Thoughts on the Open Circle

There was a time in which illness was seen as a shared experience involving a whole community. Because people recognized the profound inter-connectedness of everyone and everything, it followed that what happened to one person would affect everyone else. While a disease might manifest in one person, it could threaten everyone’s well-being.

A disease that was not understood or was not getting better represented a ‘tear’ in the fabric of the universe. So the whole community would gather together to assess what was needed to bring back balance in the individual, in the community, in the environment. Elders, medicine people, everyone joined in to address and heal what was seen as a disruption in the continuum of life.

The Open Circle is an invitation to practice healing medicine by gathering together and bringing community into the journey.  By creating a circle of many practitioners and only one ‘client’ we open to another way of working with illness and in particular those suffering from acute and/ or chronic conditions who have tried seemingly everything with no positive outcome.

This is a creative, intuitive process which calls on each therapist’s deepest unconscious knowledge both as an individuals and as a whole group. The process of healing – becoming ‘whole’ –  is a creative act which unfolds through trust in the guidance of a consciousness that connects us all.

Welcome to the next step in the flowering of Body Resonance. I have long dreamed of creating a circle of practitioners working with one person at a time. I look forward to this Open Circle being the first of many.

Date: 04 – 07 October, 2018

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What is Missing?

Here in Brighton the last days of 2017 were stormy, with high winds and rain turning to snow. Just before Christmas I stepped out of the cold to enjoy a warming cup of hot chocolate in a local café. The café was full and very lively. I sipped my drink and in a little while the music through the speakers, people’s voices, the hiss of the espresso machines and the waitresses going about their business all began to blend together into a bustle of energy that swirled around me. I could feel the excitement in the air about Christmas, and at the same time a certain tension.

It occurred to me how the Christmas season can stir up mixed emotions. Even if you had an idyllic childhood, family gatherings can be stressful. Whatever is ‘unresolved’ can get triggered. We all want to feel included, be accepted, appreciated, loved. Of course, if we’re not feeling these things within ourselves then likely we will be on the lookout for evidence that we are not being accepted, appreciated or loved.

As I sat there I began to feel a pull inside me, some shadow vying for my attention; nothing distinct, just a vague feeling of distant loss, the memory of an old wound perhaps. I had no clear image just the thought that something was ‘wrong’.

I could not imagine what this could be. After all I was inside, warm and dry. There was no clear and present danger, just people young and old enjoying each other’s company.

We tend to look for the negative: as a survival tool we are hard-wired to be more sensitive to what could go wrong rather than with what is going right.

So, what to do? Taking a nice easy breath (and letting my belly be soft!), I became aware that, actually, I did know what this uneasy feeling was: it was an ancient anxiety that in the past would activate and crowd my awareness. I would give more and more energy to the thought that, indeed, something was wrong and I would contract and eventually disappear down one or other rabbit hole of imagined ‘wrong-ness’ that ended up in anger and depression.

And then, I remembered that this historic anxiety was always accompanied by the thought that something was missing.

So I asked myself, “Well, then, what is missing? What exactly is missing?”

Sitting there, simply being aware of the present moment, even with all the loud music and shouted conversation, there was a stillness I could connect with. And in that stillness, I could see the old conditioning, or more accurately the echo of that conditioning. And, somehow there was space for that shadow, which included all that I might think was either right or wrong. A peace arose in me and then the realization (again!) that in that peace, I found the simple truth that nothing is missing. Nothing at all.

When I left the café I was greeted by a pale wintry sun shining through the overcast sky. There was a stillness in the air – still enough to notice love and acceptance… in me… and everywhere.

As I write this it is 2018. The new year celebrations are over, the shops are closed for bank holiday, the streets – littered with debris from the fireworks – now quiet again. As I walk towards the sea not far from where I live a question arises: “What now?” Asking the question I can feel excitement for the potential of what might come. At the same time the question invites a tension that I sense could also pull me away from what is actually here and now, without any story added on. So I stand on the beach and look out to sea. The waves roll in and gently crash onto the stony beach, followed by a long hiss as the water retreats into the next wave. Again and again… just as they have for millions of years. And with this thought, grace comes to visit with stillness, with love, with acceptance.

Happy new year to you. May your dreams become true; may this moment be full and tender. Nothing is missing when you are present with what *is*.

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Awareness for Self-Empowerment and Healing

I was invited to speak at a congress in Heidelberg for doctors in oncology and their patients: Patienten-Arzt-Kongress der Gesellschaft für Biologische Krebsabwehr  – Selbstheilung im FokusThe theme of my talk was Awareness and self-empowerment as important healing factors. 

My overall impression of the congress was of a deeply supportive experience not only for patients but also for practitioners. The main message I heard from the doctors presenting was: “Your disease is speaking to you, so it’s important to listen. Whatever treatment you undergo, if your intuition tells you it’s not going to work, chances are it won’t. Listen to your heart.”

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Interview: Glistening Particles Podcast

I was recently interviewed by Jane for her Glistening Particles Podcast series “Conversations with inspiring random acquaintances”. You can listen to the podcast by clicking here. Amongst other things I talk about how I started on my path to developing Body Resonance, what brought me to take a deeper look at life and all that is.

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Body Resonance Gathering in Grundlsee

We had a beautiful time together in Grundlsee. We celebrated our strong connections with each other in the peaceful setting of the crystal clear lake nestled amongst the mountains. It was wonderful that at the Gathering this year, friends and family joined in. I was very touched by the experiences we shared and to witness how we all were with each other.

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Letter to a Prisoner

Recently I visited a man in prison. The length of his sentence meant that in all probability by the time he was eligible for parole his children would have grown up and his parents unlikely to still be alive.PrisonBarsLight

This is only part of the stark reality of a long prison sentence. The other fact is that your freedom is taken away. Every aspect of life in prison is controlled. The prisoner has no choice when to get up or go to bed, when to go outside for sunlight and fresh air. Every where the prisoner goes, involves walking through a locked door that he must wait for someone else to open. Simple everyday things we all take for granted are not available to the inmate.

There is a possibility that this man was wrongly convicted. I am not a legal expert and I was not there to advise him on how to proceed with his appeal.

Here is the letter I wrote to him:

Dear H…

I was glad to meet you last week. I hope that our encounter was in some way helpful for you. I am writing this letter to you now as a reminder of some of what we talked about.

It’s important to repeat that whatever the merits of your case might be, the fact is you have been given a long prison sentence. And whatever might happen regarding your appeals, the question remains as to how you live on the inside. By this I mean both inside the prison itself with all its structures and rules, and inside ‘you’.

You told me that your aim is to still be smiling when you are finally released. I admire this. At the same time you asked me how you could live without becoming increasingly angry with thoughts of seeking revenge. I believe the answer to this lies in how you choose to live in the present; how you *are* in each moment. My experience is that to only concentrate on the future is an impossible task that makes one hard and often increasingly bitter. The truth is we can only *be* in this present moment. After all, you never did anything in the future! And the past is something that exists in our memories… which we are continually updating in a present moment.

So, what to do? I would say that your suffering needs to be respected. You cannot ignore the hurt because it is real. But, rather than let the hurt harden you, let it soften you. The hurt can open you rather than close you. As you have already discovered, one outcome of your incarceration has been an awareness of your love for your parents and realization of how much they love you. So let the hurt continue to send you looking for those who accept you.

Can you hold in the same moment the inconsistency of continuing to seek to clear your name while at the same time seek acceptance of the reality of your situation as it exists at this time? It seems to me therein lies your freedom.

Some feelings, like anger and resentment, are not comfortable; but they are natural feelings that arise in response to the thought of having been mistreated and not understood. Most people, most of the time will do almost anything to avoid such feelings by trying to ‘think’ their way out of the feeling, seeking a solution or fix which usually means asserting being ‘right’ and ascribing blame. The truth still remains that being ‘right’ does nothing to alleviate the pain.

However, when we give space for these feelings, by simply ‘having’ them without suppressing or acting them out, without giving them any energy, they will burn off cleanly. The emotion acts on the body; it does whatever it is there to do and, when you do not give it energy, it will eventually pass through much like a cloud floats by in the sky. What we are left with is space, a feeling of expansion. This is a profound way to find acceptance and let go.

Viktor Frankl, a concentration camp survivor, wrote:

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing; the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way … <snip>… Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
(from, Man’s Search for Meaning)

I wish you peace.

And, as I said when we parted, if you would like a further meeting, I am sure we can make arrangements to do so next year when I am again in the area.

Best wishes,

David

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Half Full? Half Empty?

There is a glass of water sitting on the table. Looking at it I ask myself a familiar question, “Is this glass half full or half empty?” Sometimes I am sure the glass is half full, at other times I am quite sure it is half empty. Undoubtedly there is a connection between how I’m feeling and this thought process. Usually we are not aware of how intimately our feeling state is connected with our thought processes. What you think has a physiological response in the body… and, conversely, what you feel in your body has a corresponding thought pattern. The body and mind are linked in a biological feedback system.

waterglassI look at this glass of water and I have the thought that it is half empty. I am sure that only yesterday I would have thought it was half full! Yesterday I felt full of energy, perhaps the result of my beloved making me some delicious and very potent ‘bulletproof’ coffee*. Today I feel listless. Yesterday feeling full of energy that glass was clearly half full; today the same glass of water appears distinctly half empty.

I’m not sure which came first, my feeling state or my thought processes? Taking a moment to consider this, I become aware that whatever my answer I will simply be reinforcing whatever thought processes and/ or belief I have. It’s a small step to deduce that because I considered the glass half empty I must be feeling ‘negative’ and from that to think that I ‘should’ be positive. This thought creates pressure. It is a stressful thought.

Stressful thinking has a distinct pattern: it is circular in nature. We turn the same thought around in our minds like a hamster on a wheel. We might think we’re having different thoughts on the matter but if we could record that stream of mostly unconscious thinking, we would likely discover the same thought coming around over and over again. The more you think about it the more anxious you become.

A psychologist working with stress management holds up a glass of water to her audience. Everyone expects her to ask the ‘half full/ half empty’ question, but she doesn’t. Instead she asks, “How heavy is this glass of water?” Participants call out answers that range from 200 to 500 grams.

The psychologist responds, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.”

She continued, “The stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralyzed – incapable of doing anything.”

So… remember to put the glass down. Whatever stress might be occurring in your life, whatever burden you might be carrying; a simple awareness of the internal feedback loop between thoughts and emotions can give you a little space. And from that space another perspective: the glass is neither half full nor half empty (it might be both!). The greatest stress is the stressful thought; that stressful thought carries more weight than whatever might actually be happening.

I’m thirsty. That glass of water looks invitingly refreshing.

* For coffee afficionados, Bulletproof coffee is based on Tibetan yak tea: for a recipe see here

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