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Unconscious Material and Focusing

Unconscious Material and Focusing
March 30, 2016 Ann Weiser Cornell

Focusing Tip #503


“Why is it not your job to bring unconscious material into the client’s awareness?”


Melanie writes:
I was interested in your comment – in last week’s Tip – that it isn’t your job to bring unconscious material into the client’s awareness. Why is that?

Dear Melanie:
The distinction between “conscious” and “unconscious” gives us the idea that there are only two states of consciousness…but of course we know that’s not true.

For example, when you can almost remember someone’s name: You know the name exists, and you almost know what it is. You can feel its shape. You will know it when it comes. Is the name conscious? Or unconscious? Or on the border?

Focusing operates right at that edge, the place where something that had not yet formed into awareness is beginning to form.

We can recognize that a person – a client, let’s say – is Focusing by how slowly the person is speaking. They are searching for words, comparing the words that come with the felt sense that is present in the body.

They will say, for example: “It’s heavy…sort of heavy…more like weighted…um…”

This is the sign of emergence of something that has not formed previously. And nothing is more exciting than that moment, which usually follows this kind of slow groping speech, when the client says, “Oh! I see!” and a new, fresh realization emerges. This IS life process moving forward right it front of our eyes, and it is so beautiful.

My job is to help the client stay right there, on the border. That brings everything we need. If instead I try to call their attention to something that I am aware of that they are not, I’m short-circuiting their own process of emergence and change.

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