Listen to the wisdom of the body with experiential focusing
Have you ever had a gut feeling about someone that turned out to be spot on? Do you ever get a nagging feeling that you've forgotten something, but you can't think what? Or maybe a queasy sense that something’s not quite right but you don't know why? If so, you've been listening to your body whispering its wisdom.
Research has found that learning to listen to that embodied wisdom is a powerful path to healing. Many people who make good progress in therapy intuitively sense inside for a subtle bodily awareness, a gut feeling of what's going on for them. In experiential focusing, we call that feeling a 'felt sense'. If you take a little time to just be with a felt sense, you'll often find that it'll open up, like a flower bud and reveal something surprising and perhaps, transformative.
This process reveals how intimately connected mind and body are, so I sometimes call it 'body-mind focusing'. It's about focusing your attention on your body-mind, a deeper, wiser and more integrated you!
Bodymind focusing can take you beyond what is spoken between yourself and the counsellor, into the deeper patterns of your life.
One of the basic skills of focusing is learning to be with your feelings instead of being overwhelmed by them. This is a really useful skill and you can try it right now.
Let's imagine someone said something that's upset you. If I asked you how you felt about it, you might say: "I feel really angry about what she said".
But let's try an alternative: "Something in me feels really angry about what she said". Does that feel different?
We can take this a step further: "I'm sensing something in me that feels really angry about what she said".
Do you feel a difference now?
Try it yourself! Just fill in the gaps with any uncomfortable feeling:
- "I feel...".
- "Something in me feels...".
- "I'm sensing something in me that feels...".
Instead of identifying with your emotions, which can lead to them overwhelming you, this helps you be with your feelings. Remember; you are more than your feelings. You can learn to be in the moment and in relationship with your feelings instead of being overwhelmed by them.
About the author
I first came across experiential focusing during my PhD research into the wisdom of the body. I later gained an MSc in counselling and psychotherapy and then qualified as a focusing oriented therapist. Focusing now forms the foundation of my practice, supporting other aspects of my approach, like mindfulness and walk and talk ecotherapy.
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