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Focusing Instructions

by Neil Friedman, Ph.D.

There are no sacred instructions. Here is what I most often use nowadays. Don't rush.

1. Saying hello:

Find a comfortable position... Relax and close your eyes... Take a few deep breaths... and when you're ready just ask, "How am I inside right now?" Don't answer. Give an answer time to form in your body... Turn your attention like a searchlight into your inside feeling place and just greet whatever you find there... Practice taking a friendly attitude toward whatever is there... Just listen to your organism...

Give me a signal when you are ready to move on to the next step. You have the option of staying with what you have found or taking an inventory of issues.

2. Making a list (optional):

Now imagine yourself sitting on a park bench. Ask yourself, "What's in the way between me and feeling all fine right now?" Let whatever comes up, come up. Don't go inside any particular thing right now. Just stack each thing at a comfortable distance from you on the bench... Take inventory: "What's between me and feeling all fine right now?" [or "What are the main things..."]... If the list stops, ask "Except for that am I all fine?" If more comes up, add it to the stack. Stay distanced from your stack. Give me a signal when you are ready for the next step.

3. Picking a problem:

Now, feel yourself magnetically pulled toward the one thing in your stack that most needs your attention right now... If you have any trouble letting it choose you, ask, "What is worst?" (or "What's best?" ?-- good feelings can be worked with too!)... "What most needs some work right now?... "What won't let go of me?"... Pick one thing.

4. Letting the felt sense form:

Now ask "What does this whole thing feel like?"... "What is the whole feel of it?" Don't answer with what you already know about it. Listen to your body... Sense the issue freshly... Give your body 30 seconds to a minute for the feel of "all of that" to form.

5. Finding the handle:

Find a word, phrase, image, sound or gesture that feels like it matches, comes from, or will act as a handle on the felt sense, the whole feel of it. Keep your attention on the area in your body where you feel it, and just let a word, phrase, image, sound or gesture appear that feels like a good fit.

6. Resonating the handle:

Say the word, phrase, image, sound or gesture back to yourself... Check it against your body... See if there is a sense of "rightness," an inner "yes, that's it"... If there isn't, gently let go of that handle and let one that fits better appear.

7. Asking and receiving:

Now we are going to ask the felt sense some questions. Some it will answer, some it won't. Receive whatever answers it gives. Ask the questions with an expectantly friendly attitude and be receptive to whatever it sends you.

Ask "What's the crux of this feeling?" "What's the main thing about it?" Don't answer with your head; let the body feeling answer. Now, breathe that answer out.

And ask, "What's wrong?" Imagine the felt sense as a shy child sitting on a stoop. It needs caring encouragement to speak. Go over to it, sit down, and gently ask, "What's wrong?" Wait... Now, breathe that answer out.

And ask, "What's the worst of this feeling?" "What makes it so bad?" Wait... Now, breathe that answer out of your system.

And ask, "What does this feeling need?" Wait... Now, breathe that answer out.

And now ask, "What is a good small step in the right direction for this thing?" "What is a step in the direction of fresh air?" Wait... Now, breathe that answer out.

Ask, "What needs to happen?" "What actions need to be taken?" Wait... Now, breathe that answer out.

And now ask, "What would my body feel like if this thing were all better, all resolved?" Move your body into the position or posture it would be in if this were all cleared up. This is called looking the answer up in the back of the book. Now, from this position, ask, "What's between me and here?" "What's in the way of it being all OK?" Wait... Now, breathe that answer out.

Finally, ask your felt sense space to send you the exactly right Focusing question you need at this moment. Now ask the felt sense that question. Don't answer with your head. Just hang out with the felt sense, keep it company, let it respond. Wait... Now, breathe that answer out.

8. Coming back:

OK, now you have a minute to use however you'd like. Some people find it useful to retrace the steps they've come. Some like to stretch and relax. Some find it useful to underline the furthest place they've come to; pitch a tent there so you can come back to it if you want... Use this minute however you would like and then open your eyes... and this round of Focusing is over.


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