Tapping into the body’s wisdom through Focusing.
When I was introduced to Focusing I knew that I had found what I had been looking for over decades; a simple, profound and effective way of accessing the wealth of experience deep in the databanks of our very cells. This not only frees us from limiting patterns, but also opens our consciousness to profound problem solving and directional guidance that only our deepest personal wisdom can offer.
For me psychotherapy had its place, but I felt ensnared by the endless whys, never fully released from the past. Unresolved memories continued to sabotage wellbeing. Meditation and mindfulness, also have their place to stop the chatter of the mind, but without the deep work, it’s like plastering over cracks – a fix only until something triggers a deeper current of unrest.
So how can you do deep work without getting trapped in the murky depths? Well, by tapping into the body wisdom through Focusing.
Focusing was first developed by Eugene Gendlin more than twenty-five years ago and has associations around the world. The method is referred to as ‘accessing the felt sense’ and is set out as a six-step method that has largely stayed within the bastions of psychotherapy. Some have taken it mainstream including partners Patricia Foster and Eirini Davleri. As psychotherapists, they had witnessed the efficacy of Focusing – Accessing the Felt Sense as a tool within their respective practices. If it was so great for people in distress, they posited, imagine how empowering it would be for individuals to learn as a personal skill to reach their fullest potential. And so began their training protocol Focusing as a Life Skill.
I have been around the block more than a few times with spiritual and psychological endeavours, alternative therapies and energy work. Some are good and some are great and some, just fanciful. When Patricia offered me a session to experience focusing for myself, I inwardly rolled my eyes and thought, sure, why not?
You know when you hear something you feel to be true and get a shiver throughout your body? That is a felt sense. That is your body waking up to communicate with you. And the simple method of focusing opens the door and takes you into the safe space where your body can offer up its wealth of information. What information? Well, remnants of the past that hover and sabotage you when you least expect it; the source of that critical voice that makes you feel powerless; duelling beliefs that keep you blocked from taking positive action, and Information about present situations and relationships so that you can proceed or recede as best suits your ultimate purpose. And what is that ultimate purpose? To be the most fully expressed version of yourself you can be. Free, creative and, like all of nature, ever expanding and evolving forward and upward.
Many of us are natural focusers, and for decades I had intuited this deep guidance within the body. I wrote about and around it in my book Exhilarated Life: Discovering Inner Happiness, but it was not until I experienced Focusing as a Life Skill that I knew there was a simple yet sublime method to tap into that treasure trove and pull out the gems.
It’s deep work, but not heavy lifting where you have to dredge up memories and exorcise them. No, absolutely not. In fact analysing is a no no. The body deals in feelings and symbols that consciousness can understand and process. What those symbols represent is really none of our mind’s business. It’s enough that we allow the body to express a feeling that wants our attention and with the help of the companion, dis-identify with the feeling; see it as part of us but not defining of us. We allow it space so it no longer overwhelms us. We then trust that the process, once begun, will continue all on its own in the depths from the source of real change.
Most traditional methods of working on oneself are mostly pain centered. People get to repeat over and over their painful emotions without knowing how to use the body’s own inherently positive direction and force. Eugene Gendlin
Focusing as a Life Skill is the training program that Foster/Davleri have designed. Through their five-month intense weekend workshops, they train individuals in being both a focuser and a companion. Focusing is done in tandem, pairs. Partners can change, but the most effective outcome of focusing is done with a trained companion. Foster is very clear that they have named the role companion rather than guide or facilitator so as to indicate the witness role of the companion. It is to merely keep the focuser within his/her own process, not to analyse or interpret.
The beauty of working with the body sense in this way is that if the companion offers a reflection that the focuser does not agree with, the focuser, deep in their own presence will merely ignore it or correct it. There is no interference with the process. The process is begun in a short – no longer than 20-minute session – and will continue to unfold in its own resolution.
The human entity is inextricably body, mind and spirit. There is a profound communication and interdependence and confluence of energies at play in our person. Focusing allows the body to share its database in a useful, constructive way. This database is every second of experience of your life as perceived from the five physical senses and the numberless senses beyond the physical. There are no filters on the senses – the only filter is in our faulty memory and its interpretation of reality. Focusing drops beneath perception and at the same time flies above it, opening us to the fullness of our realized Self.
Within us is the blueprint of our greatest potential overlaid by the sketches, scratches and renderings of life experience. The body knows where you are going and, if supported in the wholeness of the focussing experience and process, will share its secrets and lead you freely and creatively along that beautifully unfolding path of wellbeing and the fulfilment of all you might be.
To your health and wellbeing!