Misunderstandings about Focusing

Over the last twelve years I have been teaching Focusing, I have come across many misunderstandings about it, both from those who have simply heard about it and those who practise it and even know it well! - including me. So I thought I would explore a few misunderstandings.
Over the last twelve years I have been teaching Focusing, I have come across many misunderstandings about it, both from those who have simply heard about it and those who practise it and even know it well! - including me. So I thought I would explore a few misunderstandings.

It's about noticing sensation in the body.
The word "body" in Focusing is a bit misleading in some ways... because people can tend to think of this in a very literal way, like being the sensations we feel in the skin, musculature, nervous system etc. The body in Focusing includes this, but is a lot more. It's the body as we feel it from the inside - which is more than the above, and this body feels and lives in the outer world. The word "being" or "organism" might describe it better. It's the responsive, alive, resonating being that we inhabit... the one that can feel the situation it is in right now, in an intricate and detailed way. The body in Focusing is the wise animal that can sense its own safety and strength as well as threat. The body in Focusing is our whole being listening to its environment. The body in Focusing has a knowing of all that we have been through. The body in Focusing has a knowing of what would feel right for you in a holistic way.

It's all about self healing.
It can seem this way, that Focusing is all about ourselves. Even if it was true, would it be that bad? I often say to people, that if we can truly be with ourselves in a listening way for 20 minutes a day or even a week, then the rest of the time we can give more fully and selflessly to others and life. That's how it is for me. There is nothing wrong or selfish about “healing" when it enables greater freedom in the rest of our life.

And there is more... Focusing is a powerful tool for self healing but it opens up doorways to much bigger things. We can use Focusing to explore creativity, new ideas and concepts. Through Focusing we can open up to a deeper sense of our world and through that to a sense of what might be missing or needed... and maybe even our place in all of that. The felt sense in Focusing is about us in the world, not just "us". It is about how we sense the situations we live in, and we live in big and complex situations! I say more about this in this blog post.

It's about feeling emotions in the body.
We can miss out on so much if we think Focusing is just about feeling emotions in our body. It is true that this is a big step for many of us. Just to feel an emotion in an embodied way can be liberating and healing. So often we keep these things at bay to protect ourselves and end up numb in the process. Allowing the world of our emotions to surface is profoundly useful - more so if we find feeling them difficult. And Focusing is a wonderful and safe tool to help us with this.

And there is this mysterious thing called the felt sense... this lies at the heart of Focusing. It is sensing this that brings change. It is kind of bodily and sometimes has an emotional quality, but not always. It speaks through many languages (body sensation, symbols, gestures, words) It is the way the body holds a situation and the next steps that the situation would need. Something is us knows... and this knowing is the felt sense.

It's just like mindfulness.
Focusing and Mindfulness share a lot of common ground. They both are about present moment awareness in an embodied way. They both encourage a curious awareness of what is present in our experience. And there are some key differences. The first one is in the form - I say more about it here. Put simply the partnership form of Focusing can totally shift the experience into something quite different. The other word that comes here could be depth (by this I am not implying that mindfulness is shallow) Focusing invites us to notice and deeply listen, with empathy, to what is present, almost like a conversation is happening, where we listen to the body (or to parts of us - including what we call our mind). In mindfulness we are encouraged to notice but not get too involved. Both approaches are valuable and have gifts.
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