By , January 12, 2008 5:18 pm

For the next four weeks, we will work on perhaps the most essential aspect for successful Intuitive Focusing, creating a positive attitude, inside of yourself, for whatever might arise during a Focusing turn.This is The Focusing Attitude.

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Empathy, Congruence, and Unconditional Positive Regard

Caring Feeling Presence is also the essential attitude which you convey to a Focuser when you are being a Focused Listener:
“I am here for you, without judgment. I am happy to receive anything that comes up inside of you, without criticism. I will set aside my own reactions, judgments, own experiences and be here as a Caring Feeling Presence simply to listen to and to give back to you your own experiencing.” It is a necessary component of the “empathy, congruence, and unconditional positive regard” which Carl Rogers defined as the crux ingredients for the healing relationship.
Leaning in with Tenderness: A Caring Feeling Presence
Once I was having a prolonged argument with another Focusing Trainer at a workshop I was teaching. I kept emphasizing, going with the tears and anger, letting them be experienced. He said it was sufficient to work his feelings through in his imagination, that he did not have to say them out loud, that he did not need to feel them.  Then, in a Focusing turn, the Listener used his name: “So, H, you are saying—” “So, H, what mattered was”  My friend reported to me that just hearing his name created an intimacy that allowed him to feel his tears, and the deeper meanings in his experience, and how valuable that was to him—
Another time, I was the Focuser, being Listened to accurately but—well, it felt distant, too objective—I didn’t feel “safe” becoming vulnerable in front of that distance. I asked the Listener to “lean in toward me more—be tender toward me—” When she did this, I was able to feel compassion for myself, and to touch into the place of tears, the deeper meanings for me, the part of me that needed to be comforted in order to grow forward.
The Real “First Step” of Focusing: Self-Empathy, Self-Love
Pete Campbell and Ed McMahon, creators of the Biospiritual Focusing approach, always started their workshops by teaching The Focusing Attitude, which they called “A Caring Feeling Presence.” They did not think anyone should begin to try out Focusing Instructions without first learning how to be kind and gentle with everything that arises inside.
And they knew that Focusers had to have this experience in a bodily-felt way, not just as an intellectual idea. Learning to take this Focusing Attitude toward oneself is a life-long learning for anyone wanting to “make peace” with all the different “parts” or “aspects” of themself.
Please try out their introductory exercise for finding a “felt sense,” an “intuitive feel” for this kind of inner caring. It involves learning how it feels, in your body, when you are trying to show complete love and safety to someone. Then, turning that same loving attention, that Caring Feeling Presence, toward your own inner experiences:
“Take a moment to find a comfortable sitting position—
Loosen any clothing that is too tight—
And begin to come quietly inside by closing your eyes and starting to just notice your breathing—
Just noticing your breathing—going in—and out—in—and out—Let any sighs or deeper breathing arise naturally—
(one minute)
Now, notice your body, how it feels in the chair —
Massage any spots that feel sore—
Massage your head—
Wrinkle up your face and stretch your jaw—and relax!!!!!
Make a few circles with your shoulders, bringing them up to your ears, around toward the back, and dropping them down—and repeating four or five times—
(one minute)
And now bring your attention inside, to the place where you find a “felt sense” or an “intuitive feel” when you are using Focusing, often in the center of your body, around the chest/heart area—-
(one minute)
And now, imagine that you work in a hospital—
An infant has been left on the hospital steps—
Let yourself feel the impact of this situation in your body—
It is your job to pick up that infant and to convey to it, through your body, your way of holding it, that it is safe, that it is perfectly and truly wanted in this world. Imagine picking up that infant—
Now, imagine what you would do in your body to convey to that infant that it is prefectly safe, that it is truly wanted in this world—
(one minute)
Notice what you do in your body to convey this loving attention, without words—
(one minute)
Now, imagine turning that same kind of Caring Feeling Presence toward your own inner places, whatever they may be—
(one minute)
Bring to your mind times in your life went you felt loved and valued in this way. Look for particular places or people or animals or situations where you felt completely safe, completely wanted, basking in the warmth of loving attention—
(one to three minutes)
Choose one of these images/places/people/situations that could stand as such a strong symbol of this kind of safety that you could use the memory of it as an anchor or talisman to bring you to that sense of Caring Feeling Presence to your own inside experiences. We’ll call that your Inner Nurturer—
(one to three minutes)
Now, look through your life and store of memories and images and see if you can find an image of a part of yourself that is now or was at some point very much in need of that kind of Caring Feeling Presence. It could be an Inner Child, yourself at a certain age or time of life. But it could be another kind of image: like “a wounded animal” or “a butterfly with a crumpled wing” or “a gangrenous leg—I just want to cut it off” or a particular physical tension (headache, tight jaw, stomach knot) that you often suffer from. We’ll call that your Inner Woundedness—
(one to three minutes)
Now, imagine taking your Inner Nurturer and turning that Caring Feeling Presence toward your Inner Woundedness—
(one to three minutes)
Just spend some time seeing if you can touch your Inner Woundedness with that Inner Nurturing—
(one to three minutes)
And come back into the room when you are ready.
Things That Get In The Way of This Inner Attitude
This exercise is just a first step. You might have found that Inner Critical Voices arose while you tried this exercise (“This is silly!” “I don’t have any weaknesses!” “It’s too late. The past is the past,” etc. In the next weeks, we will continue working with establishing a Caring Feeling Presence inside, and the things that can get in the way of that. Turning toward oneself, and others, with love and self-love, is a life-long learning! But we are starting today.

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Dr. Kathy McGuire, Director

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