centred around trusting in life, and the sensations eased for a few days but then returned as strong as ever. I also tried neurofeedback therapy, and the sensations eased again but it was expensive and I chose not to continue for other reasons.
Finally, I started having Focusing and Somatic Experiencing sessions with a trained and experienced practitioner. The sensations didn’t ease straight away, but I started to be able to describe them and stay with them. And I started to get messages and clear images.
At first, I was shown very clearly that this is like entering a wilderness that you don’t know and you don’t understand the language of the jungle the first time you venture in. I heard (felt) very clearly that I need to keep returning. “Keep coming, and over time we’ll show you”, my body seemed to be saying. And so, fascinated, I have kept returning and the messages get clearer and easier to understand. I feel rather like Jane Goodall, when she started observing the gorillas. She had to blend in, not just with them but with the wilderness they lived in as well. She had to be quiet, still and patient, watching and waiting with gentle curiosity. And over time, the gorillas accepted her and she learnt their ways. And so it is with our bodies.