What happens in a TAE class? Initially, you will come to Thinking at the Edge (TAE) with something that you would like to explore. It might be a creative project that you have set aside, an aspect of your work or life that you would like to deepen, or maybe an impulse to do something new in life, based on your lived experience. You could work on something that stresses you, or something that delights you. During the TAE process, your idea of what you are working on will inevitably evolve. But at first, it is good to come into the course with an idea of a “project”. For this reason, I schedule a free consultation with prospective students when they first contact me about TAE.
TAE Class One:
During the first class, we will spend time creating an inner environment in which you feel safe, protected, supported, and free to be yourself. You’ll use this creative inner space as a touchstone during all that happens in TAE.
We’ll also go over the guidelines for TAE partnerships.
After a centering process, you’ll allow a felt sense to form: Thinking at the Edge starts with going to the “edge” of what you already know and paying attention to your bodily felt sense about what you want to explore.
Find the crux: Even though it may be difficult to put into words, you’ll start to write what you do know about it. Once you start writing, more will come.
After you have written freely, you’ll boil everything down to one sentence. In this “crux” sentence, you’ll underline the key word or phrase around which everything revolves. Finally, you’ll ask your felt sense to take you to a moment in your life when you experienced something related to your felt sense of the whole.
Notice what seems illogical or paradoxical: There might be something about your idea that seems impossible, paradoxical, impractical, crazy, etc. This can be the most valuable part, so don’t ignore it. A paradox is a creative field in which your felt sense can find its own right way.
Class One corresponds to Steps 1 and 2 of Gendlin’s process of Thinking at the Edge
TAE Class Two:
Find relevant examples in your own experience: You do have this “knowing” about what you want to explore, so there must have been times in your life when you experienced something that has to do with it. It could be an experience from childhood, adolescence, or from any time in your life. It could be something that has caused you to suffer or something that gives you great joy (or both!).
You will explore moments of your own experience (“instances”) that somehow have to do with your felt sense, and “extract” the knowledge inherent in those experiences.
Each instance forms a unique pattern. Each of the experiences that are relevant to your felt sense will have a slightly different meaning. The differences in each pattern give you vital information about what you know but have not been able to express. Each instance and its pattern form a facet of your felt sense, and are essential to what happens in TAE.
Class Two corresponds to Steps 6 and 7 of Gendlin’s process of Thinking at the Edge
TAE Class Three:
“Crossing” patterns and instances: You sense into one pattern (meaning) through the lens of another. This “crossing” of two felt senses has the effect of deepening the felt sense and showing you something you hadn’t noticed before. After crossing, you will be able to express your ideas in more detail, or in a new way.
Class Three corresponds to Step 8 of Gendlin’s process of Thinking at the Edge
TAE Class Four:
At this point you are invited to write freely about what you have discovered. You might come up with a new crux sentence. You can also draw or paint it if that is a more natural way of expressing for you (or dance it, or sing it, etc).
Class Four corresponds to Step 9 of Gendlin’s process of Thinking at the Edge
TAE Class Five:
Working with words: This is an opportunity to make sure that the words and images you are using to express the crux of your project are saying what you really want to say. You don’t want them to be taken over by “public” meanings. Working with words is often the first part of the TAE process. But I have found that it is better to wait until you have explored the inner landscape of your lived experience. Familiarity with that inner landscape allows your words come from a broader and deeper felt sense.
Class Five corresponds to Steps 3 and 4 of Gendlin’s process of Thinking at the Edge
TAE Class Six:
Here you’ll check whether you used any major public words in the last class. If so, try making fresh phrases to replace those words and ideas. Let what is new and specific in your felt sense express itself.
As we approach the end of our classes, you’ll have a rich new vocabulary of words and images that come from Focusing with your project. From these, you will select all the words or phrases that are full of meaning for you now. You’ll group them so that they represent three different aspects of your felt sense.
Class Six corresponds to Step 5 of Gendlin’s process of Thinking at the Edge, plus preparation for Step 10.
TAE Class Seven:
From your lists of words or phrases that are especially meaningful, come up with your “terms”, three words or phrases that represent three different aspects of your felt sense. You will see what happens when you try to define each “term” with another. As you do this, you’ll pay close attention to what you sense with each crossing. This brings further depth, making it possible to express your ideas with more clarity and precision, the goal of what happens in TAE.
Class Seven corresponds to Step 10 of Gendlin’s process of Thinking at the Edge
TAE Class Eight:
You’ll look for the inherent connections between your terms, giving you even more understanding and forward movement.
Class Eight corresponds to Step 11 of Gendlin’s process of Thinking at the Edge
Most people are not ready to commit to the final step of interlocking terms outlined in Gendlin’s Step 12 of the TAE process, so I do not require it. But if you are ready to go on to Steps 12, 13 and 14, you’ll be encouraged to do so.
Your “talisman sentence”: At the end of the course, you will have a short sentence, image or gesture that encapsulates what you have discovered. In fact, the deep felt-sensing that happens in TAE will have already changed your way of being in the world. AND you’ll have your talisman sentence to give you strength as you meet the challenges of implementing your new ideas.
Focusing partnerships during and after the course:
My classes are designed to familiarize you with the TAE process so that you can use it on your own or with a partner. In between each TAE class, you will have Focusing partnerships with other class members. This is one of the most important parts of what happens in TAE. Many people decide that they want to continue these partnerships after the class, to further develop their ideas.
Thinking at the Edge requires a very spacious kind of listening. Listening to each other in this way develops trust. The full development of a new idea, project, or way of life takes time. TAE partnerships provide a supportive atmosphere in which things that are completely new or not understood by society can grow and move forward.