LOVING AT THE EDGE: Recovery Focusing

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As it forms, the diffuse bad feeling centers, the body as a whole feels better, cleared,

there is a breath, energy flows from underneath.

Verbally it sounds odd that one feels so much better,

since perhaps what one senses does not feel good at all.

Nevertheless the process of focusing feels freeing, like fresh air, new energy,

a sensing oneself again, underneath,

as wider and different than what has been oppressing one.

Eugene Gendlin

What is Focusing?

Focusing is a practice of processing issues, situations, or feelings through the grounded, embodied inner holding of and interaction with the “felt sense” of these issues or feelings, first made teachable by a psychologist named Eugene Gendlin at the University of Chicago. Through 25 years of research, it has been found that therapy clients who change are doing this inner act of processing from an inside space, what he termed “felt sensing” or Focusing (Gendlin 1981).

This internal act or process is a way of approaching any problem or situation by making contact with an internal bodily awareness. He called this awareness a felt sense.

Felt sensing is about waiting for the whole feel of something to emerge from inside you.

By being with the inner feel of something, it comes into "Focus" with a symbol (like a word, image, gesture, etc.). It begins to make sense.

Thus, the term “felt sense.”

We become aware of our experienced meaning of things by going inside ourselves and noticing what comes from this inside space. We attend inside and wait (the key is holding an issue or situation and waiting). First, something vague forms. As we stay with it, this “something” – a felt sense -- comes into “Focus.” It opens up, and reveals its implicit meaning or innate wisdom. We experience a release inside at the same time we have this new knowing or insight!

 Why practice it?

By being with and relating to this bodily-felt awareness, the body shifts, releases, changes in the way it was "holding" the issue, situation, problem, or feeling.  Insights, a sense of new possibilities, and a feeling of lightness may arise. We have an inner feel of things opening up and moving forward, somehow.

 This embodied processing is surprisingly empowering. The clarity and insights we gain are known and held inside us in a whole person way: held with the body, the heart, the mind, and the soul (what some authors call the “observer” or “witness” self – that ability in us to detach and simply be with our experiencing without reacting, but simply observing).  Focusing integrates our separate ways of experiencing into one whole knowing.

 A primary aspect of being with the whole feel of something is that it offers “spacious loving attention” to our inner experience.  Focusing’s patient waiting and “being with” our felt sense allows it to shift into the next naturally implied step of healing, thereby allowing us to move forward into a more integrated state of being. Some benefits of this include:

  • The locked, blocked, knotted energy in the body is allowed to shift and release.
  • Emotional ease and mental clarity are attained.
  • Insights come with a felt knowing of the next right action steps to take.
  • We are enabled to express ourselves more authentically.
  • We can live more fully from that which makes us come alive.
  • We begin honoring who we truly are and finding a deep sense of happiness.
  • We often experience a deep sense of gratitude and connectedness with something greater than ourselves (or to a greater sense of total well being).

Our natural healing process is allowed to unfold fully and carry us forward in all areas of our living. We are finally able to experience human being, an enjoyable sense of aliveness and calm “being here/now” that is deeply satisfying on many levels.

 Basically, felt sensing enables us to feel good. Unburdened, relaxed, serene -- grounded in a bodily-felt knowing, with an inner lightness of being. As we open up and feel good, our life suddenly starts opening up and feeling good. Simple as that!


LINK:Please visit THE FOCUSING INSTITUTE for more information and lots of interesting articles.

Can it help me with my existing profession?

Focusing can add a whole new felt dimension to your work when you combine the two. Your work can also add something to Focusing! Both are carried forward as they cross into each other.

Here are but a few ways to use Focusing in your work:

  • You can felt sense while working and find the next right way of being.
  • You can gently guide someone into their bodily feel of something to help them find their inner wisdom and release.
  • You can offer Felt Listening and witness how this opens up a person’s process.
  • You can work on a project in a felt sensed way (See Robert Lee, Changing the Unchangeable) and allow it to flow with more ease.
  • Training in Focusing Oriented Therapy is available for counselors and psychotherapists who wish to enliven and refresh their practice.

Writers could benefit from “Thinking At the Edge” which is a process for developing new theory from your felt experience; body workers may explore “Meeting at the Edge;”  dancers, artists, philosophers, counselors, architects, teachers, businesses, and many others are discovering the benefits of including Felt Sensing and Felt Listening into their living.

Felt sensing can also enhance any spiritual practice by gently clearing a space inside you for a deeply experienced, full sense of connection and loving awareness.

What kind of training is available?

Mind/Body/Heart Transformative Focusing (Domain Focusing)

Access and enliven your natural healing wisdom by opening up your heart, mind, and body to your felt inner experience.

  • Personalized one-one-one training in Domain Focusing Partnership.
  • Five-week “Coming Alive Through Felt Relating” Level I Focusing Partnership course.
  • Making Sense of Living: Safe Companioning Within and Without” Felt Sensing and Felt Listening 11-month course (“Proficiency in Focusing Partnership Document)
  • "Opening the Treasure Box" for a creative or work project that needs your Focusing attention.
  • Three-year Program towards Certification as a Focusing Trainer.

Recovery Focusing

Discover your felt meaning of each Step of your 12 Step Program and learn how to clear what may be in the way of your Recovery. Enjoy the magnificent feel of Recovery.

 Training in Recovery Focusing is an excellent experience for Addiction Counselors interested in facilitating refreshing, enjoyable group processes that leave everyone feeling fully alive and at ease.

  • Four-day, “Enlivening Recovery” Intensive for counselors and 12 Steppers.
  • Ten-Session “Discovering the Felt Meaning of Recovery” Recovery Focusing course (equivalent to Level I and Level II).
  • A one-year course in “Recovery Focusing Partnership” (“Proficiency in Focusing Partnership Document”) which can be applied toward Certification as a Focusing Trainer.

 Many of these courses are offered as Telecourses so you can learn Focusing from the convenience of your own home.

 I am also available to travel for intensive workshops in “Making Sense of Living” and “Enlivening Recovery.”

 Find out when the next FREE Enlivening Recovery Intro Workshop is happening.

Where can I purchase books or DVDs?

The Focusing Institute has a bookstore. By purchasing books and DVDs with the Institute, you help support it.

You may also purchase books directly from a particular Focusing teacher of your choice.

My book, Loving At the Edge: Recovery Emerging, is available on Lulu.com (Product ID # 8617548).

Though it is about Felt Sensing into the 12 Steps of Recovery from an addictive process, it has several chapters on Focusing and on Focusing with groups that will help you in your Focusing Journey.It is also available as a download.

The Focusing Institute has a wonderful on-line library. Feel free to browse and explore many articles in an area of your choice.

How can I sustain my practice?

The best way for you to sustain your Felt Sensing practice is to find a Focusing Partner with whom you can exchange Focusing/Listening turns once a week, every two weeks, or once a month (as you wish).This allows you to set some time aside for yourself and your inner sense of things.

The more you practice Focusing, the more you will realize how powerful and meaningful it is. It will change your life.

Without a Partnership, we risk forgetting to process things in this very alive, felt sensed way.

You can also join a Focusing “Changes” group. These are groups of Focuses who get together once a month to exchange listening and focusing turns. Browse the Focusing Institute’s web site to find support near you.

Having a listener for your Focusing process is important because it holds it for you. You can stay with it because you are sharing it and the listener is receiving it, gently offering it back to you. Otherwise, you might start thinking of your grocery list or fall asleep!

Focusing regularly on work and life issues will add a new flow to your life that comes from resolving and letting go of blocks to happiness. Focusing reveals to you your next right way of being, with whatever aspect of your life needs caring attention: your relationships, your emotional feeling states, your spirituality, your physical being, your work, or your projects.

Can I Focus alone?

Yes! I have found the best way to Focus alone is to write down my process. This offers me a sense of my witness/observer self. Writing and reading helps me take it back inside, much like the felt reflection of my listener does.

I also find it very easy to Focus through Email. There is something about having a listener “out there” that is very helpful to me in terms of being able to stay with my process.

Browse different Focusing web sites for teachers who may have DVDs available on Focusing Alone.

You can also do real time felt sensing by pausing and sensing inside yourself. As the feel of something emerges, just be with it kindly. Maybe you can sense into what this needs from you. This alone will help you feel more at ease.

Felt Sensing is deepened and carried forward in interaction and relationship. Focusing alone will give you release and insights when you need to process something that is not moving forward. Focusing in a partnership will help you and your living move forward!

Join our Felt community!

Check out the many discussions and groups on the main website; sign up for a Newsletter or follow a Blog; listen in to Focusing Conversations (on the website under Felt Community); find a Focusing partner anywhere in the world through Skype; and enjoy your aliveness like you never have before!

Please consider supporting The Focusing Institute by becoming a member as a Friend or Supporter. 



More about me.

I am a Certifying Focusing Coordinator and Focusing Teacher/Trainer/Guide with an undergraduate degree in Sociology/Anthropology.

I primarily teach Focusing Partnership courses through 10-month teleconference courses in Felt Relating where people get an opportunity to practice felt sensing and felt listening weekly while learning the various phases of Focusing and Listening. I also teach Advanced and Certification courses for those who already have the Proficiency in Focusing Partnership document from The Focusing Institue


I was a teacher at the Connections and Crossings Advanced and Certification Focusing Weeklong in New York for four years (2012-2015) where I presented my H.O.W. We Heal model for group process, Recovery Focusing, and Interactive Focusing, and where I facilitated a Project Group each day based on my "Opening the Treasure Box" course.


I have developed the practice of Recovery Focusing and facilitated groups at Costa Rica Recovery Center for six years. I now mainly teach H.O.W. To Facilitate Recovery Focusing groups through webinars. My book, “Loving At the Edge: Recovery Emerging” and its companion workbook “Recovery Focusing,” offer guidelines as to how to launch Recovery Focusing groups in a treatment center or local community.

Felt sensing into the Best of Recovery gifts us with the amazing and powerful FEEL of Recovery. We feel at ease, joyful, and fully energized, with a deep lived sense of hope for the future.

I have assisted Dr. Robert Lee with several of his Changing the Unchangeable Macroshifting workshops and coached over 40 psychologists in Domain Focusing Partnership for his Focusing Oriented Therapy courses throughout the years.

I offer Felt Listening to Advanced Focusers.

I offer inexpensive training because I love Felt Sensing and Felt Listening. I wish to pass on the happiness I have found by making space inside myslef for my natural wisdom and aliveness to shift into its next right way of being!

Welcome to my STOREFRONT on www.lulu.com

We can obsess to our confused self’s delight.

We can go round and round and get nowhere.

Or, we can use focusing and go inside

and directly experience ‘the rub’ of it.

Only then can we say that we truly know what is there.

All the rest is commentary.

Neil Friedman