Mindful Approaches

Focusing

An exquisitely subtle mindfulness
approach to emotional intelligence.

Nonviolent Communication

A mindful approach to transforming conflict and judgement into connection and kindness.

Somatic Experiencing

An understanding of trauma as ‘held in the body’ in present time, and so accessible to healing.

Focusing is a mindful gateway into the world of the ‘felt sense’ – a way of sensing within to discover experience freshly-minted, even as it forms. It was first formulated in the 1960s by philosopher and psychotherapist Eugene Gendlin, with his ‘Philosophy of the Implicit’. Focusing has since gathered renown, also within coaching and psychotherapy. Its methods bring depth and transformation by treasuring experience as it emerges:

‘Experience is a myriad richness. We feel more than we can think, we live more than we can feel. And there is much more still.’

And: ‘Any moment is a myriad richness, but rarely do we take time to “have” it.’[1]

As a meditator who ‘takes the time’, you draw on various ways of knowing: of body-sense, image and metaphor, gut-feeling and intuition. This brings limitless creativity to meditation.

For more, I recommend Eugene T. Gendlin’s seminal work, Focusing (Bantam Books, 1st edn 1978) and Ann Weiser Cornell’s The Radical Acceptance of Everything (Calluna Press, 2005).The following online sites may be helpful: WikipediaThe Focusing Institute, and the British Focusing Association.

Nonviolent Communication or ‘Compassionate Communication’ is recognised internationally as a method for dealing with conflict and confrontation. Developed by clinical psychologist Marshall Rosenberg in the 1970s, it points to human needs and values as the bedrock for what you think, feel and say and do:

‘Regardless of our many differences we all have the same needs. What differs from person to person is the strategy for fulfilling those needs.’[2]

This offers a way of working with, and embracing, critical judgements that undermine our relationships with others and ourselves. It creates a compassionate frame for thoughts and behaviours, showing that – however unsuccessful they may be – actions are, in the end, our ‘best strategies’ in that moment for meeting needs; needs that are in themselves (and unlike some of our means for meeting them) valid and universal.

See, Marshall B. Rosenberg, Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life (Puddledancer Press, 2003). The following online sites may be helpful: WikipediaCenter for Nonviolent CommunicationUK-NVC.


Somatic Experiencing takes the skill of felt-sensing as described by Gendlin and develops it for healing overwhelming distress and trauma. Somatic Experiencing is based on the work of biophysicist and psychologist Dr Peter Levine, who describes trauma as a phenomenon ‘held in the body’. Based on his observations of wildlife, Levine notes that, just as animals are regularly threatened with death yet are rarely traumatised, so humans are equipped with the same capacity for overcoming overwhelming experience and restoring health:

‘I have come to the conclusion that human beings are born with an innate capacity to triumph over trauma […].  [T]he healing process can be a catalyst for profound awakening.’[3]

References

[1] The first quotation is possibly a verbal paraphrase of the latter, which is drawn from Gendlin’s opening to ‘Draft 1971’, an unpublished paper kindly supplied by Allan Rohlfs. For the published source, see: ‘A Phenomenology of Emotions: Anger’, in D. Carr & E.S. Casey (eds.), Explorations in Phenomenology: Papers of the Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy (Martinus Nijhoff, 1973), pp. 367-398. From www.focusing.org/gendlin/docs/gol_2095.html.

[2] This idea, frequently emphasised verbally by Rosenberg, appears in a late published source as follows: ‘As I’m defining needs, all human beings have the same needs. Regardless of our gender, educational level, religious beliefs or nationality, we have the same needs… (etc)’; Marshall B. Rosenberg PhD, We Can Work it Out (Puddle Dancer Press, 2005), p.15.

[3] Peter A. Levine, Healing Trauma: A Pioneering Program for Restoring the Wisdom of Your Body (Sounds True Inc, 2008), p.10.