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Focusing Tip #694 – “What if all I feel is numbness?”

Focusing Tip #694 – “What if all I feel is numbness?”
March 4, 2020 Ann Weiser Cornell
What if I want to get to know my feelings but I don't have any? Read on...

Focusing Tip #694 – “What if all I feel is numbness?”

What if I want to get to know my feelings but I don’t have any? Read on…


Ben writes:

I’m 60 and have experienced numbness – both bodily and emotionally – since my mid teens. I understand there is a part of me just wants to protect me from overwhelm but I can’t sense that or turn to it. It’s like that numbness creates its own camouflage. It’s been all I’ve known for so long that it’s become the air I breathe, colorless, odorless, invisible.

I’m aware that something in me wants to overcome this numbness, hating it and blaming it for my seeming to have no voice. I know all this but even so… it’s hard to turn towards it with open curiosity.

Dear Ben:

I bet you’re right. It sounds like the numbness is probably a camouflage. A protection.

And that idea can give you a toehold into compassion for the numbness. It is trying to protect you from something. Something that, from its point of view, is really scary.

I know it’s hard to like it! But you don’t actually have to like it… just understand it.

If you can get the numbness from its point of view… even if you wish it would change… that begins an inner relationship where eventually it will trust you.

Here’s what I would try:

ONE: At a time when you can be quiet and private, sit with closed eyes and just feel your body.

Feel what you do feel. For me, the easiest thing to feel is the pressure of my lower body on what I am sitting on. I often start my Focusing with that.

Start by feeling what is easy to feel, no matter what it is.

TWO: Bring awareness into the inner area of your body: throat, chest, stomach, belly. Invite something, perhaps with a question like: “How am I feeling about how my life is going?

Alternatively, you can propose: “I’m feeling great about my life, right?” After all, we want to stir things up!

THREE: Now wait a bit, sensing inwardly, and be open to whatever happens.

Here are some possibilities:

  • You might feel something in response, a heaviness, a dark mood, a tension
  • You might feel a resistance, an inner “no”
  • You might get a sense of a barrier, something in the way
  • You might feel the numbness itself

It’s important to note that none of these have to be “in” the body. You might just be aware that it’s there somewhere. A barrier might feel like it’s in front of you, for example.

Beautiful! As long as we have something, we can be with it, make a relationship with it, get to know it better. We’re on our way.

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