Who meditates? (or does Focusing?)

Sometimes I get stuck in Focusing. Usually this is because I have become identified with some part of me that wants something to happen - or conversely wants to avoid something happening. Or it could be the part of me that wants to understand. It can take me a while to spot this has happened. Once I do, the process invariably changes.
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Using Focusing with Meditation

Whilst on retreat last week, i took some time to gather a few thoughts about how you might use Focusing with a meditation practice. I came up with seven ways they can interact. Each one of these could be expanded upon and I am sure there are more but if you are wondering about how they might work together then read on...
 
1. Use Focusing as a way to prepare for meditation. Take some time at the beginning of your practice to meet and acknowledge everything that is there. You could let it know you can come back if needed. This can be particularly helpful in everyday meditation practice when there might be a lot going on in our lives. It is like clearing a space.
 
2. Focusing creates space for deeper meditation. By giving time to practice Focusing and processing the experiences of our life, it becomes easier to let go and just be in meditation. If we only have one space in our life when we actually stop, then everything that wants attention jumps in. No wonder our meditation can feel crowded.
 
3. Working with "visitors" in meditation. Things come in meditation that need attention. They cannot simply be let go of, they need it there and then. Both meditation and Focusing are open spaces and therefore invite what wants attention. If something big or important arises in meditation, spend some Focusing time with it inwardly. It may need some more time after the meditation.
 
4. What practice would feel right? Sometimes are not sure which practice to do, why not sense inside and see what would feel right, sense for what qualities are missing; perhaps you sense you need calm, or more kindness or to just sit and absorb. Something in you knows what would feel right.
 
5. Saying hello to our agendas. Even now, after many years of Focusing and meditation, I notice something in me wanting to have a "good" meditation, whatever that means! Maybe we really want a calm mind or to feel some peace inside. A few moments acknowledging these in a Focusing way can really help to settle things and allow space for what is really there to emerge.
 
6. Using the felt sense in Mettabhavana (loving Kindness) practice. Instead of just recalling a person in one of the stages in the Mettabhavana, why not sit with a felt sense of that person. How does it feel inside, in the body to be with that person. What stirs inside the body? Take time to just be with this before trying to develop any kindness. As we sit with an awareness of another living being, in this bodily felt way, is likely that some Metta is already there. Remember they are a shaky human being just like you. Mettabhavana is not about liking or not liking but about resonating with living beings, and this resonance flowers into kindness, compassion, joy etc. Our body knows how to do this.
 
7. Saying hello to distractions, resistance and hindrances. Like everything in Focusing, each of these visitors in meditation will appreciate acknowledgement and empathy. They may just need a moment or perhaps they are a communication from something deeper and more important. Try not to judge and label before saying hello... I wonder if they would call themselves resistance or a hindrance?
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Reflections on the differences between Focusing and Meditation.

Over the last 10 years of practicing Focusing, the question of how Focusing works with meditation has been asked many times. For me it is an ongoing exploration. Many times over those years, people have remarked that they are the same thing and to me that never felt quite right. It was usually offered by those who perhaps did not know Focusing so well. Either way I have felt keenly aware of the difference, so wanted to share my current reflections on this. This is really about honouring the unique qualities that Focusing offers that are different from meditation. Of course someone could easily write an article about the unique qualities of meditation and it would also be true.

There are three main areas of difference that I want to explore: the relational nature of Focusing, its origins and context, and finally its aims.
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