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focusing brings insight on our inner battles

Here’s an example of how Focusing partnership brings insight into our life issues. 

The issue: I have a triggering experience

I was at an online meeting with a group of friends. We started meeting with each other over 25 years ago. We all used to live in the same small town, and had formed a support group with each other while we all had young children. We would take 15 minutes each to share whatever we were going through without being interrupted. This “15 minutes for me” proved invaluable to us all as we navigated the seas between motherhood and selfhood.

So here we were, reunited after several years of not meeting. Five of us were together in one room in the town where we used to live, and myself and one other were online, via Skype. Skype was not working well, and I was getting increasingly annoyed. I had suggested before the meeting that we could meet by Zoom, which works better for groups than Skype. But the group had not encouraged me to pursue this idea, and I had not insisted. My annoyance with the inadequate technology was affecting my sharing when my turn came up.

I take my triggering experience to my Focusing partnership

Later I decided to Focus on this, because I didn’t understand why I had been so upset. In one way, it seemed like such an unnecessary attitude on my part. I hadn’t devoted a lot of energy to thinking about the technology before the meeting. Neither had I prepared an easy way to shift over to the new technology if problems arose. So why couldn’t I just accept that, instead of getting mad about it?

Also, I noticed I was blaming people in the group for not listening to me about the technology. I could have judged myself for overreacting and left it at that. Luckily, I had a Focusing partnership coming up, so I decided to Focus on that issue in order to gain insight on the situation.

My initial understanding of the problem:

What came to me first: “I know that Zoom is much better than Skype for multi-person calls because I use Zoom all the time for my online classes. The other people in my women’s group don’t do much online, so they aren’t aware of the potential difficulties. If I had thought about it more, I could have gently guided everyone over to my Zoom room. My experienced knowledge would have made for a more successful online meeting.”

I allow a bodily felt sense of the problem to form

I noticed something in me that didn’t want to impose, didn’t want to insist, even though I clearly had the knowledge and experience to make the meeting better. The “not wanting to impose” felt like a buzzy, chaotic sensation in the lower part of my head. When I noticed and welcomed the sensation, I could feel that there was much more going on there. The feeling lowered into my throat. It felt as if there were a war going on between two opposing tribes. “Yes, there does seem to be a lot going on inside about all this”, I realized.

Turning toward my felt sense and staying with it brings a new perspective

As my Focusing partner listened in silence, I stayed with it in a Focusing way. Soon I could sense that the war was between my mother and my grandmother. My grandmother projected an aura of self-confidence. She was sure of herself. This led her to a lot of successful creative endeavors which are unbelievably inspiring. But her self confidence did not leave room for other people. My mother was always doing her best to follow in the footsteps of her mother. All the while she felt an inner frustration and resentment at not being seen for her own merits, her own selfhood.

The felt sense of a battle had lowered into my body. Now I could feel it as a pressure in my heart. As I stayed with it, I could feel that my loyalty was to my mother. This implied a rejection of my grandmother’s tendency to steamroll those around her. In a restaurant, my grandmother would imperiously send food back if it were not to her liking. I always found that embarrassing. It seemed to symbolize everything I rejected about my grandmother, everything I didn’t want to be.

I could now see that insisting on having the right technology for my women’s group meeting reminded me too much of my grandmother. Even though I was very familiar with a better system, I was hesitant to “impose my will” on the group by insisting that we use Zoom. It was less complicated internally for me to just go along, without sharing what I know. That way I could maintain my inner loyalty to my mother, and not risk becoming a steamroller of others, like my grandmother. Wow, interesting!

I gain insight about how this is affecting my life right now

It came to me that I want to emerge from this period of my life with more confidence to share what I know. I need to find a balance between sharing what I know and feeling that I am imposing on others.

That evening I was going to go to a dinner for cancer survivors. I could feel myself facing the dilemma all over again–how can I share what I know in this new group of people? I realized that I could go to the dinner “armed” or “prepared”, by making copies of articles about the research done with Focusing and breast cancer by Doralee Grindler Katonah and Joan Klagsbrun. The research shows that even doing simple Focusing exercises, like Clearing a Space, can prolong the lives of cancer survivors. This gave me a jumping off point for sharing what I know. At the end of the dinner, there was a brief time to introduce oneself and say what we were involved in. I mentioned the articles, and several people asked me for information afterwards.

This is an example of how Focusing partnership brings insight

Gentle reader, if you have gotten this far, I have been describing the insight that can come from a Focusing partnership.

First, I had an uncomfortable, triggering experience. Then I explored it with the quiet, receptive listening of my Focusing partner. I found that there was a lot more going on there than I had been aware of.

As a result of my Focusing partnership I became aware of negative and a positive “instances” of how the issue acts in my life:

Instance 1 (negative): I got angry at my women’s group for “not listening to me” about meeting on Zoom instead of Skype, even though I had not really explained the advantages or set things up to implement what I know.

Instance 2 (positive): I went to the cancer survivor’s dinner “armed” with articles about how Focusing has been proven to increase longevity in cancer survivors. It led to several inquiries about Focusing.

With the insight I have gained, I am much more likely to be bolder about sharing what I know. 

In conclusion, Focusing partnership brings insight on any issue you are facing. Try it!

Dealing with stress

Dealing with stress by becoming aware of the patterns held silently in our bodies

Listening to stress helps in dealing with stress. Just got this letter from a participant in our online class in Thinking at the Edge (TAE). It feels very fulfilling to have this feedback. It speaks to my vision, many years ago, of why I wanted to switch from being an acupuncturist to a Focusing teacher. I deeply respect acupuncture and what it can do. Acupunture is my first choice when I have a physical problem that I am not able to handle myself. But we can improve our health by becoming aware of the patterns held silently in our bodies. I am grateful to Sue for wanting to share her story. I publish it here with her permission.

“In your  online seminar in Thinking at the Edge (TAE), specializing in Giving Language to Stress, I learned a huge amount about how I carry stress. I have been a lifelong stress suppressor, so wasn’t very aware of the way stress manifested itself in my body. 

We deal with stress in ways that are unique to each of us

“The notion that we all carry stress in ways that are unique to each of us–this notion was most helpful. Of course, what we stress about is also unique to each person. I learned that, for me, stress was activated by being caught by surprise, or shocked, in some interpersonal interaction. Being caught off-guard would prevent my ‘internal editor’ from checking or inhibiting my real, authentic response. My internal editor didn’t want me to experience disapproval, anger, or worse from other people.

“This was intricately intertwined with a severe lack of assertiveness. I was doing Conflict Management in my Counselling course, and observed how hard it was for me to be assertive. This puzzled me, as I am very articulate and can argue my case well in many situations. Your course showed me that I become inarticulate when caught unawares, or when I’m uncertain of potential responses.  This all happens at a very unconscious level. My ‘internal editor’ was protecting or guarding me, so non-Focusing approaches didn’t make much headway.

A safe way of listening to stress

“This was one of the other benefits of TAE. The structured nature of the steps helped me feel safe. I could look at my stress in a way that was less identified with the ‘blocking’ part.

“Using the step of taking a situation that triggered stress, and stepping back to look at the patterns in this and other stress situations, really brought my ‘internal editor’ into clear view.  This response-suppression pattern consumes an enormous amount of energy, and is stress-inducing in and of itself! The cost of not being authentic is huge.

“Before your class, I started going to a great chiropractor, who tested my adrenal function. This involved placing a heart rate monitor on my chest, and then simply having me stand up from lying down. This sophisticated software, used by cardiologists, reads the body’s response to this effort. Around 1000 was normal – my graph was basically flat-lining! The chiropractor asked me whether I had been under huge stress, and back then, my answer was no. I just didn’t recognize it!!

Better adrenal function, lower cholesterol, lower blood sugar

“So, a couple of years later, post your TAE course, and some good supplements (Adrenotone by Metagenics), as well as a couple of Focusing partnership session a week, my levels are up round 600+. In addition, a recent blood test showed my usually very high cholesterol levels – 7-8+ (family pattern) had dropped 2 points, as had my blood sugar levels.

“I attribute this to Focusing, and I’m very grateful to your TAE and Stress course for being the precursor to these great bodily improvements. Your course opened up the whole area of stress, and the way it manifests in me. It has allowed me to release a lot of those blockages to living and feeling, authentically.”                                                                                                      –Sue Burrell, Sydney, Australia

Want to find out more about dealing with stress? Contact Beatrice for a free consultation.

Focusing is a simple way of connecting with our deeper selves.  In the rush of our everyday lives it can be hard to reach inside and get a deeper sense of what we are truly experiencing.  It can be hard to reach beyond the habits that define our lives.  For me, focusing with another person creates a space, a shelter from the whirl of my own “shoulds” and the feeling that time is so limited.

When I am focusing it is as if time expands.  I really love that this is not therapy, it is self care and  helping each other.  I enjoy listening to another person’s process and I feel honored that my presence can make a difference.

Focusing is simple, basic self care at the deepest level.  It is a special way of connecting with other human beings.  In the time that we live in, stress fills us and it can be very hard to find peace with the turbulence within.  Focusing can help us find a valuable space to pause amongst the rush and look within.
–Susie