The Art of Embodied Focusing

focusing in meditation

The Benefits of Focusing

Focusing is a powerful yet gentle method used to facilitate change when we are feeling confused, stuck and challenged in life. The “felt sense” that momentary glimpse of possibility emerging, invites a fresh perspective to enter our awareness to shift the course of our lives with greater clarity and life forward movement with every aspect of our lives: work, relationship, creativity, health and so on.    

What is Focusing: Our Body’s Wisdom

Focusing is a body based awareness method that is easy and simple to learn by anyone at any age. Focusing allows us to gain deeper insight into the inherent wisdom contained within the body as a whole. Our body holds the collective experiences of our life from a myriad of emotions, sensations and thought patterns all of which can be intense and confusing at times. Focusing guides us to be less in reaction and more in response to issues by creating an environment of trust and openness. 

How Focusing Works: Deep Listening

Focusing involves a particular kind of listening that invites insight and wisdom to arise as we explore our present moment to moment experience. 

No matter where we are in our lives through the method of focusing we discover that our personal obstacles, although challenging, are in truth opportunities for growth and greater self awareness. We view challenges as an invitation to look at ourselves more closely with curiosity and a friendly non-judgemental attitude  rather than blame either toward ourselves or others. 

By deepening our listening skills with openness and curiosity we are granted greater access to these hidden gems that lie within these challenges as a treasure trove of resources to bring greater value to our life.  


Setting the Stage: Attending with Kindness

For many of us our relationship to our body can be challenging, even alien. With Focusing we explore how we can gentle be with our body in a safe, open and trusting way.  We discover that our greatest resource is self acceptance. 

It is through attending with kindness that we create an environment for ourselves and others of trust to welcome whatever wishes to be in our present experience to feel safe and welcome. 

This creates the foundation for the focusing process to be alive, informative and nurturing. 

Felt Sense, Felt Shift: The Turning Point

Have you ever had a spontaneous feeling of knowing even beyond words, you sense something… and most of the time if we quietly tune in  we may notice a subtle yet distinct feeling in the body maybe as a tingling, queasy, pleasant or unfamiliar feeling. Most of the time, unknowingly, our body is showing us, giving us signals through sensations, emotions, imagery and thoughts all the time around unresolved issues in our life like a knot in the stomach, an ache in the heart, an uneasy feeling that we can’t put words to, to name a few. Or perhaps a pleasant, warm, vibrant experience wanting our attention. As we turn our awareness toward the body and it’s messages we discover what’s called the Felt Sense, that beyond thought or words direct experience wanting to inform and guide us. When we acknowledge and meet these experiences, the feeling sense, with curiosity we can then open the door for a Felt Shift to occur.

Why is this shift so important? This shift can free us from our habit forming mental/emotional patterns that cause stress, confusion and feelings of unworthiness in our life. This felt shift gently takes us to the edge of our experience to reveal a greater understanding of who we are like a breath of fresh air. In focusing we learn how to recognize the felt sense and the felt shift to gently wake and lift us up to recognize our human potential.

Focusing was first introduced by Eugene Gendlin back in the early 70’s. Gendlin coined the phrase “felt sense” and we attribute this phrase to the embodiment of his work. 

Focusing is a process. 

A process of  deep listening, acknowledging, attending to and sensing freshly a greater source of wisdom, insight, knowledge, empathy and power that is inherent within us all. It is a skill that we deepen and develop over time as we discover our ability to simply be w anything that arises within our personal experiences: emotions, thoughts, sensations, feelings in a non judgmental way. Which is to say that anything that arises can be met and greeted with curiosity, awareness and acceptance for what it is rather than what we’d like for it to be. 

This kind of inquiry is facilitated by gently guiding and baring witness to the unfolding of what wishes to be felt directly, heard and listened to within us.  The body holds our lives and in focusing we learn how to utilize the freshness and purity of our senses to guide ourselves with any of life’s issues that need attending to for further clarity and understanding. We learn how to focus with others as companions to help facilitate their focusing process as well.

At any age, anyone can use focusing, in every aspect of their lives. It is a simple and fun method that allows for synchronicity of body and mind by inviting the whole bodily experience to emerge and present itself. 

The beauty and heart of focusing is the discovery of being with the unknown, at the edge of our experience, to discover something new within any given issue. Being at the edge allows for freshly formed felt senses to guide us in, even if we don’t know or can’t put into words what it is, that is the beginning of the journey forward. 

This not knowing creates a basis for a shift in our perspective for something new to come forward and be known in a whole new way. When this felt shift occurs our outlook changes. When our outlook changes, our life changes. By cultivating empathy, an environment of safety and gentleness for what wants to reveal itself we then discover that personal challenges in our lives are indeed our hidden treasures.

Recommended Reading: “Focusing” by Eugene Gendlin, “Your Body Knows The Answer” by David Rome, “The Power of Focusing” by Ann Weiser Cornell.