FEELING INTO OUR EMOTIONS
I woke up this morning feeling like I had done something wrong. It confused me since I had not even gotten out of bed yet. I took some time to just notice within myself what that was about.
My brain of course wanted to go through the process of figuring out if there was something I had forgotten about? Something I had left undone, but promised to do? Something I had said to someone that hurt them, without noticing their reaction?
I did not want to let my mind make up stories about it and spend time guessing. Instead of starting my day feeling out of sorts, I took a moment to “feel in”.
TO SIT WITH ME
By sitting with that apparent feeling of being wrong or in trouble, feeling into that emotion as it was there in my body, and just being curious about it, something new could come forward. I could find the relief of understanding what that felt sense inside of me was all about by having given it the space by simply observing it.
IT IS DIFFERENT THAN MEDITATION
This way of working is called Focusing It is a different approach than meditation and traditional therapy, because it connects us to a felt sense inside the body. It is a way of being with that “something” inside that is vague, fuzzy, in the background, and out of focus.
We tend to judge ourselves for our emotions and there is a tendency to think that “we should know” and even understand, because it is there inside of us. But we don’t. The reality is that most of us are not very clear about how we feel and why, -at first. And that is how focusing can help.
Focusing is not a mental approach, but rather a body felt sense approach Our emotions that live in the unconscious landscape are actually the ones that guide us the most; but without us knowing about it. Getting in touch with “what is in there” is a wonderful way of getting to know yourself more.
AT FIRST IT IS FUZZY
With the Focusing process things are sort of blurry at first and then as you “feel” into it; notice it, sit with it, and wait for it to become more and more clear as it emerges, shifts happen.
Pausing and letting it come is important. It is similar to tasting something new. At first you might have the taste labeled as something familiar like “carrot” and then if you sit and keep tasting it for longer, more nuances appear and you start getting as sense of what herbs and spices were used to cook it. Or if you are sitting by the ocean and you look into the horizon. Something is there, but you cannot tell what it is. You can make up stories about what it might be, but you don’t know so you are just guessing. Or you can sit there and wait till it comes closer and you can start getting a sense of what it is, little by little, until you see more clearly and realize what it is.
To let it appear in this way, you need an attitude of curiosity, which is not something that comes easy for most of us. We want to know right now what it is, we want to label it, call it something, even judge it, -and we what to fix it.
THE PROCESS OF GETTING IN TOUCH
The way to be curious about what is in there, is to ask yourself; how am I right now? We tend to judge, not ask. We tend to want to fix what is there, before we even know what it is, rather than letting it come forth and then see what else comes from that.
The process of going inward into the core of our body (the felt sense), rather than up into the head (the thinking mind), is the Focusing process. Of course we use our mind. We use it to help us understand the experience, create association, metaphors or even just make up words that “pop up” even if they don’t have meaning in any context. That is all ok.
THE FOCUSING STEPS
1. Make yourself comfortable and clear some space (time and quiet). Breathe slowly and deeply to quiet down your mind but also to get into your body. Let your breath go all the way into your belly, while you just notice that it goes there. There is no right or wrong. Feel and notice your feet on the ground, just to ground yourself.
2. Put your attention (focus) into the core of your body and simply ask: “How am I right now?” or “What is between me and feeling all ok right now?”
3. Wait for what comes. It could be a sensations, an emotion, a feeling, a word, a picture… anything goes, there is no right or wrong. Notice what comes and naming it, is a nice way of simply just being with it. Creating a relationship with it, rather than “it” being all of you. Observe it as if you are there next to it. An example is; it feels like a lush green meadow, or it feels like a rock or a boulder. There is no right or wrong. It could be that it has a quality of sticky or slippery or soft.
4. Check back in how it feels to “name” it. Does it feel ok, not quite right, or is it maybe a relief that it is being acknowledged? Perhaps there is more work to do here to see what comes? If so just sit with “it” some more.
5. You can then ask questions of “it” like; What does it need? What does it want you to know? Or what does it need to feel all better? What is it that makes it so…(the quality of how it feels)?
6. Receive whatever comes by welcoming it with a sense of gratitude, but also curiosity to see if there is more. Notice how it feels in your body to receive these “messages” from the felt sense inside you.
These are just the basics steps of Focusing. Don’t expect of yourself to master it right away. It takes practice and that is all ok.
A GENTLE WAY OF BEING
Focusing teaches us a much more gentle way of being with our emotions and our Self. It feels kind and permissive. And it allows us to feel whole in a very body-felt sense way. It is also a fantastic way of being mindful, but not in the mindful “empty your mind from thoughts” kind of way, but rather in a mindful heartfelt, “what is there?” kind of way. It is a process of noticing, without doing anything about it. No fixing. Just noticing. It is a relief to work this way. It is curious, it is compassionate, it is loving and gentle. It is a permission to have emotions and feelings, but also an opening to learn how to trust that our body knows.
I work with my clients in a Focusing way in my office and in phone and skype sessions. If you would like to work in this way we can schedule individual sessions. It can become a daily practice to be with the Self in a way that is very Self-Nourishing. If you have more questions about Focusing, if you would like a session, or if you are interested in a webinar about it – please let me know.
Enjoy feeling in.