Focusing is the practice of inviting a bodily felt sense of a situation to form, describing it, and allowing it to unfold. Because your body knows you, that unfolding carries meaning for your life. What was stuck or unclear comes into focus, and you find that the problem you were addressing has “carried forward”: the meaning you have grasped has changed you and the situation at the same time.
What is the bodily felt sense?
This bodily felt sense is not just a “gut feeling” or an emotion or an intuition, although those might be part of it. The bodily felt sense of a situation encompasses everything about the situation.
How do I know what a felt sense feels like?
You can let a bodily felt sense form about any situation you are experiencing. Accessing the felt sense usually starts with noticing an unclear feeling inside. Because it is uncomfortable to feel unclear, we often stop right there, and conclude that we can’t feel anything in our bodies.
Or, when you put your attention on your body, the most obvious sensation might be of a strong, easily identifiable emotion, like fear, anger or joy. In Focusing we learn to welcome, acknowledge and pay attention to our emotions. But we also know that the body’s intelligence goes far beyond emotions alone. If you first feel an emotion, make room for it, say hello to it, acknowledge it, so that more meaning can come.
The characteristic of the bodily felt sense is that it is hard to put it in words. It is pre-verbal. The sign that I look for is the feeling of a gap, a cottony feeling that there is something I don’t yet understand. I welcome this feeling. It tells me: “Here is something my body knows that I don’t know.”
Do I have to believe in Focusing in order for it to work?
Focusing is not just a technique or a belief system. It is your body’s natural ability to grasp your situations in a more complete, more intricate, and more spontaneous way than is possible through intellect alone. Once you learn how to listen to your bodily felt sense, you have a multi-purpose tool for thinking, creativity, healing and moving forward in life. So, no, you don’t have to believe in Focusing, you just have to experience it. One way to get a feel for Focusing is to get together with a friend and try a Mindful Listening Partnership.
Focusing is learning to trust your own inner sense of things. In a Focusing session there is no diagnosing or analyzing or counseling.
I will encourage you to take some time to name the issue you are working on. In the process of naming the issue, you clarify things for yourself, and prepare yourself for felt sensing. You can give your issue a name that only you will understand, if you want, like Conversation with my Partner, or Feeling Stuck in My Work or Nighttime Loneliness.
I will encourage you to allow yourself empathic space in which to notice what is going on inside you regarding the issue you have identified.
Often, when we feel something inside, it’s hard to put it into words. Focusing means taking time to allow the words to emerge from the unclear feeling, thus coming into focus. I will encourage you to give gentle attention to what is happening inside and find a way to say it that feels right to you (if words don’t work, you might draw it, or express it in sound or gestures).
Whatever you express, I will reflect that back to you, so that the feeling inside knows that it has been heard. Soon, you will be able to let the feeling inside know that you hear it.
All of this is done in total confidentiality. In fact, I don’t need to know any of the details of what you are working on. You can keep those to yourself if you like. What is important is for you to express how it feels in your body:
You may have something inside that feels like a pressure, or a color, or a shape or a texture. A memory might come to you, or an image. I will listen and reflect back with the intention of allowing you to understand more of what you are feeling. As you describe it and gently attend to it, it reveals its meaning. When you get its meaning, you feel different inside, and often you have more of a sense of possibility, or you see a way forward that you didn’t see before. That’s what Focusing is.
Is Focusing for you? See for yourself, with a free 30-minute Focusing session, in person (Brattleboro, Vermont), or online (or by phone). Individual Focusing sessions cost $90 per hour. A series of three sessions for beginning Focusers is $195. Book one or three sessions with the Paypal button below.