Dear EFA Member,
We are sending out the following reflections from two of the EFA Steering Group members in preparation for the annual EFA gathering and hope it will be of interest to all members, not only those who intend to be at the Aegina gathering.
Preparing for Aegina: two experiential interviews
Lucy van Praag and Hejo Feuerstein
Lucy and Hejo are members of the EFA steering group. Lucy is a Focusing-Oriented Therapist living in the UK and Italy. Hejo is a Focusing coordinator living in the black forest in Germany.
More information about the upcoming EFA meeting in Aegina, May 2019 can be found on the EFA website here https://efa-focusing.eu/meetings/
Last year, in 2018, the first EFA conference was held in Loutraki which was a more classical conference, mostly composed of workshops and presentations. It was a great success that so many Focusers from Europe and other continents gathered in Loutraki.
It was decided during the EFA general assembly that took place there, to have these more classical conferences bi-annually, and in between to have other kinds of meetings that might follow more experiential and focusing-oriented ways of organising meetings in the hope of finding a new way together to build lasting and personal relationships with colleagues all over Europe.
It is difficult to plan beforehand for such a flexible kind of self-organisation when by its very nature this can only arise when we all assemble in Aegina. Therefore we would like to include all of you now by offering a process-oriented experiential attunement through the sharing of two interviews in preparation for our meeting in Aegina. We hope that they might open you to your own experiential enquiry in preparation for your own participation at the meeting.
We would like to initiate with you a joyful and productive collaboration in Aegina, with the hope that our collaboration will extend beyond our time together in Greece and take root in our everyday lives.
Lucy Interviewed by Hejo
What comes up if you think of the meeting in Aegina? / What comes up if you think of the time we have ahead of us here together in Aegina?
There is something unsure for me around this trip.
There are some deep questions arising for me.
Questions of economics and of belonging.
I take some time to acknowledge them and to sit with them.
It comes to me that these questions also belong very much to the EFA and to Europe. As I hear and attend to them, and give voice to them, something inside me settles and clears.
Then, even as I express the above, through my seriousness and hesitancy comes a sweep of sunshine and warmth and spring flowers, and a sense of goodness that doesn’t question my place there, that knows that all is ok.
This second part is known to me, as is the first, and comes with a sense of simplicity and goodness and appreciation for the opportunity be a part of the EFA, the opportunity to know you all.
I can sense some kind of goodness around this, felt in my heart/chest area.
On reflection I realise that this is what I want for all of us within the EFA, and within Europe, to find a place of belonging. A belonging that can embrace diversity and grow through conflict and challenge, creating a deep-rooted love and solidarity.
What do you want from your time in Aegina for yourself? Personally and professionally?
Going with an openness…to contact…to meet those of you who come…and to be open to what naturally and spontaneously arises…an image as part of a wider felt sense of flowers coming up through dry earth..and miraculously blossoming…spring…
And what do you want for yourself professionally?
I feel a shyness around offering something practical or sharing more about my work.
I sense that I would want to have more experience in formulating the way that I think and work in a way that makes it more ‘presentable’ and shareable in real time. I am more comfortable writing privately behind the scenes.
When I hear you (Hejo) say these last words back I start to feel more awake and my brain starts to feel more clear and sharp and it comes to me that there could be many other Focusers who are not used to formulating their own thoughts and ideas about the ways that they think about and offer their work, and for whom a process of shining a light on this core area could be very useful and empowering. I notice a sense of excitement that comes with this.
What would this shy part need?
Simplicity and gentleness and felt permission from me to be itself.
Imagine that this gentleness and simplicity and felt permission is given/or is available to this part, what would this feel like/what would come up for you?
Its very freeing. I feel more “with myself” in a simple, gentle way. Which brings a soft sense of being more embodied. I have a sense of the area from my face, down through my throat and my chest and my belly, and my whole pelvic area, and then my legs and feet become included and then my arms and hands and lastly my back. This softening and coming close to myself starts at the face and moves down through the whole sequence as I have expressed it. There is something soft and gentle with a serious quality. And always this simplicity.
“This is just what we need to do. To take the time to look in to how we feel about Aegina and the meeting and to acknowledge what’s there and to go a bit deeper. And then to start from there. We need to take the time to acknowledge the unsafe places within us and to be with them in a friendly way and to take care of them. Taking care of ourselves and of others.”
Hejo interviewed by Lucy
1 – What comes up if you think of the EFA meeting in Aegina?
What I can feel as a response is just kind of an opening and at the same time it’s foggy also. A foggy openness. I can breathe broader, not deeper, but there is a broader feeling of breathing. I feel also kind of a sadness in my throat and this is somehow connected with the destructive energies which continue to work against Europe, and against a basic idea of a peaceful joy in encountering people from Europe, and in creating things together. There is so much to suppress all of that, in the political arena, and also at the level of the people. And so there is also a fear that Europe and the Nationalist movement is going the old way and leading to war and hostility. And somehow I’m afraid that we, on the side of those who want to have a collaborative Europe, are too weak to maintain the joyful and loving way to live together in Europe.To look on differences as a richness of wisdom and experience from which together we could develop new and productive concepts for living and working in Europe.
I wanted to create a space in Aegina where this quality could emerge even in a situation which is full of intricate complexity. I would like us as Focusers to deal with this intricacy in a productive way – not to give up our vision for a European community, but instead to see this time as a challenge rather than as a death threat.
Lucy’s reflection to Hejo
What you can feel as a response is kind of an opening and at the same time there is a fogginess, and you can breathe not deeper but broader. You feel a kind of sadness in your throat; a fear that Europe and the Nationalist movement is going the old way and leading to war and hostility.
A collaborative Europe; looking on differences as a richness of wisdom and experience.
You want to create a space in Aegina where this quality can emerge even in a situation which is full of intricate complexity. You would like us as Focusers to deal with this intricacy in a productive way – not to give up our vision for a European community, but instead to see this time as a challenge rather than as a death threat.
2 – What do you want from the EFA meeting for yourself? Personally and professionally?
So I just imagine to come back from Aegina in a really good and powerful attitude, for Focusing and for collaborating and I wonder what should happen in Aegina. I also wonder what should happen beforehand to create this kind of feel that I am happy to have been in Aegina.
If I think more practically, Aegina could help me to get some more ideas and maybe also collaboration on my research topic on Experiential Decision Making.
I really would like to hear from my colleagues in Aegina, how they are working with Focusing in situations of decision making. This would help me to enlarge my own view of the topic and maybe give me a lot of ideas coming out of the cultural diversity of Europe.
That’s one of my personal topics.
So for the EFA I would like to hear more about what others are doing in Europe and to be ready to support and join other colleagues, perhaps by way of joint ventures, or other kinds of collaboration.
The third thing that I would want for us would be to think about important societal challenges in Europe and to create shared concepts to meet these challenges within our own places and also European-wide.
Lucy’s reflection to Hejo
Your hope is that Aegina could help you to get some more ideas coming out of the cultural diversity of Europe.
You hope that it could offer you the opportunity for collaboration on your research topic on Experiential Decision-Making.
You are interested in how your Focusing colleagues are working with decision-making?
You are open for the offering of support to other colleagues, perhaps by way of joint ventures, or other kinds of collaboration.
You would like to explore and to respond to the important societal challenges that are unfolding in Europe, such as but not limited to the refugee challenge and the rise of racism by creating concepts with TAE and other Focusing methods with which to meet these challenges within our own places and also Europe-wide.
You are interested to explore what we as Focusers could contribute to these greater challenges. Co-creating a collaborative and inclusive climate within Europe.
3 – What could or should that mean for the meeting in Aegina?
So for me the challenge is to stay open for everybody who is coming to Aegina and at the same time to find out together how to develop a self-organising structure out of that. A structure that forms organically. A structure that is supportive of all the participants and that enables a joyful discovery of life affirming ideas arising from what people bring. I would like us all to feel invited to bring our own experiences, ideas and open questions to Aegina.
I would want us all to feel free to take space for ourselves for our own ideas or projects. I would also want us to have a space in which to create new and helpful concepts through TAE and Focusing (Focusing think-tanks).
One idea for a think-tank could be – how to cope with language gaps and how to support these language gaps so that the EFA can become a multi-lingual community embracing and representing the rich diversity of Focusers’ languages that we have across Europe. Many people in Europe do not feel comfortable to express themselves in English and so it would be useful to think together about how to overcome these barriers and hesitations, not only during the conferences but also in how we reach out to European colleagues who may feel uncomfortable to collaborate and to show up with their work within the EFA.
I would also like us to use Focusing-Oriented approaches when conflicts or blocked situations occur within the meeting. Maybe it would be useful to talk also about these options in the beginning, not to get stuck in structure-bound processes in our meetings in Aegina. Maybe this could also be an issue for a think-tank.
Lucy’s reflection to Hejo
So for you the challenge is for us to stay open to one another, so that the structure that develops out of that arises organically from our felt relationships.
You would want for us all to find a structure that feels joyful and creative and life affirming.
You would want us to feel free to take space for ourselves within this structure for our own ideas or projects and for the creation of new and helpful ideas through TAE and Focusing think-tanks.
You would like one of these think tanks to look in to how we can co-create a multi-lingual EFA that supports and embraces all of us Focusers across Europe with our different languages.
4 – How could we create this open and welcoming culture in Aegina?
I look forward to having the time and the space to be able to encounter one another more personally. This could happen for example by mutual interviewing (TAE- Oriented) in dyads or in small groups, maybe with these very questions, and maybe out of this process we could create the plan for our time together in Aegina.
One possible option would be that these dyads or groups could just write down their issues and proposals on paper sheets (flip charts) and display them in the assembly of our group. We could refer to them as a way of creating the plan for our meeting. For me with thirty people this seems to be possible and creating the plan together may help us all to feel included in the organising process, as we experience being a part of the organising process and not just an object of it.
Not only to preach Focusing, but also to practice Focusing.
To live Europe (in Aegina and beyond), not only to talk about Europe.
Lucy’s reflection to Hejo
You would like us to have the time and the space to encounter one another in pairs or in small groups to have spaces for deeper personal connection.
You would like for the plan for the meeting to emerge from the group process.
You would like for us all to experience being a part of the organising process and not just an object of it.
Lucy Van Praag and Hejo Feuerstein
on behalf of the EFA Steering Group