Friday, 26 February 2010

Your body knows a thing or two

I have been reminded recently of a book and a technique called "Focusing- how to gain direct access to your body's inner knowledge" by Eugene T. Gendlin. His belief is that our unresolved problems actually exist in our physical body and by 'focusing'on them we can identify and change them.

The idea that our body has an innate wisdom is not new and it has been used overtly by several therapies that come to mind- Kinesiology, Resonance Repatterning and Life Alignment where they actually test the body for its deep unconscious response/wisdom. But this is a body sensing technique that you can learn to do for yourself in order to " .. listen to the whisperings of your body before it has to shout". ("The Power of Focusing- a practical guide to emotional self healing" by Ann Weiser Cornell). It is something that i use with clients in combination with Art Therapy and it is very effective.

Ann Weiser Cornell with a colleague adapted the technique calling it 'Inner relationship Focusing' she says that:

"The trouble with talk therapy and positive thinking is that they leave your body out of the picture. If you try to talk or think your way out of problems, but leave your body behind, you’re leaving out 90% of your will and wisdom."

She also believes that "The trouble with positive visualization is that it bypasses something important: your current reality, the truth of how you actually feel. In your heart and gut you know there is something missing from those shiny futures, and that creates a disconnect that short-circuits real change."
From hard-earned experience, I’ve learned that an effective way of getting through the blocks and emotional overwhelm has to include the following three ingredients:

One. It has to be based in what’s real, true, grounded, here and now. Change can only happen in the present.
Two. It has to include your whole self, body, mind, and all. And that includes access to parts of you that talking and analyzing can’t reach.
Three. It has to be radically accepting of every part of you, so that your essential self feels stronger and calmer, and your (shall we say) less helpful parts don’t have to act out so much – and no longer need to get in your way."

" To move into the part of you that has the power to transform your life all you need to do is bring your awareness to your body" (Anne Weiser cornell) Eugene T Gendlin says that the technique will enable you to find and change where your life is stuck, cramped, hemmed in, slowed down and enable you to change, to live from a deeper place than just your thoughts and feelings. He says that using the technique brings a distinct physical sensation of change or body shift. Here is a brief description of his technique:

Step one: Temporarily push your problems to one side and take a step back to look at them. Allow the mental chatter to turn down and stay quite for a while and listen to the unclear body sense of it all, the felt sense. Then see what steps forward, seems to grab your attention or feels the worst. What immediately comes to mind?
Step two: Making contact with all the feelings around the issue that sprang to mind/came forward as the most pressing to get the felt sense of it.
Step three: Having got the felt sense, sense the quality of it and find a word that fits the quality exactly, checking the word against the feeling until it fits. For example one of anger. You know it's right when your body releases in response to the found word.
Step four Avoid analysing and go back to the felt sense and ask it for example what the anger is.
Step Five Ask the felt sense directly what the anger is about. If nescessary go back through the focusing movements again until a shift towards resolving the problem comes about. It is a shift when the felt sense changes even a little. Eugene says stay tuned to your bodily feeling and a complete shift is possible by fully grasping what is at the root of a feeling a bodily release happens. It is about going beyond the feeling and emotions, the emotional cycle/whirlpool to a deeper sense of the problem.

It can be an amazing tool to move forward with anything that is holding you back.

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