What is a felt sense?
I have just come back from the wonderful 1st European Focusing Conference in Loutraki, Greece.
There were many inspiring lectures and workshops, and we were treated to live Greek music performances, as well as outings to ancient Greek sites. The hotel was right by the sea, and many of us swam every day. Warm connections were made with Focusers all over Europe and including Focusers from other parts of the world.
Felt sense’ is the term coined by Prof. Eugene Gendlin, when he observed and developed the practice of Focusing. It is a way of attending to the body in such way that allows meanings to develop and carry forward, bringing situational change.
One of the lectures that inspired me was exploring what is a felt sense, by Mia Leijsson, Professor emeritus of University of Leuven, a research university in the Dutch-speaking town of Leuven in Flanders, Belgium.
The Murky Zone
She starts by saying that at first, a felt sense is a mess. It’s unclear; it doesn’t make sense.
It’s in the ‘murky zone’, that Eugene Gendlin talks about.
It’s not logical or rational.
We don’t know what it’s about, at first.
Later, we may find that there is logic and rationality contained within it.
There’s a moment where we might say, of course; now it makes perfect sense.
Now I understand what it is going on here.
Now I understand the meaning of this.
It’s easier to say what it is not.
It is not just a body sensation; nor is it an image or an emotion.
It may contain these elements, and it is more than that. |
It is the sense of, or the feeling of, your response to something in your life. It contains many facets and meanings. It has relevance.
Gradually the significance emerges, as you stay with it.
Stop and feel the feeling
When you are with something that is unclear and yet directly felt, it’s helpful to simply stop and feel the feeling.
Try to refer to it without premature conceptualising. The meaning is not yet in words.
Mia says that ‘felt sensing’ is a close working of language and experience without covering it up with meaning.
Use your words sparingly and deliberately. Then notice if the felt sense responds to the words you are using.
See if a flow of meanings emerges.
Is there movement?
Are changes happening?
It’s as if you are attending to something that seems to have a life of it’s own.
There is always the flow of life.
Mia says that meaning grows with every new carrying forward. Felt sensing is a practice that never stops. There is always the flow of life. The whole situation begins to move. It is a generative practice. It creates more wholeness, leading to more of what matters in the situation to be revealed.
It’s the quality of your friendly attention that creates the right conditions and the best environment for this flow of life to unfold in the direction it wants.