Focusing Tip No. 96

What is resistance and what can I do about it?
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Focusing Tip No. 96.

What is resistance and what can I do about it?


I often hear people saying they have a resistance to something. They try to struggle with it and get past it, so that they can do what they really want to do. Perhaps you have experienced something like this. You want to take an action but something in you seems to be resisting it, or preventing you from doing it.E

I had an example recently in my Focusing session.

I was feeling tired a lot of the time, and I know supplements can help. I burst out laughing in my session when I realised that I have several jars of expensive supplements in my cupboard, but I am not taking them. They sit there, gathering dust. The laughter came from recognising an incongruence in me. I wanted to be well, and pick up my energy, but I just didn’t get around to doing it

So I enquired into myself, asking what stops me, and what I found surprised me.

There was a distinct felt sense in my body, that I would call an experience of resistance; a kind of tightening up inside. The energy felt sticky and not flowing.

I have an assumption that there is no such thing as resistance.

That word simply means that something in me doesn’t want to do something, or does not want to experience something. I am just not aware of what it is yet. I can find this easily when I am not taking an action that I know I want to do. And here was a clear example.

If you find ‘resistance’ coming up in your session, what might be helpful?

I suggest that you pay attention to it, notice how it feels in the body. How do you know it is resistance, and how would you describe it? You might find it as a sense of turning away from, or a tightening up against something. Often, I have observed it as not even wanting to be listened to. In that case, finding the right distance is what it needed. That is not about how close I can be with it, but more about what would feel more comfortable to it.

When it begins to open up, it can often start to feel like a ‘stroppy teenager’. It has strong feelings and it wants you to know about the feelings, but it doesn’t want you to come too close. It’s almost like it has its back to you. It might be turning away. This can be one way that something in you is showing you that it doesn’t trust you yet. It doesn’t know that you will really listen, without judgement, and without trying to force it to be different. Perhaps it has experienced that many times in the past. It makes sense if you recognise that another part of you has a different point of view, and sees this part as being ‘resistant’, and getting in the way.

So it needs to be listened to carefully.

I suggest that you attend to it with interested curiosity, and that you let it know you hear it. Receive the quality of its energy, and stay with the experience of it in your body. Listen to what it has to say, and also give attention to the quality of the relationship you have with it. Notice if you can be with it without judgement, in a light and friendly way. It’s more easy to do that if you don’t have an agenda that you are subtly trying to force on it, so you may also need to give attention to other parts of you that have a different point of view.

And the pills in my cupboard?

Oh they are still there. I need to give this part of me some more listening.


Read more articles and focusing tips on my website
Warm wishes
Fiona


NEW AUTUMN COURSES

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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

Fiona


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.


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Do you have any questions about Focusing?
Please send them to me, and I will answer in future Focusing tips.
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2019 Courses with Fiona

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

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