NEW DIRECTIONS: FOCUSING
I am working through a spiritual shift strong enough to need a new language and practice. I am moving towards a spirituality without religion, which is simpler and more deeply rooted in experience. I have recently connected with the Focusing movement (1,2,3), as a potential source of support.
A Focusing text (4) speaks of “the process of listening to your body in a gentle, accepting way and hearing the messages that your inner self is sending you. It’s a process of honouring the wisdom that you have inside you, becoming aware of the subtle level of knowing that speaks to you through your body”. The term ‘bio-spirituality’ was coined for it by two Catholic priests who took up this practice. They called it a “sacred inward journey”, wrote a book about it (5) and developed their own network (6).
I do not see Focusing as a spiritual path in itself, but as a means of integrating what we conventionally call mind, body and spirit. The process can be run either solo or with a partner. I am already beginning to find it useful in a meditative state where I sit with loving attention and curiosity. Using this approach, I can establish a relationship with my ‘felt sense’, however it manifests, rather than just noticing it. I can work with the strains and tensions, issues and concerns, or the neglected joys in my life. I can extend this exploration in my journal writing after sessions. I have now had a session with a teacher and completed a week of daily meditations. They are already having a catalytic effect.
From the standpoint of continuity, this is an affirmation of embodied spirituality. It enables me to access ‘Wisdom’ as a living process with change-making power. The Sophia (Wisdom) of Gnostic tradition is often seen as a celestial and indeed super-celestial figure: yet she also embodies the re-visioned Earth – ‘the Kingdom’. To inhabit this space I need the vulnerability of openness. Such work reconnects me, with a new understanding, to an earlier time in my life and my involvement in co-counselling and psychotherapy.
For me thus far, focusing practice finds the seeds of action in contemplation itself. In stillness and silence I engage creatively with my life and world. Everything is held in the loving presence of a contemplative core. My inquiry moves forward in a new way.
I am taking a break from this blog for at least the rest of this month. On my return, I will explore this and other new directions more fully.
(4) Ann Weiser Cornell The Power of Focusing: A Practical Guide To Emotional Self-Healing Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, 1996
(5) Peter A. Campbell and Edwin M. McMahon Bio-Spirituality: Focusing As A Way To Grow Chicago, Il: Loyola Press, 1985
Thank you James for sharing your exploration or journey or whatever best describes it. Focusing has popped up a couple of times in my past and I have tended to pass it by but lately it has been nudging me. I find, in every quiet moment, that felt-sense making itself available. I think the experiential approach is critical and for me a combination of what I understand by focusing and headlessness to be an excellent combination.
Thanks Alan. I’m getting a sense of them being complementary.
Looking forward to hearing of your experiences in this.Shalom on the Journey.
Thanks Wol. I appreciate your support.
Thanks for the introduction to focusing and bio-spirituality. It’s interesting to hear the latter was coined and practiced by Catholic priests. That seems to kicking against the grain of ascetic traditions and the denial of bodily pleasures. It’s nice to see how you have linked this with Sophia. Good luck with your new mode of inquiry 🙂
Thanks Lorna 😊
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