through the practice of focusing, we get in touch directly with our “felt sense” – the body’s awareness of all the situations and processes that go on in our lives. it is about notcing inwardly, in the body, all of how it feels.
for instance, i’m thinking of the tingling in the soles of the feet that can accompany a fear of heights. the need to move around that often comes with being excited is another example, or a feeling of heaviness around the shoulders when there is just too much tiredness. this “inner body langage” happens all the time – it’s just that we rarely listen to it.
when we sense the whole way that some situation feels, in a fresh way, not in our usual way of thinking but just as it feels right here, right now, we can get valuable insights; and not just that, we can feel easily moved – motivated – to approach difficult situations in a new, better way.
focusing is something that was brought to the public’s awareness by eugene gendlin, who found in his research on the effectiveness of psychotherapy that those people who automatically focused in such a way tended to get more out of therapy than those who did not. buddhists such as pema chodron or david rome also talk about focusing.
here, from the focusing web site, is a short instruction on how to do focusing:
Focusing: Short Form
by Eugene Gendlin, Ph.D.
1. Clear a space
How are you? What’s between you and feeling fine?Don’t answer; let what comes in your body do the answering.Don’t go into anything.Greet each concern that comes. Put each aside for a while, next to you.Except for that, are you fine?
2. Felt Sense
Pick one problem to focus on.Don’t go into the problem. What do you sense in your body when you sense the whole of that problem?Sense all of that, the sense of the whole thing, the murky discomfort or the unclear body-sense of it.
3. Get a handle
What is the quality of the felt sense?What one word, phrase, or image comes out of this felt sense?What quality-word would fit it best?
Go back and forth between word (or image) and the felt sense. Is that right?If they match, have the sensation of matching several times.If the felt sense changes, follow it with your attention.When you get a perfect match, the words (images) being just right for this feeling, let yourself feel that for a minute.
“What is it, about the whole problem, that makes me so _________? When stuck, ask questions:What is the worst of this feeling?What’s really so bad about this?What does it need?What should happen?Don’t answer; wait for the feeling to stir and give you an answer.What would it feel like if it was all OK?Let the body answerWhat is in the way of that?
Welcome what came. Be glad it spoke.It is only one step on this problem, not the last.Now that you know where it is, you can leave it and come back to it later.Protect it from critical voices that interrupt.Does your body want another round of focusing, or is this a good stopping place?
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