Do you ever feel that you’ve hit a wall? For me, this feeling seems to come in cycles. Inevitably, after things have been flowing for a while, there’s a downturn.
And sometimes the downturn becomes a pitfall. We may lose faith that there is any way out. But there is always a way.
Trying to focus on what this way is can be problematic. Focusing in the usual sense of the word is what many of us feel we can’t do very well. If we could only put our attention where we wanted it to go, we might find the way to move out of the stuck place.
But that’s just the problem, because the focusing part itself can seem difficult and illusive.
How many times have you said, or heard others say, “I can’t focus.”
But focusing is something that we can teach ourselves to do.
Many years ago Gene Gendlin, a psychotherapist and philosopher, wrote a book called Focusing. Today, many people the world over practice his method.
His focusing method allows us to clear a space, and look for that vague ‘something’ inside of us that knows the way forward. The body holds knowledge that we can access, if we just allow it to speak to us. One of Gene’s sayings is, “There will be a way.”
Here are the basics:
1. Clear a space.
Take a moment to relax. Pay attention to the inside of your body, especially the chest and stomach area. Ask yourself, “How is my life right now? What is the main issue for me right now?” Sense within your body. If you feel something, stand back from it and observe it. Ask yourself if you feel anything else. Usually there will be several things.
2. Felt Sense
Choose one problem to focus on. Observe it in a spacious way, as a witness. Get a sense of the whole thing, in a general way. Don’t try to analyze it, just notice how it feels in your body. Take some time to just be with it. It may be vague and unclear. That’s fine.
Notice if any words or images come that describe the feeling. A word might describe a quality such as jumpy, scary, or stuck. Or you might see an image. Think about the word or image, and then check back with the feeling. Does the word or image really fit the feeling? Does it resonate? If not, stay with the feeling and see what else comes up.
Alternate between sensing the feeling and reflecting on the word or image. If the word, phrase, or image ‘fits,’ you will feel a shift in your body. If the felt sense changes, the word or image may also change. Just notice these things.
Ask yourself, what is it about this issue that gives it this quality? Sense the quality again. For example, if the word that came to you was “sticky,” you might ask, what is it that makes it sticky? Why does it make me feel stuck? Continue asking until you sense a release, a shift. See if any answers arise. Don’t push, just be receptive. It doesn’t have to come all at once. In fact, you may gain further insights later on.
Stay with what you’ve received. Even if it is still vague, you have focused and something will come on its own. Try to stay with whatever you have received, however small. More will come in time.
The main thing to remember is that along with whatever blocks or bodily contractions that may be present, at some point, sooner or later, there will come a sense that there is also some space, a feeling that something new might be possible.
Try it and let me know what happens. There will be a way. (Visit the Focusing Institute website for more information on Gene Gendlin’s focusing method.)
“It is not the answer that enlightens, but the question.”—Eugene Ionesco