Where and What is “Life Forward Energy”?

Where and What is “Life Forward Energy”?
April 6, 2016 Ann Weiser Cornell

Focusing Tip #504


“Is it Self-in-Presence that has life forward energy, or is it parts?”


Annie writes:
Does Self-in-Presence have/contain life forward energy? If not, where does life forward energy come from…parts?

Dear Annie:
Gene Gendlin, the father of Focusing, talks about life forward energy. He says that parts of us that feel bad or seem to be bad can move forward into fresh living when we give them non-judgmental, open attention.

Barbara McGavin and I call that kind of curious, open attention “Self-in-Presence.”

So this is an interesting question: Is it the “parts” that have the life forward energy? Or is it the quality of attention we bring to the parts?

Living beings are life forward energy. Spring is a great time to appreciate this! We humans have this no less than plants do. It’s in the nature of life itself to live forward.

The quality of living forward belongs to the whole being in its mesh of environment, since we are not really separate from our environments. Before trauma, we live forward unimpeded. Trauma is defined as a blockage or stoppage of life energy moving forward as it implied itself to move.

So parts arise to try to get at least part of what we needed. But they are partial, so they will never be more than partially successful. My addictive drinking was never going to be more than partially successful to get me qualities of ease and spontaneity that I could no longer access freely because of traumatic stoppage.

When parts untangle, in the compassionate company of Self-in-Presence, life flows forward again past the stoppage. So you can say the parts had life-forward energy, but in a blocked form.

And when we are living from Self-in-Presence instead of from parts, our life energy is much more available…to connect with others, to create, to play, to stand up for what we value and believe, to do all the things that carry life forward for ourselves and others.

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