LOVING AT THE EDGE: Recovery Focusing

DOMAIN FOCUSING

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Mind/Body/Heart Focusing

"Domain Focusing: The Three Logics of Growth", was developed by Dr. Robert Lee, a licensed psychologist who has been a Coordinator for the Focusing Institute since 1992 (see www.focusingnow.com). He has taught Focusing in three continents and two languages in schools, churches, conferences and centers and has developed several specialties in the Focusing world; such as, Focusing Oriented Therapy programs, Macro-Shifting: Changing the Unchangeable Through Focusing; and crossing focusing with several practices, including body work, spirituality, and language learning.

Robert is an expert on training people in Focusing Partnerships. He has developed a special method for training which emphasizes listening to both feeling and thinking but with different kinds of empathy. His model for teaching focusing is called Domain Focusing.

The basic idea of Domain Focusing is that each Domain of Focusing experiencing -- Thinking, Felt Sensing, and Self Empathy -- offers a unique way of moving through five "Phases of Focusing": starting, holding, entering, shifting, and acting into the situation. You can start in any Domain (e.g. the Thinking Domain with Clearing a Space or Naming the Issue), "link" into another domain to hold and enter into the process (e.g. the Self Empathy Domain); then "link" back to yet another (e.g. the Felt Sensing Domain) for fuller, deeper "entering" into your felt experience of a certain situation or issue.

Rather than explain how it works, I will now start a focusing journey to offer you a live example of Domain Focusing.

Starting From the Self Empathy Domain:

I am presently sensing into my present life context, looking at it from a slight distance to get a better perspective. I see I am in a limbo state in terms of financial earning capabilities; that I am alone in this house, in this part of Costa Rica, in Central America; my son is in Italy; and I have many options before me as to what to do next in life.

I am choosing to start my session inside the Self Empathy Domain, so I will ask myself, "Given this life context, how do I need to be with myself?" So, I am "being with" this life context a bit, noticing I am feeling alone and also "left alone to do my own thing". I feel and urge to put my arms around myself and the word "caring" comes into my mind...I need to be caring toward myself...but I am sensing if this is right, "Can I be caring with myself right now?" What comes is that I need to be a "good companion" to myself now. A good companion. So I invite a sense of that inside: good companion. Like, I can converse with myself, but I don't have to criticize myself for being so "undecided" about the "next chapter of life". This "good companion" empathy has already changed my sense of things and will help the focusing process open up.

Linking to Thinking Domain:

So, having this "good companion" Self Empathy, I now check inside to see what is in my life right now that may need my attention. (I am now linking from the Self Empathy Domain to the Thinking/Issue Domain.) I begin a personal "Clearing a Space", noticing a few "issues' and "situations" that are not quite settled inside that I could explore in a focusing way. I acknowledge them, then put them gently aside, resisting the urge to "go into them" right now.

After noticing a few, I sense into each of them to see which one is "calling me" right now. So I pick one. Let's say I pick: "Breaking up and selling part of the property I own on the coast and keeping some for myself" as an issue.

I can now either hold this as a whole, or proceed to name it in a more concise way. Should I choose to name it, I can spend more time getting to the "crux" of it, checking to see what name really fits and holds the issue. This name can them be used as a doorway into felt sensing, since I have already done a bit of felt sensing in the naming.

For the purpose of this article, let's just say I am not going to spend time naming it in a more concise way -- I am just going to hold the "All of that" about "Breaking up and selling part of the property I own on the coast and keeping some for myself".

Linking to Felt Sensing Domain:

Now, I hold this, asking "What is the whole of that issue for me now?" while I place attention inside my body. (Each Domain offers several questions that can be used as guides into the domain, and into each Phase of Focusing -- starting, holding, entering, shifting, acting into.)

The word "breaking off" becomes "separating" and I see a topographical map of the land, the lines drawn, separating the property, and how this is symbolic of a greater separation I am wondering about (do I stay in Costa Rica or do I leave?) and the separation of my mind from my heart. These are all "aspects", so to speak, of the whole, on which I could choose to "focus", but I am still sensing inside.

A sense of "island" starts forming. My island, my oasis, in the world. If I keep a piece for myself, it will be my oasis. (Sigh) This feels good, but I stay with it. There is an opening in my chest, (entering), holding, sensing...not an expansive opening, more like a "trap door", ground-opening-up-and-"falling-into-the-darkness" opening. (I notice this has something to do with the "darkness" there on the coast, social dysfunction as manifested in crime and addiction). (Sigh) It looks somewhat like an opening on skin, like a wound that has healed, but left this "black hole". It all feels too unknown, too dark in my chest. (This is my felt sense, coming clearly into focus now).

Staying with this, I sense a tingling above the "opening", reminding me of a zipper, like "zipper it up" (Sigh). (Sighs often are "felt shifts" in how we are holding the issue in our bodies, somewhat like a release of blocked energy.)

Linking back into Self Empathy:

I slip back into the Self Empathy Domain now, asking myself, "Can I be friendly with this "unknown, too-dark opening" in my chest?" I wait. (We often have to check several types of Self Empathy to experience the one that is needed now.) Well, I can see I am curious about it, and can move closer to it. (This conscious movement into Self Empathy has helped me "approach" the edge of this. The tingling "zipper up" feeling that was there perhaps being the beginning of anxiety about the "unknown darkness", so I chose to check into Self Empathy to see if this would help; and it did, since curiosity is a form of self empathy, implying a willingness to continue with the process.)

As I move closer to it, it feels "bigger than" me, like I could slip in there an be lost, never found, never to return.

Ah. Ah! Yes! Yes.(Thinking Domain/Insight!) There is this decision: if I go back to the coast, I may never return to the valley and all "this valley" implies, like higher education, a socially acceptable job and etc. etc. etc.

I see. I may never come back. I notice the truth in this, and this is one of the aspects of this decision that makes it so difficult: once I return to the coast, I may never return to this "conventional" world. (I am also sensing that the "darkness" has to do with my past there, my "dark night", but this is something I don't wish to explore now, maybe another time.)

I check back inside (linking back to the "Felt Sensing Domain"):

My chest feels solid now. More solid now. There is still, however, some of that "darkness" feeling, like "Forever-Black-and-Lost-in-Space" feeling, but now there is a white, flat, something above it. Like I can stand on that...ah...yes...foundation...(yes!) and that will keep me from falling into that "forever black". Tears are -- surprisingly-- coming up now, as I realize I do, I do have a foundation now: the 12 Steps, focusing -- a solid foundation. I can feel just how solid it is. Solid like hard marble, unbreakable. (Sigh).

Now, I can stop. (In a longer session, I would of course continue, but this is a good stopping place for the purpose of this demonstration.)

Back in the "Thinking Domain", I know that if I do return, I will have a solid foundation to help me. This solid foundation is kind of like the "good companion" feeling I had earlier. They are connected . I also have gotten a glimpse of my grief, the "forever black", and a knowing that there is more work to be done around my "dark night". I also know that the selling of a piece of the property and keeping some for myself is connected to a greater issue of returning there and perhaps never coming back. I may perhaps choose this aspect of the issue in my next focusing session.

Overall, I feel much lighter and more at ease and this will make a huge difference in my day. I will have more energy and a more "positive attitude" overall.

One of the aspects I like most about Domain Focusing, is that when we are "stuck" in our process, we can remember to go to another Domain, and find that this opens things up again. Finally, we can start in any domain, depending on our body's mood at the moment that we settle into our focusing session!

I personally like to think of Domain Focusing as Mind/Body/Heart focusing. I can be in my mind for a bit, for thinking is an important part of focusing processing, then I can slip into my body, stay inside to await the bodysense of the issue I am holding, then perhaps see if I can welcome what comes with my heart, offer it compassion or friendliness or care. Moving, sliding from one space into to the other helps the process flow or "unfold".

Keep falling into your hearts!

I offer an eight-session, one-on-one personalized Domain Focusing course for only $320. You can try it out with one session for $45, and if you choose to continue, you get your last session free! (That is, I normally charge $45 a session, but in this course, you only pay for seven sessions.)

Contact me at
inner_wisdoms@yahoo.com
to arrange your first session with me. I will call you through Skype and you can begin your wonderful, life-changing focusing journey!

I often offer free courses to financially needy people in Latin America to pass on Recovery Focusing. Please consider DONATING $10 TO SUPPORT this work.