The aim of this paper is to bring a taste of the workshop I gave at the Cambridge International Focusing Conference 2016. Built around a case study of process, the workshop took us on a joint and personal journey into the nature of the Focusing process and some of the diverse dimensions held within.
I met Maya (a pseudonym) at a workshop I gave on working with the inner child through Focusing: a 37 year old mother, petite and very quiet. In the workshop we tried to reconnect to the organic child in each of us, to sense the pure essence of curiosity, laughter and happiness to discover life. When the participants went to do a Focusing process with partners, Maya called me for help. They didn’t know how to take the process that was unfolding a step forward.
Maya: I feel a deep longing to sense natural flowing happiness, like children have. I don’t have any memory of this kind of experience. I don’t have it in my body… Most of the time I feel the heaviness of life and things don’t work out as I expected.
I invited Maya to give room to this longing, the wish to feel pure, childlike happiness…
She was with it and after a while she continued:
I can’t find a bit of happiness in my body… it’s like there is no taste of it in my cells.
And then she went on:
I can connect to myself as a baby, and feel that I started this life with anger.
Long silence, and then she continued:
If I want to reconnect to a feeling of flowing happiness, I need to go way back before my conception.
Following the unfolding process, I asked her if she can go there, try to reconnect to herself before coming here.
And she did. After a while she said very slowly:
I have a connection with my spiritual being… the spiritual being I was before arriving here.
When she said that, there was some relief and expansion in her body. She felt she can rest a little bit, but she added immediately:
There is no connection between the spiritual me and the baby.
Both of us were in presence with the painful split…
Then she continued, her voice was low and quiet:
The baby felt abandoned, she didn’t want to come ‘here’. She felt abandoned and betrayed… the sensation is like, the baby was pushed down ‘here’ to Earth from ‘there’. The baby didn’t want to come to Earth.
I asked her to be with the baby… to accompany her… to let the baby feel she is with her.
After a while she said:
All my life I have wanted to go back ‘there’… to be in the spiritual realm… not ‘here’.
I was with her, feeling the division she makes between ‘here’ and ‘there’. Feeling with her the pain she felt for being abandoned.
I hesitated where to go from there, sensing it will be good to reconnect to her spiritual part, maybe some healing will come from that place.
I asked her if she can reconnect again to the spiritual Maya. She agreed, but mentioned again that there is no connection for her between the spiritual Maya and the baby. I said it is ok, just to feel her presence now.
We were all in One space: the spiritual Maya, the adult Maya, the new born baby and me.
After a while, a deep insight arose within her:
Since the baby had not wanted to come and felt pushed to be here, the baby decided to show God that she is angry and not pleased.
She was surprised at what was coming out from inside. When she said it aloud, there was a shift.
We gave room for this insight, giving the body time to adjust to the new information.
Long silence… so many things happened inside in a quiet way… no words… just deep breath.
A little later, she continued:
A connection is beginning to emerge between the spiritual Maya and the baby.
It was a sacred moment… to feel how things become connected, letting the threads unfold, and the body absorb new life movement.
Maya opened her eyes, looked at me and said:
Now I can feel this thread between my spiritual soul, me and the baby.
Slowly, she continued:
I feel so quiet inside, so quiet.
We let this moment be.
A week later in a conversation, Maya shared that many insights were coming to her. She could see how things in her life now were a reflection of her initial feeling of abandonment, and how she projected her anger and dissatisfaction in many relationships in her life. She realized that baby Maya had not felt connected to spiritual Maya because of all the anger she was holding. Realizing this brought more healing.
Maya’s case represents one kind of split: a split of consciousness between the physical and the spiritual, between a hard life experienced ‘here’ on Earth and a longing for the spiritual realm experienced ‘there’. This split did not enable her to feel a complete sense of belonging in this world.
As a therapist, working for many years with trauma, I have developed deep understandings and respect for split and fragmentation processes that usually take place for emotional survival. I have learned to work with these splits in a very gentle and organic way.
The Focusing process enables integration between the spiritual, emotional, physical and mental, as One whole. Maya’s process reflects a split and how through Focusing, threads of connection began to emerge, creating new life movement.
Integration as One whole in the process
To manifest ourselves, we need to be in our body where we can experience the integration of all the dimensions held there.
Our body is the place where we can feel, sense, experience and connect to ‘here’ and ‘there’. It holds the opportunity to feel more. Through our natural body, we have the capacity to expand ourselves and to shift consciousness. We can connect to the wisdom within and the wisdom beyond, to the large universe and feel our innate undivided connection to the whole.
In A Process Model, Gendlin explains to us the undivided life, and that our body is a continuation of the universe, not a separate entity. He does not use spiritual concepts. He brings the flow, the inner original coordination, undivided processes. He invites us to feel this unseen realm directly through our body, to feel the many processes that are held in one focal moment and how all this influences the whole.
Why don’t we naturally feel the connection to a broader existence, to a bigger whole? How can connecting to something broader bring a sense of belonging and grounding in life, enabling us to fulfill ourselves more fully? What are the barriers that prevent us from opening ourselves to our deep connection to the more?
Barriers to sensing the wholeness
- We are in form and we see other forms but not the interconnection between them. The interconnection contains an infinite past, present and future as One whole. This is something we can sense.
- Our left brain, often more dominant than the right brain, consistently searches for linearity, causality, sequences, rules and categories. From this perspective it is impossible to capture the whole picture.
- Culture encourages development of individualism and acknowledges personal achievement, less emphasizing the interdependence we have on and in each other.
- On a psychological level: disowning or repressing certain aspects of ourselves leads to fragmentation. This happens as part of a survival mechanism and leads us to feel lacking, incomplete, anxious, unprotected and lonely. As a result, we lack the sense of wholeness.
- Fear of letting go and surrendering to the experience: fear of losing ourselves, losing control, and more.
- Fear: states of fear contract us, making us feel small and unprotected.
Deep observation of these barriers reveals that each one holds the key to moving beyond, towards expansion. For example, we can practice using the right side of the brain thereby allowing ourselves to naturally sense wholeness; we can raise our social awareness and become more conscious of our mutual dependence and the connection between things. We can explore our spiritual being, developing inner tools and ways to move between contracted and expansive states.
Our sense of belonging to this world can grow when we open our awareness to the vast levels of consciousness that exist within us. These states of consciousness are deeply influenced by, and deeply influence us, in all our dimensions of being.
There are moments in processes where the possibility exists to move through states of consciousness. In the work with Maya, several levels of consciousness were experienced as one process, opening for her the opportunity to feel a moment of wholeness within herself, and to release the experience of split held inside since conception.
In Focusing, we can learn to sense states of consciousness, and in a gentle way to bring invitations to explore and use them for our healing, expansion and grounding in this world. Focusing is a sacred bridge to our innate sense of wholeness.