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