Excerpt: Focusing with Difficult Feelings in an Applied Focusing Session
With difficult feelings or problems like rage, obsession, addiction, anxiety, grief, depression, dissociation, disorientation, trauma, lovesickness, and social isolation, it can be very hard to do focusing. The feelings are too intense. Rather than getting a felt sense of the whole of the situation in a way, from outside the situation, you get a feeling of the intensity of the situation—a possible entry to felt sensing but not necessarily a felt sense (a feeling of the whole). The intensity or strength of the feeling overwhelms what little felt sense is there. For example, rather than getting a whole sense of the depression which necessarily brings hope, you feel the spreading devouring all encompassing intensity of the depression and just feel more depressed. Rather than feeling the whole of your issue with anxiety which is, by definition, “more than” the anxiety, and which, by definition, brings the promise of a way forward, you only feel accelerating debilitating anxiety. This is NOT felt sensing, but it can be quite challenging to make the distinction.
… One method for checking if you are indeed felt sensing, is to consider how familiar the feeling you are exploring is. If it is exactly the problem you have, if your exploration of depression brings a depressive feeling, it may confirm you are indeed exploring your depression, but it also confirms you are not yet in the area of true felt sensing. True felt sensing, is always characterized by having “more than” what you know in it. If the feeling is only what you know, you are not yet in felt sensing territory. Moreover, you may not make it into felt sensing territory, because difficult feelings by definition, tend to trap us.