November 18 2008 • Getting Unblocked #11

November 18 2008 • Getting Unblocked #11
December 3, 2008 Ann Weiser Cornell

Welcome to the Tangle


When a situation has multiple interconnected aspects, and it feels impossible to move forward with any of them, and we're not even sure why… that's something that Barbara McGavin and I call "the Tangle."

It often feels like we pick up one thread after another, trying each one, giving up, trying another… self-criticism and frustration get mixed in… giving up doesn't help but pushing harder just makes the tangle worse… and no wonder it can even feel like we've lost part of our brains!

When that's going on, the first thing to try is sensing the Whole Thing.

You'll need your nice Focusing space, a time when you're just going to be with yourself and listen. Having a Focusing partner is one way to give yourself this space. Another way is to carry your kitchen timer into the most peaceful part of your environment, find a comfortable place to sit, and set the timer for 30 minutes. (By doing this, you are declaring your intention to use THIS time for FOCUSING and nothing else!)

Let your eyes close if they want to, and feel your contact with the ground. Be aware of your breathing. Let your awareness come inward, into throat, chest, belly.

Now invite the whole sense of the Tangle to sit down here with you. You don't have to be able to define it. Just call it "all that."

Being with what's here is revolutionary


To do nothing but "be with what's here" is an inner act so revolutionary that it brings the inner turmoil to a halt. Just to be with the whole feel of it… sensing what it feels like… that's huge!

Eugene Gendlin writes: "With the emergence of [a felt sense] comes relief, as if the body is grateful for being allowed to form its way of being as whole."

The body is grateful!

He goes on to say, "It is something you have, not something you are. Before, you were that way of being. Now, you are the new living that is ongoing, as you sense how you were." (Focusing-Oriented Psychotherapy, p. 20.)

The whole felt sense contains a knowing of what would be right. It might be that you get up from this 30 minute session and start picking up the mess. It might be that you go take a nap. Whatever you'll do will come more from your wholeness than it would have before you let the whole sense of it form, and kept it company.


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