Thursday, March 12, 2009

Change, now, and Focusing

My friend Jean and I had tea after my meditation group Monday, and we talked about change. The conversation reminded me of a chain of thoughts I have not followed for quite a while.

The first link is that change, deep change, is rare. Many of us say that we have changed in this way and that and surely we all know in some way, everything is always changing, even the Dharma. And yet, deep change, characterlogical change, is so rare that we all, if we are honest with ourselves, have to search very hard to say that we know someone who did more than change their behavior or outgrow some aspect of their “sturdy self.”

It is my contention that we spend too much time trying to change. This effort actually inhibits change.

So, where is Focusing in all this? Focusing is about being with what is now, how we actually are now. And yet it helps us prepare for real change when it presents itself as a felt-sense.

Underneath all wanting to change is some kind of dissatisfaction. Such unhappiness, craving, or aversion is related to a felt-sense or is a doorway to a felt-sense. The dissatisfaction is our “now”. It can become the subject of the conversation with self. Focusing offers us a new way to understand “now.” While saying now means washing dishes when you are washing dishes, it is not that simple. Often when we are washing dishes, there is some “sense of something” that wants to intrude. From the usual spiritual perspective, this intrusion needs to be overruled or set aside. From a Focusing view, the intrusion may be the most powerful now. It is likely some heretofore disregarded aspect of our life begging to be heard. Sensing into what is now, and listening to that with no effort to change it, can be a powerful opening to change.

Many people, for example, have recognized that while listening to others, fantasies may intrude. So, the question arises, are these fantasies intrusions or an effort from some deeper part of ourselves trying to tell us something about what we are hearing? Many therapists I know consider these fantasies vital in their understanding the stories they are listening to or seeing in themselves what is in the way of their hearing accurately.

Back to change. In most people’s lives, something comes along that knocks the supports from under their beliefs or sense of reality. If one is in the habit of just noticing, with a Focusing attitude, then it may be possible to not try to reconstruct the old, but to allow in a new grounding. Thus a door to real change may open.

Over the years I have heard a few stories that represent what I think of as real change and all of them seem to involve some surprise element. Some perception or happening catches them off guard. The capacity to open to this new view does not come from effort; it comes from cultivation of the habit of taking a moment before responding, from having practiced opening to the felt-sense of each moment over time.

There is obviously much more to say, but all I would like to do here is remind some and provoke others.

For those of you who have asked how to subscribe to this post ( do not know how to tell you to do it, sorry.

Be well, Bruce

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Introduction to my view of Focusing and Spirituality

Hello friends,

There are a those of you out there who have known me and my work for some time now, and know that I continue to look as deeply as I am able into the nature of experience. This blog is a way for me to share what I am seeing and am learning with more people than I have contact with in my daily life. Thus I offer this new forum in the hope that it will be an opportunity for discussion and ongoing contact.

In my way of understanding, the "way of experiencing" is helpful in navigating the
world. In particular, I use and teach Focusing as a path to living and moving forward in spiritual ways. Many of my best moments in a week are the times when I am teaching Focusing. I do not see myself as an expert, but I find that sharing what I know and am learning has over time benefited others.

As I thought about this first entry, a recent serendipitous experience came to mind. Looking though some old Focusing material, I ran across a
cassette of a workshop that Gene Gendlin, and several others of us,
conducted many years ago. It was held at the Center for the Study of the
Person in La Jolla, and Carl Rogers, who was the director, was there. He
had been Gene's teacher.

As I listened to the tape, I found myself asking why Gene was spending so much time talking about "Clearing a Space." Clearing a Space was originally the first step of Focusing. Most teachers have long since given it up. As a first step it can be
cumbersome. Many people complained that by the time they cleared a space,
there was no time for Focusing.

And yet, revisiting this step and hearing Gene's arguments for it awakened
something in me. Let me explain or remind you of what it is.

One began by saying to oneself, "I feel wonderful," and then one paid
attention to the bodily response to this statement. Whatever came up as an umph, as in "How can I feel fine if...," was to be put aside. This way one could catalog and put aside
all that interfered with being present.

As many of you might guess, this process could take time because many umphs could be in the way, and some might strongly resist being put aside. The idea was that when
worries were put aside, one was free to bring a more whole self to the
chosen subject.

Though Clearing a Space is not used so much these days, I would like to

point out that not only does this process help open to the Focusing

work, it also opens us up to life! If all one does is practice Clearing A Space, a internal lightness is available. Baggage stowed, one can access more of
one's self, or Self.

Welcome to my blog. I look forward to your feedback. Please feel free to forward this or future blogs to anyone who you think would be interested. I would hope this will lead to a forum for us all to discuss Focusing and spiritual matters. I know that we are all busy so I will do my best to keep them short and sweet.

Be well and happy, Bruce