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Gendlin, E.T. (1983). Focusing specifics. The Focusing Folio, 2(4), 38. From

[Page 38]


I may or may not know what I want. But if I knew a lot more, or if I could know the future, I might want something different. I can tell you right now that I'd rather have that, even though I don't know what it is. Instead of wanting what I can now think, I can want what I would want, if I knew everything. Of course I want that, and I can want that now.

If you think this and attend in the body, that wanting comes as a bodily quality of being whole, unconflicted, all in one piece, free to want and choose. Feeling this bodily quality for a time helps specific steps to come.

To work on something bad, it helps to recall what is good, where I am sound. That may seem to be a silly palliative. Of course I don't want to deny what is wrong. But my body will work better on what is wrong, if I first let it feel whole and sound, and then turn to what is wrong.

Find your child-place inside. Now sense how you relate to it. Then feel towards it as you would feel toward an actual little kid, if one were right there. Chances are you would like the child. You would pick up, hug, and feel a warm flow toward a child. . .any child. That is right also with this inside one. Work on whatever is wrong, but let this warm flow be around it.

In focusing one attends to the middle of the body. Many people don't take this literally enough, and don't look for the felt sense of a problem to come in the body. It comes in the same place in the stomach where an elevator going down can make a sinking feeling come. Or, it comes in the chest: as one person once told me: "I know I'm breathing, but it feels like I can't." In these places each different problem makes a different quality come.

Some people have to practice letting their attention go into the middle of the body, until doing so becomes easy.

When one first senses that fuzzy, bodily uneasiness, it seems very unpromising. One thinks, "Oh, nothing much can come from this!" This unpromising murk is one way to recognize it.

Skip the known feeling-places. Go directly to the not-so-wonderful body-sense which is probably there, in the middle of your body.

In one way we are quite gigantic, as dreams and altered states can show. But these dimensions are universal and alike in all of us. They are already perfect. In comparison, my small conscious person is certainly discouraging. But we must not give up on developing the unique person. Focusing is at the edge of ordinary consciousness, at the juncture between these two. The small steps that come at the bodily sensed edge are always already integrated bits of unique further living.

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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