What is focusing? So many things! It’s a person-centered way to get in touch with and explore your inner landscape, to get to know those parts of yourself that may spend a lot of time in hiding, to connect with that part inside that always seems to sabotage everything …
What happens in focusing? Typically, focusing is done with two people. One is the focuser, the other is the focusing companion. The focuser spends time noticing what’s going on inside. The focusing companion just sits with him (in person, on the phone, or via Skype), her attention patiently focused on the focuser as well as her own feelings and sensations. Eventually the focuser speaks up. The companion listens carefully, checks for reactions in her own “focusing body” and then reflects back to the focuser what she has heard.
Are you saying, “That’s nothing special”? You might think so. But – there IS something special.
The focusing companion’s reflections are very, very different from the “parroting back” that is sometimes associated with that sort of reflection. It is as if the focuser “sings” to the companion, and then the companion is a receptive instrument. Have you ever felt the body of a violin or guitar when there is music around? You can literally feel it. That resonant feeling is what the companion does. The companion then “plays” the words back to the focuser, using the same words as the focuser did – but both are aware that there are two “instruments” involved.
The effect is very powerful. It’s as if the focuser’s words and feelings are amplified – and they are, through respectful, thoughtful, validating reflection. The focuser does not have to deal with the companion’s ideas or opinions about what was said, does not have to deal with any questions. All he does is take in this reflection of his own experience. This often creates a tremendous deepening of the experience, and can open a wide and deep exploration of what’s going on inside.
Unless the focuser expressly wishes, there is no redirection, no questioning, no interpretation. The companion’s job is to reflect to the focuser and to help the focuser stay in his “focusing body” and also to maintain a comfortable stance towards the often very powerful thoughts and experiences that can arise. This stance is called “self in presence.” It is a gentle listening, with equanimity, to everything that comes up in the focusing process.
This is what makes focusing so valuable to people who work and live in the mental health field. Emotions, thoughts and images can get really big – too big, it seems, to handle. Self-in-Presence is the stance that helps put a bit of a helpful distance between those too-big thoughts and feelings.
On the other hand, sometimes we feel a little numb – number than we want to. In Focusing we say they are “exiled.” Self-in-Presence can help to bring the thoughts, feelings and images a little closer, bring them back home.
If you are interested in learning about focusing, please get in touch with me at Isabella.Mori@vch.ca. We will hold a focusing workshop particularly for people in the mental health field some time in January or February. Details to come!