“Focusing with Your Whole Body” by Addie van der Kooy & Kevin McEvenue

book cover

Focusing is a way of looking inside and being with a felt sense of our experience. Alexander Technique is about interrupting unhelpful physical habits to allow the body to move with ease. Kevin McEvenue brought them together: inviting the body to move how it wants to as a way of restoring flow to blocked processes.

Addie van der Kooy learned the process from Kevin and wrote this clear, gentle, welcoming manual. It comes with a CD of guided exercises, although the copy I read no longer had it. At just over 50 pages, it is concise, while still covering the material with care.

The exercises are done standing, feeling a solid connection with the earth through the feet, or sitting, feeling a solid connection through the sit bones and feet. The first exercise suggests: “[I]nvite your body to raise your arms upward from the sides of your body in the way it wants to. […] Listen for and allow any kind of movement, however small and unexpected. It may even have nothing to do with raising your arms!”

After each exercise, there are exploratory questions and discussion. Addie says, “When I do this exercise it often feels like I am inviting myself to dance with the wisdom of my own body.” We invite the body to express itself through movement, and then give consent to what comes (or not).

The following chapters are Grounding and Presence, Allowing a Felt-Sense to Emerge, Holding Both with Equal Positive Regard, and Coming to a Resting Point. Holding Both references Peter Levine’s ideas from Somatic Experiencing about moving between the trauma vortex and a healing vortex.

This book describes a loving, careful way to listen to the body. I tried the exercises on my own, and I want to try a facilitated Whole Body Focusing session sometime. Highly recommended.

Available at the Focusing Institute.

Kevin McEvenue also wrote two articles about how he came to develop Whole Body Focusing as part of his healing process. They are combined in “Dancing the Path of the Mystic”, also available at the Focusing Institute.

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