Focusing reveals the different tugs and pulls at work within us. Asking the question, ‘What wants my attention right now?’ we open up a clear space within, and breathe fresh life into tangled issues and situations. As we do, we discover an inner wisdom trapped deep inside our thoughts and feelings…
Focusing is a little like meditating out loud. Working in a pair, you have a companion who will sit with you as you muse, listening with kind and calm attention to whatever you want to say. This is more skilled and subtle than it sounds. In a deep listening space, your troubles or tangles ‘come into focus’. You can clear whatever is getting in the way, releasing your scattered, divided attention, to emerge refreshed and energised. Focusing is a uniquely sensitive process. You meet true emotional intelligence, and discover an empathic presence powerful enough to resolve and heal.
Focusing is also fascinating. It is an extraordinary gateway to the inner world – one I would not be without. The approach was first formulated in the 1960s by philosopher and psychotherapist Eugene Gendlin. His methods involve treasuring experience as it emerges. As Gendlin himself put it:
‘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.‘
‘Any moment is a myriad richness,
but rarely do we take time to “have” it.‘*
By tuning in to the ‘felt sense’, a subtle way of feeling and sensing within, Focusing shows you how to express (and do) the ‘impossible’ things you don’t (yet) have words to describe. It draws on image and metaphor, body-sense, gut-feeling and intuition – those mysterious, yet essential, elements of human interaction – that underpin everything we do. This is especially useful for artists and performers who rely on their whole presence to communicate. Yet it’s essential for us all. With Focusing, you come to trust that visceral feeling ‘in your bones’ which guides your next steps. You can ‘focus’ your attention effectively, whether in work, in art, or in life. You glide on the sheer edge of creativity, in a place which heals, inspires and makes us whole.
References and Links
Since the 1960s and 70s, Focusing has gathered international renown within coaching and psychotherapy. 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: Wikipedia, The Focusing Institute, and the British Focusing Association.
* 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.