Focusing is a practice, not a theory. My friend Susana Alvarez from Argentina recently posted a saying that roughly translates to: “Communists until they get rich, lesbians until they get married, atheists until the plane starts to fall…”. I wrote back, “But Focusers forever.”
That’s because, by Focusing, we tune into our own felt experiencing as long as we have bodies, to get our own body perspective on what’s happening.
Right now I am translating parts Marshall Rosenberg’s Speak Peace in a World of Conflict. I’m translating it into Spanish to be sure that I am faithfully transmitting his theory to my students in Latin America. His theories are extremely enlightening.
However, I have studied Gendlin. Therefore, I want to make sure that theories never become more important than the lived experience of my students.
AND, as Rob Parker points out in our Process Model class, it is also important to read a new theory with a humble mind, rather than thinking that one can discuss it from one’s own philosophical stance. Once we have studied and understand the new theory, we can discuss it from within the new theory itself.
Theories are conceptual frameworks
Apparently Gene Gendlin used to entertain himself when he was young by absorbing various theoretical frameworks and seeing that he could out-argue proponents of those theories from within the frameworks they espoused. He could do it because he saw them all as “conceptual frameworks”, whether Marxism or evangelical Christianity, or what-have-you.
This awareness is so revolutionary! It could mean so much for peace if people could be taught from childhood to value their living experience rather than having to fit themselves into a theoretical structure.
Focusing and what it means and how to use it–all this grows as I grow. That’s why I can be a Focuser forever, within whichever theoretical framework I find helpful at the time. I am struggling to understand A Process Model. I want to understand Gendlin’s theory of what Focusing means and how it is possible. You can get a sense of Gendlin and of A Process Model from Nada Lou’s delightful 1998 video. But even if I don’t quite understand A Process Model, I do understand what Focusing is from having practiced it. So Focusing is practice, not theory, and as Gendlin says, A Process Model “is just a theory.”