Focusing is the building block of change, personal growth and creativity (artistic and intellectual).
Focusing is a non-linear interaction between thinking and feeling, self and experiencing.
Focusing is a particular way of paying attention to your embodied experience of something.
Focusing was developed by Eugene Gendlin at the University of Chicago. It comes out of client-centered therapy, existential philosophy and psychotherapy outcome research.
Focusing has a high capacity for joining with other things.
Focusing has many applications —to psychotherapy, bodywork, medicine, religion, creativity, movement, education, organizational development, to name a few.
Focusing is Listening
Focusing is a listening carefully to your body felt sense of a situation or issue or challenge in your life. You learn to find the whole of a situation there in your experience very vaguely at first then more and more comes just in the noticing.
Remarkably this noticing, describing, being with, representing, entering… leads to an unfolding which is not in the least arbitrary as it may seem initially but rather opens up new possibilities in the situation. Literally as your body felt sense changes there are new possibilities for action which were not there for you before. Moreover, with this entering comes a new whole with its own new steps now possible to sense and do. This is because body (experiencing) and mind are not separate. Every thought and situation comes with some experiential dimension no matter how elusive. Finding this dimension opens doors and shows a way forward.
The practice of Focusing, that is, of listening carefully to your body felt sense of a situation, happens mostly in two contexts. One is with yourself which you can use any time formally or informally in a session of 5 seconds or 2 hours. The other is a planned egalitarian partnership session where the listening carefully is doubled with exponential results. In this partnership you listen carefully to your body felt sense of a situation while your partner listens carefully to you, and then vice versa. The benefits of this “doubled listening” are extraordinary and wide-ranging yet there continues to be a humble ordinariness about the whole thing like of course this is the way human beings should be able to help each other.
History & Research
History and Research
Focusing was developed to improve people’s access to their inner world when research indicated that psychotherapy did not improve people’s access to this experiencing. Since the research confirmed that high access to one’s inner world did correlate with success in psychotherapy, it was important to develop another way that people could learn how to have that access.
The teaching of Focusing led to the development of an egalitarian partnership practice to sustain and deepen the ability to refer to and speak from inner experience (Gendlin, 1978). In this practice one person (the focuser) uses body felt sensing to explore an issue and to find forward steps while another supports the process with experiential listening which is similar to but also different from a Rogerian style of listening. Listening to oneself carefully (what the focuser does) became one description of Focusing, and learning to listen carefully to another listening carefully to themselves (the listener’s process) became more and more important in assimilating this practice and in adapting it to other contexts.
Focusing became synonymous with both this learning to access the body felt sense in working on an issue, AND with the partnership practice which emerged as the primary way that people could sustain and extend this learning rather than forgetting it.
Changing the Way an Issue is Being Lived
Focusing is a mode of inward bodily attention that most people don’t yet know about. It is more than being in touch with your feelings, greater than just thinking about a problem, and different from body sensations. Focusing occurs exactly at the interface of body-mind.
It consists of specific steps for getting a body sense of how you are in a particular life situation. The body sense is unclear and vague at first, but if you pay attention it will open up into words or images and you experience a felt shift in your body. In the process of Focusing, one experiences a physical change in the way that the issue is being lived in the body… The whole issue looks different and new solutions arise.
A New Worldview
A New Worldview
Focusing is the practice of a new philosophy of entry into the implicit. This philosophy is not so easy to grasp from the current dominant subject-object divided, unit-oriented scientific world-view. As an expression of this new philosophy, Focusing has applications in many areas: psychotherapy, education, medicine, religion, health, creativity, business, theory development.
Focusing requires an inside-out learning. Trying to learn it for professional use only, does not work. What works is learning it for yourself AND using it in your work. Using Focusing for your self occurs in a Focusing Partnership, a unique egalitarian relationship. It is not “peer therapy” because the listener has no responsibility for intervention or outcome as the therapist has in psychotherapy.
Focusing finds the solution which is implicit in the problem.
Empathic Insightful Listening can lead us into the Whole of a Problem so that we find its implicit solution in a process way.
The Whole of a Problem exists at a “murky edge” of experiencing. This felt sense is more than emotion, physical sensation, visualization, or energy awareness but it can also include these.
Entering experiencing through empathic insightful listening is a micro skill with mega applicability.
Focusing is a respectful complement and alternative to (i) Subject-Object/Body-Mind Splitting (traditional science) and (ii) Subject-Object/Body-Mind Transcending (traditional spirituality)
All is One; Be here Now; Let Go Let God; Salvation through Grace.
Focusing Partnership is a practice for this new complement and alternative to traditional science and spirituality.
In Focusing Partnership you become the Protagonist of your Transformation.
Training in Focusing Partnership is oriented to the particularity of all your issues and of your complex situations.
Human Beings are at least as complicated as plants. Even plants carry implicitly what they need to grow.