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Focusing Tip #655 – “I already know the reasons for my pain and exhaustion”

Focusing Tip #655 – “I already know the reasons for my pain and exhaustion”
May 2, 2019 Ann Weiser Cornell
When you have a physical pain or symptom, do you assume you know why? Read on...

Focusing Tip #655 – “I already know the reasons for my pain and exhaustion”

When you have a physical pain or symptom, do you assume you know why? Read on…


Rosie writes:

I was struck by your Tip last week about listening to the body rather than talking to the body. It’s currently very common to make quick assumptions about a physical complaint: “This pain is because I’m overworked, stressed out, not getting up and stretching enough.” But do we check with the pain itself?

Even though I focus with a partner at least once a week, I rarely sit down and listen to my body about my sinus infection. This week I’m going to try that!

Dear Rosie:

It’s true that physical symptoms don’t easily transform when they are described and understood, the way felt senses do. But there is a lot of potential in bringing a Focusing quality of attention to physical symptoms and to pain, and also to exhaustion, which so many people are experiencing these days.

You very rightly point out that the first obstacle is assuming we already know all about it. Pain, and also exhaustion, are often dismissed with “I already know…” – and yet turning toward them, making contact, and asking will make such a big difference!

What might that be like? Let’s say I am feeling exhausted. My first impulse is the say why: “It’s because I didn’t sleep well last night,” and to decide on a solution: “Tonight I need to go to bed earlier.” In the meantime, the felt experience of exhaustion remains unchanged.

Here’s a different approach: Pause… and feel in the body directly. “Tired in the eyes… weary in the shoulders… a sense of energy being drained…” See how these present moment descriptions are so much more rich and detailed than the word “exhaustion”?

Good, now acknowledge this felt experience… and sense how it feels from its point of view. There’s a quality of openness we want to bring to it… of not knowing already… and in that open space, something new can arise.

Doing this recently, I discovered my exhaustion was not about sleep at all, even though it was true that I hadn’t slept well. When I sensed directly, I got the sense that the exhaustion was connected to a project I’m working on, the feeling of, “This is endless, it’s not getting anywhere.” When I acknowledged that, the exhaustion eased! And I had some ideas about getting help with the project. That’s the daily Focusing miracle.

By the way, my brief seminar on shifting your relationship with exhaustion is available here.

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