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Gendlin, E.T. (1983). New specifics [Part 2 of 2]. The Focusing Folio, 2(3), 27-28. From

[Page 27]


SITTING DOWN TO FOCUS: You may find that it takes five minutes or so, just to come "down" into your body, before you can begin focusing.

You may find yourself going "down" through layers: What first comes may not be quite it, what next comes is deeper but still not quite...and so on.

It is good to get comfortable about taking that time to come "down."

AVOIDING ONE'S INWARDNESS: Many people do not turn inward, or are afraid to focus because they expect something will overwhelm them. For this, try the new way of making a space (below).

Some people do not turn inward because they always find the same problem, loss, or sadness there. What is said below may help:

TWO KINDS OF "DOWN": Some problems make us feel "sunk down" in them. Then we certainly feel the problem but this is a different type of "down."

"Sunken" is inside the problem. Focusing touches the problem as a whole, which feels different. How to move from "sunken" to focusing?

It may help to make a space for a few minutes. (see below).

You will be out of the "sunken" type of "down," and now you can try to sense the whole thing from here. Although we don't have words for the difference, you can go much deeper down from here, without ever feeling sunken. They are different "downs."

MAKING A SPACE: You may want to try the older ways. Here is a new way:

Think of a time when you really felt joyous and wonderful. (Don't say there was never such a time, even if you have to search far back.) Now make this time very vivid to yourself and feel it for a while. Visual imagery helps.

Then let the whole problem be on the other side of this, so that [Page 28] the good feeling is between you and the problem. Sense that problem as a whole, but only at a very low intensity. You can then focus on that feeling-quality.

You may want to practice ONLY making a good space (in this or any of the other ways) till you can do that. The problems you fear to touch can wait.

SELF-BLAME: Sometimes we feel afraid of our own self-blame. We don't want false excuses, of course, but more often we add false self-accusations.

When focusing in relation to self-blame it helps to wish to have truth, nothing better or worse. Instead of deciding what the truth is, you can decide that you want only truth. You may find that this wish makes a crucial bodily change. Stay with this wishing awhile. There is no rush for answers.

NOT GOING YET: It is very helpful to sense a touchy problem THERE, but WITHOUT going further into it, for the time being.

ŠEugene T. Gendlin

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  • Biographic Note: Eugene T. Gendlin is a seminal American philosopher and psychologist. He received his Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Chicago and taught there from 1963 to 1995. His philosophical work is concerned especially with the relationship between logic and implicit intricacy. Philosophy books include Experiencing and the Creation of Meaning, Language Beyond Post-Modernism: Saying and Thinking in Gendlin's Philosophy edited by David Michael Levin, (fourteen commentaries and Gendlin’s replies), and A Process Model. There is a world wide network of applications and practices ( stemming from this philosophy. Gendlin has been honored three times by the American Psychological Association for his development of Experiential Psychotherapy. He was a founder and editor for many years of the Association’s Clinical Division Journal, Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice. His book Focusing has sold over half a million copies and has appeared in seventeen languages. His psychology-related books are Let Your Body Interpret Your Dreams and Focusing-Oriented Psychotherapy.
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