Focusing involves going quiet and still inside, creating an open and compassionate space for your inner feelings so they can feel safe to emerge and be heard. They are often felt in the chest or stomach areas, for instance 'butterflies in your tummy'.
Welcoming these feelings and staying with them for a while with curiosity helps you understand your own emotions better, which can lead to feeling more grounded on a daily basis, so you can find the next steps and make clearer decisions.
Focusing was created by Eugene Gendlin to help people access their own sense of self through connection with their physical/emotional feelings.
Focusing Demo Video
Focusing is such a felt experience, that sometimes it can be hard to truly describe it in words. Following is a video of a Focusing demonstration by Eugene Gendlin himself.
Focusing can also be described as:
- A natural way that people have of attending to their bodies’ sense of a situation or event, often called ‘intuition’ or a ‘gut feeling’
- A learnable ‘self-help’ technique that enables a person to identify and be more at ease with these and other feelings and bodily sensations
- A mindful method that a person can employ quickly in any given situation to arrive at greater insight or clarity
- An adaptable process that a person can integrate with, and use to enhance their way of relating to, and working with other people in any kind of situation
- A way of being in the world that allows people to access more of what they know about themselves and their lives
- Can help people experience more deeply and stay compassionately with all kinds of feelings without being numbed or overwhelmed by them
- Can contribute to the acquisition and development of skills such as active listening, stress reduction, decision making, problem solving, and conflict resolution
- Can help foster inner resources of self-compassion, empathy, resilience and other personal and relational qualities
Focusing is an evidence-based practice which can be done individually, in pairs or in groups. In the 1960s and early 1970s Eugene Gendlin developed this practice to help people towards greater confidence in their capacity to live life more fully, including building better relationships within family and work settings. This practice, which he made available to everyone, is based on his discovery that clients in therapy had better outcomes when they were given time and space to reflect on and practice Focusing with their own inner sense of an issue. Even though the practice emerged from psychotherapy, in itself it is not a therapy, neither is it a method of concentration, nor a system of meditation though Focusing can greatly enhance each of these.
What makes Focusing different from everything else?
Focusing as a practice differs from other practices in a number of ways. Focusing, like meditation, can be done on one’s own. Unlike meditation, Focusing ‘entertains’ or works with the sensations, images, thoughts and feelings that arise when one sits. Formal Focusing practice often takes place in pairs, a Focusing partnership. This is an agreed, equal exchange of Focusing and listening time. The role of the listener or companion in a Focusing partnership is very different from that of a psychotherapist: the listener is there to facilitate the Focuser’s relationship with their inner experience and not to intrude or guide the Focuser's process. In a Focusing session, usually, the focus is on the Focuser’s inner experience and not on their story or life experience, thus there can be a lot of comfortable silences in a Focusing situation.