Terry Ray, Boulder, Colorado: What Touched Me First

Terry Ray, Boulder, Colorado: What Touched Me First

terryI first met Charlotte Selver in Mexico in 1975. It wasn’t love at first sight. Or even close. I liked being on the ocean in the small fishing village, Barra de Navidad, but the classes were strange. I waited for days for this little old lady with a funny accent to explain what we were doing and all she would say were things like “Do you feel your feet?” and “How is breathing?” To which I replied silently, “Of course I feel my feet, and what do you mean, how is breathing, and what does this matter anyway?” I put up with this for over a week, obediently doing the experiments in class, but mostly looking forward to lunch.

It happened with a jolt. About ten days into the workshop, I was in my small apartment washing dishes when I heard my own critical voice for the first time ever, and in the same instant I felt a deep hatred, mostly for myself. I felt it through and through, in the way I stood, held a plate, walked across the room, and spoke. The hostility informed my thoughts, and was lodged in everything I did. It was in my musculature, and in my breath. This shocking insight was so powerful and pervasive that it wasn’t even unpleasant. It was more like, “Wow!” It was just the truth. I lived this, experiencing it for almost three days. As I felt it subside I began to feel a new warm and wonderful and tender place inside me, and compassion began to emerge for the first time I could remember in my entire life.

I was hooked. I studied with Charlotte, discovering deeper and deeper layers of who I am, and finding out about this mysterious process of living, for 28 years. I myself now bring this practice into the world leading classes in Sensory Awareness, vipassana meditation and yoga, and through my psychotherapist practice, asking students and clients questions like, “Can you feel your feet, and how is breathing now?”

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