A general outline of volume ΙΙ
+This, the second volume of Senses of Focusing, takes the explorations of the previous volume in new directions and again features Focusers from a range of cultures. Following an Introduction by Nikolaos Kypriotakis, the volume is divided into seven sections. The first of these is ‘Focusing, spirituality and dreams’ followed by a section on how ‘senses’ of Focusing operate across a variety of cultures in ‘individual lives and in therapeutic practice’. ‘Senses’ of Focusing as they relate to some of the Arts and Sciences, including neuroscience, are considered, as well as applications of Focusing in terms of Thinking at the Edge and ‘Ethics and decision-making’. The volume concludes with a section on the significance of Gendlin’s contribution to the Person-Centred Approach.
You can read the chapters and abstracts of the chapters one-by-one and in any order that you choose, but we give here a general outline of the volume:
+In his Introduction to volume ΙΙ (New Focusing. Random thoughts about ‘nakedness’, nonsensical and appropriations) Nikolaos Kypriotakis ranges over diverse territory—the body, the nature of reality, language, culture, Covid-19, precarity, groundlessness, Zen—asking, amongst many other questions, whether Focusing is ‘radical enough’ today? In Focusing we turn our attention to that which is essentially ‘nonsensical’. In its original pre-linguistic meaning Focusing defies the quantifiable, but is in danger of losing its radicalism through many ‘appropriations’. The argument of this Introduction works both intellectually and through the felt sense, concluding that ‘a New Focusing (like New Physics) is needed, culturally and societally, publicly open, againstindividualism or narcissism, a revolutionized version, against personal-one-ness. Gendlin’s philosophical radicalism needs to be re-affirmed in practice.’
In Section 1 (Focusing, spirituality and dreams)
+ ‘Living forward’ is a term that is used only a few times in Gendlin’s writing but the expansive and energising inner process to which it points is integral to all aspects of his work. In her chapter, Living forward: The challenge of carrying forward Gendlin’s legacy, Mia Leijssen considers how we can better understand and make contact with the bodily felt experiencing of this life-forward energy, both for ourselves and for our clients. She also makes clear how Gendlin’s approach implies several paradigm shifts, including a shift towards establishing connection with an ‘inner felt compass’ that in itself opens up expanded consciousness and awareness of transpersonal sources of guidance and wellbeing.
See more here:
+In an extended chapter, Exploring the body’s role in Biospiritual development. Unfolding an elusive, yet bodily felt interiority within serious seekers, a unique reflection on his life’s work, Fr. Peter Campbell (with the assistance of John Keane and David Young) explores the body’s role in spiritual development and how being in touch with our bodies as they are ‘felt from inside’ links with the organic interconnectedness of the natural world. He explains how this perspective on our human being, central to the practice of BioSpiritual Focusing, relates to Gendlin’s notion of ‘felt sensing’ as well as to different elements in Christian theology, including agape love, which ‘connects us to ourselves, to others, to our world, and to the Larger Ongoing Process/Mystery in which we are all involved’. The chapter closes with a short reflection on what Fr. Peter has learnt from his own long experience as a Focusing companion.
Greg Walkerden’s chapter (Focusing, vastness and union: Elaborating the Focusing practice tradition and the Philosophy of the Implicit to describe an additional kind of space) is rooted in a qualitative research project undertaken initially as a personal exploration. The project was then expanded to include a small group of Focusing practitioner co-researchers to investigate the experience of a ‘new kind of space’ that comes from sitting with an absence of words where Focusing functions ‘as a stopped subprocess’. The quality of this ‘no space’ is explored and described and its potential in terms of grounding for compassionate living proposed. The theoretical foundation for this chapter derives from Gendlin’s A Process Model and the research project demonstrates the effects of allowing ‘a doubling to arise, in a way that brings an experience of a “larger” (doubled) space—a Vast Oneness—that one can be with’.
Fiona Parr describes through a range of practical examples in her chapter, Focusing and practical spirituality—A personal approach: How Focusing contributes to the ‘death of the ego’, how Focusing has combined with a lifelong meditationpractice and teachings of a contemporary spiritual master, Adyashanti, to develop her own embodied spiritual understanding. The path she describes opens up the potential of a way of living rooted in a bodily awareness of a sense of Presence, ‘the experience in the energetic body of, always and already there, awakened awareness’. It is in this place that we can trust that there is ‘something deeper and more true than […] personality and ego constructs’. The practice of Focusing enables us to reach the heart of this embodied awareness to discover ‘the continuous freshly emerging well-spring of being, and this is the spiritual dimension’.
Leslie Ellis (Gendlin’s unique contribution to dreamwork: Embodying helpful and contrary elements to bring in the new) develops the idea that is central to all the chapters in this section of how we might ‘live forward most wisely from our own embodied experience’, even when that experience is not immediately comprehensible. In this particular chapter she considers how our dreams ‘open the door’ to a new dimension of understanding and are great opportunities for finding new perspectives or directions. She gives particular attention to the significance of ‘finding the help’ in dreams and also to ‘bias control’, through which we can come to embody a perspective that is contrary to our usual point of view. Engaging with these unfamiliar and resourceful places, which she illustrates through working with a dream of her own, she demonstrates how dreams become ‘code for hidden life energy’.
In Section 2 (‘Senses’ of Focusing in individual lives and in therapeutic practice)
Salvador Moreno-Lopez (Everyday life is enriched by the Philosophy of the Implicit and Focusing) shares a range of sentipensares (feelings-thoughts) as he reflects on how being aware of bodily experiencing and a trusting of the felt sense can reliably guide different elements of actions and interactions in daily life, including deep appreciation of the value of listening to the ‘music of speech, silences and gestures’. He explains how trusting the knowing of the body to find a way forward through the intricacy of different situations—in healthcare, in travel, and in everyday decision-making—has opened up for him a new and more joyful way of living with self, others and in relation to the natural world.
Zoe Voulgaraki (Meeting with the Other) demonstrates a reflective process of her move into a new life in a new location, far from her original home. She describes a series of felt shifts that mark this process and also for her the importance of yielding to the immersive experience of swimming in the ocean. The boundary between the land and the sea becomes a metaphor for ‘the boundary of the familiar with the not-yet-known’, a compelling edge of awareness where she is invited to meet not only new people in a new life, but to open up to a limitless, shapeless ‘Other’ and a whole expansive new world of ‘infiniting’.
+The chapter Focusing possibilities in the therapeutic process: Two case studies offers a detailed description of how Svetlana Kutokova integrated Focusing into her work with two challenging women clients who attended her practice in Moscow. One client came with a bipolar diagnosis and the other was experiencing great difficulty in conceiving a child. Both women were initially in very ‘stuck’, ‘rational’ inner places and the therapeutic work involved the use of different element —Focusing, inviting the women to make a series of coloured drawings to represent their inner world—to get beyond destructive thinking patterns and ultimately reach a successful therapeutic outcome.
Isabel Gascon (The mother-daughter relationship: Focusing contributions) reflects on her long experience of working therapeutically with women whose principal concern is their relationship with their mothers, a relationship that has impacted on all areas of their lives. Through five short case examples, she demonstrates how Focusing has enabled each of these women clients to contact deeper recesses of their inner world so that the stuck mother-daughter issues can shift, making it possible for them to ‘advance along their path, becoming more and more capable of offering themselves that love and presence that they sought in their mother’.
In Section 3 (‘Senses’ of Focusing in the Arts)
+Writing from his experience as a theatre director, Michael Seibel (Bodily awareness as a necessary condition for creative work in the aesthetic production process in acting) describes a particular method of engaging with actors through a ‘mutually motivated bodily experience’ whereby the artistic working process is set in motion and ‘experienced by the actor as a contraction and expansion of the body’ that leads to a response ‘that can then be experienced by the partner as inspiration in the same physical way’. This method of working, that places bodily awareness at the heart of creativity, is supported by a background in phenomenology, that encompasses insights from Husserl and Gendlin’s A Process Model as well as from the work of Gernot Bohme and Hermann Schmitz. Engaging with Gendlin’s statement that ‘poets and painters work from a bodily felt sense of what has not yet formed’.
Watch Michael Seibel talk about his work in an interview:
Stephanie Aspin (Writing at the edge) explores how words in poetry track the unfolding of the felt sense of the speaker’s experiencing and how ‘subjective phenomenological truth can be accessed via the structure of language’. She illustrates how this works in practice through detailed analysis of Emily Dickinson’s poem ‘A Thunderstorm’, demonstrating how language speaks to the bodily felt sense whilst taking it even further so that ‘the edge of experiencing also becomes an encounter with the edge of language’.
Jen White (‘It lulls me into a false sense of security, but I go there willingly’; music resonates with stopped process: An IPA study into musical experiencing unravelled through music and Focusing) describes a research project where a group of experienced Focusers and a group of student counselling clients were invited to listen in a recorded session to a self-selected piece of music that was particularly significant to them. Each one was then invited to dwell in a Focusing way on its meaning. While the experienced Focusers were able to stay with inner discomfort so that new meaning contained in their experience of the music could slowly, and often painfully, be revealed, listening to their chosen music led the student clients into a kind of ‘stopped process’. The individuals’ responses are evaluated using the EXP (Experiencing) Scale and the qualitative data from the Focusing/ client sessions analysed through Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) to shed more light on these contrasting outcomes.
See more here:
Judy Moore (Poets, mystics, Focusers and the physicality of spiritual opening) reflects on how her awareness of the truth of the body’s knowing came long before she knew Focusing. It was originally awakened by her study of English literature where poetic devices serve to arouse bodily resonance and awaken understanding of deep and subtle levels of human experiencing. She considers the particular example of the fourteenth-century English mystic, Julian of Norwich, whose Revelations of Divine Love demonstrate how Julian’s willingness to bear close witness to the physical and emotional pain of the crucifixion of Christ leads directly to the remarkable spiritual opening of her ‘revelations’.
In Section 4 (‘Senses’ of Focusing in science and neuroscience)
Rob Parker (Re-visioning science: A process model of the double slit experiment) uses Gendlin’s A Process Model to reconceptualize the paradoxical results of the double-slit experiment in Physics. Such concepts as ‘implying’, ‘occurring’, ‘carrying forward’ and ‘eveving’ offer a view of living processes as always in interaction, always in the midst of a ‘next step’ and not bound by linear time. Parker demonstrates that A Process Model can be applied in different contexts, ‘with significant implications for our understanding of ourselves and our relationship to the rest of the cosmos’.
Peter Afford (The felt sense, the body & the brain) demonstrates how neurobiology offers a fresh view of the felt sense: that it is the way we experience the world of ourright hemisphere. The right hemisphere is entwined with the body and the felt sense ‘is the right hemisphere’s take on whatever is happening in the moment’ that we can access by centring our attention in the body. Afford considers what threatens this ‘zone’ and how the left hemisphere can very easily take us over, but explains how engaging with the felt sense paves the way for a more reflective way of being that can open up ‘space for new ideas and creative steps forward’, including in terms of addressing major global issues such as climate change.
In Section 5 (TAE: Theory and living applications)
Satoko Tokumaru’s chapter has two parts. The first (Three-part TAE and the website ‘TAE Reflection’) explains and explores Thinking at the Edge (TAE) as it is taught and presented (both in Japanese and in English) on her website ‘TAE Reflection’. Her introduction describes how she has condensed Hendricks’ and Gendlin’s 14 TAE steps into Three Parts, ‘Confirming the uniqueness of a felt sense’, ‘Creating similarity or repeatability’ and ‘Building a logical system’. She explains the focus of each of these Parts and how they correspond to forms on the ‘TAE Reflection website’.
+In the second part of the chapter (Three-part TAE—Applying the method. Case example: My teaching style) the editors have worked collaboratively with Satoko Tokumaru to demonstrate how her own TAE method actually works in practice. This presentation is based on her having followed the process offered on the TAE Reflection website in a thorough, step-by-step exploration of her chosen topic: ‘my teaching style’.
Monika Lindner (Always at the edge—TAE/Focusing and second languageacquisition) demonstrates the practical application of TAE/Focusing and Microphenomenology in the context of teaching German as a second language to recent immigrants. Speaking from ‘something he just feels’ opens a new ‘edge’ and the potential for more meaningful communication for the student whose learning experience is the focus of the author’s reflections. The process the teacher/ author engages in as a result of this interaction leads to many questions about how learning environments might be shaped meaningfully in the future to engage with ‘implicit edges of felt meaning’ that are often ignored in educational contexts.
Jenny Newman (Creation and creativity: Thinking at the Edge and writer’s block) gives a first-person description of some of the TAE steps that she used to surmount a recent writer’s block. Her exploration of her felt sense opens out into a wider exploration of ‘creation’ and ‘creativity’, transporting her at first reluctantly back to re-examine a PhD thesis where she had once considered thesetopics from a more conventionally academic perspective. Her exploration leads her to a completely different take on the creation myths that she had once studied, releasing her into a liberating understanding of how creativity arises from the ‘dark materials’ of our individual inner worlds, accessible through the felt sense and demonstrated in the steps of this TAE exploration.
+The TAE application in this chapter (Using Focusing and TAE for science: A personal account) is Yael Teff-Secker’s reflection on a research project that she undertook between 2017 and 2019, interviewing people in different countries about their experience of nature, walking with participants and asking Focusing-type questions to access greater depth of response (‘walking-focusing interviews’). Beyond the project itself, Focusing and TAE are both seen as helpful in the broader academic environment, potentially enabling new thinking and new scientific breakthroughs as well as being personally useful in terms of boosting confidence and combating harmful narratives in a competitive world.
In Section 6 (Focusing, ethics and decision-making)
Anna Magee (Focusing on ethics in research… and beyond. The body as a means of negotiating cultural borders and finding common ground) considers how the body’s knowing, such as that accessed through Focusing, can serve as a guide when negotiating ethical dilemmas. The particular context for her locating of the body as ethical ‘common ground’ is that of her own academic research, an investigation across different groups of the meaning of ‘belonging’, a sensitive topic which demanded renewed ethical consideration every step of the way as the situational intricacy of each new context emerged. This view of ethics as an embodied process leads to consideration of how the body’s ‘implicit and resonant knowing’ may connect us across borders and cultures ‘to the larger contexts of mutually ethical action […] regarding the environment and global resources’.
Friedgard Blob (Saying ‘no’ in presence: Setting limits through body sense) puts forward the idea that a pre linguistic ‘primal No’ occurs when ‘there is a lack of resonance between culture and one’s own being’. Saying ‘no’ can be very difficult, but accessing the underlying ‘life affirming meaning of a No’ to support the ‘no’ that wants to be said in a given situation is vitally important. Finding one’s own demarcation line and ‘creating free space’ to enable saying ‘no’ in presence may be found through some of the different exercises that are explored in this chapter.
In Section 7 (Focusing and the Person-Centred Approach)
+The Introduction to this section (Eugene Gendlin’s contribution to Client-Centred Therapy) forms Judy Moore’s sequel to her Introduction to volume 1 of Senses of Focusing and is a more detailed consideration of the nature of Gendlin’s unique contribution to the development of Client-Centred Therapy/the Person-Centred Approach. He not only identified the central importance of the concept of experiencing to all psychological therapies, but in the PhD thesis that forms the substance of Experiencing and the Creation of Meaning (1962/1997) he also points to gaps in how Client-Centred theory is stated. The ‘static’ presentation of some of the concepts of the theory have led both to an underestimation of the Approach and also to the creation—and popularisation—of developments by later theorists that may serve to divert attention from ‘that sensed intricacy, which cannot yet be said’ which was discovered in the early research to lie at the heart of therapeutic movement.
See more here:
Tomonori Motoyama (Focusing and Congruence) considers how Carl Rogers incorporated the idea of giving attention to ‘felt meaning’ into his theory and understood the original meaning of ‘Focusing’ as ‘focusing on the felt referent of experiencing’. However, in his experience, the concept of ‘congruence’ is not well understood by Person-Centred practitioners in Japan and is often regarded in terms of content rather than process. He explores congruence from this perspective and considers some of the challenges that it presents in practice.
+In a short Interview Mick Cooper gives his take on Focusing and how it relates to the Person-Centred Approach, how he views the impact of the split between Rogers and Gendlin in the 1960s and how he sees Focusing in relation to working with ‘relational depth’ and his own more recent work on ‘directionality’. Focusing and Existentialism are briefly considered as well as different routes to psychological change and the role of therapy in the world today.
+In this Interview Brian Thorne, speaking from his perspective as one the foremost theorists of the Person Centred Approach as it has developed since the death of Carl Rogers in 1987, gives his take on Focusing and also describes his experience of meeting Gendlin briefly in 1988. Similarities between Rogers’ and Gendlin’s social activism in the 1970s and 80s are considered as well as the origins of some of the hostility towards Focusing that has led to it beingmisunderstood by so many in the Person-Centred world. The interview concludes with Brian’s account of his more recent understanding of Focusing in relation to the Christian contemplative tradition through the work of Sebastian Moore.
Senses of Focusing, Vol. II
About the Editors
Notes on Contributors
Notes on style and conventions
Foreword, by Mia Leijssen, Professor Emeritus, University of Leuven
Preface (with ‘A general outline of volume ΙΙ’)
Introduction: New Focusing. Random thoughts about ‘nakedness’, nonsensical and appropriations, by Nikolaos Kypriotakis
Section 1: Focusing, spirituality and dreams
1 Mia Leijssen, Living forward: The challenge of carrying forward Gendlin’s legacy
2 Peter A. Campbell, Exploring the body’s role within BioSpiritual development. Unfolding an elusive, yet bodily-felt interiority within serious seekers (With contributions from John Keane and David Young)
3 Greg Walkerden, Focusing, vastness and union: Elaborating the Focusing practice tradition and the Philosophy of the Implicit to describe an additional kind of space
4 Fiona Parr, Focusing and practical spirituality—A personal approach: How Focusing contributes to the ‘death of the ego’
5 Leslie Ellis, Gendlin’s unique contribution to dreamwork: Embodying helpful and contrary elements to bring in the new
Section 2: ‘Senses’ of Focusing in individual lives and in therapeutic practice
6 Salvador Moreno-López, Everyday life is enriched by the Philosophy of the Implicit and Focusing
7 Zoe Voulgaraki, Meeting with the Other
8 Svetlana Kutukova, Focusing possibilities in the psychotherapeutic process: Two case studies
9 Isabel Gascón, The mother-daughter relationship: Focusing contributions
Section 3: ‘Senses’ of Focusing in the Arts
10 Michael Seibel, Bodily awareness as a necessary condition for creative work in the aesthetic production process in acting
11 Stephanie Aspin, Writing at the edge
12 Jen White, ‘It lulls me into a false sense of security, but I go there willingly’; music resonates with stopped process: An IPA study into musical experiencing unravelled through music and Focusing
13 Judy Moore, Poets, mystics, Focusers and the physicality of spiritual opening
Section 4: ‘Senses’ of Focusing in science and neuroscience
14 Rob Parker, Re-visioning science: A process model of the double slit experiment
15 Peter Afford, The felt sense, the body & the brain
Section 5: TAE: Theory and living applications
16a Satoko Tokumaru, Three-part TAE and the website ‘TAE Reflection’
16b Satoko Tokumaru (with Nikolaos Kypriotakis and Judy Moore), Threepart TAE—Applying the method. Case example: My teaching style
17 Monika Catarina Lindner, Always at the edge—TAE/Focusing and second language acquisition
18 Jenny Newman, Creation and creativity: Thinking at the edge and writer’s block
19 Yael Teff-Seker, Using Focusing and TAE for science: A personal account
Section 6: Focusing, ethics and decision-making
20 Anna Magee, Focusing on ethics in research… and beyond. The body as a means of negotiating cultural borders and finding common ground
21 Friedgard E. Blob, Saying ‘no’ in presence: Setting limits through body sense
Section 7: Focusing and the Person-Centred Approach
22 Judy Moore, Introduction: Eugene Gendlin’s contribution to Client-Centred Therapy
23 Tomonori Motoyama, Focusing and Congruence
24 Mick Cooper, Interview
25 Brian Thorne, Interview
Gendlin’s spoken words, recorded by Nada Lou
Fragments from video clips: Transcription of extracts from video clips
Focusing and other methods
Dreams open doors to Focusing
What matters most is to like the dream
Felt sense and space
Because it is you
Who is thinking?
Coming back into conceptual structure with thinking
Words and phrases
Something precious to say