Focusing Your Procrastination Away


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Socialising and spending quality time with people whose company we enjoy is a remarkable way to heal ourselves. Meditation at the other end of the spectrum, whilst keeping oneself company, is yet another way of self-healing. When we pick a friend to spend time with we do so keeping in mind certain things. Like will this friend listen to my stories with undivided attention? Will he or she offer me empathy rather than advice? Will this friend sit by me quietly and not shower me with opinions like, “you should have….or you should not have….done this….or that?” Being a friend to another in need is one of the most enriching experiences one can have, if only one has the ability to offer pure compassion being to being.

A Friend to the Friendless
For those who suffer from the void of not having friends with whom to unburden, life can become self oriented. Such people look to themselves for healing. The answers to life’s difficult questions lie within and they go on a search into psychological depths.

Luckily, alternate therapies of different lineages have ample methods and directions to go about healing oneself. One such glorious path is called Focusing. Psychologist Eugene Gendlin has left behind a legacy of life-changing potential derived from the use of this therapy.

The Felt-sense of Focusing
Focusing uses the concept of “felt sense”, an ability to recognise that which falls between a feeling state (in the mind) and a sensation (in the body), both arising within the mind-body construct. Mostly, we live life without knowing the kind of daily warfare taking place within us, as we are concentrated a lot on the external. Consequently harm is being done at a psychological as well as physiological level, much of it out of our conscious awareness.

Using a partner, or a therapist, in this work is highly beneficial, to work through the deeper complexities of nature. But, that ought not to stop anyone from trying focusing on themselves by themselves.

An Example to Narrate
Words are perhaps not as explanatory as delineating a real life example.

A client with an ingrained issue of procrastination came to me once, whose presenting problems were constipation and idiopathic abdominal pain. Over sessions he developed an ability to recognise the vague sensations inside his body as arising at the times when he put things on the back burner. Specially difficult things for him, such as resolving an emotional dispute at work, as well as with his partner. Initially, the felt sense of the vague feeling inside his chest area was “fuzzy” and “difficult to catch.” It was familiar though. And for years he had done nothing to understand and change it.

So, now he learnt to be a true friend to himself. Instead of running away from this “annoying” thing inside, and cramming his attention on trivia, he learnt to be present to whatever was arising in the moment. Sitting by quietly and observing. And sure enough developing self-compassion in this way changed the earlier felt sense to “frustration.” Be curious.

What’s Next
He befriended his frustration over a few sessions because it wouldn’t go away and neither would it give. He asked it questions like, “what do you want from me?” “is there anything I need to know?” and “can we help each other?” And then it did. He reached a spot inside where anxiety welled up at the thought of being a failure. He had learnt early in his childhood years to withdraw from emotional interaction, for fear of not measuring up to others’ expectations. Tears followed and the felt sense of anxiety conveyed to him a need it had to express itself as joy. “Be joyful,” it said. We called this his “insight.”

He had hit his hard spot, which eventually softened into a felt sense of “happy gooey” stuff. He felt a release at a body level, and not an intellectual one. Therefore this change was here to stay.

He’s still not past getting anxious, but he’s learnt to use focusing on himself and not let anxiety stop him from communicating when he needs to. In a joyful way. In time his GI issues cleared up.

Digging Like an Excavator
Our psychological issues are multi-layered mostly, in accordance with the depth of our conditioning. To go to the source of our behavioural pattern, we have to dig like committed excavators. Some call it peeling an obdurate onion that stings us mercilessly right until we reach its core. Maintaining a parasympathetic stance is of utmost importance. The body likes being cared about. So be gentle.

Doing focusing only until the 2nd or 3rd peel is like reaching the end of a deliciously bathed-in-chocolate mud-pie dessert and then leaving the table distracted by a phone call. You come back and it’s gone. Similarly, abandoning your or your client’s discovery without real reason, before its integration, can send its felt sense scuttling under cover. So be patient.

Focusing Works Like Magic
Choose to end the session when something has shifted and the body sends a signal that it’s enough. Come back another time, another day to take off where you left off, if the body leads you there.

Feelings that we are afraid to expose in front of others can surface during our sessions with self or with our therapist. Like the first ebullient sun rays at dawn that burst through a cloud formation, surprised at their own ability to shine so brightly after a night of darkness.

Not unlike that are our hidden feelings that are given allowance to breathe at last.

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Finding Ones P’u Within


P’u in Chinese Zen translates into our limitless nature. Some kind of pure potential that we are born to. Before experience steps in and changes the way we see the world and become entangled in it.

So how do you see yourself? As someone living with unceasing pain? Or do you see within you the potential to be pain free? If yes to the latter, then you will be!

For most people emotions can be dealt with, or so they imagine, for these can be buried, ignored or altogether denied. We do need suchlike defences to protect our fragile egos and the individual attachment style could dictate what we do with our perceptions, opinions and feelings. For instance, someone with an anxious attachment style could find it next to impossible to stop being distressed about small things.

Body Pain is Very Real

But when the suffering (read stress) comes down to the body, most clients are led by unbearable misery towards cranial therapy. Suffering or pain in the body is perhaps the most difficult aspect of our lives to govern and therefore difficult to ignore. It has a way of hijacking mind space, until one does something about it. Somatic pain cannot be simply pushed away.

Cranial therapy is disguised Zen. When a client begins to explore the profound and inescapable relationship between their mind and body, they discover Zen and the ability to release resistance to difficult things in life. Like anything else we take time to master, this awakening doesn’t happen in one session of course, though for some it may.

Our Pristine Originality

Most pain (I should think all) in the body evolves out of rigidly held thoughts in the mind. Only when conditions and causes in ones life are fitting and compelling, do our negative emotions and thoughts transmute into various kinds of unfavourable external events. Until then most people continue to live in illusion that they are healthy. That is why mental health goes uncared for in poorer nations.

A powerful belief in cranial work is that humans forever retain their pristine originality in terms of absolute health. We are at the core, beneath our conditioned natures and acquired frills (name, status, position, etc…) original “uncarved blocks” or p’u. The Taoists call this undifferentiated reality, wherein our mind hasn’t as yet begin its stressful jockeying between the past and the present, creating personal stories to bolster a false sense of self.

An uncarved block is pure exquisite potential to-be, to exist blissfully outside the framework of a grasping mind. Could this be possible? Can we go back to where we came from? Something like melting away sharp edges to reveal our wholesome state-of-being?

Beyond Identification With Pain

Because very often it’s only under very trying circumstances, such as chronic body pain, that clients wake up to impending adversity, quite likely such a client would welcome the mind-body restructuring and reorganising that naturally occurs during cranial work.

Whether it’s a frozen shoulder or a contracted IT Band, beneath this burning issue lies the ability of the client’s mind to become uncoupled from its identification with pain. It takes boldness on the part of a client to untangle from these acquired shapes and to express once again the original nature – formless and indistinguishable.

Pain is merely energy until we give it a storyline. And then it becomes ‘my bloody pain’.

And when we drop our attachment to it we reach the p’u within. This place of indescribable peace – in the absence of perceived pain.

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Letting Yourself be Seen


Letting Yourself be Seen

Being seen and accepted by others favourably is perhaps one of mankind’s most sought after experiences. You could go to any lengths to be liked, including developing a false persona that’s acceptable according to the demands of people around you.

You could go about self-expressing in either of two ways: by being your true self, which takes courage, and not caring about the consequences of being truthful. Or being what others want or expect you to be. The latter depletes you of vital energy. And the Breath of Life diminishes in strength, lurking within a distorted self-image. In time your body and heart will begin to ache.

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Freeing The Emotions Beneath Pain

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Freeing The Emotions Beneath Pain

Coming into a state of pure awareness of ones being and also beginning to live in subtle awareness of sensations and emotions can bring great freedom in daily living.

Craniosacral therapy helps clients become aware of what wasn’t easily felt or sensed before consciously. Such as those paralysing thoughts, sensations, and feelings that create havoc beneath conscious awareness, in the mind-body construct. When one is unaccustomed to noticing, recognising and releasing these, they eventually make one defensive in ones interactions with the world.

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Wielding Safety in Our Bodies

Does being safe make you a trusting human being?

Does safety help you maintain at most times a state of equanimity?

Does feeling safe give you a restful heart, full of compassion for fellow humans?

Feeling safe, in a world (read family, culture, or nation…) terrorized by anger, violence, aggression, depression, illness, etc., is an achievement far desirable than owning the wealthiest possessions these days.

Safety’s close affiliate, trust, is yet another feature of our seemingly beleaguered existence that persuades us to look upon the external world as a friend and not an enemy. 

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Getting Wise About Resources

Photo Credit : Dipika Belapurkar

To feel safe, whilst tossed between hope and crisis as it were in today’s world, is fast becoming the work of an artist. It requires taking the embers of our suffering, reaching deep into our core and tracking our inner resources for healing.

How many of us can confidently say that we feel resourced at all times? If suffering, as a consequence of trauma, is a bygone conclusion, how can we regain our whole selves?

Trauma Defined

Trauma is variously expressed. A deeply distressing event such as the loss of a relationship. A disturbing loss of ones’ livelihood. Severe psychological shock from a motor accident. Emotional pain resulting from financial struggle. Mental stress derived from a drawn out divorce proceeding. Injury to the physical body. Wounding at the soul level. No one is exempt from trauma. Only the flavor – whether acute or chronic – and timing, vary in peoples’ lives.

What does it mean to be resourced, to have a constant supply of immeasurable support to help us weather all kinds of storms? Physical, emotional, mental, and of the spirit.

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Touch, the elixir of our lives?

If current and ongoing neuroscience research is to be believed, touch may yet be the next best thing to an ambrosial offering to God. And why may we believe that this primary sense is one of the most dependable routes to de-stressing ourselves? Because, according to research, touch has the ability to impact the brain directly, sending impulses to various neuron centers and eliciting change for the good of our physiology.

Is that good? Well ponder this. Whenever you feel sad or depressed a simple squeeze of your shoulders or a gentle rub on the back releases tension? As humans we all have this healing ability, linked to proprioception, lacing our hands. We can heal ourselves, and others via touch. Practitioners hone this talent and then offer an unbiased route towards regaining holistic health.

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Living holistically is not merely a possibility, it’s becoming a necessity

We humans have begun to seriously enfold a new trend. It’s not in the fashion or finance industries, two of which keep people’s interests in life and living from flagging. Rather the new preoccupation is with the body. Persistent questions stream into our consciousness on a daily basis: am I eating right? Is my body weight ideal? Does this fruit have pesticide filming it? Does an organic diet offer an improvement over other diets? And so on…

What’s specially remarkable is the acknowledgement that’s being given, however grudgingly, to the body as being equal to the mind. In our yearly or even daily allocation of time towards healing and restoration, our mental health has always got top scoring. In some cultures the worst that could happen to humans is to do with their inability to think, decide, plan, and strategise; all mental activities. If for whatever reason we lost our capacity to control our lives, via our mind, we could lose our zest for living. For then we would no longer compete in the world on equal terms with others. The body on the other hand has been considered second in importance to the mind.

But, no longer. In the pursuit of holistic living, we have to consider everything we have got. The mind, the body and the spirit. To this equation add emotions and feelings that are usually supressed into the subconscious and not held in conscious awareness. If we are to fulfill the promise of living a life of wholeness and wellbeing, none of these can be ignored. If one does so it will be to the peril of losing our fullness of being.

We have an inner as well as an outer reality. Our inner life is what we perceive on the inside of us and our outer life is all that we seek in others and in things. Our characters or personalities are driven by both these, with each being a reflection of the other. It’s not possible to gain happiness on the outside whilst one is not in communication with what’s happening inside us. We may of course prefer to befriend and cultivate just one reality. Thus we could either end up being led by our outer reality into an illusionary world of material wellbeing over all else. Or we could elect to renounce worldy life and become a seeker of inner truth. Either ways we choose one and abdicate the other. Where’s the balance in this polarisation? Can living one and forsaking the other help us to get beyond dualistic thinking?

Life could not, indeed, from a health perspective, be more promising in these current times. We are moving away from our dependance on drugs and the temptation to douse pain with medication. We are seeking alternative therapy as a more complete route towards healing. There are many such options now available. If and when a person decides to heal themselves at all levels of existence – emotional; physical; mental; and spiritual, to the discerning health seeker, holistic living is now a real possibility.

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