A reflection on the first in-person gathering of the Irish Focusing Network
On the 17th of September past, the Irish Focusing Network held its first in-person gathering since pre-pandemic times. Held in the fabulous Margaret Aylward Centre, Glasnevin, we were treated to a very special space; with its open-plan central areas, bright, airy meeting rooms, private nooks and crannies for pairwork, and beautiful views out onto the fabulous grounds, it felt purpose built for focusing. Instantly I felt myself relax.
When I entered the tea & coffee area, I experienced such joy to see so many familiar faces from Zoom meetings and past events - in real time - with whole bodies! Remembering the giving and receiving of hearty hugs that ensued brings tears to my eyes as I write - "too long… so needed… much gratitude", are the words that come.
We settled into our 1st session with John Keane, for an exploration of Bio-spiritual focusing, based on his work with children. We were guided through a beautiful process to connect with positive times in our lives, a sort of "resource grid" of positive memories and relationships, as a grounded starting point for further work. I was excited, seeing great potential for this in my work as a teacher… though I also began becoming aware of something in me that was unsettled…
We then chose a Teddy bear from a selection, and imagined holding the Teddy as someone who cares for us has held us. I struggled greatly with this, and at the break when a friend offered to focus with me, I gratefully accepted. Oh the wonder of in-person gatherings - for my need to be seen and held, for the creation of safe space with gentle reflection, as I connected with that tender place so needing my attention. More tears of gratitude come now as I remember, and a realisation that the felt sense which arose that day almost 3 months ago is still here, but it's held with more ease and comfort now.
As a result, I missed some of the middle session, where Mary Jennings led a fascinating "Thinking at the Edge" exploration of ways of working with language to find the right word: sensing into our understanding of wellbeing; enlarging and refining it; finding group and individual understandings. I get the sense that I have not yet grasped the full potential of TAE, and look forward to deepening my appreciation.
Lunch provided a wonderful opportunity to mingle and reconnect, or take time out to wander the beautiful grounds. To finish the day, Tom Larkin took us outside, on what was a perfect autumn afternoon for his "Focusing Journey in Nature". We sat on the grassy lawns while Tom guided us into mindful presence of the sensory delights around - gentle breeze, smell and feel of fresh-cut grass, sounds of children laughing drifting across the Tolka, white clouds drifting in an expansive blue sky… We then wandered the grounds, following our inner calling of where to go, when, at what pace, what to attend to... Something about this experience was innately grounding, settling and soothing: the felt sense unearthed earlier felt cared for, gently contained and safe, held in the womb of Nature.
While still sensitive, I came away from the day feeling refreshed, with a sense of expansion, contentment and hope. Today, I am still aware of how that day gave deep nourishment to my soul - meeting a need I did not know I had - the opportunity for face-to-face connecting in real time, in a space where vulnerable inner parts knew they could be safe and seen, where all of me could be accepted as I am. My deepest gratitude to our Focusing Community for the wonder of this all-too-rare experience. X