My intention with the “sense-a-book” format is to engage the reader more at a sensory and feeling level than cognitive. It is my hope that the visual imagery will engage the subconscious mind and offer some “gut level” experience that may prove to be of some value. The book is rather short in order to give the reader plenty of opportunity to dwell on each page and sense what personal meaning arises in response.
In large part the past 25 years of my life has been a guided revelation of what brings men to life. On the one hand, my professional world as a physician specializing in Forensic Pathology exposed me to the world of unexpected and premature death, often from external violence, but much more frequently from suicide and substance abuse, despite the fact that my practice was located in one of the most desirable areas of California, the central coast. On the other hand, thanks to my wife at the time, I became involved in Breakthrough, a local community building workshop for men, based in the Monterey Peninsula area of California, first as a participant, and then as a volunteer, a role which is now central to my life since retirement from death investigation. Because the primary focus of Breakthrough is helping men recover from childhood conditioning and trauma, thereby reclaiming a sense of wholeness, I have become cognizant of the seeds of our suffering as well as what can be done to both reduce it and transcend it.
What does not work and, in fact, seems to aggravate suffering is looking for relief outside of ourselves -- some thing or some body that can make us feel comfortable or “more alive.” This is the root of a myriad of addictions as well as despair. Instead, boundless untapped resources for personal wellbeing lie inside each one of us, awaiting our curiosity, acceptance, and trust. One approach to looking inward is Focusing, a gentle, compassionate form of body-centered self inquiry, described by Eugene Gendlin and easily practiced alone, although more effective when performed in pairs or small groups as a peer counseling exercise. Focusing reveals and engages forms of implicit knowing that are not accessible through rational thought processes. As one learns how to welcome each “guest” that appears inside without favor or disfavor, there is offered something far beyond what is already known. Patiently being with and openly receiving each gift, moment to moment, from deep inside enables a fuller and deeper appreciation of what it means to be alive in human form.