The value of Focusing in these difficult times
I want to say how much I value Focusing in these difficult times.
It is giving me enormous support on a personal level.
I am sure that everyone can benefit as much as I do, even though you may already have support systems in place, such as mindfulness, meditation, support of family and friends, and connection with nature.
I was speaking to a friend, and said sometimes I don’t know when it’s helpful to pay attention to my difficult feelings…
Feelings of sadness, grief, and anger about the current situation we find ourselves in; and when it’s more helpful to resource myself through self-soothing activities, taking time out in nature, or doing other nourishing things that help relieve my sadness.
I didn’t want to ‘indulge’ in my feelings…
They can go round and round without any sense of relief or resolution. I also didn’t want to ‘bypass’ my feelings and just go to the positive. If I did that, the feelings might feel left out and abandoned. They have effective ways of getting my attention, and sometimes it feels like they are screaming at me. If I continue to ignore them, I get physical symptoms such as tiredness, stress or overwhelm.
I realised immediately what I had been doing, and I was forgetting what I know about this dilemma.
What is really important is to find or develop our capacity for strength and resilience.
It’s not ‘process-skipping’ to find your sense of Presence first.
Presence is the capacity to be with anything in your experience without getting overwhelmed by it.
This is your starting place.
Presence can be found in many ways, for instance, by paying attention to your physical body, and how you are being supported by the environment; as simply as noticing how you are sitting and how the chair or floor supports your weight. Or pay attention to your breathing, and become aware of how the air supports your life. If you take a few moments to do this, then you can pay attention to the settling feeling that happens as you quieten down.
If you do this at the beginning of your Focusing session, you find more capacity to invite a sense of how your life is right now, and you can begin to acknowledge your life situation and your feelings exactly as they are, without trying to change them in any way. When you do that, resolution and release of stuckness begins to happen.
An example from a recent Focusing session
After grounding and becoming aware of my sense of Presence, I paid attention to how restricted and locked down I feel in the current situation.
It started as a heavy grey cloud above me, pressing down. Then it became more like a press, pressing down. As I stayed with it, feeling it in my body, and allowing it to be there, it became clearer.
It was like a cider press, with a heavy plate and a large screw that turned tighter, pressing the apples into pulp. I felt some apples are really being crushed, and I connected it to the many people who are really suffering right now because of the current situation.
I also felt the impact on me, which I usually minimise, saying I am not suffering like some people are.
This time, I was able to acknowledge the impact I was feeling in that moment, and it brought a relief, and also a release. Not a release from the sense of the press, but the release that came from recognising the process as it is, rather than wishing it away.
In the sharing afterwards with my Focusing partner…
She reflected that maybe there was juice flowing from the apple press, which could be made into apple juice, cider or distilled further.
Yes, that made sense to me. In the session I was aware of the juice flowing out, but I hadn’t focused on it specifically.
Something valuable is coming out of this difficult situation, although I don’t yet know what that is, and I didn’t recognise it in the session.
So when you don’t know when it’s helpful to pay attention to your difficult feelings and when it’s more helpful to resource yourself, you can return to what you already know from experience.
From my experience as a Focusing teacher and practitioner, I know that the way through this conundrum is to hold both the positive sense of Presence, and the difficult or painful life situation in my awareness at the same time; neither preferring one over the other, nor wishing the difficult feelings would go away, but in holding both with equal positive regard.