By , November 21, 2008 3:15 pm

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Getting A Felt Sense #3: “Clearing A Space Inside”

 What to do when numb, overwhelmed, “stuffed” with issues
(from Complete Focusing Instructions)

“Clearing A Space” is the first step in using Gendlin’s Focusing.We have been practicing a variety of Relaxation, Meditation, and Guided Imagery exercises as methods for “clearing out” the jumble of emotions, experiences, thoughts which can turn our bodies into a wall of stressful tension or numbed-out concrete. This month we will practice the formal Clearing A Space exercise developed by Gendlin and others.

Remember, especially at the beginning, time those “1 minute” pauses. You will be amazed at how long a minute is, how seldom we ever pause for a whole minute!!! And it is exactly in the PAUSE that the Creative Edge comes.


Clearing A Space is for those times when your body is so clogged up with issues that it’s hard to get a felt sense, an “intuitive feel,” for any one of them. Instead, you may feel overwhelmed, depressed, numb.

Clearing A Space involves identifying each issue that you are carrying in a physical way and setting it outside of yourself, if only for a moment, so that your body can breath more freely. It’s as if you name an issue and notice the “felt sense” of it in your body, then wrap that “whole thing” up like a parcel and set it out on a table in front of you. Ahhhh! Even imagining doing this brings a sigh of relief from me. You continue with each item that arises inside, including problems but also positive experiences from the week. Each time, you get that “Ahhhh!” of tension release and more “clear space” inside.

After setting everything outside, if you choose to continue with a longer Focusing Turn for problem solving, you can take one issue back inside and work on it in an Intuitive Focusing way. But Clearing A Space can give your body a break even before the problems can be solved.

Clearing A Space can be especially effective when people must carry a chronic illness, an irresolvable problem, or an ongoing stress every day. It provides a way to get some moments of stress reduction and refurbishment, some moments when the burden can be set down and the body/mind can breath freely (Neil Friedman developed some of the imagery below)

Clearing A Space- Allow 20 minutes

—Lie down or sit in a way that’s comfortable for you—if you tend to fall asleep, you might vary your posture to reduce those cues—loosen any clothing that is too tight—
1 minute
—Spend a few moments just noticing your breathing—noticing your breath going in—and out—
1 minute
—Now, ask yourself, “What’s between me and feeling perfectly all right?” and wait and see what issue rises to consciousness: ” Well, there is that whole thing about—‘money’—or ‘my relationship’ or ‘my son’ or ‘that work issue’—”
1 minute
—Spend a moment with this issue, noticing how you carry it in your body—10 seconds

—Is there a tension in your neck?—Or butterflies in your stomach?—Or a clenched jaw? —Or furrows in your forehead?——See if you can find a physical manifestation of this issue as a tension in your body—10 seconds

—Now, ask your self, “What is the “intuitive feel” of this thing?”—Look in the center of your body, inside the chest/heart area, for that right-brain “intuitive feel” that is more than words—not the tension itself, but the “felt sense” of “the whole thing 30 seconds

—Don’t try to go into the issue or try to solve the problem, just notice the “intuitive feel” of the whole thing—30 seconds

—Find some words or an image for the feeling or the “quality” of that whole thing—like “scared, “knotted,” “confusing,” “stretching,” “frustrated”—30 seconds

—Now, imagine that there is a counter or a table out in front of you and imagine that you are wrapping that “whole thing,” – the issue, the physical tension, and the intuitive feel-all of it, up like a parcel and setting it outside of yourself for a moment —you may experience a “sigh” of relief as you imagine lifting it and setting it outside——ahhhhhhh!!—10 seconds

—See if you can set “that whole thing” outside for a while—You can come back and solve it later—Right now, just see if your body can be free of it for a moment—30 seconds

—Now, ask again, “What else is in the way of feeling perfectly okay?” and see what issue arises next—30 seconds

—Again, just name it—10 seconds

—Notice if there is a physical location for the tension of it—10 seconds

—Get the “intuitive feel” of the “whole thing, before words, in the center of your body—30 seconds

—Find a word or an image that captures the quality of that whole thing—30 seconds

—And imagine wrapping “that whole thing” up and setting it out on the counter for a while—30 seconds—

—Continue in this way until all the issues have been named and set outside-
3-5 minutes

—Now, check to see if there is any background feeling still inside—a basic feeling tone that is always present—30 seconds

—If you find such a thing, again, notice it, find a word or image that captures the quality of it, and try to wrap it up and set it outside for a while—
1 minute
—Now, you might want to take an inventory of all the positive things in your life at this point, in the same way, naming each— getting the feel of it— finding some words or an image—and then wrapping it up and setting it on the table
3 minutes
—Now, just enjoy the experience of the “cleared space” in your body—
1 minute
—Sometimes, people experience a state of spiritual Oneness at this point—If that happens to you, just savor it—
1 minute
—You might want to create some words or an image for this good feeling state, so that you can come back here whenever you want—
1 minute
—If you were going to continue with Focusing at this point, you would choose one issue, bring it back into the center of your body, and ask “What’s this all about?” and proceed in a Focusing way


Here you are learning the difference between thinking up an answer in your head and Intuitive Focusing: waiting for a subtle “feel” of the whole thing, an “intuition,” to form in the center of your body, and then creating words or images that are just right to capture it. You are looking for the “intuitive feel,” the Creative Edge, the right-brain information that is more than you can put into words. Eugene Gendlin, creator of the self-help process called Focusing (Bantam, 1981, 1984) calls it “the felt sense” of the whole thing. It is from this vague, pre-verbal, bodily-intelligence that truly new, non-linear solutions can arise.

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Dr. Kathy McGuire, Director

Creative Edge Focusing (TM)


  1. […] you are learning this month (newcomers, find the introduction to this exercise in last week’s “Felt Sensing”: Clearing A Space = Instant Serenity) has positive effects for women with breast […]

  2. […] intended to use the specific Clearing A Space exercise to make a list of all the various issues I was carrying in a bodily-felt way, and to set each one […]

  3. […] kind of choked up.”     [The Focuser is doing the first step of Intuitive Focusing, “clearing a space,” noticing and naming the various issues she is carrying so she can choose one to work on]   […]

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