‘Focusing’ is a practice developed by Eugene T. Gendlin for the recognition of meaning arising from our bodies. This can help us to overcome difficulties by recognising repressed feelings, or more positively just help us to maintain a balance in our lives in which we recognise different meaningful experiences apart from the dominant ones that we most identify with. It is very much compatible with embodied meaning theory and with the recognition that we may not be single selves.
Focusing is a staged process that can be performed alone or with a partner or trainer. It involves examining experience and then allowing words to form that articulate that experience. Sometimes the first articulation will seem wrong, and several tries will be required to find a way of expressing what we mean.
There is an introduction to focusing practice in Gendlin’s book ‘Focusing: How to gain direct access to your body’s knowledge’ (published by Rider and available from their website). Alternatively you can learn focusing from a trainer either face-to-face or online. There is a list of trainers on the website of the Focusing Institute, which also has many other resources.
Here is a summary of the 6 stages of focusing that are explained in more detail in Gendlin’s book:
- Clear a space: Ask yourself what’s going on for you and put it aside
- Felt sense: Pick one problem to focus on and investigate what you sense in your body when you recall the whole of that problem
- Get a handle: Let a word or phrase arise than encapsulates the felt sense
- Resonate: Go back and forth between the felt sense and the word to check it’s right
- Ask: Ask yourself further questions about the problem and what it would be like if it was OK
- Receive: Accept what the body has told you and be glad of it. Ask yourself if you need another round of focusing or to stop.
The society is hoping to create an online Focusing course in early 2014 led by the trainer Jerry Conway (using Skype). This will probably last for 10 weeks, and there will be a charge because it is led by a professional trainer. If you are interested in joining this please email firstname.lastname@example.org .
Also see the blog post: Focusing and thinking at the edge