How change happens and letting go of the big shift


Imagine we're in a landscape or somehow custodians of a landscape and there's a river running through it. Imagine that this river is not healthy. Maybe it's causing flooding. Or maybe it’s eroding or even poisoning the landscape. It’s lack of health itself affects other parts of that landscape, affecting the animals and plants around it and so the whole ecosystem is struggling because the river that feeds it is not all ok.

Imagine too that we know that something needs to change, that the river and the landscape isn't healthy. So how might we change it? Read More...

Three teachings from my dog


Over recent months I have been struck and moved by sensing and listening to what I am calling an animal level of sensing. Meeting it has brought self compassion and a deeper trust in the body’s wisdom. What do I mean by this animal level? Eugene Gendlin is quoted as saying “we are at least plants” a quote I love by the way and I want to extend this by saying we are at least dogs (or maybe cats if you are a cat person) So to illustrate this level of experiencing, I want to share three teachings from my dog (pictured above): Read More...

Our body is nature


For a long time, I thought of nature as just a nice place to be in, and it felt good to be in the forest or by the sea, but I didn’t pay much more attention than that. Now though, after immersing myself in many ways of reconnecting with the natural world - I sense there is a whole lot more to our relationship with nature that connects with the practice of Focusing.

We talk of listening to the body in Focusing, but what is the body? Read More...

Rewilding the soul

In ecology and conservation, there's a lot of talk about rewilding. It has become a buzzword even. For good reason, our dwindling diversity in our countryside and on our planet more widely is causing widespread disruption and breakdown, so the call for rewilding is more than just a fad. In some ways our long term survival even depends on it.

It's true to say that what happens outside of us is a reflection of what happens inside. That how we treat the outer world reflects in part, how we treat ourselves. So what does our domesticated and over controlled outer landscape say about our inner world? Or you could ask; what have we done to our own psyches and souls within this outer system of control and dominance? What aspects of us have we kept out of our wild psyches to keep comfortable and just get on with life. What line have we drawn that says this is allowed and this is not allowed? Read More...

Welcoming Back the Collective Exiles of Death and Grief


I have always loved the invitation of "What wants attention?" to open a Focusing process. In my life as a Focusing teacher and in my personal practice as a Focuser, I used to think that this invitation was enough for whatever wanted attention to show up: that after I made that initial opening, the rest would happen by itself; that all I had to do was open the door and whatever wanted to be seen would wander though. Maybe it would take time to come, but eventually it would come and be heard and met. I had this image of opening a door and waiting... 

But what if that ‘something’ on the other side of the door has not only been kept out by protective forces in you but has been exiled by the larger collective. What if that ‘something’ has showed up at many doors over and over and been turned away, hundreds and thousands of times... and what if it had done this for generations. How would it feel to be that something? Imagine being such an exile. Would it be enough to see an open door for you to go in, would you trust it after all the rejections? I doubt it. Read More...

What does welcoming mean?

I love the word "welcoming" and I use it a lot in my courses and sessions with people. I invite myself and others to "welcome" feelings or parts of themselves that arise in focusing... and I wanted to share what I really meant by it as it's one of those words that means different things to different people and can easily be misunderstood. Read More...

"You matter" - the implicit and essential message of Focusing

It is a tragic truth that too may of us go through life feeling that our life does not matter, that what we deeply feel, value and believe does not matter, that even our existence does not matter. I meet many people that in some way had this message given to them as a child. Their feelings and inner life was not of value or worse, that how they were, was in some way not allowed or too much, flawed or damaged... Their sense of mattering in the world was broken or compromised. Imagine living in a world where you feel your life has no consequence? That your experience does not count in any way. Maybe you life, or aspects of it, was somewhat like that?

To feel we matter is an essential need. Even the word "matter" brings a lot. It speaks of substance and has its origins in latin words for origin, source and mother. When we matter we feel substantial, we feel real. Our existence in the world is noticed, is valued and cherished. It is an essential "message" to give to each other and an essential thing to feel.

Behind the annoying person is a whole life...

Behind the annoying person is a whole life...

Over recent months, I've noticed how my son quickly goes into blame and frustration when his best friend does not respond to a message, a whole story can emerge about how his friend hates him or how they will never talk again. I am sure we have all done something similar, we send a message to a friend, expecting a response and when it does not come, we fall into blame and hurt.

And I notice how I am now learning to wonder…

Is it ok to tell a story in Focusing?

There is a common misunderstanding about Focusing that it is all about the body, that you have to feel it all in the body and the body is where all the wisdom lies. To me, this is too black and white, and a little literal. What we can often forget is how important it is to tell a story, to give space to the narrative, or to share the narrative. When the original research was done into Focusing, they originally called what they found "a different way of speaking". They didn't say it was people listening to their bodies, they said it was about a different way of speaking. They saw that when people spoke, and at the same time referred to their direct felt experience, then change happened. So I want to talk more about this way of speaking. Read More...

Holding it all

In such a short time, the world has changed

When I take my awareness inside, there is a lot to welcome. A huge span of responses, feelings and reactions. I want to share what comes for me to maybe support you in making sense and welcoming of what might be moving through you in these times.

Open the door!

Imagine a room in your house, filled with broken furniture, dusty boxes full of old files and who knows what, old toys and unwanted gifts pile up in every spare corner. Dust settles on all of it. It is the kind of room you might rarely enter, or just for a moment to dump something else in it. Maybe you have a room like this in your own home (or a cupboard or draw)? In this space nothing really changes from year to year.


Why won't it say anything?


It's not unusual to meet something in Focusing that for some reason does not "open up". We might offer questions and invitations to it and nothing comes back. Maybe we are spending time with a tension in our chest or some deep sense of unease and no matter what we do - nothing changes. Here are three reasons why that might be happening.


The sacred act of welcoming

A few months back I was listening to an interview with Jon Young - from 8shields, an organisation that promotes nature connection and community regeneration. He spoke of his time in the Kalahari with the San bushmen and how incredibly welcoming they are, even if you have had an afternoon nap - they will give you are warm welcome - each time they meet you. It struck me how different this was in our culture and how we can easily miss this profound attitude. It set me off on a whole reflection about welcoming... and I have come to love this word and act. Read More...

Our body knows what is missing


I'll begin with this remarkable quote from Francis Weller, Author of ”The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief”

"Whilst many of us suffered mightily because of unconscious parenting, we must remember that our parents were participants in a society that failed to offer them what they needed in order to become solid individuals and good parents. They needed a village around them and so did we Read More...

Befriending avoidance

I have to confess I have many areas of my inner and outer life I tend to avoid. A good example of this would be conflict - I just find it hard to enter any situation where there might be conflict or confrontation. I am not talking about war zones here - just two people disagreeing! Some part of me avoids it like the plague. And at the same time I also know that many of those situations have to be faced. I also observe here how easy it is to fall into self criticism here and thinking less of myself for acting on that avoidance. "You are giving in *again*" some part of me says. So how can I make some changes in this tricky spot? Read More...

The life we refuse

"The life we refuse is singing to us
From the other side"

These lines from a poem by Daverick Leggat speaks so clearly to this place we occupy when we pause and pay attention to our direct bodily experience. Here we stand at a door with courage and curiosity, and perhaps a little trepidation. Here we invite in what has been singing to us from the other side. Here, our exiled guests are waiting to be welcomed back. Read More...

Three embodied ways from Focusing that might help us face global crisis

Over the last few months and more so in the last few weeks - since the latest IPPC report on climate change was released, I have been reflecting and exploring the whole raft of responses and reactions, and feel ready to share a few learnings I hope might help. These are all rooted in the embodied practices of Focusing and Somatic Experiencing. Read More...

When we feel "inadequate"

I am sure we all know this kind of experience... we are talking or seeing someone who is more intelligent/knowledgable/outspoken about something... and we being to shrink and feel inadequate or not "enough" in some way. It may be in the realm of sports or politics, music or the arts. The subject doesn't matter. What feels bad is how it impacts us and the meanings that flow on from that. It used to happen to me all the time. Some leap happened from being ignorant (I mean that in a non judgemental way, just the simple fact of not knowing) to me feeling like a failure/idiot/stupid. It happened with politics, with current affairs, with sports. The feeling inside was so bad that I actively avoided those conversations, steering away from them or just changing subject or leaving entirely! Read More...

10 ways to use focusing in everday life

How do I use Focusing in my everyday life? or how shuffle play on your iPod/phone can tell you what you need to know!

At first, it may appear that Focusing is a "practice" like many others: Meditation, Yoga etc, but in essence it is a way of being, or an attitude that weaves itself into your life the more you "practice". It becomes a way of navigating our life on many levels, a compass we refer to and a touch stone for our deeper knowing.... Ok enough metaphors!
I wanted to share just a simple list in no particular order of how I use it in my everyday life, to give a flavour of how it can be woven in. Read More...

Teachings from my 6 year old son.

My son Albie, now 6, is one of my most helpful teachers. Everyday he shows me how much I am really able to listen without judgment or agenda. Or to put it this way, if he detects any amount of judgment or agenda in my way of being with him, he reacts, sometimes strongly!... Read More...

Big Kindness

I want to share something that has been happening for a few years in my Focusing practice... and it’s about what I am calling big kindness. It happens like this: I’m exploring some theme around a difficulty, for example - my habit of spending too much time on the internet and researching products... and in that exploration I meet various parts of myself with empathy and understanding... and then in that exploration, it’s like I sense a bigger picture Read More...

Who is navigating your life? or "why are you looking at your phone daddy?"

Recently my son Albie, who is 6, has been asking me "why are you looking at your phone daddy?" It's easy to lie or fudge an answer to be honest but very often it's because I am either restless or needing some way or removing myself from the painful present. It's a habit... and addiction and a useful handheld device that helps my life.

At heart. my son's question is vital and alive... it invites me to stop and ask, why? Why am I doing this? and it's a question I am growing more fond of. It's not a demanding question or critical… it's not "WHY? am I doing this? (and you know you shouldn't)" It is a more curious enquiry... what is beneath this thing I am doing ? What is wanted right now? Read More...

Facing uncertainty

In truth, we are always living in uncertain times. Yet, right now it seems more evident or closer to the surface, but that thread of uncertainty is woven into everything and who knows when it will unravel. I have always been struck by this phrase from a ancient Buddhist teacher Shantideva "in a moment life breaks its word". This was not supposed to happen! - some part of us cries, "not to me or them"... change always brings shock, fear and struggle.

So. when we face that cliff edge of the unknown, how can focusing help us there? Read More...

I don't feel it in my body... Am I Focusing?

Sometimes it is hard to know if we are Focusing? Especially early on when we are perhaps newer to the practice. An image I heard many years ago that describes it well is that Focusing is like tuning into a new language, at first the sounds make no sense, then gradually as you become accustomed to it, you begin to hear words and then phrases.. and then it makes sense. The language of the body takes time to learn and what can make it more difficult is that each of our bodies has a different way of "speaking"... and also that we can easily have expectations that obscure what is actually happening. One such expectation is about "feeling it in the body" but do we always feel it in the body, or what is it we feel in the body? And if not - then how do we know we are doing it? Well, here are three signs that might help. Read More...

Carry the fear with you...

I've finally learnt that it's ok to be scared and anxious! Well, to be more precise, that it's ok if part of me feels that - even strongly.

For many years, I would feel afraid... let's say when facing a new and challenging situation. I would feel scared and at the same time try and not feel scared, I'd try and talk myself out of it, or ignore it, or reassure myself. Or even worse I'd get caught in some kind of self judgement - feeling low or a failure because here I was again feeling afraid. A painful place. Read More...

Our body feels the bigger picture...

Sometimes we have this deep sense something is wrong....

What is that?

Many times in my Focusing I have felt this, and without realising my assumption, expected it to be "about me"; some deep pain waiting to be heard (or so a part of me fears)... then after spending time with it, I sense that this wrongness I feel is about something bigger. Yes, it is about me, but me as part of a much larger process; processes in our world, that we are faced with often without much choice. I was struck by this paragraph from the writer and activist Charles Eisenstein.

"A multiplicity of needs go chronically, tragically unmet in modern society. These include the need to express one's gifts and do meaningful work, the need to love and to be loved, the need to be truly seen and heard, and to see and hear other people, the need for connection to nature, the need to play, explore, and to have adventures, the need for emotional intimacy, the need to serve something larger than oneself and the need sometimes to do absolutely nothing and just be." (Page 147, The more beautiful world our hearts know is possible)

When I read this, something deep inside both relaxed and woke up! Read More...

I love curiosity

We all have addictions, we may not recognise them as this. For me and for many people I know, a good example is checking my emails or Facebook on my phone. As soon as a little bit of boredom or discomfort kicks in... out comes the phone. One definition of an addiction is something that has control over us, some behaviour that makes us change our course in the day. We think "i'll just drop by that store on the way home, it's not much of a detour" Or you could define it as something you simply feel compelled to do. Read More...

Overlooked trauma

For some time now, I have been reflecting on the meaning of the word trauma, or more precisely, what does it mean to say something was traumatic? It is not always the more obvious things that leave us traumatised. We can too easily dismiss an experience, when comparing it to other peoples "bigger " more obvious trauma.

In reality, a traumatic experience is not so much defined by the type of event, but more about how a situation impacts upon an individual, or community. It's defined by a meeting of an external situation with the unique intricacy of each person. It is too simple to say x event = x

Living from your "bigger self"

Though you may not be able to tell by looking, some of the time I feel like a scared child: vulnerable, cautious, defended,... to name a few qualities. I look out from those scared eyes.

And at other times, I feel like an adult, a grown up... neither of those labels quite feel right (and as we and my son know, not adults are grown ups!) I feel undefended, curious, I can take risks, speak out when needed, feel and act from my values. It feels better to live from here, not just for me but for my family and the broader world.

How come we can switch from one to other in a moment and how can focusing help us get bigger? Read More...

Who meditates? (or does Focusing?)

Sometimes I get stuck in Focusing. Usually this is because I have become identified with some part of me that wants something to happen - or conversely wants to avoid something happening. Or it could be the part of me that wants to understand. It can take me a while to spot this has happened. Once I do, the process invariably changes. Read More...

The power of empathy: how being heard calms the body.

For a while now I have been pondering how Focusing differs from Mindfulness and for me one of the key factors is the place of an empathic listener when we practice Focusing in pairs. This relationship with a companion or listener changes the whole process for me. There is a lot that happens in the interaction that changes the process so what I write next is about just one aspect of that.

It starts with this question, why does the presence of another matter and what do they bring to the relationship?

In 2013, I was lucky enough to be present at a day conference with Stephen Porges, a psychiatrist and researcher at the University of North Carolina. His studies on the nervous system are well known in Somatic Experiencing and other trauma healing disciplines. His model, the polyvagal theory has many dimensions to it but one essential aspect is what he calls the "social engagement system" - in essence this is all about how our safety is regulated by interaction with others.

Misunderstandings about Focusing


Who makes the new years resolutions?

Who makes the new years resolutions?

Like many others, I have been reflecting on last year and giving time to thinking about the year ahead… and wondering shall I make some kind of resolution?

In the past I have made many resolutions and to be honest, they have not come to much. They have usually been far to vague to be actualised. Things like “I’d like to be more fearless next year”. The intention is good I know, but it soon gets forgotten or lost. Also, as I look back I see that this resolution was being made from only one side of myself (my Focusing teachers call this a partial self). The trouble is, that no matter how wonderful and well intentioned our resolution is, if it comes from only a part of us (even a very positive one), we will probably be in trouble: What happens for me, is that all the other parts of me that did not sign up for the resolution kick in and rebel! and the resolution fails. We all have these partial selves, even famous people it turns out - I was listening to the radio 6 last week and heard an exact from Russell Brand’s new book “Revolution” He very clearly and humorously spoke about having some part of him that was scared…and went onto mention that there was “more than one of him in here”… insightful. Read More...

Ego - what ego?

I have been pondering this word “ego” for many years now. It crops up a lot in spiritual circles and in the personal development world… but what do we mean?

When someone says something like “it’s just my ego getting in the way” or “so and so has such a big ego” I realise that something in me cringes slightly. Not from embarrassment but more from a sense that it doesn't fit what is happening at the time and for me, can point to lack of empathy for what is there.

Small steps from wholeness

Following on from my other posts on decisions (what the body knows and voting with my body) I wanted to end the series with a post on how we can make small steps towards our goal - and in a way that works.

I have just returned from two weeks holiday. I loved it in so many ways, and having two weeks away from my emails and phone was just wonderful! Life was spacious again. I did not miss them at all. I say this because before I went I found myself regularly checking my emails on my phone or getting involved in apps and online shopping with my phone at all times of the day. I would even switch it on when I woke up at 6am. Quite rightly my three year old son sometimes shouts “put away the phone, no phone!” (see my previous post on this here with a funny and insightful clip from US comedian Louis CK) Read More...

What the body knows (about decisions and more)

Following on from my recent post on decisions, I wanted to say some more about what the body knows. Why would we ask “it” about decisions anyway? And perhaps do we ask too much of it?

Very often, we we are stuck with a decision, we ask ourselves things like: What should i do? Which is the right way? or even just “help!” The trouble is that the body (and I use this word broadly) finds it hard to answer these questions. They are either too open ended or too binary: too limited by an A or B response. I am not sure our body works like that… let me say more. Read More...

Using Focusing with Meditation

Whilst on retreat last week, i took some time to gather a few thoughts about how you might use Focusing with a meditation practice. I came up with seven ways they can interact. Each one of these could be expanded upon and I am sure there are more but if you are wondering about how they might work together then read on... Read More...

Don't pick up the mobile phone... and open to your experience.

It is hard not to reach for my mobile when I feel that inner urge.... “must check my emails, must look at such and such”. In our pockets we have whole worlds awaiting our interest. Even before smart phones, I used to do this and the phones had made it all the more compelling. In all honesty I love my gadgets and to some part of me it is like I am living in the future of my childhood....

And yet something is amiss.

I notice something else, that whenever I feel uncomfortable I so often reach for the phone. Like many of us do. So when I saw this clip from an interview with us comedian Louis CK, I was struck by his honesty and insight into this...

Louis C.K. Hates Cell Phones

He really points to an important point. Can we actually bear to have our experience in a more direct way? Can we allow in the feelings we have been keeping at bay all day or week... Or longer?

It is interesting that he says after he cried that happiness came, it's like allowing the suffering to be met and felt, allowed the happiness or joy. Isn't it like that? But so often I just reach for the phone.

It might not be a phone for you. It might be a book, or the computer or food. It does not matter. And just because we have a phone or read books or eat food, it does not mean we are running away. It's all about what is driving us. Who is it in us making the hand reach for the phone? And what is our relationship to it?

Well, I imagine there is
something in us doing that, and in all likelihood it does not want us to experience something... For a reason to be respected. Or it wants something for me, and again it needs respect.

So, the next time I feel that discomfort and reach for the phone, I'll be curious and see who is there beneath the surface. Maybe I'll cry, who knows? but for sure it will take me closer to what is going  on.

So what is it that we feel inside? And is it always to do with me?

The following words came to me during a recent focusing experience.

This sense of wrongness I carry inside is about what is wrong “out there”.

The “out there” I am talking about is the world, in particular, all that does not feel right in they world. And let's face it, there are many situations out there that we know about that do not feel right. Climate change, the economic situation, the un sustainability of how we are living in this culture, wars, conflicts, abuse of women and children, humans and animal hardship of many many kinds....the list goes on.

Strangely. A feeling of relief followed. So often, some part of me thinks that if I feel something icky and difficult that it is because of me, or because of some fault in me. (This part needs some company for sure!) but here was a clear message that this particular sense I have was not about me.... It was about out there. Following the relief came a big sigh... about how huge the difficulties are that we face as a species.

So why is this important?

It points to a couple of key points.

Firstly the body we sense in Focusing is not just the physical body. It is the
body in the world. We can never really separate the body from the world it lives in. Though we may go about our lives thinking of ourselves as some kind of unit, controlling out there, the reality is something very different. It is really not that separate at all. Just reflect on what we need to take in from the world in order to live; air, heat, food, water, and reflect on how the lack of those can take our life away in a moment or effect it profoundly. It goes further than this. The body we sense in Focusing is the one that is connected to and feels the whole situation it is in (and was in) in a definite and perceivable way. It has a knowing about it. and about us in it. It has this always.

Secondly, that Focusing is not just about me or my issues (or you and yours) People often associate focusing with personal development and healing personal wounds and it has much to offer these realms, but it is way bigger than that. It is about sensing the situation we are in - and in particular it can show us how something does not fit, or is not right or it missing... and it can show us some next steps, a way forward, even if they are small steps.

I am not saying that you alone have the answers to all the difficult things out there, or that it is easy to even sense what would be a right thing to do in the the face of such huge problems. What I am saying is that I and you sense that something is wrong with the world and it needs our energy, passion and body to help it.

Meeting the demons

Fear is a powerful emotion. And something in us is scared of it! Fear of fear. Fear grabs you at such a visceral level that it often feels like all of you. If you examine it on a physiological level, then you can really see how powerful it is and for good reason. See my article on Trauma and Focusing for more on this.

Can we really meet the most scary places in us with Focusing? Read More...

Saying hello to a "no"

Saying hello to a "no"

It's hard to say hello to something in us that says no. It takes a lot of trust to stay with it enough to listen and hear what that is all about.

Very often my first reaction is to want to push the no away. For so many reasons the no can be unwelcome; maybe we are in a situation that does not welcome it, others may find it hard if you express it or maybe inside of us, we find it hard to hold ambivalence or conflict. A no can be awkward and difficult to have. Read More...

What wants attention

What wants attention right now? I find this to be one of the most helpful and meaningful invitations I can use in Focusing?

Usually, in our everyday lives we like to feel we are in control of things. Indeed, it appears we are. We can acquire things instantly over our mobile devices, we can get information more or less whenever we want it. We can contact people in a moment, and even expect immediate response! For most of us in the modern developed world,  we have so much "control" and all of these have huge benefits... and yet somehow this adds to the big illusion that we can somehow control our experience. Read More...

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