What is ‘Focusing’?
Simply put, Focusing is a process of bringing into clearer focus anything inside you which you may feel is there only vaguely, yet you sense is important. All day long, in the flow of situations, you are living from a deep down, intricate space which has in it more than even you know. Small steps of felt sensing can bring ‘the more’ into view. The felt meaningfulness of this moment is always available.
Focusing is a skill-set making it possible to be reliably guided by the fresh bodily-felt thread of your life’s flow, rather than by your habitual ways of being in situations. That is, you can respond, instead of reacting.
Please take a minute to read this moving story from Afghanistan.
Living is always fresh, even though we may not be in touch with that freshness. The body is living that freshness, and the body is available for experiencing. Often, we have ‘guests’ in us (as in the Afghanistan story above) who take over, unless we pause and find the body’s wisdom.
Felt-sensing (Focusing) brings the unfolding edge of our actual embodied life into clearer view. Bringing it into focus helps it move forward, living from the inside of a body that is always intradependent in situations. The Focusing process was articulated and developed by U.S. philosopher Dr. Eugene T. Gendlin, who named this level of human process (using the phrase felt-sense), and came up with six simple steps to help us learn to live regularly from that wisdom.
The felt sense is not ordinary surface sensations, nor is it emotion. It is not ordinary everyday kinds of feelings, like sadness, happiness, and so on. If you know a feeling already, that’s not the new things which is calling you. The felt sense happens ‘underneath’ those feelings. It is found at the level of ‘presence.’ Hence, to have a relationship with the domain of experiencing called the ‘felt sense,’ Ann Weiser Cornell, one of Gendlin’s students, talks about cultivating ‘Self-in-Presence.’
It doesn’t belong to a select few. Some people have the ability to readily contact this felt sense of living forward. Others find it in special circumstances. But the rest of us can learn to live from this creative power, to find this rich edge of our forward-living process, in our everyday life. We can learn to trust its vital knowing. It’s a level of human process.
“Focusing doesn’t belong to anybody. It belongs to everybody; doesn’t belong to Gene [Gendlin], doesn’t belong to us at the [Focusing] Insititute, or any of the trainers. It is a level of human process. It’s free to anybody.” – Mary Hendricks-Gendlin
Focusing is a broad skill, as you would expect from its depth. It has been used successfully in community work, psychotherapy, philosophy, expressive arts, personality change and inner-growth work, trauma work, addictions, spirituality, medicine, school teaching, environmental protection, architecture, and more.