Focusing Tip #400 – The body is not neutral.

Focusing Tip #400 – The body is not neutral.
October 16, 2013 Ann Weiser Cornell

“We are careful to avoid being biased…but on the other hand, we side with the life-forward direction.”

Jill writes:
I have a funny, uncomfortable place in me where two things don’t fit together well.  

On the one hand, in guiding or companioning a Focusing process, we are advised to listen without judgment, without taking sides, without a goal. We are careful of avoiding being biased toward one part or one thing in us, when there is more than one voice wanting attention.  

On the other hand, there is the idea of supporting or “siding with” the life-forward direction of a person, supporting what is life-serving and leads to more aliveness in the person. That doesn’t seem totally neutral. But it also seems right. 

Dear Jill,
Right, there seems to be a contradiction here…will we be neutral and treat all that comes in the process equally, or do we support or “side with” the life-forward process?

This is a question not only for a Companion who is accompanying a Focuser but also for the Focuser in relation to his or her own process. On the one hand, we are advised to hold what comes in equal regard. The fearful part, and the one that is judgmental of the fearful part…both are here. On the other hand, we celebrate the coming of fresh energy in the body – we seem to prefer it. How to resolve this contradiction?

I’d start by saying that the body process itself is not neutral. Our organisms move in the direction of fuller life. There is an inner “knowing” of what that fuller life would be. When you are hungry, there is an inner knowing that taking in food would be right. When food finally arrives, the body relaxes, there is a sigh of relief.

We can become familiar with this characteristic body response, the sigh of relief, the deeper breath – “Ah!” – the shoulders relaxing…for each of us it may be a little different, but it is our own body response. I am not talking now of eating and food, but of that moment in the Focusing process when we can feel a release, a shift, like a “yes” in the whole body.

Often this happens before we know why. I might be sensing a tight feeling in my chest. Each time I acknowledge it, it just gets tighter. I’m describing it… trying to get it just as I feel it…and the words come, “Like being caught in the jaws of a trap.” Sounds like a scary image…but my body loves it! I feel release and relief moving all through my torso. My breath gets deeper, for a moment the tightness is gone.

The tightness felt so “understood” by the description, that the whole body moved forward! 

The body process is not neutral

Once we know what “life moving forward” feels like in the body, we know that the body process is not neutral. It is ready for what brings forward steps of life. And often it is the moves of Focusing that bring these forward steps: acknowledging, describing, being with.

More next week about what gets in the way of these life-forward steps…and what to do about it. 

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