Posts tagged: Spiritual Literacy

FOCUSING AND SPIRITUALITY: EXPERIENCING THE SACRED

By , July 2, 2008 3:53 pm

INTEREST AREA: Experiencing the Sacred

Immanent Spirituality: The Experience of God in The World

Intuitive Focusing and Focused Listening can be used purposefully to “attend to,” “sit with,” “articulate” the “intuitive feel” of spiritual experiences. But more importantly, the practice of Listening/Focusing opens our eyes to seeing the Sacred around us by encouraging attention to those moments when the Sacred enters our lives.

It’s called Immanent Spirituality, God as experienced in the world, moments when the Sacred underpinning of the world “breaks through” and becomes visible, palpable, feel-able. Experiential spirituality is separate from any particular sect or creed. You can incorporate it into any religion and into every day living without organized religion.

Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat call it Spiritual Literacy: Reading the Sacred in Everyday Life (Scribner, 1996), and their book jacket reads:

“These remarkable readings tutor us in the art of lingering with our experiences and seeing the world with fresh eyes — Life’s meaning and the presence of Spirit are found in the shape of a child’s foot, in an encounter with a wild animal, in the memories evoked by a rocking chair, in the process of doing a hobby, or in the messages on a computer screen.”

Spirituality Is More than Religion

Elfie Hinterkopf, in her book Integrating Spirituality into Counseling: Using the Experiential Focusing Method (available in The Store at www.focusing.org ), makes the following distinction:

“It is important to distinguish spirituality from religiousness — in this book religiousness will be used to mean adherence to the beliefs and practices of an organized church or religious institution (Shafranske and Malony, 1990). Spirituality will be used to refer to a unique, personally meaningful experience (Shafranske and Gorsuch, 1984). Although spirituality may be positively related to specific forms of religiousness, spirituality is not necessarily reliant upon any given form or appearance of religion.”

And:

“The spiritual experience is one of bodily felt release, more life energy, feeling more fully present, a sense of feeling larger and being able to reach out to more parts of oneself, to more people, and to more of life (Campbell and McMahon, 1985).”

Bio-Spirituality

Jesuit Fathers Pete Campbell and Ed McMahon have made a life’s work out of looking at the specifically spiritual aspect which can be present in any use of Focusing. They call their approach Biospirituality (Bio-Spirituality: Focusing As A Way To Grow ,Loyola Press,1985, 1997, www.biospiritual.org  )

In any Focusing process, the Focuser will often experience a Felt Shift, an opening of tension release into forward movement and new energy. Pete and Ed tell us to pay more attention to the “bodily-feel” surrounding these felt shifts in experiencing. They show us that, if we attend fully to the feelings surrounding the felt shift, we will find feelings of gratitude, of awe, of being “graced” by the presence of the Almighty.

They elaborate upon Gendlin’s sixth step of Focusing, called Receiving: thanking and acknowledging your Body’s Wisdom for the new steps of healing that have emerged. They have taken the further step of noticing the presence of grace and awe and thanking the Greater Source from which felt shifts, spiritual and emotional growth, emerge.

Being Touched and Being Moved

Using Gendlin’s Focusing process, we will refer to “bodily-felt experiencing,” “bodily-felt spirituality.” Whether experienced through nature or inspiring music or religious rituals in church or through watching the kindness of one person toward another, these spiritual experiences will be “felt.” The existence of Something Greater or Something More will be fully and unquestionably known, experientially, rather than being only an intellectual theory.

I call it “being touched and being moved” (PDF article) and find it often marked by at least a sheen of tears in the eyes, along with an expansive feeling of one’s own boundaries and limits dissolving for at least a moment of merging into a feeling of Oneness – with nature, with another person or other people, with music, or with the religious ritual in church.

As with personal growth and creativity, spiritual experiences can also be reached more predictably through the conscious use of the Intuitive Focusing process. If you “accidently” find yourself in the midst of a transformative, spiritual moment, you can enrich and enlarge that opening by consciously turning attention toward the “feel of it all” and making words and images for the power and meaning of it.

These words and images can stay with you after that magical moment ends and can be a road back to that spiritual experience, again by consciously turning one’s attention to them in a Focusing way.

See Focusing and Spirituality: The Still, Small Voice for several ways to use Focusing to invite and to explore spiritual experiences.

Agape: Experiencing God in The Other

For me, intense spiritual experiences of the love known as Agape also happen regularly through the experience of exchanging Listening/Focusing turns in a Focusing Partnership or a Listening/Focusing Community (see Creative Edge Pyramid for explanations of these and other applications).

Through the use of Focused Listening, I am able to set aside my own stereotypes and prejudices and really enter into the world of the other person. In these moments of empathy, when the Focuser touches upon her deepest values and most profound truths, as the Listener, I am often moved and touched by the absolute uniqueness, yet universal humanness, of the Other.

In these moments, often with a sheen of tears in our eyes, it seems that the boundaries separating one person from the other drop, and we stand together in a shared, sacred space. I believe this is what is meant by experiencing The Christ Within The Other or Universal Oneness or Martin Buber’s “I-Thou” vs. “I-It” experience. For me, there is no more sacred experience.

Click here to go to Interest Area: Experiencing The Sacred and scroll down to find The Ten First Steps You Can Take To Bring Listening/Focusing into your spiritual experience and community.

Tell me what you think at [email protected] or comment on this blog below !

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 See Core Concept: Conflict Resolution to find a complete mini-course on Interpersonal Focusing and Conflict Resolution, including Rosenberg’s Non-Violent Communication, Blanchard’s “One Minute Apology,” Patricia Evan’s books on Verbally Abuse and Controlling Relationships, McMahon’s Beyond The Myth Of Dominance, and much more.

See Core Concept: Intimate Relationship to find a complete mini-course on increasing intimacy and sexuality, including the “Sharing Your Day” exercise, Listening/Focusing Partnerships for The Way of Relationship, untangling and equalizing desire, tantric sexuality, and much more.

Download complete Instant “Ahah!” Mini-Manual, in English and Spanish, from CEF Website

Find links to free articles, personality tests, multi-media Self-Help training, Classes and workshops

Dr. Kathy McGuire, Director

Creative Edge Focusing (TM)

www.cefocusing.com

INTUITIVE FOCUSING AND SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE

By , May 4, 2008 12:11 pm

EXPERIENCING THE SACRED

Intuitive Focusing and Focused Listening can be used purposefully to “attend to,” “sit with,” “articulate” the “intuitive feel” of spiritual experiences. But more importantly, the practice of Listening/Focusing opens our eyes to seeing the Sacred around us by encouraging attention to those moments when the Sacred enters our lives.

It’s called Immanent Spirituality, God as experienced in the world, moments when the Sacred underpinning of the world “breaks through” and becomes visible, palpable, feel-able. Experiential spirituality is separate from any particular sect or creed. You can incorporate it into any religion and into every day living without organized religion.

Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat call it Spiritual Literacy: Reading the Sacred in Everyday Life (Scribner, 1996), and their book jacket reads:

“These remarkable readings tutor us in the art of lingering with our experiences and seeing the world with fresh eyes — Life’s meaning and the presence of Spirit are found in the shape of a child’s foot, in an encounter with a wild animal, in the memories evoked by a rocking chair, in the process of doing a hobby, or in the messages on a computer screen.”

Like ideas and personal problems or interpersonal conflicts, spiritual experiences also have an “intuitive feel,” a Creative Edge that can be expanded upon and deepened by using the Intuitive Focusing process. If you have just an “inkling” or a “flash” of experience that feels Sacred, you can go back to that experience during a specific Focusing Process, recover the spiritual feeling, and find ways to carry it with you.

I will walk you through an actual session of Focusing upon an Experience of the Sacred which you have had, understanding it more deeply, and finding a way to bring it back consciously.

Exercise: Focusing on Spirituality: Experiencing The Sacred

(You can read these to yourself now, download them for repeated use, read them into a tape recorder for playback; leave at least one minute of silence between each instruction)

You will choose an experience to spend Intuitive Focusing (click here for a basic description) time on that had spiritual meaning for you, a moment when you might have said that you were experiencing God or The Sacred or Something Profound – often, this can be something that touched you or moved you, perhaps bringing a sheen of tears to your eyes. It might be a piece of music, a prayer or passage from the Bible, a poem, a sunset, the smile of a child, the touch of a friend.

By spending time with “the intuitive feel of it all,” you are going to make more words and meanings for what is Sacred, to you. Please find a comfortable chair in a quiet place, and give yourself at least 30 minutes for Intuitive Focusing:

Okay — first, just get yourself comfortable — feel the weight of your body on the chair — loosen any clothing that is too tight —
(One minute)
Spend a moment just noticing your breathing — don’t try to change it — just notice the breath going in — and out —
(One minute — )
Now, notice where you have tension in your body (pause) —
(One minute — )
Now, imagine the tension as a stream of water, draining out of your body through your fingertips and feet (Pause) —
(One minute — )
Let yourself travel inside of your body to a place of peace —
(One minute — )
Now, bring to mind an event or piece of music or art or religious symbol that felt Sacred, or had a spiritual significance for you (pause) — Take your time to find a powerful, meaningful symbol or event —
(One minute or more — )
Think about it or get a mental image of it — take your time to choose something that matters to you —
(One minute — )
Now, try to set aside all of your thoughts about this experience, and, as you carry a mental image of the event or symbol in your mind, just wait and see what comes in the center of your body, around your heart/chest area, in response (pause) — not words, but the intuitive feel of that whole thing —
(One minute or more — )
Now, carefully try to find words or an image for that intuitive feel — Go carefully back and forth between any words and the intuitive feel of the whole thing until you find words or an image that are just right for it —
(One minute — )
Now, gently ask yourself, “What was so important for me about that?” or, “What about that touched me or filled me with awe?”, and wait, at least a minute, to see what comes in the center of your body, the place where you feel things —
(One minute or more — )
Again, carefully find words or an image that exactly fit that felt experiencing —
(One minute or more — )
Now, ask yourself, “And what was so Sacred to me about that, what do I mean by ‘Sacred’?” and, again, wait quietly, for at least a minute, to see what comes in the center of your body, without words, just the “feel” of “the whole thing” about “Sacred.”
(One minute or more — )
And find some words or an image to capture that “whole thing,” The Sacred —
(One minute or more — )
Now, ask yourself, “Does that capture what I mean by ‘spiritual’?”, and, again, don’t answer from your head, what you already know, but wait, as long as a minute, for an answer to come in the center of your body, your wordless intuition, The Creative Edge —
(One minute or more — )
Again, carefully find words or an image for that, and check, “Is that it?” —
(One minute — )
If the answer is “Yes,” a release of bodily tension, a sense of “rightness,” then turn your attention to noticing any “spiritual” experiences that are present around the edges of this experience, right now — feelings of Sacredness, of floating in Oneness, of Awe or Gratitude, of being moved or touched with tears — stay with these immediate spiritual feelings as long as you like —
(One minute or more — )
Try to find an image or other symbol or gesture that might serve as a “handle” for this particular spiritual feeling, something that would remind you of how to find your way to this place again, at any time during the day when you want to revisit the Experience of the Sacred —
(One minute or more)
And, when you are finished, come back into the room.
If the answer is “No,” your body remains tense, then, set aside everything you have already thought and tried and ask your body, The Creative Edge, again: “What is Spirituality for me, and where might I find it?”, and, again, wait, as long as a minute or more, to see what comes in the center of your chest, an intuitive “feel” for the whole thing —
(One minute or more — )
Take a moment, again, to carefully find words or an image for whatever has come —
(One minute or more — )
Keep at this as long as you are comfortable, asking an open-ended question, waiting for an intuitive sense of “the whole thing” to emerge, looking for words or an image or even a gesture or action step that fits the intuitive feel “exactly.”
(One minute or more — )
But, if no clear “felt” experiencing of Spirituality arises, just remind yourself that, by spending Focusing time sitting with The Creative Edge, you have added energy and started a new living-forward, and, especially if you continue to hold “the feel of it all” on the back-burner of your mind, later something new will likely pop up —
(One minute)
Appreciate yourself and your body for taking time with this, trusting that taking time is the important thing – new experiences can then arise later.
(One minute or more — )

Remember, Intuitive Focusing is often learned more easily in the company of a Focused Listener. Go to Creative Edge Focusing TM at www.cefocusing.com  to find many resources, from self-help groups to Creative Edge Focusing Consultants for individual Coaching or Classes and Workshops.

Tell me what you think at [email protected] or comment on this blog ! Or email your findings to The Creative Edge Collaborators’ Group. Join at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/creativeedgecollab 

 See blogs under Category: Conflict Resolution in the sidebar to find a complete mini-course on Interpersonal Focusing and Conflict Resolution, including Rosenberg’s Non-Violent Communication, Blanchard’s “One Minute Apology,” Patricia Evan’s books on Verbally Abuse and Controlling Relationships, McMahon’s Beyond The Myth Of Dominance, and much more.

Download complete Instant “Ahah!” Mini-Manual, in English and Spanish, from CEF Website

Find links to free articles, personality tests, multi-media Self-Help training, Classes and workshops

Dr. Kathy McGuire, Director

Creative Edge Focusing (TM)

www.cefocusing.com

The site of new insights and creative solutions is at the edge of what is already known. This edge, The Creative Edge, holds implicit within it all past and future knowing about the problem, more than could ever be put into words in a linear way 

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