Focusing Tip No. 95

What do Focusers mean when they talk about the body?
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Focusing Tip No. 95.

What do Focusers mean when they talk about the body?

I have returned inspired from a meeting of Focusing professionals in Europe. We met in Aegina, a beautiful island close to Athens, and collaborated in developing our lively European Focusing Association.

Our dear colleague and friend, distinguished writer Campbell Purton got us started on exploring what do we mean when we talk about the body. He is a philosopher, and helped us to think deeply about what Gene Gendlin was referring to when he talked about the body.

I say that when you Focus, you have access to your body wisdom. But what does that actually mean?

Purton says it has become difficult to talk about the body since Descartes and the 17th-century philosophers divided experience into two aspects; body and mind, and this creates a problem for us. This mechanistic view creates distortions in our understanding. It also creates a split between body and mind, as if the mind were not also the body.

People sometimes say ‘I’m not sure if this is coming from my head.’ I wonder if their head is then seen as not part of their body.Indian philosophers, and others who study Aristotle, see the body as having four elements, rather that just two; physical, emotional-sentience, rational and animal nature. To my mind, this feels more inclusive, and closer to my actual experience.

So what does this mean for Focusing?

I always suggest that you pay attention to the physical body, as a way of starting a Focusing session. This helps with grounding and becoming present. And then I suggest that you notice what comes ‘there.’

Gendlin and Purton call it the ‘situational body’, or the ‘living body.’ It is the sum total of all the elements of your lived experience, within the situation that you are paying attention to. When you think about your situation, notice what comes. If you wait, without rushing to conclusions, the situation will reveal itself to you, from your attention to it. It might be helpful to call it ‘the whole thing.’ This can stop you going into one aspect at the expense of the others.
For instance, if you just stay with the story, or you go along the track of your feelings about it, you are missing the other elements.
I often remind people that there is more there than they can possibly put into words.

If you wait there, giving your attention the ‘whole thing’, as it is in your lived present experience, something more comes.
Gendlin calls it the ‘felt sense’. Something new comes, that was perhaps implied in the situation, but was not clearly there, and now it is clearly there. This is known as ‘carrying forward.’
The living body is always in living process, not separate from the living environment.

What comes is often surprising.

It arises freshly, like a spring of water, bubbling up. And it carries forward the whole situation; and the way that you experience the situation is carried forward in fresh and new ways.

Read more articles and focusing tips on my websiteWarm wishes


If you don’t yet know how to Focus, you can join one of my new courses starting in the autumn.
There are three options to choose from, to suit different lifestyles and needs, online and in person. All the courses start with Level 1 and you have the opportunity to continue onto the Focusing Skills Certificate course which is 5 Levels.


September 5th: Online Course (Thursdays 12-3)
Course Details: Online Introduction to Focusing and Listening
Level 1 and Level 2: Thursdays from September 5th (8 weeks)

September 21st: Weekend Focusing Course in Devon
Full Course Details: Weekends from September 2019
Level 1 – Essence of Focusing:  September 21 and 22

October 8th: Online Course (Tuesday afternoons)
Full Course Details: Online Focusing Course
Introduction Course: Level 1: Introduction to Focusing (4 weeks)



Introduction weekend – July 13 and 14
Weekend course to explore the first stages of the Thinking at the Edge process.
Venue: Liverton, Devon
Booking and more details
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Do you have any questions about Focusing?
Please send them to me, and I will answer in future Focusing tips.
Let me know if it’s OK to refer to you by name, or to simply say someone has asked about…

Courses and Session with Fiona

2019 Courses with Fiona

I run courses to help you learn the basics, and further courses where you learn and practice advanced listening skills.
Find out more

Online Focusing Skills Certificate Course.

The Online Focusing Skills Certificate Course comprises of 5 Levels, or modules, and leads to a Certificate in Focusing skills which is the foundation for professional training.

Information and Booking

Weekend Focusing Skills Courses

Courses are held in Devon, UK. Each Level takes one weekend to learn. You can take the weekend workshops one at a time, joining the next series when it suits you, or you can take the course as a whole.

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Book a Focusing session.
Sessions take an hour and cost £40.

Buy the Focusing in Everyday Life CD.

You can listen to a track and be guided in a Focusing experience, for free!
(Don’t forget to go slowly and pause frequently…)

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