A while back, my Wholebody Focusing partner Elizabeth and I decided to spend a weekend together. We live far apart and I needed to fly to where she lives. We called it our Focusing Spa Weekend because we intended to spend our time in Grounded Presence with each other and allow whatever came for us to have the space it needed in order to be heard and nurtured.
Our first evening together, Elizabeth prepared the food, served it and cleaned up afterward. I was aware that my body was quite fatigued from traveling to her home. I asked Elizabeth if it would be okay with her if I just rested on her couch while she was taking care of the dinner chores. She was fine with that. All went well until I was alone at night ready to fall asleep. I sensed that a very critical part in me wanted to be heard.
“You are very selfish. You should have helped cook and clean up. Elizabeth will never invite you back again.” I let that part know it was heard and let it know that Elizabeth and I would be with these feeling in the morning. I fell fast asleep.
The next morning, I let Elizabeth know what came for me. As we spent time with these feelings and others that came for her, we discovered that our childhood dinner tables kept emerging as a point of reference for both of us. We connected our feelings about responsibility, nutritional needs and self-worth to what we had learned from our families as we were sharing meals with them.
Throughout the weekend we continued to work with what was coming for us around our families’ dinner tables as we shared meal preparation activities. The food we served each other was unlike the food that we were used to eating. The meals reflected choices that we were making in the moment for ourselves rather than past priorities. There were new flavors, spices and colors. Our shared space of “we” helped us find a new “me” in what we ate and how we felt about ourselves while we were eating.
Focusing Around the Dinner Table developed from that experience. It starts with a recognition that some of our felt senses in response to life situations can have a connection to the time when we shared meals with our childhood families–our level of comfort with being nurtured, our relationship to food and body image, our sense of self-worth, and our ability and confidence to relate to others. It is fertile ground to find strong felt senses waiting to be discovered.