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Is this tightness a felt sense?

Is this tightness a felt sense?
October 18, 2017 Ann Weiser Cornell
felt senses

Focusing Tip #581 – What if you want to do Focusing with a vague, hard-to-describe felt sense but what you feel isn’t hard to describe?


Patricia writes:

When I go inward – what are the felt senses? My partners and I tend to start with the tightness in the throat or the forehead, an ache in the solar plexus, etc. But I’m finding authors who say that the felt sense is something that is hard to describe at first, you can’t quite put a finger on. It’s not a noun, they say, like “tightness” or “ache.”

Should we be noting these not so vague feelings/sensations and then allowing something more subtle to arise?

Dear Patricia:

I have one big rule when listening to my body.

It’s this: “Say ‘Yes’ to what comes.”

We wouldn’t want to ignore or dismiss a tightness because we decide it is not what we are looking for. It is what came.

What you feel now in your body is the beginning of a conversation.

You make the next step in the conversation by saying back, “Yes, I feel you, I know you are there.”

Felt sensing is quite developmental. In other words, whether something “is” a felt sense often depends on how we treat it, and what we expect of it.

So take that tightness in the throat. You acknowledge it. Then you stay with it, with an open, curious kind of attention. Pretty soon you discover it has more to it, it is about something, it is pointing to something… and THAT is hard to put into words.

I encounter this often as a Focusing teacher. The way that “felt sense” is defined in the literature is important conceptually… and yet may not be the most helpful guide to what to actually do when practicing Focusing.

The first rule of Focusing is the same as the first rule of Improv: Say Yes to What Comes… even if the words for it are clear… and then be open to freshly sensing what is not yet in words right there.

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