© Cathy Rowan - 2013 

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I often find that life presents me with situations which induce inside me a sort of “war” – an obvious example of such a “war” can start over something as simple as do I have the delicious looking dessert after a big main course on a meal out?

This war then goes something like this:

One part of me that says: “You must have it, you are out for a meal, you are allowed treats and you’ve worked so hard you deserve one....” And then there is another part that says: “Say No – you want to get into those jeans that are getting too tight...” Sometimes a third voice inside me chimes in: “Well everyone else is having a dessert and I don’t want to look like goody-two-shoes by saying “No””…. and I could go on now describing how all these different voices, or parts, inside me then get into a whole heated dialogue, if not a war, usually the loudest, at the time, winning; but later I notice I feel regretful or even angry with myself that that part won. Something in me wanted a very different outcome. Altogether I am not left feeling good inside myself mentally or physically. So this is how it was for me until, by chance, I came across Focusing and discovered that, by using Focusing, I could have a  new way of dealing with  such an inner war. A way that enabled me to find an outcome that leaves me feeling that I have resolved this situation successfully, that I am no longer left feeling regretful or angry. Rather I feel content, at peace in myself – I feel good. Good in my mind, my heart and my body. Similarly I have had the same experience in situations where I feel stuck or confused or where I simply have a nagging awareness that something in me does not feel quite right or is bothering me but I have no idea what. In all these situations and many more besides I have found Focusing gives me a way to make sense of these inner experiences and to find a life-enhancing way forward with them. It helps me make decisions that feel right and it is very helpful in connecting with my creativity. So Focusing is a way of exploring and getting to know yourself and all these differing parts that can so often have very opposing views about how we should go about living our lives. Further Focusing is a process which supports one to connect with all our internal experiences without becoming overwhelmed by them nor ignoring them. Rather this process supports us to allow each of these parts to have “their say” and by deepening ones relationship with them a new perspective can then emerge which meets the needs of all those warring/confused/stuck/scared factions within us, even those aspects we really hate or despise. At its core Focusing involves being present to the experience that is here, right now, just as it is. The body has an inherent life process that moves us forward if we can simply be with what is. All our process needs is what a plant needs to grow – the sun which is the warmth of human compassion and the rain which is us allowing our tears to come when they need to. What we do not need is to be attacked or criticised when dealing with places within us that are in pain or are frightened. These places need compassion as indeed do the parts that want to attack or criticise. The philosophy of Focusing is that all aspects of one's inner world originally come from a place of trying to help us even if, due to life circumstances, they now seem to have turned against our wellbeing. Aesop summed this up so well with his fable about the sun and the wind. If you do not know this tale this quick YouTube clip will tell it to you: So Focusing is an approach which enables us, through just being present with whatever is going on inside us; to create and develop a relational approach to our inner experiences rather than using the much more familiar problem- solving techniques that we are how we customarily deal with difficulties in the external world around us. In cultivating this relational approach Focusing can enable us to discover that the very places in us that do not “feel good” have the potential of opening to a new perspective that “feels good”, offering us new choices in our lives .

The difference between Mindfulness and Focusing

  Both Focusing and Mindfulness are practices to do with relating to one’s internal experience. Mindfulness is an inner awareness practice that is primarily about turning inwards to just observe how one is right now - in this moment, and then in this next moment, and so on… As I do this I notice how I am changes from moment to moment. So mindfulness is a way to connect with one’s own internal experience, in all its modes such as bodily feelings, emotions, thoughts, dreams, memories and so on. It is about a finding out where “I” am right now and of observing patterns, reactions and responses in myself, a discovering that “I” is the observer of my experiencing. Ultimately it is something that is “done”/experienced on one’s own even when participating in a group that is following a guided mindfulness or meditation practice. For me, Focusing picks up where Mindfulness leads me to and takes me further. It is an inner experience approach that can be practiced on one’s own but it also can be used by having a trained Focusing Companion. The Companion accompanies you in the process and provides a supportive presence, which is non-judgemental and compassionate. The Companion’s position is not that of a therapist but rather of a person trained in the Focusing process so they can be alongside the person who is focusing and provide guidance in facilitating this process - the Focuser is always in charge. Companioned Focusing has the advantage of being a way to be supported so one can connect to those inner experiences which feel “too much” to deal with on one’s own.  This process of Companioned Focusing offers the Focuser and their inner experience the healing experience of “being heard”, of their experience being received and affirmed, and of being supported to accept even those very difficult places and feelings which we all want to ignore or avoid. Out of this attuned listened-to experience comes the process of “feeling felt”. It is this, that in and of itself, that provides support to our inner experience creating the conditions for shift and transformation to arise organically from within the core of our being.

“Focusing involves being present to the

experience that is here, right now, just as

it is.”

 

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Focusing

“Focusing is a way of tapping into your vast emotional intelligence through the messages of your body. With Focusing, you return to a source of knowing that has always belonged to you. Focusing gives you direct access to your own inner compass, where you know the right direction  for your life.” Ann Weiser Cornell
“I have found that  these sessions help me become more  clear and focused… I notice feeling calmer in everyday life” Lily Client Comment...
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