So what is it that we feel inside? And is it always to do with me?

The following words came to me during a recent focusing experience.

This sense of wrongness I carry inside is about what is wrong “out there”.

The “out there” I am talking about is the world, in particular, all that does not feel right in they world. And let's face it, there are many situations out there that we know about that do not feel right. Climate change, the economic situation, the un sustainability of how we are living in this culture, wars, conflicts, abuse of women and children, humans and animal hardship of many many kinds....the list goes on.

Strangely. A feeling of relief followed. So often, some part of me thinks that if I feel something icky and difficult that it is because of me, or because of some fault in me. (This part needs some company for sure!) but here was a clear message that this particular sense I have was not about me.... It was about out there. Following the relief came a big sigh... about how huge the difficulties are that we face as a species.

So why is this important?

It points to a couple of key points.

Firstly the body we sense in Focusing is not just the physical body. It is the
body in the world. We can never really separate the body from the world it lives in. Though we may go about our lives thinking of ourselves as some kind of unit, controlling out there, the reality is something very different. It is really not that separate at all. Just reflect on what we need to take in from the world in order to live; air, heat, food, water, and reflect on how the lack of those can take our life away in a moment or effect it profoundly. It goes further than this. The body we sense in Focusing is the one that is connected to and feels the whole situation it is in (and was in) in a definite and perceivable way. It has a knowing about it. and about us in it. It has this always.

Secondly, that Focusing is not just about me or my issues (or you and yours) People often associate focusing with personal development and healing personal wounds and it has much to offer these realms, but it is way bigger than that. It is about sensing the situation we are in - and in particular it can show us how something does not fit, or is not right or it missing... and it can show us some next steps, a way forward, even if they are small steps.

I am not saying that you alone have the answers to all the difficult things out there, or that it is easy to even sense what would be a right thing to do in the the face of such huge problems. What I am saying is that I and you sense that something is wrong with the world and it needs our energy, passion and body to help it.

Reflections on the differences between Focusing and Meditation.


“vibrant intimacy” - previewing a new book by John Amodeo “Dancing with Fire: A Mindful Way to Loving Relationships”

His love and passion for this area is the first thing that struck me, he mentioned to me that this book has been many years in the making, and this deep exploration comes through his words. You can really see the journey he has and is making.

I love this:

“Living with spiritual sensitivity means having a love affair with life. It is the juiciness of being alive—a vibrant intimacy with ourselves, others, and life itself.” 1

Something in me says YES! to this and it illustrates well the passion and aliveness of his exploration. His book seems to be about much more than relationships... more about our relationship to life itself.

Meeting the demons

Fear is a powerful emotion. And something in us is scared of it! Fear of fear. Fear grabs you at such a visceral level that it often feels like all of you. If you examine it on a physiological level, then you can really see how powerful it is and for good reason. See my article on Trauma and Focusing for more on this.

Can we really meet the most scary places in us with Focusing?

This story from the life of milarepa - the 11th century Tibetan Buddhist teacher - says it better than I can.

"One day Milarepa was meditating in front of his cave when the demons of anger, greed, and fear arose before him. They were truly horrible beings with flames spurting out of their nostrils and pus flowing from their eyes.
Rather than push them away, Milarepa invited the demons into his cave for tea. One by one they entered the cave, and in the light of his clear regard, they dissolved.
Eventually, only one demon remained. The most terrifying of them all, it roared and howled, and rather than dissolving in Milarepa's presence, it grew larger and more foul. Regarding the demon with great humility, Milarepa stood and bowed, baring his neck and thrusting his head between the creature's fangs. As he breathed in the sulfurous stench of the demon’s breath, Milarepa whispered, “Teach me your pain.”

Isn't that amazing. He invites these demons in for tea. I imagine if I were in that situation I would be overwhelmed by fear and do anything to push them away...

And even more moving is his response to the final demon. He wants to know its pain, to listen to its story.

I wonder if he trusted his experience so deeply that the leap of faith that this required was not difficult for him. He knew that there was nothing really to be scared of, or in Focusing terms could say hello to his terror and carry it along with him. He knew that this demon was actually in pain and needed meeting and hearing.

More and more as I practice focusing I am able to meet my experience with curiosity rather than aversion., and this is so so welcome.

Yes. There are still places inside that parts of me are scared of and that's where I start. I am making friends with something in me that is scared of meeting fear...

In fact, it is not about meeting one’s demons but more about meeting the parts of us that are afraid of them. We may not have much to do with the demons for a long time even but if we slowly begin to come into relationship with the aspects of us that are scared of the demons - eventually we will come closer to the demon itself and maybe see that it is not a demon at all, but something in dire pain. And it is important to say that every step on this journey transforms the whole being, it's not just the big moment at the end. Every meeting of some part of us that wants to run away from our experience is a step towards... well, meeting our experience and needs to be appreciated.