Focusing is a way to go Inside. It is a way to pay specific attention to an experience oneis having. Focusing is very useful in the case of what is difficult: difficult to bear, difficult to identify, difficult to understand, difficult to tolerate.
It may be an uncomfortable sensation. It may be an issue one has no clue how to resolve or even approach. It may be a tremendous fear one is experiencing, yet one has no real sense or familiarity with what one is afraid of. Focusing is a way of approaching and connecting with uncomfortable, troublesome, baffling, mysterious, overwhelming experience.
Focusing’s most pivotal and significant aspect is the capacity to become Present. One client responded to this in a session with, “I don’t know what you mean.” I really welcomed and valued his response, his honesty, his humility in letting me know he wasn’t familiar with the idea of ‘becoming Present.’
I explained that to be Present is to be Aware. For example, if one is in a dark room, one cannot See what the room looks like and what is going on in that room. Turning on a Light reveals what the room looks like, what is in the room. Further attention would allow one to perceive what is happening in the room. And even further understanding and insight would allow one to penetrate into deeper meaning of what may be occurring in the room, perhaps between people, animals, plants, a movie playing, etc.
One could say Awareness is analogous to Awakeness. Asleep one misses the physical world. Tho the body is here, the consciousness is not in the physical body. It is elsewhere Upon first waking up, we often experience a grogginess and a time of ‘coming back’ to wakefulness. There are many stages of waking from a deep sleep. Becoming Present is similar. Being Here, Now, Fully is not happeining for those of us who are not Fully Enlightened. We are busy with our thoughts, our feelings, emotions and actions. We are tending to something, yet are not aware of Everything.
Buddha’s teachings pointed to the cultivating of one’s Presence. He taught that Mind and Body need to be relaxed. By being at ease, both Mind and Body are available. One could say ‘they are Here,’ rather than engaged with an activity of acting or thinking.
When Mind and Body are available and here, there is a connection that is made between them. In that connection there is a 'relating.' The relationship of Mind being Here and Body being Here creates a sense of ‘the Light being on in the room.’ Attentiveness, Sensitivity, the capacity of the senses to hear, see, feel, smell, touch is available, each sense bringing information to the individual. All of these qualities are contained in the experience of being Present.
Presence allows correct perception, according to the Buddha. The stronger the Presence, the better the capacity to perceive accurately. Buddha taught that correct Perception creates Well-Being. Incorrect Perception creates Ill-Being. If one misperceives a rope to be a snake, a lot of fear, a lot of trauma, a lot of suffering arises. A sense of ill-being is experienced. When the rope is correctly perceived as a rope, rather than an imagined snake, there is no need to move into fear and trauma. The state of ill-being does not arise. One avoids the entire drama.
There are Keys in this example related to Buddha’s teaching: - Truth creates Well-Being, whereas lack of Truth creates Suffering.
- Drama leads to suffering and is actually created by suffering.
The practice of becoming Present is the first step in learning to Focus. This is done by: - giving attention to the body - bringing one’s Awareness inside the body - checking in with different areas
In this way the Mind is directing itself inside its physical form. Both Body and Mind are invited to relax and rest in the experience of Being Here together. Instead of Doing or Thinking, Body and Mind are just Being. This is not physically active, nor is it verbally active. This is a silent, slow process, a restful process, a process that has no expectations, goals or performance.
Silence itself is a very noticeable change for the human organism. We are familiar with this Silence each night as we retreat into Sleep. Sleep being an absolute necessity for recuperating our ability to Act and Communicate during the waking hours.
Focusing brings a path that is also necessary. It is quite organic, like the beating of the Heart, the blinking of the eyes, the digesting of the food. It doesn’t require us to make it happen, and yet it is imperative to our healthy functioning. There is an intrinsic, inborn capacity that is tapped into through one’s willingness to become Present via the Mind and Body connecting via an inward direction, a Silent walk.
“What is the Path, what is the Way?” one may wonder. Via this Attentive, Sensitive Presence, one becomes aware of something in relation to a challenging issue one is experiencing. Via Presence one invites, one wonders and waits for some internal Sign to show itself. This may be a physical sensation or energy evident in the body. An image, however vague in the beginning, may surface. One takes note, and expresses what is coming to the Focusing Companion. A memory may arise, a scenario may arise, a character or creature may be there, symbolizing some aspect of the challenging issue one is choosing to work on that day. From here a process unfolds between the client/the Focuser and the Companion/Facilitator.
The combined Presence of the Facilitator and the Client/Focuser support the Focusing Process.
Focusing is a natural part of the healing session work. It is something one develops in order to understand oneself on deeper levels, which is an ongoing process.
Gene Gendlin has done extensive work with bringing Focusing to the therapeutic process.
Focusing is a personal process one can engage in alone &/or with a partner.
Gendlin has several videos online which illustrate his use of Focusing in a therapeutic modality, well worth watching.