Posts tagged: Father Ed McMahon


By , May 23, 2008 4:22 pm


Jesuit Fathers Pete Campbell and Ed McMahon (Bio-Spirituality: Focusing As A Way To Grow, 1985) have made a life’s work out of looking at the specifically spiritual aspect which can be present in any use of Intuitive Focusing. They see entering the bodily “felt sense” through Focusing as a way of entering into The Body of Christ from the Christian perspective and also into the common ground of all spiritual experience. They call their approach Bio-spirituality (  ).

In any Focusing process, the Focuser will often experience a Felt Shift or Paradigm Shift, an opening of tension release into forward movement and new energy. Fathers 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 experiences of gratitude, of awe, of being “graced” by the presence of the Almighty.

While they started with Christianity, the Fathers now see Focusing as an access path to the Experience of the Sacred which underlies all religions. 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 through Focusing and taking the further step of noticing the presence of grace and awe and thanking the Greater Source from which felt shifts, and spiritual and emotional growth, emerge.

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)

As last week, you will choose an experience to spend Intuitive Focusing time on something 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.

According to the BioSpirituality work, you might pay special attention to any feelings or experiences that come “around” any experiences of Felt Shifting or Paradigm Shift. Do you notice any feelings of Awe or Gifting, the presence of Grace or Something More?

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.  See links below for resources.

Tell me what you think at or comment on this blog ! Or email your findings to The Creative Edge Collaborators’ Group. Join at 

 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)

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 


By , March 14, 2008 2:54 pm

Replacing The Myth of Dominance With The  Personal Power of Focusing
In his book, Beyond The Myth Of Dominance: An Alternative To A Violent Society, Father Ed McMahon, co-founder of the Biospiritual Focusing approach, makes the same point as Marshall Rosenberg’s Non-Violent Communication: our greatest power in trying to persuade another is, not coercion, but personal power: sharing from our own inner experiencing.
McMahon makes the additional point that “personal power” comes from becoming congruent with our own inner Selves. We have to know our own Selves thoroughly in order to communicate honestly with the other and to take responsibility for moral action.
Trying To Dominate Ourselves, Our Familiars, Our Global Neighbors
McMahon questions the idea of dominance when applied at all levels:
Intrapsychically, we try to dominate our own inner selves, telling ourselves what we should feel, instead of turning a Caring Feeling Presence toward all the different aspects of ourselves, our conflicts, and using Focusing to let the “whole” story unfold from our body’s intuitive knowing of the whole situation, being honest with ourselves.
Interpersonally, we try to dominate other people by telling them what they should feel, instead of vulnerably sharing our own perspective through Intuitive Focusing and using Focused Listening to hear the perspective of another until a mutually-acceptable solution arises.
As whole cultures and communities, we try to force people to conform, tell them what they should feel, invite them to “give their personal power over” to us and our institutions, instead of encouraging and facilitating “inner congruence with one’s own truth,” the root of conscience and personal power.
Dominance Erodes The Basis Of Civilization
In describing the rise and fall of great previous civilizations, McMahon says:
“However, the dark side of such a basically closed system of authority residing not in the people but in the preservation of ritual and in the absolute powers of the leader was that corruption and the abuse of people soon wormed their way into the system. Disintegration of the culture was inevitably not far behind. In all these civilizations, there was really no empowerment given to the ordinary person, and thus no lasting source for continuing growth and health in the society. When the power source became corrupt, the civilization fell to pieces” (p. vi)
Dominance Includes Trying To “Fix” Others
And in describing even the attempts of “social activists” to “fix” the world by telling people what they “should” do, he quotes a feminist learning about using Focusing to turn a Caring Feeling Presence toward the inner experiencing of herself and others:
“I have been active in working for women’s rights for years, and I can see now what a difference it would make in our effectiveness if we were as committed to caring for and listening to our own anger and hurt as we are to this important cause. I think it would change the ‘feel’ people have when they encounter many of us, as well as our tactics in trying to bring justice and peace into the world.” (p. 92)
Approaching people with confrontation and antagonism and blaming makes people defensive. Dominance disempowers the other. Sharing from your own “personal power,” your own vulnerability and experience of being-you-in-the-world allows people to listen instead of arguing back. At the same time, it strengthens your own “congruence,” your own capacity to take a stand for your own point of view. And refusing to dominate strengthens the personal power of the other.
The Interpersonal Focusing Protocol 
You can read the entire Chapter Five: Interpersonal Focusing, in English and in Spanish, from my manual, Focusing in Community (Focusing en Comunidad). Click here for a free download through my blog. It gives explicit instructions and examples. Also, you can read the Interpersonal Focusing Case Studies at .

However, here is the simple Interpersonal Focusing Protocol as summarized in that chapter:
TABLE  5.1
                             (several five or ten minute turns)
(a)    Owning instead of blaming:
       “I feel —” instead of “You are —”
(b)    Behavioral specificity instead of
       “When you  —” instead of “You are —”
       “When you do — , I feel —”
   (one or more twenty minute turns for
     each person)
(a)     Use Focusing on your own hurt feeling:
       “What’s in this for me?”
(b)    Honestly try to discover your own
        part in the interaction:
       “Why does this bother me so much?”
(c)  The other person uses Focused Listening to respond
The Third Person uses Focused Listening to respond to each person in turn
                                   (a)  Allows for the expression of angry
                                          feelings in a protected way
(c)     Protects against issues of distortion
       And mutual distrust

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

Dr. Kathy McGuire, Director

Creative Edge Focusing (TM)

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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