Dear David,


Thank you for your series of posts. I think that the distinctions that you have made are VERY useful in understanding how to expand and more deeply apply Focusing.


I want to respond to a few of them. I had written several things that I didn’t post a few weeks ago, and they seem to apply here, so I will blend them into my responses.


1) Distinguishing between Focusing and The Power of Focusing.  (and similarly, between NVC and The Power of NVC)


Yes! There is a difference between what is done now in Focusing, and what is possible to be done. Understanding some of the dynamics, or the key aspects of each of the practices points to the More that can happen.


2) Two directions in which Focusing has a great deal to offer:


>>> I would say that The Power of Focusing lies in its strength as a process to facilitate our processing:

a)      whether to allow our processing to go deeper (further, broader, more precisely, evolvingly, ....) or

b)       to heal stopped-processings, this by always overtly including an awareness of felt-sensing.<<<<


3) A more accurate understanding of the central Focusing movements

>>> Focusing as Gene often describes it isn't, as I would call it, only felt-sensing, but rather going back-and-forth or, to use Gene's term, zig-zagging with felt-sensing (or as Gene calls it, the implicit order) and language (or as Gene calls it, the logical order).<<<


Nicely stated! I appreciate the wider view.


Since the discovery and full articulation of the felt sense has been the SIGNATURE of Focusing, it has been easy to overemphasize it, or put it at the center. But, as you say, Focusing is more than felt-sensing – it includes a going back and forth BETWEEN felt-sensing and other aspects of experiencing, including observations of the outer world, inner thoughts, etc:


>>>> Any felt-sensing implicitly contains language (thinking, words, concepts, forms, patterns, gestures, images, systems of logic, expressions, understanding, ....), just as any understanding, also always has felt-sensing.<<<


>>>>The Power of Focusing is also not limited to felt-sensing.  Focusing is always the "interacting first" or the zig-zagging with felt-sensing (the implicit order) and understanding (the logical order)<<<


My friend Bruce Gibbs considers the essence of Focusing to be CHECKING (checking things between felt sense, thoughts, ideas, feelings, etc.)



4) An expanded understanding of the processing that can go on (in Focusing, or other practices).

 You do this by describing four orderings, that include thinking and felt sensing, but also point to the zig-zagging relationship with the environment, and also with Being-Becoming


>>>So I'm setting up four orderings:

            felt-sensing (implicit ordering)

            understanding (logical ordering)

            in-the-worlding (situational ordering)

            homing (with/toward-Being ordering)<<<


>>>>So far, we've presented processing as always including two different orders -- the implicit order (felt-sensing) and the logical order (understanding -- words, patterns, expressions, images, gestures, ....) .<<<


>>>If I'm only checking my felt-sensing and my understanding about what I should do, and I'm not actually trying it out and getting feedback from the world at large (with, of course, me already interacting-first in it), then I'm really missing something vital, true?


>>>I call this the situational ordering or in-the-worlding

Our "next step" from Focusing doesn't usually happen only "just inside", staying at the level of new understanding and new felt-sensing

And how we are in-the-worlding, not only our understanding and our felt-sensing, guides us to our next step.<<<



5) the role of external feedback, in-the-worlding, in Focusing


>>>Second, Gene talks about the difference between an experienced felt-sensing and an inexperienced felt-sensing. 


>>>>What's the difference between experienced and inexperienced?  A lot of testing felt-sensing in the situational ordering, a lot of felt-sensing and understanding interacting with the situational ordering, with in-the-worlding.


>>>Like felt-sensing, the situational ordering is "more-than-logical" -- what happens in the world is more than any understanding or set of understandings can predict or figure out. 

Like understanding, the situational ordering is always explicit, though, also like understanding, it is always already included implicitly in felt-sensing. 

And like felt-sensing, the situational ordering or in-the-worlding is always an aspect of any understandings.<<<



6) The Compass aspect of Focusing, which you call homing


>>>>The fourth ordering, I call homing or the with/toward-Being ordering.  This ordering has two (and more) vital roles which are already well-established in our Focusing world. 

>>>homing isn't just a fitting into a situation.  homing is where we are at-home, where we belong, and to where we are called.  This underlined aspect of homing I call toward-Being.


>>>These two qualities are true of all aspects of homing:  coming as gifting and coming from something beyond merely ourselves or merely situations.


>>>  presencing (Ann's Presence, Ed & Pete's Caring Feeling Presence, Gene's Focusing Attitude).  All of us know how monumentally unsuccessful our Focusing becomes without presencing. 

Or to say this in processing language, in presencing, I'm homing.<<<



7) How processing includes all of these – felt sensing, understanding, in-the-worlding, and homing:


>>>processing is our natural, our potential embodying-opening from/with/towards (felt-sensing, understanding, in-the-worlding and homing) .


>>>We may place our primary attention or expression on one or more of these orderings.  But our experiencing, our processing always already includes all four interacting first, as one whole.<<



8) and a nice way to understand flow and stopped processes along one or more channels, while the rest of the organism moves on:


>>>Any or all of these four orderings may be freely-flowing, or as I say, embodying-opening

>>>And one or more of these orderings may highlight a stopped-processing


>>>One or more of these orderings may give a particularly powerful expression of this stopped-processing.  And one or more of these orderings, at any point in the healing, may be a particularly powerful pathway to that healing, to carrying-forward the stopped-processing into its natural state of free-flowing embodying-opening.


>>>> stopped-processings are when one or more of our sub-processes of the whole processing are stopped, stuck, prevented from completing and moving forward, but the organism doesn't die. 


>>>As Gene says, my stopped-processing continues in how my whole processing continues differently because I didn't eat, because I didn't carry this process forward.  Put in felt-sensing language, my whole processing continues, in some ways, to imply my wanting-to-eat.


>>>Why are stopped-processings important?  Again in felt-sensing language (We'll do in-the-worlding language later, when we discuss NVC.), any felt-sensing stuckness or not-rightness is the implying and so embodying . . .  one or more stopped-processings.<<<



9) and using all of this to point to what is possible in Focusing – where it is strong, and where it needs to include other orderings –  homing, and also in terms of relationships in-the-world:


>>> the four-part model I'm using -- felt-sensing, understanding, in-the-worlding and homing -- may help the on-going process of expanding our now-existing forms of Focusing & NVC to better realize The Power of Focusing & The Power of NVC.

In our world, both are so desperately needed.


>>>>The Power of Focusing lies in its strength to facilitate our processing -- felt-sensing, understanding, in-the-worlding and homing. 


>>>The now-existing forms of Focusing are particularly good at working with our one whole processing from the aspects of understanding and felt-sensing. 


>>>The now-existing forms of Bio-Spiritual Focusing add strengths with homing.


>>> And the now-existing forms of Focusing are ESPECIALLY WEAK at facilitating our processing through aspects of in-the-worlding.<<<<


>>>I certainly agree that we may add to the now-existing forms of Focusing in ways that better incorporate in-the-worlding.<<<


As you point to here, there is something about many of the present forms of Focusing that do not add the referent to in-the-world, which decreases its potential power, and capacity to relieve stuckness.



10) Showing more of the Power of NVC, and its core aspects of empathy. Nice distinctions here, and pointing to empathy and homing as aspects of NVC, underneath the form of feelings-and-needs:


>>>>this Focusing/NVC discussion often seemed to lose touch with The Power of NVC, tending to substitute an existing NVC form:  reflecting feelings & needs.<<<


>>>"Step One is for someone to listen empathically to a person who is hurting, angry or frightened.  The listener is present for the person, listening for 'what is alive in them' without judgments, moralizing, diagnosing, or offering unsolicited advice." (p. 36)


>>>>This highlights The Power of NVC beyond the form of "feelings & needs":  being "present for the person", empathically receiving "what is alive in a person", in particular, a person's vulnerabilities, thereby increasing "life between us".  When Marshall writes about or teaches NVC, he always includes empathy.  And whenever he teaches empathy, he's clear:  how you empathize is much more important than following any form


>>>Of course being present for the other person, getting connected with what's alive in them, which as Marshall says comes as a gift, is NVC's take on Presence, Focusing Attitude, Caring-Feeling Presence, presencing. 


>>>>And so this centers on what I call homing …  To omit discussing this quality in NVC is as serious as to omit discussing, in Focusing, the quality of presencing.<<<<



11) A nice take on the areas where Focusing and NVC can teach and learn from each other.

Focusing has more explicit teaching about qualities of attention, internal empathy, and felt sensing.

NVC has more explicit teachings about interpersonal empathy, based on the power of needing and increasing what is alive:


>>>"NVC is getting connected with what's alive in another person, and what we can do to get increased life between us." 


>>>Focusing is vastly clearer, more explicit & precise about the "internal" physical embodying-opening of felt-sensing -- the implicit ordering.  NVC when well done, or in other words The Power of NVC certainly includes felt-sensing.  But compared with NVC's explicit understanding, its now-existing forms, Focusing has the strong advantage.


>>> Where NVC talks about "feelings" or "emotions", Focusers know that we need to get to the "murky zone", the place of revolutionary pausing & noticing, the embodying-opening of felt-sensing & the implicit ordering.


>>>And we Focusers must also recognize where NVC, in its explicit teachings of empathy -- highly relevant to presencing -- has advantages & clarities over the now-existing forms of Focusing (though not The Power of Focusing).  In particular, I wish to highlight The Power of needing & "increasing the life between us".<<<<



12) Even FELT SENSING can become trapped, and not be able to lead us forward on its own. 

This has been spoken about peripherally – in Treasure Maps of the Soul (dissociation and stuckness protocols), Changing the Unchangeable (multi-pronged approach to working with stuck places), and a few others - but , I have not seen it stated so clearly before.


We want to believe that the felt sense alone will ‘guide us through’, but I am now seeing this as a partial truth. Sometimes more is needed. As Gene says “Use everything!”


>>>We Focusers are quite good at helping people who, by virtue of their life's tragedies & their cultural/family training, were alienated from their bodies, in particular from their felt-sensing. 

We have only to look at someone, to listen carefully not just to their words, but also to their voice tone & rate-of-speech to know whether their bodies are felt-sensing, are truly embodying-opening, or whether they are trapped in stopped-processing. 


>>>And Marshall realized that sometimes our "feelings", and I would say, based on long & sad experience, sometimes even our felt-sensing can become trapped within alienation.<<<



13) And pointing to some ways forward through this, based on NVC, but which applies just as much to Focusing:


>>> One way of re-connecting them with the larger truth of who they are, individually & with-others, is through The Power of needing.


>>>>Marshall was reaching towards something that all humankind shared, something that, even through the twists & stranglings of life-defeating indoctrinations, still, beyond them, found expression in co-creating how we were felt-sensing.  His needs were, indeed, a processing we all shared, and they were basic to who we are and why we are so bondedly, passionately with-others.


>>> needing, as I call it, was the engine driving Marshall's "joy of meeting"<<<<



14) An expanded understanding of the truth of homing and needing, and their more-than-individual nature. This has VAST implications for social interaction, as well:


>>>As I would say it, needing, as an aspect of homing, always has a greater potential not for conflicting, but for bonding -- a thought which, sadly in psychology & in our social/political discourse, is revolutionary. 


>>>"The Power of needing helps us both give empathy and heal alienation between us as well as within ourselves & others.  When we attune to needing, we're truly attuning to "what's alive in us" in a place that's never only cultural programming or merely situational, although both programming and the situational are always with this, too.  attuning to needing, in ourselves & others, also helps us guide felt-sensing beyond these alienations.  <<<<


>>>It's important not to reduce needing to a series of evolutionarily in-bred survival-of-the-fittest strategies which promotes shoving our genes onto the next generation.

This reduction misses the transcending feel within experiencing The Power of needing & The Power of homing.  … These qualities are readily experienced as very much beyond any reductionisms, just as felt-sensing is so experienced.


>>>. . .  this reduction leads us to understandings where "needs" are separate "things", competing for attention inside the container of our body, as opposed to always-present, interaffecting & interaffected-by aspects of one whole processing, where in some ways body & environment are one, where we can participate in world-evolving toward peace.<<<



I edited this paragraph here to make it read more fluidly. Hope I didn’t lose anything in it – I don’t want the importance of what you say here to be lost in the terms:


>>> needing is shared by all humans.


:>>>Its explicit understandings & in-the-worldings, and its implicit felt-sensings will always also include some individualities & differences, which are best often honored & included. 


>>>>When we're alienated from ours & other's needings, this leads to stopped-processings in (any or) all four orderings -- felt-sensings, understandings, in-the-worldings & homings.


>>>Needing shows itself when, as others accurately attune to someone's needings in a deep way & free of demands, empathy & presencing emerge.


>>> All this creates a meeting, an encounter, a two-made-one, a we which comes as a gifting and which is experienced as a true & real homing.


>>> From this flows more true, more real, more healing & embodying-opening [felt-sensings, understandings, & in-the-worldings.]<<<



I like the way that you honor both the commonality and connectedness, and also the individual intricacy of needing.


And, the connection between stopped process and alienation and stuckness…


And how needing is one expression of ‘the life in us wanting to come forward’. So, by attending to needing, we attend to a powerful aspect of aliveness that is both personal and more than personal at the same time.


And how you describe that, in listening/attuning to another’s needings in an empathic way, several things emerge:

- deeper empathy

- presencing

-a deeper, more real interhuman encounter, more-than-separate

- often some sense of life-forward movement with qualities of coming-home, reconnecting with a rightness

- which leads to more embodied unfoldings


Very nicely done – this is a very powerful addition to the field of Focusing, and to its interactions with other practices!


Thank you again, and be well,


PS I have MUCH to respond with regard to what we reflect, but that will wait for another post


[It was later written in the 2011 Folio article, under the heading of Reflecting Systems.  This experience with Dave and Marshall was used as illustration.]