Emerging Into This



My heart feels like this lately.

This just happened. I wished a woman good luck at the lotto kiosk. I watched myself turn to her on my way out the door and say, “Hey! I hope you win!” I genuinely meant it, too. I’ve never done that before. Ever. At first she looked at me with a sarcastic look on her face. Her mouth was closed, as if she were holding back saying a retort of some kind. But once she looked at me, I held her gaze and let the reality sink in for the both of us; I meant it. A softening spread across her eyes and she said, “I need it!” I think she meant the money AND the good luck. I get that. I have certainly had my fair share of ups and downs where the only option I knew I was to throw two bucks down and play for my prayers to be answered.


There’s something in the air and I just can’t quite put my finger on it. Everything in the world is terrible right now. The environment, the politics, the violence, the poverty, it’s all just terrible. So why am I loving on people and not continuing my recoil from horror? Here’s another example, a family member of mine just no-showed on me. Again. Usually I’d be throwing down about this, pointing out the hurt I feel, the issues that need to be addressed, the vow to ‘never again’ that would be erased for some other opportunity for connection. But what do I find myself doing? I’m letting it go?! I actually understand that she is who she is, that she is trying her best. I can keep my own promises but I don’t need her to keep hers. What in the HELL is happening?


Get a taste of this!

I want to document this. Put it on the record as saying, ‘Dear Me, This is happening right now. Love, Me again’. I don’t want to forget, because that’s how I create my own demise. I forget and put others’ experiences in front of my own and then navigate my world from their sights, their expectations, their needs. I let them act as captain of my reality ship, then I do tedious and unnecessary work to make things happen their way. This has worked never, so I don’t know why this is my default modus operendi. It’s not even easier. But I have been doing one thing lately that has been different than any other time before. I have been sharing my writing. That means I have taken my raw data and masticated it for awhile and then painted a picture with the flavors that are coming out of my mouth. TMI? Well, how would you describe it? It’s not that I have a finished product to give you, like 10 tips on how to be sane in an insane world. (Note to self: write next blog post on 10 tips on how to be sane in an insane world). You are getting the canary in the coal mine, except this canary is singing to you a love song of freedom and light and fresh air.


And you know what else is happening at the same time? Other people are saying beautiful, kind things at random. Example: this 93 year old woman starts to give me sweet tips on how to baby proof my house. We are in the community pool shower room. I know she is 93 because she tells me this, and tells me her children liked to throw each other down all the time growing up. She had to get rid of the glass furniture. I laughed. She said they are now 65 and 67. I asked her if they still throw each other down a lot and I give myself a giggle thinking about that. She didn’t hear me and I was disappointed that she didn’t get to share in that joke. She then says that there were spiders in the pool changing room and she told the receptionist. The receptionist said they would spray


Or spiders.

for it but this sassy lady pointed her finger to the floor to emphasize that they would not be using any harsh chemicals for fear a child might pick something up off the floor and eat something toxic. I can’t make this world safe for my son all on my own. I rely on the grandmothers to give their fiery advice, even if some of those tips I have to learn on my own. There are such great kindnesses happening all the time, and this is just one. So, I rely on the kind person who tells me I left my headlights on, and I know for a fact that someone has turned mine off for me without even waiting to tell me they did it.


From the depths of chaos and despair, of abuse of power and greed, the page turns…a new chapter taking us to the part in our collective life drama where we look down at our shoes and realize the colors of our own distinct living, splotched on our boots, is the story we paint made by our own brushes.


Well, look at that…

And now, confession time. I got really angry the other week. My one-year-old son bit me and drew blood, and I got so upset. Sadly, in a kind of knee jerk reaction, I yelled. And I instantly regretted it. Sweet baby had to hear his Mama yell and that is not okay. I will not let this happen again because this anger wasn’t even for him. Something was not in check in me. I took my own time out. So, who was I really angry at? I do what I always do. I sat and listened for the response that comes, much like the responses I have been giving in kindness. And it came, eventually. I was angry at what I thought was a situation I was stuck in. I felt I had no way out and no one to help me. But the gift in my having this sad experience was that the anger cleared long enough for me to see that I wasn’t really stuck at all. I just believed that I was. And you know what they say about beliefs and sphincters of certain kinds. Like my underwear, I opt to change my beliefs when they start to stink, stain or not fit anymore. Fresh underwear feels good and moves with you.

I let the kindness of this clarity about my son touch my heart, because that is part of this, too, to give yourself humble approval to experience the lessons in life and then the sweet forgiveness that comes in the learning. These experiences of kindness are cyclical in nature. They must be received, as well as given. And they come when they come, not saved for certain people or withheld. Like bursts of sunshine through the rain clouds, they touch everything and anything that is there in that moment.

phoneIf you find yourself enjoying some magical connections, some kind moments, some words that come out of your mouth that make someone laugh, or feel cared for, or change someone’s zombie-like disposition, and you didn’t even mean to do it, do this. Get curious about it and share it: write it, talk it through, make a song or dance of it, make art. There is a revolution of some kind happening and it’s not one we are cognitively organizing. Instead, we are getting out of the way and it’s moving through us. Feel it as this something is rising in us, with us, for us. It’s kind and beautiful and is powerful enough to save us all.

A Taste of my Own Medicine



Homeopaths don’t usually look like this

Last week I went to a homeopath. Do you know what they are? Pellet pushers. Tiny, tiny pellet pushers being pushed by tiny people. Tiny people in tiny clothes eating tiny lunches. Unless they are of a certain age, and then they are tiny people in enormously billowy clothes, eating tiny lunches. Like all alternative medicine people, their look and lifestyle is the marketing. You wouldn’t, say, go to an alternative medicine person if they had teeth missing, for instance. They think that you want to go to someone who radiates who you aspire to be. The marketing says, ‘You, too, would be living la vida loca if only you did what I did. Eat tiny pellets and you could be just like me, all wise, spiritually serene, naturally good looking and tiny’.


The pellets are so easy! They taste like candy. It’s not like that hardcore Chinese medicine. No sir. That shit is for real. They have nothing that tastes like candy, not even the candy. Chinese medicine is like gargling your yard. So, no thank you, I am having too much of a hard time with what I’m already dealing with. I don’t need to choke anything more down. I want easy.



This is what a freaked out mother looks like….


So, I’m happy to try this homeopath because one, I will get to have sugar pellets, but also because the treatment looks at the whole person. I need what I am going through to resolve in its entirety, so if the person can give me pellets to change the past, I am in! My past needs a good talking to, and I know there’s a name for doing that. What’s it called? Oh, right. It’s called therapy. I don’t have time for that right now. No, I’m desperate, like many of us who decide to try a new alternative medicine route. I need something new to believe in, not something old to process. Yuck. I’d rather clean out my toilet. You know why? Because at this point, I haven’t slept in three weeks. If someone so much as looks at me wrong, I want to either go flail my arms around in anger or flail them in sadness. Either way, I want to flail.


I had hopes for this homeopath who came so highly recommended. So, you can imagine my reaction when she came out in her caring-but-only-on-the-outside front. It was her handshake. Why is it that so many alternative medicine people have shitty ass handshakes? What’s wrong with meeting people in the physical world from time to time? I ask you? And then, she didn’t even shake my wife’s hand and that’s a big no-no. You don’t meet a lesbian couple and only shake one of their hands. Everybody knows that. Other than a random dead body being present in the room as an excuse, you need to shake both of the peoples’ hands. It’s just nice. Also, because we are both women, you don’t know which one of us is playing the boy part, who pays for the appointment. So just cover your bases. JUST KIDDING! There’s no boy part to play! But can I tell you just how many people I’ve met who actually think that? I suppose this is a cultural learning process. Some are just faster at realizations like this than others. No shame in it, but let’s just speed it up.


This sucks

This leads me to another reason I am turned off by this woman. It’s her thinness masked as healthy. Does she have celiac? Probably. How do I know? Because she is hinting towards that kind of diet. I don’t have the celiac. Not every damn body does well on a gluten free diet. The Chinese proverb fits; ‘When you are a hammer, everyone looks like a nail’. So stop hammering on. Not EVERY kid is going to need to be dairy free for the rest of their lives, even if they have an ear infection. Which was another reason we went to see her. Yes, I went for my son, but I was hoping for compassion from her in which she sees the whole family as part of the healing process. My family of five is like a whole galaxy, and yes, I’m including my two kitties. Don’t even think I wouldn’t. We move based on the magnetic pull and movement of each other. It’s a beautiful dance…until it isn’t. Right now we are like the white guy dancing 80s style, all stiff and no rhythm, with the arms doing some kind of pumping action. It looks and feels uncomfortable and clunky. How is it that I’m missing the beat? This sucks.

The homeopath did one last thing. She made me cry. Oh, I know. No one can MAKE you do anything. Let’s just say, with a kid being sick for three weeks and getting no sleep, I could’ve used more understanding and listening and less blame throwing. Like flame throwing except it keeps burning through like shame. Blame, shame, flame thrower lady, you are NOT HELPING. Then, she started giving me nutritional advice. I have a certification in nutritional therapy but when I told her that, it was like I was speaking quietly to myself. She wasn’t listening. She just kept talking. The issue was cow’s milk for baby. Yes, I give my kid whey protein formula. Well, she heard that one. She put her pen and clipboard down, spoke slowly for dramatic purposes I guess, and explained how babies, or any human, should not be on cow’s milk. Ever. “So, do you have recommendations for what to give him that will have comparable nutritional value?” I asked her three times during her milk hating rant. Finally, she replied. ” If you really need to give him something white to drink, try coconut milk”. What? Why would I be hell bent on the color of his drink? I pressed giving her our history again, to help, so she interrupted by saying that she, “only had 17 years’ experience to back her up”. What? I’m just trying to TELL YOU SOMETHING! How does your defensiveness help me? Then, she asked if we vaccinated. Well. That’s always the card that gets thrown down in the alternative medicine world as to whether you are a true member or not. That, and stretchy, organic cotton clothes. And being vegan. And herbal tea. And tiny lunches with kale, with apple cider vinegar for dressing. I happen to like vinegar for dressing, but it’s all or nothing, sister. You’re either in or you are out.


She gave us some sugar pellets at the end but never informed us what it was. We left angry, disheartened and like we should have been doing more than we were. I gave the pellets to my son anyway in the parking lot after the visit, and he eventually got better, but only after he projectile vomited the entire contents of his stomach, including the sugar pellets. My son has a way of getting the message across.



There is a place in me where, like the dawn, light and darkness meet. Is that true? Am I remembering this, or feeling its truth?

ocean-waves-water-light-warren-keelan-29.jpgI signed up for a spiritual writing course. Not being a joiner, this was a leap of faith. I wanted something to push me, and help me make more sense of the world around me. The exercises in the class pushed me further than I thought there was universe. The lessons, I thought, would be wrapped up after the class was over, but apparently not. It keeps insinuating itself, even after the last class, which makes me feel like a flayed hunk of flesh washed up on a Mediterranean dock at high noon. I’m getting ahead of myself, though. There was a whole swimming experience that I enjoyed while doing the writing exercises, before my beached carcass appearance.


This writing sends me flailing in to the beautiful, sparkly sea, but during one of my soul-searching swims, I have inadvertently gotten pushed in to a riptide. I know I am supposed to go with it. I know I’m supposed to stop fighting it. I’m even telling myself, “Stop fighting it! Just let go!” I am stronger than I think I am and fight myself harder and harder. It’s because I don’t want to go further out in to the deep water. It’s scary there and I can’t see the bottom. “Trust me! It’s going to be okay,” I hear myself say but the fear is choking the air out of my lungs and my diaphragm is in permanent lockdown. I need air. I need air! I take a deep breath and it only calms the surface waters. I take another breath and it calms further down. The next breath, I am curious if I will feel calmer, still. I do. I feel my mind wanting to mix this feeling with the panic. I breathe. I remember that noticing the breath is one way to come in to presence. Another way is to sense in to the body. I stay with my breathing, knowing that if I have too many choices I will choose none and stay in the panicky area of my mind. My breath holds me in its rapture but I can still see the ocean, or rather sense being in it. I’m floating out. Here I go. I can feel the ocean’s weight, heavier the further out I go with the tide. I can hear the water lapping at itself. I breathe and feel my chest asking for deeper breaths. I take one, and then another. I stay with it, even though I want to write to you something else. I stay breathing here because this is where I need to be right now. I feel the clutching of the things I want to think about, to take me anywhere else where I can control the course of things, and I breathe again, not breathing them away but breathing as if I am alive right this moment, as if I am being born for the first time and breathing my first breath of air, enjoying this being alive while everything else becomes the fleshing out to this bone hard fact. This living is a verb.


I’m writing to you, dear sweet you, from my heart to yours. And I’m offering you my little orange life vest, if you need it. I know something has thrown you off course, maybe a little or maybe a lot. Life is good, it’s just that something is shoving your face in the murky, foamy water and you can’t see the horizon at the moment. It’s okay. There’s nothing to truly be afraid of. Let go. You will find the horizon again. You will know exactly where to look. Breathe. It will bring you back. But most of all, trust. What you are seeing is part of the goodness, even when it doesn’t feel like it. I’ll be here with you, holding the rope to your buoy. Just grab it to remember that you are not alone.

From Fear to Self-Authoring

Bridging Between Bodywork and Focusing Part II:
From Fear to Self-Authoring
Taught by Anastasia Brencick & Jack Blackburn
Saturday Sunday January 23-24 (9am-6pm) $280

Click here to register

Hi there! We want to welcome you to take one of our Focusing and Bodywork Bridging classes/series if:

  • You feel something more is wanting to emerge in your practice with clients that includes realms of emotional content and/or spiritual growth using touch and non-touch approaches, but you don’t know what that would look like
  • You want to find a language to support and encourage the integration of mind/body/spirit and the client’s own inner process in a natural, non-formulaic way
  • You know bodywork and verbal interaction have so much more to offer; something fresh and not yet done before, and you have a sense of how you might be a part of it. Anastasia and Jack

From Jack: Dear Ones, Since last August Anastasia and I have been exploring the different connections between professional touch and Focusing. We both taught at the international Focusing Conference in Seattle last summer. We wanted to create a forum where non-touch therapists and bodyworkers could exchange processes together to see how much both groups could learn from each other. Both Anastasia and I have been teaching elements of Focusing to bodyworkers to help them with verbal interaction with their clients. Over the past ten years or so non-touch therapists have been exploring somatics and proprioceptive interactions with their clients along with such body sensing techniques as eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). At the same time bodyworkers have been exploring connections between conscious awareness, proprioception, somatic or sensory awareness and fascial connective tissue as a profound communication system distributed throughout the whole body. These explorations by both groups are moving us towards a final mind-body solution in which we can realistically posit a direct connection between thoughts, actions, emotional states and bodily health.


A thought passes….

As bodyworkers we are now aware of various signs and symptoms of what we might call fear in the body. We can feel the direct inhibitory effects of fearful states in the body and mind as a direct experience of our clients’ and our own growing edges. So part of this second class in our series is first to explore the effects of fear in our own bodies; where is the fear; what does it feel like; how is fear related to pain and discomfort; what are the patterns of interaction in other parts of the body; and what other thoughts and memories are generated in the mind? We will then discuss what bodyNOWpresencing is so that we can use it in those fear-imbued body parts and notice the effects of presencing on pain and fear. We will practice on ourselves, with partners, and have a discussion about fear in general: what are the effects of chronic fear in our bodies; what fears have been passed down through our own family lines; what parts of our lives have been inhibited by fear; What would we do differently if we were not living fearfully; Do we sense that we have much more fulfilling life to live; Are our fears realistic or are they products of the fact that we humans are the only species that live in fear of one another; Are our fears of one another intrinsic or are they extrinsic; What role can bodyworkers and Focusers play in relieving ourselves and our clients of fears?

unnamedJoseph Campbell: “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”
ACIM Quote: “I am responsible for what I see.
I choose the feelings I experience, and I decide upon the goals I would achieve.
And everything that seems to happen to me
I ask for, and receive as I have asked.”
If we are creating our own experiences – What are the implications? What does it feel like to be meaningfully alive?

Considering the above quotations as true means that when we realize that we have a role in creating the life we are experiencing, we can then choose to play that role actively or passively. Does life happen to me? Does life happen through me? We can then learn the ways to play that role, starting by assuming responsibility forour own thoughts, and their effects.. What do we mean by responsibility?


Using Focusing during a bodywork session: The Dialogue of Touch

In this part of the class we will measure our experience when we use the steps of Focusing and bodyNOWpresencing to go deeply into our conditions of pain and fear both individually and with partners. If we discover that we really can transform fears into useful and non-stressful actions then perhaps we can consider authoring our lives differently. Certainly it is worth a try to apprise our fears and our actions more knowingly; testing the bases of our fears. As we spend more time using our body sensory systems to train ourselves to dwell in presence, we become more open to the following effects of presencing: In presence we notice the difference between our fearfully conditioned thought patterns, where we search our memory banks for causes of our fearful state, and using these conditioned thoughts to assess our present situation. Instead we have the option to focus on a process that unfoldsas we use the tool of bodyNOWpresencing in order to enter a state in which the eternal now opens us up to all possibilities. As we IN-form ourselves with the effects of now-processing we are freeing our minds and bodies from the fearful conditioning of the past, which we explored earlier in the class. We are also opening ourselves to a non-reactive state of being in which we are free to choose our directions free from inner or outer coercion.

How can we develop self-authoring? Basic practices:

  • Authoring my day using Focusing and/or presencing
  • Co-creating with deep Self, practicing and learning throughout day
  • Learning to invite Inner Being to help/teach me my specific role in creation
  • Reviewing my day and giving thanks
  • Participating in making life better
  • Pausing for meaning
  • Participating in Presence – gifts and signs of presence
  • Active inner life – watching/feeling my reactions and sensations throughout the day

Healing work – As I learn self-authoring I pass it on. With these new-found possibilities we can start to become aware of the following effects of bodyNOWpresencing in our lives: We start to become aware of the signs and gifts of presencing. We also become much more aware of our ego-based feelings of guilt, shame, blame, and competition that attend our machinations. On the other hand we are more and more attentive to inner guidance that produces states of peacefulness, clarity, a sense of destiny and mission, to become co-creative with all of life and especially in reversing our human fear of one another and our distrust of life.


Here is a quote: from Thích Nhất Hạnh echoing he Buddha’s teachings in his book No Death, No Fear,

“This body is not me; I am not caught in this body, I am life without boundaries, I have never been born and I have never died. Over there the wide ocean and the sky with many galaxies All manifests from the basis of consciousness. Since beginningless time I have always been free. Birth and death are only doors through which we go in and out. Birth and death are only a game of hide-and-seek. So smile to me and take my hand and wave good-bye. Tomorrow we shall meet again or even before. We shall always be meeting again at the true source, always meeting again on the myriad paths of life.”

Bodywork and Focusing: A New Class

Bridging the Gap Between Bodywork and Focusing:

A New Class from Anastasia Brencick and Jack Blackburn

As teachers of Focusing and as bodywork practitioners we have each attempted to bring methods and principles of Focusing to bodyworkers so as to aid them with appropriate verbal interaction skills. In addition we have both presented various aspects of touch to International Focusing Conventions in the US, Europe, Canada, Argentina and Japan. Starting with the most recent International Focusing conference, (IFC), we are now bringing both groups together. There is so much each profession can learn from the other, especially when we can deepen our connection and similarities that are often buried underneath current ‘scope of practice’ beliefs.

How do we form a bridge between what we feel and what we feel. How can we support one another in following our own felt sense, our own guide of that inner rightness that reveals to us our true path?

Anastasia and Jack

Forming a Bridge between Bodywork and Focusing

Course Description: We are constructing a bridge between Bodyworkers and Focusers. Join us in this exciting enterprise, new insights guaranteed! Bodyworkers can add effective verbal skills to their sessions. Focusers can add touch as a way to monitor their clients’ somatic reactions in sessions. This is a rare opportunity for both groups to learn together and enter new depths of work with their clients. Receive the mutual benefits as both groups share together from our respective experiences.

Date: September 12-13, 2015

Time: 9 am to 6:00 pm CEUs: 16 Cost: $280,

2 weeks advance registration, $320 after
Sponsor: Jack Blackburn, Trillium Institute

206-527-0908 presencinginfo@gmail.com


When You’re Not Feeling It

That's some kind of crazy talk

That’s some kind of crazy talk

What happens when we are feeling blissed out and peaceful, and then it goes away? Just when you found a place of contentment, you then realize that it left you. It could go something like this:

So there you are, feeling the peace. It’s the season for it so you are reveling in the oneness of all that is good in the world. Then there’s the feeling about having peace. You feel peace but you are also feeling like, ‘Wow! I’m feeling at peace!’ You have just made yourself go from experiencing your peaceful state, to observing that you have been having a peaceful state.

What happens next is that you start having the worry about the peace, like when it will inevitably end. You start thinking about how the peace might not be as peaceful as it could be. Other people’s peace seems, well, more peaceful. Why isn’t yours that way?

And there goes that peace you just experienced. Dang! And it was so great, too! Commence the second inner dialogue, where something in you tells you that this is evidence of why you are not as cool as everybody else, that you are somehow flawed and that your life will never be normal. You will always struggle to be at peace. And your breath smells.

What does one do?

"Just LISTEN to me!"

“Just LISTEN to me!”

1. Go back to your body.

You cannot have feelings without your body. In other words, the mind does not feel. It has other great gifts for you, but feeling is not one of them. If you have lost your way from feeling peace, sense in to your body what peace feels like. Check in with your belly, your chest, your eyes, your tongue. Drop down in to sensing parts of your body and invite what peace might be like there.

2. Go into the place of wordlessness.

Before we have words to help us articulate how we are, we go to the place where words are waiting to symbolize what is there. (hint: It’s in your body). You know you are there when it feels vague, and unclear and kind of like things could emerge from there. From there, invite yourself to sense into what is emerging. It might be the feeling of peacefulness. How great! And it might be what is wanting your attention before the peace can come. Okay! This is where it gets good!

3. Take a breath and say a hello

You may notice now, something NOT so peaceful. It’s maybe something sad, or melancholy or maybe angry. Whatever is there, breathe in to your body and feel your whole body take in your breath; your fingers, your toes, the sides of your abdomen, between your shoulder blades. Then, turn towards the feeling that is there and say hello to it. Yes, I know. It’s so elementary, yet one of the most important steps here, because it establishes that you are entering in to a relationship with yourself that includes all of you. There is a part of you that needs you to know something, and it is coming to you from the place before the peace. Visitors like this one usually come for some good reason. So be it! You are giving it some room to tell you something about it, such as what gets it so sad? Melancholy? Angry? You have made a space that can include it, not pushing it away. You are at the same time, holding the knowing that you are more than this melancholy. Yes, it might feel really big, but you are also more than this. Breathing in your whole body helps us ground in this knowing.

4. Stay in the pause, and let it show you

When entering in to this kind of inner relationship, one of the hardest things to do is to NOT do. We want to feel peace and this melancholy is in the WAY! Maybe that’s what part of you is feeling like and wants to do something to get to the peaceful place. Try pausing. Try not doing anything but rather letting it show you how it is. It will be unique to you and its experience with you. It has something to share and maybe wants you to hear it. So pause and receive what it is wanting to show you. It may be that melancholy reminds you of the holidays when you were a kid and it was hard.  Melancholy is it’s way of wanting you to remember that, as if it doesn’t really want you to have to experience that again. So, maybe, from it’s view, feeling peace is the beginning of feeling those hard times. So, it’s trying to show you this for maybe a new way of resolution or healing or just coming back in to wholeness about it.

Sometimes, just the act of acknowledging what is there other than the peaceful feeling is enough to bring the peace back. It may also show you there is more that wants to be acknowledged and said hello to. There is a desire in you, a spark if you will, that wants you to come in to all of the goodness and love and knowing that you were rightfully born to enjoy and to grow. It comes from that vague place where words try to articulate it. It is dynamic and insightful and the place where you can find wholeness.

I love to learn!

Want to learn how to do this with any of life’s stuck places? I’m teaching a weekend retreat on Whidbey Island, WA. January 10-11, 2015. I hope to meet you! If you want to learn more about the retreat and what I teach, please peruse my website, check out my video and feel free to email me.