Focusing Tip No. 117
When the body speaks through sensations.
A Focuser says,
‘I experienced intense sensations in my body, which felt really uncomfortable. I don’t know what it means, or how it connects to my life situation. I tried to get rid of the sensations. Sometimes they subsided, and then they came back again.
What should I do?’
It’s not easy to be with something that feels uncomfortable, and it’s also hard when you don’t know what it’s about, or why it is there.
It might be a feeling of tightness or constriction in the throat or chest, or any kind of physical sensation that causes discomfort.
Often, our first response may be to wonder why it is there. However, it may not be easily be able to tell you, because it doesn’t have easy access to words. I suggest that you don’t worry about what it’s about, especially at first.
The most important and valuable thing you can do is to bring your compassion and gentleness to it.
Something in you is feeling discomfort and it is showing you through the symptoms of the painful body sensations. For instance, if you’re feeling afraid or anxious, it may affect your breathing. You may notice that you are holding your breath, or the breath is not coming smoothly. Or, there may be a tight feeling somewhere, as the body constricts or tightens.
This is a very natural, physically felt, bodily response to something that you are experiencing. It happens all the time. Mostly we don’t notice it because it’s not a strong body signal. Sometimes we feel it very intensely, as if the body is screaming as us, wanting to get our attention.
Attention is the key, here.
It helps to give the sensations your undivided attention. Even a few minutes makes a difference.
Also the kind of attention you give it is important. Rather than probing it or pushing on it, and trying to find out what it’s about, it’s more helpful to simply be with it as it is. See if you can be kind and gentle with the sensations, as if you were keeping company with someone who is hurting.
You could give yourself a gentle hug; you could curl up under a blanket, or allow your hand to go to the hurting place, and notice if it feels soothed or cared for. You are listening for its response to your kindness and gentle care.
When the hurting place feels safe enough to settle down, then it can begin to let you know things, such as what is bringing this strong body response, and what it may need from you; how it wants to be taken care of.
It can only do this when you are quietly keeping it company without any judgement or agenda.