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Focusing

Discussion in 'Mind, Body & Spirit' started by Montana Keith, Jan 23, 2009.

  1. Montana Keith

    Montana Keith Member

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    Over the last several months that I have been associated with Project Meditaiton and this forum, I have been so blessed. I am grateful for those of you who have shared ways and techniques you have discovered for being with some of the "stuff" that meditation brings to the surface. I am grateful for those individuals who developed "The Sedona Method" Sedona Method (official site) The Secret self-help program; self-improvement technique and for those who introduced it to me on this forum.

    Also, I have recently been benefitting from Byron Katie's process called "The Work." The Work of Byron Katie I am grateful for those individuals who developed this process and for those forum posters who introduced it to me.

    In a number of my postings on this forum, I have mentioned another process that some of you might find useful. It is called "Focusing." The Focusing Institute

    For those of you who may be interested, here is an article by one of the leading focusing teachers that explains a bit about focusing. Take care. --Keith :)

    Three Key Aspects of Focusing
    by Ann Weiser Cornell

    There are three key qualities or aspects which set Focusing apart from any other method of inner awareness and personal growth. The first is something called the "felt sense." The second is a special quality of engaged accepting inner attention. And the third is a radical philosophy of what facilitates change. Let's take these one by one.

    The Focusing process involves coming into the body, and finding there a special kind of body sensation called a "felt sense." Eugene Gendlin was the first person to name and point to a felt sense, even though human beings have been having felt senses as long as they've been human. A felt sense, to put it simply, is a body sensation that has meaning. You've certainly been aware of a felt sense at some time in your life, and possibly you feel them often.

    Imagine being on the phone with someone you love who is far away, and you really miss that person, and you just found out in this phone call that you're not going to be seeing them soon. You get off the phone, and you feel a heaviness in your chest, perhaps around the heart area. Or let's say you're sitting in a room full of people and each person is going to take a turn to speak, and as the turn comes closer and closer to you, you feel a tightness in your stomach, like a spring winding tighter and tighter. Or let's say you're taking a walk on a beautiful fresh morning, just after a rain, and you come over a hill, and there in the air in front of you is a perfect rainbow, both sides touching the ground, and as you stand there and gaze at it you feel your chest welling up with an expansive, flowing, warm feeling. These are all felt senses.

    If you're operating purely with emotions, then fear is fear. It's just fear, no more. But if you're operating on the felt sense level, you can sense that this fear, the one you're feeling right now, is different from the fear you felt yesterday. Maybe yesterday's fear was like a cold rock in the stomach, and today's fear is like a pulling back, withdrawing. As you stay with today's fear, you start to sense something like a shy creature pulled back into a cave. You get the feeling that if you sit with it long enough, you might even find out the real reason that it is so scared. A felt sense is often subtle and as you pay attention to it you discover that it is intricate. It has more to it. We have a vocabulary of emotions that we feel over and over again, but every felt sense is different. You can however start with an emotion, and then feel the felt sense of it, as you are feeling it in your body right now.

    Felt sensing is not something that other methods teach. There is no one else, outside of Focusing, who is talking about this dimension of experience which is not emotion and not thought, which is subtle yet concretely felt, absolutely physically real. Felt sensing is one of the things that makes it Focusing.

    The second key aspect of Focusing is a special quality of engaged accepting inner attention.

    In the Focusing process, after you are aware of the felt sense, you then bring to it a special quality of attention. One way I like to say this is, you sit down to get to know it better. I like to call this quality "interested curiosity." By bringing this interested curiosity into a relationship with the felt sense, you are open to sensing that which is there but not yet in words. This process of sensing takes time-it is not instant. So ideally there is a willingness to take that time, to wait, at the edge of not-yet-knowing what this is, patient, accepting, curious, and open. Slowly, you sense more. This can be a bit like coming into a darkened room and sitting, and as your eyes get used the the lower light, you sense more there than you had before. You could also have come into that room and then rushed away again, not caring to sense anything there. It is the caring to, the interest, the wanting to get to know it, that brings the further knowing.

    There is not a trying to change anything. There is no doing something to anything. In this sense, this process is very accepting. We accept that this felt sense is here, just as it is, right now. We are interested in how it is. We want to know it, just as it is.

    Yet there is something more than just accepting. In this interested curious inner attention, there is also a confident expectation that this felt sense will change in its own way, that it will do something that Gene Gendlin calls "making steps." What is "making steps"?

    The inner world is never static. When you bring awareness to it, it unfolds, moves, becomes its next step.

    A woman is Focusing, let's say, on a heavy feeling in her chest which she feels is connected with a relationship with a friend. The Focuser recently left her job, and she has just discovered that the friend is applying for the position. She has been telling herself that this is not important, but the feeling of something wrong has persisted. Now she sits down to Focus.

    She brings awareness into the throat-chest-stomach area of her body and she soon discovers this heavy feeling which has been around all week. She says hello to it. She describes it freshly: "heavy... also tight... especially in the stomach and chest." Then she sits with it to get to know it better. She is interested and curious. Notice how this interested and curious is the opposite of the telling herself that this is not important which she had been doing before. She waits, with this engaged accepting attention.

    She can feel that this part of her is angry. "How could she? How could she do that?" it says about her friend. Ordinarily she would be tempted to tell herself that being angry is inappropriate, but this is Focusing, so she just says to this place, "I hear you," and keeps waiting. Interested and curious for the "more" that is there.

    In a minute she begins to sense that this part of her is also sad. "Sad" surprises her; she didn't expect sad. She asks, "Oh, what gets you sad?" In response, she senses that it is something about being invalidated. She waits, there is more. Oh, something about not being believed! When she gets that, something about not being believed, a rush of memories comes, all the times she told her friend how difficult her boss is to work for. "It's as if she didn't believe me!" is the feeling.

    Now our Focuser is feeling relief in her body. This has been a step. The emergence of sad after the anger was also a step. The Focusing process is a series of steps of change, in which each one brings fresh insight, and a fresh body relief, an aha! Is this the end? She could certainly stop here. But if she wanted to continue, she would go back to the "something about not being believed" feeling and again bring to it interested curiosity. It might be that there's something special for her about not being believed, something linked to her own history, which again brings relief when it is heard and understood.

    Focusing brings insight and relief, but that's not all it brings. It also brings new behavior. In the case of this woman, we can easily imagine that her way of being with her friend will now be more open, more appropriately trusting. It may also be that other areas of her life were bound up with this "not being believed" feeling, and they too will shift after this process.

    This new behavior happens naturally, easily, without having to be done by will power or effort. And this brings us to the third special quality of Focusing.

    The third key quality or aspect which sets Focusing apart from any other method of inner awareness and personal growth is a radical philosophy of what facilitates change.

    How do we change? How do we NOT change? If you are like many of the people who are drawn to Focusing, you probably feel stuck or blocked in one or more areas of your life. There is something about you, or your circumstances, or your feelings and reactions to things, that you would like to change. That is very natural. But let us now contrast two ways of approaching this wish to change.

    One way assumes that to have something change, you must make it change. You must do something to it. We can call this the Doing/Fixing way.

    The other way, which we can call the Being/Allowing way, assumes that change and flow is the natural course of things, and when something seems not to change, what it needs is attention and awareness, with an attitude of allowing it to be as it is, yet open to its next steps.

    Our everyday lives are deeply permeated with the Doing/Fixing assumption. When you tell a friend about a problem, how often is their response to give you advice on fixing the problem? Many of our modern therapy methods carry this assumption as well. Cognitive therapy, for example, asks you to change your self-talk. Hypnotherapy often brings in new images and beliefs to replace the old. So the Being/Allowing philosophy, embodied in Focusing, is a radical philosophy. It turns around our usual expectations and ways of viewing the world. It's as if I were to say to you that this chair you are sitting on would like to become an elephant, and if you will just give it interested attention it will begin to transform. What a wild idea! Yet that is how wild it sounds, to some deeply ingrained part of ourselves, when we are told that a fear that we have might transform into something which is not at all fear, if it is given interested attention.

    When people who are involved in Focusing talk about the "wisdom of the body" this is what they mean: that the felt sense "knows" what it needs to become next, as surely as a baby knows it needs warmth and comfort and food. As surely as a radish seed knows it will grow into a radish. We never have to tell the felt sense what to become; we never have to make it change. We just need to provide the conditions which allow it to change, like a good gardener providing light and soil and water, but not telling the radish to become a cucumber.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2009
  2. Bhavya

    Bhavya Member

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    Hi Keith
    I had a chance to listen to a radio show featuring various Law of Attraction people, including Hale Dwoskin and I was very impressed with his quiet sensitivity and spirituality. I can see why The Sedona Method would be a positive tool for change.
    If you feel like checking out the radio show its at
    http://themastersgathering.com/videos/
    I found this radio show (Wed, Feb 4th) was much better than the other material in this series, largely I think because of Hale. He seemed to move things towards a more spiritual perspective :)
    In peace,
    Bhavya
     
  3. Montana Keith

    Montana Keith Member

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    Thank You

    Bhavya,
    Thank you so much for to the link to interview with Hale Dwoskin. I've downloaded it. I look forward to listening to it. Hale is someone I've listened to who works well for me.

    Take care. --Keith :)
     
  4. Montana Keith

    Montana Keith Member

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    "A Focusing Story"

    The following is a story I wrote that was inspired by "some thing" that came up when I was listening and providing presence for my focusing partner Geof. Geof lives in Arkansas and I live in Montana. Once a month we meet via telephone for about an hour to an hour and a half. Part of the time, Geof provides presence as I focus and journey inward. The other part of the time, I do the same for him. This focusing work has proven extremely beneficial to me. Here's the story:

    “Gracefully”
    (Written by Keith L. Jensen on February 11, 2009)

    We shall not cease from exploration
    And the end of all our exploring
    Will be to arrive where we started
    And know the place for the first time.
    Through the unknown, unremembered gate
    When the last of earth left to discover
    Is that which was the beginning;
    At the source of the longest river
    The voice of the hidden waterfall
    And the children in the apple-tree
    Not known, because not looked for
    But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
    Between two waves of the sea.
    Quick now, here, now, always—
    A condition of complete simplicity
    (Costing not less than everything)
    And all shall be well and
    All manner of thing shall be well
    When the tongues of flame are in-folded
    Into the crowned knot of fire
    And the fire and the rose are one.


    (Four Quartets, Quartet No. 4: Little Gidding V by T. S. Eliot)

    Dancing, swaying, moving freely back and forth. Freely entering within and freely letting go when the time is right. As children, this dance of life came so effortlessly, so freely. There is no living in regret of the past or fear of the future. There is always just the now—the ever present now. And moment to moment, life is a celebration, a dance of joy in celebration of every beautiful moment. The rain is falling: dance for joy. The family cat just had kittens: dance for joy. Daddy is arriving home from work: dance for joy. Mommy is baking homemade chocolate chip cookies: dance for joy. JOY, JOY, JOY! Seen through a child’s eyes, life is a joyful celebration. Ah, to live constantly like this! How would that be? Could it be possible? Oh, how I wish and hope it might be.

    To a child, there are no limitations. The portals to life’s possibilities are entered through doors with well oiled hinges—doors that swing freely back and forth. As a child, you enter in and out of life’s possibilities effortlessly and gracefully. One day you’re going to be a fireman and the next you’re going to be an explorer. Anything and everything is possible. There are no limits. There’s no thinking and worrying about: Can I or can’t I? Should I or shouldn’t I? There’s only simply receiving grace and love like a flower receives sunshine and water.

    But then, the hinges on the doors to life’s possibilities start to rust one little belief at a time. These beliefs creep in quietly one little thought at a time. They start out so small and seemingly harmless. One by one these beliefs are learned.

    You can't do it.
    And a bit of rust forms on the hinges.

    You can't ask for help.
    And again, yet another bit of rust starts to form.

    You need other's approval.
    More rust forms. The doors still swings back and forth but not so easily and gracefully as they once did.

    You're not working hard enough.
    And now the hinges of the doors of life’s possibilities are really getting rusted. They no longer swing easily back and forth. Just opening them to get a glimpse at the other side is taking more and more effort.

    You're not spending your time on the "right" things.
    One after another and again and again, these types of limiting beliefs are heard and believed. After so many years, the hinges of the doors of life’s possibilities become rusted and frozen shut. And no effort on your part—no matter how hard you try—can force them loose and get them swinging back and forth—to and fro—as they once did.

    For some reason, that’s hard for me to explain, I’ve always seen doors to old barns as a metaphor of portals to life’s possibilities. There is just something about old barns that holds such a world of possibilities. My growing up years were all spend in the rural community of Sun River Valley, Montana. This area consists of rolling hills of prairie grasslands and vistas of flat topped buttes. Giving life to and tying the small communities of the valley together is the meandering Sun River. In a belt along its shores are the “woods” consisting of cottonwoods, willows, chokecherry, and buffalo berry bushes. The Lewis & Clark expedition passed through the valley in the summer of 1805. There are a number of wonderful old barns I remember seeing as a kid growing up in Sun River Valley. As a child I was only able to explore a couple of these barns. However, they ALL called forth—and still call forth to this day—my spirit of exploration and curiosity. There’s just something about barns that calls forth my spirit of adventure.

    As a kid, the two barns I remember exploring were my cousins the Nielsen’s barn and that of my cousins the Warnick's barn. Wanda Nielsen, my aunt, is my dad’s younger sister. Donna Warnick, my other aunt, is my mom’s older sister. Both the Nielsen’s and the Warnick’s owned dairies when I was a boy growing up.

    My younger brother Larry and our Nielsen and Warnick cousins use to play for hours in the lofts of both of these barns. Using our imaginations, we’d invent all kind of games. One day we’d be holding off attacking WW II German soldiers with our “pipe” machine guns mounted in the windows of the loft. The next day we’d be holding off attacking Crow and Blackfoot warriors with our trusty “Colt revolvers” and our “Winchester lever-action rifles.”

    When we weren’t in life and death struggles with our wily enemies, we were exploring and inventing. We were always discovering and finding all kinds of amazing things in these barn lofts. As kids we were always baffled by how adults could put such amazing “stuff” in these lofts and just forget it.

    And speaking of inventions, we came up with some doozies. One of my favorites was a zip line we invented at Nielsen’s. We hooked one end of a cable to the rafters next to the big loft window at the front of the barn. The other end of this 80 foot length of cable we hooked to the back bumper of Nielsen’s red 1948 Dodge Power Wagon. Putting the Dodge in “compound” gear, we slowly drove forward until the cable was taut. To this cable we attached an old horse drawn wagon or buggy single tree yoke we found among the treasures we’d discovered in the loft.

    And then with a whoop and a holler, we’d take turns holding on and hanging from this single tree yoke as we leaped out of the loft window and zipped down to the ground. Talk about fun!

    As a kid, we had so much fun playing in barns. It seemed as though there were a whole new world of magic and wonder just waiting for us within their walls. And the barn doors always swung outward easily, effortlessly, and welcomed us in.

    Sometimes when I’m by myself driving through the country, I’ll still hear the faint call of an old barn I see along the road—a call to enter and to explore and play. But then I remember that playing is for kids and not for 50 year old men. And yet I still can imagine and hope and believe. Sometimes when I let go of limitations and close my eyes and imagine, the following story comes to me:

    I’m 50 years old and a man, AND I’m 10 years old and a boy. I’m out exploring with my grandfather. We follow a winding path through a tangle of trees down along the river—the Sun River.

    After a while we arrive at an abandoned old red barn—a barn that I’ve never seen before. The doors are hanging askew and the hinges have rusted shut—rusted shut just like our minds have done because of the many limiting beliefs that we have heard and bought into over the years.

    Like no other barn that I’ve ever seen over the years, this one calls to me. I let go of my grandfather’s hand and run over to the doors. Gripping the edge of a door with both hands, I tried to jerk it open. The rusted hinges creak and shriek in protest, but the doors remain closed to me. I get sweaty and hot tugging and pulling, but nothing I do seems to make any difference at all. No matter how hard I try and no matter what I do it seems as though this barn is going to stay closed to me. I fall to ground in despair and defeat. Tears of sorrow stream down my face.

    And then I sense my grandfather’s presence. He smiles at me kindly and walks over to the doors. From deep within the pocket of his old jacket he pulls something out. His back is to me; so, I don’t see what he’s taken from his pocket. But, I hear this slow rhythmic click-thump . . . click-thump . . . click-thump . . . like the beating of a heart. I walk over and see that my grandfather has an old oil can in his hand. I can just barely make out the letters on its rusted and pitted surface. How strange! They read: grace.

    With each beat, with each click-thump, from the spout of the oil can, there flows green living oil. Slowly it seeps into the rusted hinges. Excitedly, I grab hold of the door and begin to try to pull it outward. With a kind hand on my arm, grandfather stops me. He tells me to wait and be patient. He shows me how to start gently moving the door back and forth just a little at a time.

    Slowly the rust starts to break away and the door begins to move more freely. With a smile on his face, grandfather says:

    “This is a different kind of door. It doesn’t swing outward like most doors do. This door will only swing inward. And it will only do so when you’re ready to go. Are you ready, my son? Are you ready?”


    I’m excited and kind of scared all at the same time. And yet this feels right . . . This feels like the thing to do. So with a smile on my face, I take a big breath and just let go. I stop trying. To my delight and with no efforting on my part, the doors open and swing inward, and I enter within. And the funny thing is: The world within is bigger and broader and deeper and more real and with more delights and wonders than anything I ever imagined while on the outside.
     
  5. rubytwo

    rubytwo Member

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    Ask...

    Every time I read one of your posts Montana, I feel like I am hearing my own personal journey...not so much in the details of where but in the ways you talk about grace.

    It is for that reason that I recommend that you get a copy of "Ask and It Is Given" by Jerry and Esther Hicks.

    After I had read "Ishmael" and "My Ishmael" by Daniel Quinn, I still had a lot of questions. I had been a searcher for most of my life and have now realized that it is as if I had been guided little by little through books and some movies to powerfully freeing answers.

    I then saw "What the Bleep.." and read "Loving What Is". A few months after that , after really seeing that there is NO SHOULD, a new acquaintance recommended the Hicks' book. That one book opened my eyes like nothing else ever has. But most of all it was responsible for my journey into JOY!

    I had grown up with almost no religious teaching, going to a presbyterian church a handful of times till I started college and was "waylaid "by some Baptist Student Union people. I remember how frightened I felt by the rules that I was learning...and then I joined, under some coercion, a local "Jesus Freak Group" . Three months into that experience, I finally decided to listen to my emotions and do what I felt inspired to do...run away. I hitchhiked out to California and fifteen years after that finally felt like I could handle talking about spiritual matters. During the time I was in that group I was heavily immersed in the Bible and later on , on my own I started reading much more in depth. I didn't ever memorize verses because I felt like it was taking too many things out of context and just another way of creating more resistance...through more rules.

    After reading the Hicks' book, I finally "saw" what unconditionality really is and realized that on that issue, in the past, I was not in agreement with other friends who were concerned with spirituality. Every time I tried to talk about true unconditionality, I was almost "shunned". To me if I talk about God, or Spirit, or Source, I am always aware of that powerful unconditionality ..and that All are loved equally, no exception. Every thing is accepted and God never takes offense because it simply isn't possible. We are truly free to be do and have anything we want...not to glorify Spirit, but to have fun and BE!

    God needs no glorification...IT is that, IT needs no thanks, IT is that. IT NEEDS nothing, IT only seeks to continue Being and IT does so through All of us! As long as we are free to grow and allow ourselves that freedom, God continues to grow, Love continues to grow through that unconditional freedom.

    And I came to a very rich understanding of that from "Ask and It Is Given".I feel that it is so encouraging and really does answer some of those deep questions we all have.

    Looking forward to reading more of your fabulous posts!
     
  6. Montana Keith

    Montana Keith Member

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    Thank You

    Hi rubytwo,
    Thanks for reading my story and sharing a little bit about your life journey. There are so many paths we all journey along. I am sensing more of a willingness in me to just let go and allow "God" to manifest in and through me. I use the word "God" but it is definitely not what I use to think I "knew" about God and "His" characteristics when I was active in organized religion. It is something "more" that the "I" I usually identify as "me" knows nothing of.

    It has something to do with just breathing in and out--with grace--and willingly receiving.

    Thanks for mentioning the book "Ask and It Is Given" by Jerry and Esther Hicks. I have a copy of the book but haven't read all of it yet. I hope today is a joyful one for you. --Keith :)
     

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