Focusing is a powerful process that takes you beyond the limitations of your intellect to your innermost knowing. In this process you hold an open non-judging awareness of something that is not yet fully known but is distinctly felt by the body.
You are naturally focusing whenever you have the vague, nagging sense of something and then you sit with it until it becomes clear. For example, sometimes you might feel unsettled with a certain decision but can’t say why. Then, when you sit with that sense of “feeling unsettled” you suddenly realize what was bothering you. At that moment, you feel a sense of relief and clarity.
While focusing is a natural process, it can be developed, like a skill, to help you tune into your body’s own natural wisdom. Your body picks up information all the time about people, situations and experiences of which you are not explicitly aware. This information is registered in a subtle knowing, which is termed a “felt sense.” By attending to this felt sense we come to find out the more of what we were picking up (as in the above example.) This, in turn, allows fresh information to come that can bring about new perspectives, growth and change. Focusing helps us to live closer to our natural gift of inner knowing, that comes from direct perception, as opposed to conditioned thoughts or habitual ways or reacting.
I utilize focusing in conjunction with other approaches that complement my work as a therapist. Regular practice of this natural process can have profound benefits for you both personally and professionally. For example, focusing can help you:
– Trust yourself more and feel less self-critical;
– Get underneath repetitive thoughts and feelings that go nowhere;
– Feel more connected to your creativity;
– Make wiser decisions;
– Have clearer boundaries;
– Cope better with pain and other physical challenges;
– Discover new choices when you’re feeling stuck;
– Be guided by your feelings without being overwhelmed by them;
– Take more responsibility for your own mental and physical health; and
– Bring the resources of your whole self to your profession.
Focusing comes from the pioneering work of philosopher and psychologist, Eugene Gendlin. He first observed this natural process while researching the question, “What makes therapy successful?” He described the process as a series of teachable steps, so that those who are more disconnected from their body can reconnect. Dr. Gendlin’s work has been honored by three awards from the American Psychological Association, and is supported by a long series of operational research studies (focusing.org). His work has been carried forward by others and applied to numerous arenas including mental and physical health, science, creativity, addiction, substance abuse, education, leadership training, and the world peace movement. See focusing.org for more information.
[Written with the help of Beverly Shoenberger, LPC, PT]