All tagged Mindfulness

On Being Space

I've recently had some thoughts, thanks to the very astute questions from my clients, about various things including:

1) How I think psychotherapy (or at least the form of it Sam and I practice) works,
2) How does Focusing (which is the heart and soul and center of our psychotherapy) works
3) Mindfulness 
4) Interpersonal relationships
5) How to live (or how I aspire to live)

And I thought to share it here. It was during a particularly engaged and deep interaction with one of my clients that the common or underlying theme tying these 5 areas together came to us. It lies in one word.

SPACE.

"Huh? What the hell do you mean, mate?" I hear you ask.

Let me explain.

I learnt something that was very interesting, but first a bit of background to set the stage. For the longest time, I've been subtly striving to fix any uncomfortable feelings I have. One of the most powerful ones is a deep undercurrent of desperate boredom. It always feels the same, a feeling of spaciousness, filled with absolutely nothing else. Like a cavernous empty room with no furniture, decorations, windows or doors.

Needless to say, I've attempted many times to do Focusing with it, and against the central Focusing attitude of NOT striving to change anything, subtly trying to force this feeling to shift.

I realised that despite all these years of Focusing practice and work, I still hold on to a part of me that wants to push away uncomfortable emotions. While I knew that striving to force change in a feeling is the very thing that stalls the Focusing process, I still couldn't help it. I also recognize that it might have something to do with a lack of trust in the Focusing process, of wanting to stay in control of it.

Dr Jane Goodall, the primatologist sat in the forest occasionally writing into her small notebook.  She would look up from her writing and peer through her binoculars at the scene that unfolded in front of her eyes.  Without a rifle to protect her against the great chimpanzees, she was a risk of being harmed, but nonetheless she sat quietly and observed them as they went about their business.

She was at that time an untrained person, with scarcely any footing in the scientific community and yet she had been sent to observe the animals that would bring her and National Geographic great acclaim.  It was through her willingness to be present and to immerse herself into the communities of the great apes; it was through her quiet observation and trying not to interfere with the machinations of what unfolded before her eyes that she came to understand the Chimpanzees like no one did before her.