How do Presence, Mindfulness and Focusing relate to each other?
This question was put to me during an inspiring weekend course I recently taught in India.
I was there by invitation of course director Sandy Dias, and in the company of a group of delightful Indian people wanting to learn Focusing.
Several of the participants are familiar with the practice of Mindfulness, and I often find Mindfulness practitioners come to my Focusing courses. I differentiate the two practices of Mindfulness and Focusing by identifying what I see are the key ingredients of Focusing.
- The novel and curious practice of sensing into the body, describing how it feels there, and then consciously checking back with the body, to see if that description fits or not.
And then waiting for the next piece (of datum, information, process or insight) to emerge from this checking back with the body. This is what Prof. Eugene Gendlin discovered in his researches; that symbolising experience in awareness, and checking to see if it fits, brings something new. Simply following the flow of experiencing does not bring change. Pausing, and checking, does.
- The importance of the quality of inner attending makes a crucial impact, when Focusing.
It’s not enough to be compassionately attending; noticing or observing what is happening. In Focusing, it’s necessary to actively engage with inner experience, with compassion, or friendliness, non-judgement and gentleness. It’s important to listen to parts of you or your experience with gentle curiosity; enquire into it further and hear how it is from its point of view. You are listening to parts of you as if you were listening to a friend, sensing for its needs and fears. And then receiving what your inner self is telling you.
Mindfulness and Focusing are both wonderful practices and I found myself saying that both are ways to contact a piece of the ‘elephant’.
You know the story of how we each have a partial view of the totality, based on our partial experience.
And then Sandy said ‘Presence is the Elephant.’ Presence is the totality.
We may not be able to say what it is.
We can identify the qualities that it has.
These qualities include love, compassion, understanding, caring and gentleness.
These are the qualities you can bring to your Focusing.
And both Focusing and Mindfulness enable you to develop these qualities, and bring you into a deeper awareness of your Self-in-Presence.
By saying ‘Presence is the elephant’, Sandy turned it around.
As well as Presence supporting the Focusing process, it’s Focusing that supports an experience of Presence.
Practicing Focusing gives you access to the whole (Presence).