I was intrigued by a video interview I watched a while ago about a famous animal tracker. This is his tracking process:
What particularly intrigues me is the tremendous precision of the clues he gives us to tracking through our inner worlds...
Just as the tracker finds a footprint of
...in Focusing, we notice something – often something we identify as a “stuck” place in our life. This is the initial “track.”
Next: we wait - …
…inviting the body to show us what wants to come now…
…until an image comes…
…which may be in the form of a picture, or a gesture, or a sensation, or words, or a phrase of a song – or something else…
Now we follow the body where it
wants us to go.
…we begin describing what comes to our awareness about what’s here. But how do we figure out what’s important enough to pay attention to? We don’t! We pay attention to where our bodily felt awareness leads us.
If the trail peters out, again we
wait until we feel an energy come –
and we allow our bodily felt awareness to show us what we need to attend to….
We learn to PAUSE and wait within a spacious alertness when we come to a place of not-knowing. And as we rest into this place of not-knowing, gradually – or maybe suddenly – our awareness draws us once again to where we need to go…
And eventually – maybe in that same session, or maybe sometime later on – we get to a point where what we’ve been tracking is clearly seen – and we are often awed by the beauty and mystery that our bodily felt sense has led us to, from that first small track in the woods.
Surely the tracker's process seems like magic! But that's only if you do not take into account the context in which it operates.
The tracker allows himself to relax into the environment – the living, interconnected web – of which he is a part; of which the animal is a part.
He allows himself to rest into his intrinsic connection with the animal that already exists – another parallel with Focusing.
Gene Gendlin, Ph.D., who originally developed Focusing over 40 years ago, states the reason that Focusing has such power to allow a stuck situation to unfold into new possibilities:
“Your physically felt body is in fact part of a gigantic system of here and other places, now and other times, you and other people – in fact, the whole universe. This sense of being bodily alive in a vast system is the body as it is felt from the inside.”
In other words, Focusing works because we are not separate from our situation.
On the face of it, this may seem easy to grasp. And yet our typical entrenched worldview – which keeps us stuck in our problematic situations – is that if there is a problem in our lives, it’s just a matter of plucking it out, like an unwanted object that got here by mistake.
In reality, our Body is an intimate part of a living web of interconnection. And because that web of interconnection is alive, new possibilities arise moment by moment that we can live into.
This is the necessary starting place for us, too, as we track our inner experience – this web of interconnection.
We often begin by being completely caught up in our problem. We may literally have taken up residence in our problem.
And so we may want to take a moment to simply look around the place in which we have decided to Focus - maybe a small room in our house. And initially, this is enough.
We start to come out of our trance. We notice that as big as this problem truly may be, it is taking place within a larger context - this little room that we are in.
And now we bring our awareness to our “soft animal body,” which can only be here, now – unlike the mind, which can be 10 years in the past or future, or a thousand miles away. Our physical body provides our ideal anchor into the here-and-now.
As we become aware of the feeling of “my legs, my feet” – we become aware of the floor that supports our feet. As we become aware of the contact of our body with our chair, we become aware of the chair as offering support for our body that we can choose to fully accept, to relax into.
We become aware that the floor also supports this chair, even as the chair supports our body. We become aware of the walls that are also supported by the floor, even as the walls support the ceiling.
We become aware of how this space that is created by the floor and walls and ceiling supports us as well as everything else it holds. We become aware of how the ground and air outside the building supports this space, too.
The vast interconnected system of support that holds our whole situation becomes a reality for us.
Ahhh! Yes, there is this whole vast system of support that's here for me. It holds me. It holds my problem. It holds my whole situation. And all it asks of me is that I become aware of it.
We begin to notice a lot of space around the problem – a spaciousness that allows us to perceive it as the initial track.
And in the midst of this spacious not-knowing we have come to, we wait... for what wants to come now.