“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”
― Marcus Aurelius
Focusing! How little we know of focus these days as our attention is called away from our Selves and the present into myriad directions.
Focus is defined as the "center" of our attention or activity. Focusing, in the sense I am using it for this article, is about "centering" in the body for what Eugene Gendlin calls the felt-sense. In six simple steps, Gendlin's technique helps us to both see and feel more deeply into our own sense of self.
Focusing in 6 Steps
- Clearing a space
Begin with silence. Relax and focus inward while asking "How is my life going right now? What is the main thing for me right now?"
Allow the answers to bubble up from inside your body, but do not enter into the answer. Acknowledge it by saying "Yes, that is there." And then step back from it, or place it away from you.
Ask what else you feel, and follow the above process until there are a few things placed before you, but away from you.
- Find the Felt Sense
Choose just one of those things before you, still distanced from it, and leaving the others where they are. Without going into it, allow yourself to discover what all of that feels like. It has many parts but feel all of it as one felt sense.
- Find a Keyword or Handle
What is the quality of this felt sense? What one word describes its feeling? Or what phrase, or what image sums it up as a feeling? scary, exciting, sticky, sludge, fear, etc.
Go back and forth between the felt sense and the word or image. See how they resonate. Pay attention to the bodily signal that you have found the fit, like a puzzle snapping into place. Stay with the quality of the felt sense until you find this fit.
Now, ask "What is it about this whole problem that makes it ______ (quality you have just named)?" Sense this feeling quality again, in your body, not just remembering from before. When you are feeling it, tap it, touch it, and/or be with it, and ask "What is in this sense? Pay attention to any shift in bodily energy which indicates a release.
Receive whatever comes with this shift in a friendly way. Stay with it a while, even if the release is only slight. Stay here for a few moments more. There may be more shifts, but feel into this one before you continue. SOMETIMES THE SHIFTS COME AT A LATER TIME. THIS IS OK. WHEN YOU FEEL YOU HAVE DONE ENOUGH, END YOUR FOCUSING SESSION.
Focusing on Oracles
What does focusing have to do with inner wisdom? For me, inner wisdom is THE oracle of oracles, but sometimes we can be too tired, too busy, too "unfocused" to really understand the message. Let me use the above steps to illustrate how to use focusing following an oracle reading or Tarot session, or anytime you need to feel more deeply into issues and answers.
Situation: I drew the Ace of Water Tarot card (from the Witches' Wisdom Tarot deck) for the position of Centering and Sovereignty in the Irish Spirit Wheel Tarot Spread. I have been feeling off center with regard to my own sovereignty due to either projecting my own insecurities about it onto others, or actually feeling judged.
I want to go deeper with this card in order to experience the bodily shift that can bring change that intellectualizing cannot.
- Clear some space
I find a quiet relaxing space and calm my body with some deep breathing. With regard to this Ace of Water image AND the issue of personal sovereignty, I ask "How is my life going? What is bugging me right now?"
I list the most pressing issues right now as "making money with my work," "putting my thoughts and opinions out there without fear," "feeling lonely and misunderstood," and "standing in my power." I put these things out in front of me, creating space, as if they are in boxes.
I say to myself when I feel I can, "Other than all these things, I am fine." This is the first step in changing the energy around my problems.
- Find the Felt Sense
Since I can only work with one at a time, I look to see which one is largest or most looming, and I pick it, ignoring the others for now. I feel like "standing in my power" encompasses the others to a large degree so I choose that one, feeling now into my body for the felt sense.
The whole of it feels like trying to climb the waterfall. For all my trying to swim upstream, I fall back into the pool and feel like I am drowning in dogmas and opinions of others. Most of this is self-talk (perhaps too much focus on the oracle card at the moment) and I really need to quiet my mind and allow my body to communicate the feeling associated with this.
With patience and silence, I stay with the problem, waiting for the feeling to arise in my body.
- Get a "handle" or keyword on it.
I realize that I feel sludgy and dirty. It feels thick and sticky. I feel the emotions associated with this...fear being prominent, but also unworthiness. To get a "handle" on it, I would have to describe this sludgy feeling like being in a tar pit. But I am looking for a shift, and it doesn't come with "tar pit." So I stay with the feeling until the word or image comes... I finally feel a shift as my body shows me the image of a volcano. But it's a volcano under pressure, and the magma needs to find release.
I go back and forth between the feeling of hot, sludgy, molten muck and the image of the volcano under pressure. The image of my oracle card keeps popping into my mind. What would water do to magma? I already feel a little cooler, but there is more to be done.
I ask now of this feeling/image "What are you?" I wait and let all the "head" answers pass by. This answer needs to come from another space, the felt-sense bodily space. The answer needs to come forth from the feeling/image itself. My ego cannot presume to know, and so I exercise patience. I ask, "What does this felt-sense need?"
At some point, I hear the words "valve release." It would seem that I need to blow off some steam, and avoid coming under pressure again.
I imagine the felt-sense of releasing steam, and I feel my body relax. Then I see, in my mind's eye, the landscape that grows over the lava fields of a dormant volcano. It is the image of the Ace of Water. There is healing.
Gendlin's process is somewhat more involved and intricate but this is an example of how to further work with the felt-sense of focusing for integrating the transformative images and feelings of an oracle message.
Find out more about using oracles as a transformational practice along with Focusing by booking a complimentary Soul to Soul information session with me!