What is Thinking at the Edge?
Thinking at the Edge brings change
Thinking at the Edge accesses your ongoing experiencing, so that you can think from it, act from it and express it. Essential to this process is learning Focusing.
What is “the Edge”?
The philosopher Eugene Gendlin and his wife, Mary Hendricks Gendlin developed Thinking at the Edge to show how we can think from experiencing. The “edge” is the area between what we know and can put into words, and what we know from experience but can’t yet put into words. The bodily felt sense gives us access to our experiencing, and thus to the “feel” of our situations. At the “edge” we can sense what is implied by the situation. As a result, experiencing can show us new perspectives that lead to right next steps.
Thinking at the Edge can help us meet the challenging situations of the world today
We are living situations that are totally new and therefore demand to be met in new ways.
We don’t speak of a situation unless it is difficult to meet. Otherwise we have already acted and events flow on. But when there is a situation to be met, we don’t immediately know “the right” action. That action is, in one way, indicated by the situation…and in another way not indicated, since we are puzzled. The situation may be new and unusual, yet it implies the action needed to meet it….The implicit action is that one which will change the situation as the situation demands to be met. And a situation IS the demand for some action. The two are reciprocal: the situation is the implying of a change-in-situation. A situation IS an implying of a change in itself.
–Eugene Gendlin, PhD
How is it that Thinking at the Edge brings change?
First of all, pause, relax, and let yourself get a felt sense––the unclear bodily feeling of a situation. It could be about something you want to do, a problem you want to solve, a place where you feel stressed or stuck, or a creative endeavor. Next, you try to express the felt sense. At first you may only sense textures, shapes, colors, feelings of pressure or emptiness, gestures or sounds. But if you stay with the felt sense with inner warmth and receptivity, words and images will come. With them will come meaning–meaning that is often surprising and insightful. You’ll be able to see things from a new perspective, making it possible to think and act in new ways.
Process steps have an intricacy and a power to change us, far superior to our concepts. What comes in process steps surprises us. A much more sophisticated “territory” shows itself than we are capable of formulating or inventing. –Eugene Gendlin, PhD
How can I learn Thinking at the Edge?
Since we are not used to pausing and sensing inside, it helps to have an experienced person there to accompany you as you explore this inner space.
Online group classes in TAE are for people familiar with Focusing and Listening partnerships. Learning TAE with others can be a wonderfully supportive experience.
Here is one person’s attempt to describe how Thinking at the Edge helped her find her own way of addressing climate change.
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