We often value only what is complex and showy. It is easy to despise what is simple and true. This practice is very simple. It is a profound simplicity. You can go into the practice more and more deeply hour after hour, day after day, all your life long. It is gentle and compassionate, contemplative and poetic.
Focusing is a natural process, with four characteristic moments.
The Focuser: You take some time to sense what you are now feeling in your body. There may be several different bodily sensations.
Typically, there is a connection between what you are feeling and some situation in your life, though at first you may not know what the connection is.
The Listener: Whenever the other person is quietly sensing feelings, you are doing the same. What are you feeling just now? What sensations are there?
The Focuser: You let a word surface, or a phrase or image, or a sound or gesture, which begins to catch something of the quality of what you are feeling. You go to and fro between the feeling and the words or images, letting different words or images suggest themselves, until a distinct sense comes that the feeling and the form of expression "go together".
This going to and fro is called “resonating". There is a distinct sense of searching for just the right form of expression. It is rather like following a trail, sometimes distinct, at other times faint.
The Listener: Whatever the person says, you try to say back briefly the whole felt essence of it. This helps the person to go slowly, to stay in touch with feeling, and to find out whether there is a fit between the feeling and the words or images.
Usually the person changes something in what you said. The person looks for new words or images, hoping to capture the felt essence more fully.
The Focuser: After a while, something opens or eases in you a little, which tells you that the word or phrase or image you now have is just right. You feel just that bit better.
This word or phrase or image is known as “a handle”.
The Listener: When the person finds just the right word or phrase or image, a little step of felt movement occurs, often a sensation of easing or opening, sometimes an intensifying or brightening. Whatever just came, welcome it gently.
The Focuser: You will want to take a little time here to notice and savour this shift in the quality of your bodily sensations.
The little felt shift which comes when you finally have a handle is known as “a step”. A step is a little moment of change in how you are feeling.
The Listener: You too will slow right down at this point, noticing any parallel change in your own feelings or sensations.
Listening is not only for the other person. Also it is for you, the Listener. It is through patiently seeking to enter in to the experiencing of others that, little by little, our loneliness and isolation are abandoned, and our relationships are transformed.
Steadily and gradually, through this simple practice, we find that our sensitivity is opening out to include more and more living and sentient beings. No doubt we are still partly blinded by immediacy or glamour: drawn to those who are near, attractive, rich and powerful. But we come to feel also an active solidarity with those who are remote from us in distance or culture, who are unappealing or even repellent, poor, vulnerable, troubled, despised, rejected, disenfranchised, powerless or oppressed.
If this opening of the heart is not happening, then eventually we must wonder what is going wrong in our practice.
Focusing Partnership is an exchange among equals.
That is really all. It is very simple. The rest is a slow, slow coming of more and more sensitivity, openness and trust.
Focusing is a universal human process, a natural process. Wherever there have been people, always there has been this possibility. All over the world there are people who value this simple, wonderful process. We love the way in which our experience of it continues to deepen.
None of us invented it. None of us would wish to own it.
Many people do not know that this human process is lying dormant in them. To be present, at the moment when such a person feels it suddenly awakening, is profoundly moving.
And so a grassroots movement is steadily growing, of people who love both the process and the sharing of it. Of course, nobody will ever own this movement.
Some of the people who are sharing Focusing and Listening with others have spent many many years studying the delicate process of communication. It takes a long time to become sensitive and skilful at this work. There is no end to learning.
Even so, we are just people who value a natural process, and who enjoy the company of others who value it. It is as simple as that.
At times, this simplicity has seemed to be threatened. That is not surprising. The radical equality of human beings is always under siege.
And so we have to insist, always, on that radical human equality. We must not allow anything to undermine it.
There are many good descriptions of Focusing. This account, by Rob Foxcroft, was last revised on 20th November 2003. Thanks are due to many people, especially to his students and friends. Rob is a poet and musician, who values feeling, and seeks to defend the role of feeling in our lives, especially in these threatening times. He is married, with one son. If you are interested in learning more about Focusing, please phone Rob on 0141-943 1449, or email firstname.lastname@example.org .
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