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Focusing as Part of Spiritual Renewal

The Focusing Institute

Ingredients:

Participants will learn how to focus, which takes about eight teaching hours.

The project itself consists of fifteen minutes before and after religious services.

Learning focusing:

In the process called "focusing" one finds the physical version of the various situations and problems that one's body is just then carrying. One finds them in answer to the questions: Can my body now feel all whole and free, and if not, what is now in the way? With focusing one's typically "mixed" body-sense "sorts" itself as one finds the weights that the body is presently carrying. Each comes as a distinct bodily sense. One acknowledges them one by one, and then one "places" each in some place, perhaps to the side, perhaps in some imaged safe place. Typically one feels physically better, sometimes inwardly clear and open.. This is called "clearing one's space." Those who know focusing do this before any important activity, as well as for its own sake.

During the process of clearing one's space one typically discovers that one has gone through the day up to now in a shallow way, mobilized, coping, but not living from deeper levels. One finds this, as a kind of floor opens in one's body and one comes alive in a more genuine way.

In clearing one's space one learns how to feel and acknowledge a holistic physical sense of a situation, rather than falling into the midst of its emotions and details. As one finds the whole bodily sense of a problem, there is some physical tension-reduction just in acknowledging it. But more than this is involved. The bodily version of a problem as a whole also brings a sense of oneself as distinct from the problem. "It is there, and so I discover that "I" am here, -- I am the bodily-alive "I" which is not the problem.

Beginning the project:

At the start of the project the minister (or someone introduced by the minister who is able to do this) will cite two or three passages from the service and tell how they apply to her or his currently ongoing personal development..

For example: "He heals the sick and frees the bound" -- where am I currently "bound?" -- Here is a promise that I could be free -- ah ... there is my longing to be free - what would it be like to be free? Can I "taste" it? It would be right for me to be free -- it says here that the Universe (or whatever All That should be called .....) could free me -- Without any particular shape or answer I am relating to this promise of no longer being so bound --( in that way I know myself to be bound, that I felt at the start).

This illustrates the personal connection one can make to a statement in the service.

Before the service:

Once this way of connecting the statements of the liturgy to ones needs and longings has become familiar, the time before the service consists only of silent focusing.

After the service:

In groups of no more than five, participants will take three minutes or less to tell something they wish to tell. The content is left entirely to each participant. People who know focusing might sometimes just say one word or phrase that has connected inside them and means a lot.

In a "supportive group" there is absolutely no expectation of any sort. It is understood that the person might share something unrelated to the service or the group's agenda. Each person can know with assurance in advance that the group will welcome what is said as coming from that unique individual.

Of course most of them will tell something from their experience of the service.

The knowledge during the service, that one can and might tell some of what one is experiencing, heightens the service. Since telling of one's unique personal complications and meanings will be welcome, the usually autistic inner process is experienced within the community with others. One might only tell a little or nothing, but one lives in-relation during the whole service, just because there is a community structure in which one might actually share a part of one's inner life, and one will be welcomed in doing so.

Individuals will arrange to meet also with one other person, their "focusing partner." This might be right after the group after the service, or at some time before the next service. About Focusing Partners see Appendix. They divide the available time. In the first half of the time, one of them listens steadily while the other focuses and/or speaks. Then they reverse. In one's own time one tells whatever one wishes -- often nothing. When two people know focusing, and one gives the other silent attention, there is an experience of deep company.

Under these conditions, church attendance is a deeply nourishing energy-giving process. People go home strengthened and living from deeper levels.

We have long experience with groups of this sort. We found that once a group like this forms, people don't leave it. These groups continue for years.. This is because one receives a kind of nourishment usually impossible in any other setting.

Of course someone from the Foundation must look into the whole international focusing community, its research, training, e-mail discussion, background writings and applications.

Religious renewal:

In history there have been certain periods in which there was what is called a "religious renewal." For a time the language of religion speaks directly to and from people's experiences. This is not a question of beliefs or cultural transmissions which are found in all periods. There is suddenly an immediacy, a way that words and symbols are not indirect representations of something believed, but direct evocations and reports.

Of course this is so in all periods for some individuals.

The purpose of the present project can be considered an attempt at religious renewal.

Community

In our urban society many people have quite lost any belonging to a familiar face- to-face community. The members of a family tend to spend all day in different places. The people with whom we work are not the people we meet when we shop; all our activities involves different people. Even if we maintain a membership in a church, those people are again different ones.

But this is not the main obstacle in the way of community today.

Many people today have become so individuated and complicated, that their needs and experiences do not easily fit in with each other. Most urban people have developed their inner process to the point where they know only a few rare people in whose company they would not feel alone inside.

Looked at from this point of view, it is striking that the inward experiencing of people remains numbed and untouched in almost all our situations all day long. A child sits in school five days a week for twelve years, from first learning to read all the way up to calculus, and nobody ever asks "Who are you inside?" Work situations require acting in prescribed ways, of course, but so does almost every other activity. Coming home to one's spouse might seem the one exception, but in fact it is even more important to find ways to fit oneself in with that person, than anywhere else. For two uniquely developed experience processes to manage to live together is even more difficult than other situations. That is one reason why there is so much divorce and instability in intimate relationships.

Many people are lonely, not because they don't know community groups to which they could go, but because what happens there will feel superficial, and will not inwardly reach and touch them. Then attending is only an effort, an added expenditure of energy rather than the strengthening and support that community used to provide.

The present project proposes first connecting the communal meanings to the inner experiencing process, so that they can cross, enrich and be enriched by the unique and intricately detailed meanings that arise from experiencing. Secondly, the project builds into the structure of community a time and pattern of inviting, reaching for, and hearing from the unique individuals.

APPENDIX


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