Eight. Focusing

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What Helps

When we can find ways of accessing our bodily intelligence, it can be profoundly healing and releasing. Making the implicit knowledge in our system, explicit, can guide us as we go forward.

It is a powerful exercise that is both releasing and healing. Our minds often ruminate on what we cannot change, or an experience leaves us feeling frustrated or numb. Those feelings usually sit in the body unvoiced but we know we feel tense and unsettled.

‘Focusing’ is the technique devised by Eugene Gendlin that I use to help me open up and release the bodily intelligence in my clients. Here I can show you how to do it for yourself.

Grief and loss is felt physically

Grief sits in the body, people often talk about it as ‘a knot’, or ‘a block’ in their throat, or their stomach. Sometimes it feels like their arms, or their legs, or their heads feel very heavy. Often there are no words for these bodily sensations, focussing is a way of finding those words and releasing the emotion that comes with them. 

This is what you can do to focus:

  • Find somewhere quiet to sit down, and sit comfortably in a chair
  • Let the chair take the weight of your body, uncross your legs and put your hands on your lap
  • Close your eyes
  • Take 5 deep breaths, breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth deeply and slowly
  • Move your attention internally
  • Move your attention around your body until you find the place where there is most sensation
  • To breathe into the place
  • Find a word that describes that place - does it have a shape, a colour, is it hard, is it soft?
  • If the image could speak what would it say?
  • Then follow where the images takes you
  • You could ask yourself what do you need in this place?
  • When you feel you have followed through the images and sensations in your body find an image in your mind that is a safe place, it may be imaginary or a place that you know
  • Look around at that safe place and know this is the place you can always come back to
  • Take 5 deep breaths and open your eyes
  • Give yourself a few minutes before you move into your next activity

It can be helpful to write down what you saw, it doesn't need to make sense, but may help inform you as your grieving progresses. 

If you want to know more about Eugene Gendlin and Focussing go to focusing.org

Our Relationship With Others and the Relationship With the Person Who Has Died

In this pillar I explain the importance of both living relationships and the continuing relationship with the person who has died. Our relationship with others is key to a good and happy life. And when someone significant in our life dies, the level of our loss will be equal to the quality of that relationship and how much we loved the person who died.