Staying With Feelings — Meg-John Barker & Focusing — Eugene T. Gendlin

“Stay with the feeling, with interested curiosity, not trying to change it, or to force it to communicate: just being with it gently and curiously. Try to understand it from it’s point of view. Notice any words, images, or metaphors that come to mind. Acknowledge everything that comes up, e.g., further feelings or lack of feelings.”

—Meg-John Barker, “Staying With Feelings.”

During conversations, ask yourself:

  1. How does it feel?
  2. Where is it in my body?
  3. What’s the best word to describe it?

Then, respond.

Asking these questions helps is to understand our emotional landscape, which feelings we tend to prefer and gives us an opportunity to think about the emotional content of what we are saying before speaking. It also points to the notion that, if we use Freud’s ideas of the conscious and unconscious mind, maybe the body is unconscious mind, the seat of feeling.

Recommend reading Meg-John Barker’s zine. If you want more detail, try The International Focusing Institute‘s Learning Focusing, Six Steps or read the original book, Focusing by Eugene T. Gendlin.

I particularly like this quote from the Six Steps:

“One danger with a set of instructions is that people might use them to close off other ways. Anything human involves more than one method…

..Adopt a “split-level” approach to all instructions: On the one hand follow the instructions exactly, so that you can discover the experiences to which they point. On the other hand be sensitive to yourself and your own body. Assume that only sound expansive experiences are worth having. The moment doing it feels wrong in your body, stop following the instruction, and back up slightly. Stay there with your attention until you can sense exactly what is going wrong.

h/t DRMcIver’s Notebook.