Another Big Difference Between Focusing & Meditation…

Another Big Difference Between Focusing & Meditation…
October 15, 2014 Ann Weiser Cornell

Focusing Tip #444

“If you have done any Focusing at all you know the difference it makes to have someone there with you.”

Dear Readers:
Many of you have been expressed strong interest in this topic of comparing Focusing to meditation. I discovered an article by my friend Manjudeva, a Focusing teacher who teaches retreats that are a combination of Focusing and Buddhist practice. Manju makes a point that surprised me at first but then makes so much sense: It’s on the relationality of Focusing.

Manjudeva writes:
manjuFocusing can of course be done alone, but more often it is practiced, at least formally, in pairs or perhaps groups. Other people are with you and not just in a token way. They really are with you.

Indeed one of the body’s knowings is knowing that someone is present with us, something in us knows that without question. It also knows something about how much the person is listening to us and more importantly it knows the degree of empathy the other is bringing to the relationship. And if you have done any Focusing at all you know the difference it makes to have someone there with you. There is something unique and profound about being listened to by another being, more so if they are in empathy with you.

It is my strong sense that certain kinds of processes will not happen at all unless there is there is someone else there. The loving company of another invites things that will not feel safe otherwise. To give an example, perhaps as a child we had to go through traumatic events alone (being alone is all too usual and almost a hallmark of trauma). Those places that need to be heard and heal are unlikely to show up in solo focusing, especially when we are newer to the practice. Those places need someone else to be there.

From birth, our nervous systems have been highly attuned to the presence of others (especially our care givers, but not only) – our survival depends on that. We sense the safety or threat of others at a deep and instinctive level. Our nervous system is hard wired that way. Our nervous systems are interacting and affecting one another all the time (think of a time when you knew a friend was upset about something but did not say).

This is partly the mechanism of human empathy, the mirror neurons that resonate with another’s experience. This resonance changes everything! It creates a field of interaction between Focuser and companion that is deep and profound. We literally go on a journey with our Focuser and who we are and what we bring affects that journey.

How often have you noticed a synchronicity of themes with your partner or times when both of you drifted off at the same time? How many times have you sensed the shift in emotional intensity or their tears even with your eyes closed?

What I am saying is the presence of another person profoundly effects the process and how it unfolds. It often takes us into quite different territory than meditation; equally as valuable but different.

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