(In preparing for ‘Gene Gendlin’s ‘holiday birthday party’ this Saturday, I reflected on our relationship).
My first meeting with Gene Gendlin.
It was a beautiful fall afternoon in 1995. I was Mary Hendricks assistant and didn’t know anything about Focusing. She asked me to drive around the corner to where Gene worked during the day and pick up a manuscript he was working on. I had no idea that he was both a prominent philosopher and psychologist.
I knock on the door and this tall lanky guy answers the door, smiles and gives a big warm “hello hello”. You could feel his presence and he felt larger than life.
Over the years he would call me to ask my thoughts on the direction of focusing, how we could get focusing spread beyond one workshop. He felt frustrated that we were only speaking with each other. He called it the ashram.
I admit I only read some of his writings, but having been in his presence for over 14 years and having many meetings with him, influenced me and my body in profound ways.
Twenty years later I am still awed by his writing about our plant body. How plants innately live and know how to use sun and water. I reflect how I am like a plant. When I am dealing with stresses, problems and challenges, I only want to talk about them for a little bit. And then I want to go towards the light. I find comfort in the positive and what brings me joy. I notice I am able to move naturally from the negative to the light.
Little would I know that 15 years later, Pat Omidian and I would embody in our organization the dream Gene kept repeating to me over the years. That for focusing to be alive it needs to get into structures. It shouldn’t just be by itself.
When Gene heard I was leaving The Focusing Institute and co-creating Focusing Initiatives International, an international community wellness focusing organization, he was quite happy. He wrote us: “This is more of what I always wanted us to do and I can see so many areas for furthering focusing in what Melinda and Pat are doing. One gap I had not realized was that of targeting organizations such as the U.N. and how that would ensure that Focusing would go beyond one workshop. Melinda and Pat are designing these kinds of connections into organizational structure.”
This is a good time to gather in community and reflect on the treasures that Gene Gendln’s life has given us. His birthday is on Christmas Day. We will be celebrating it and honoring him the day after with a big international focusing party to lift our spirits. This will be held on Saturday December 26th, from 3pm-5pm EDT, and is sponsored by Lynn Preston (FORCE) and Melinda Darer (Focusing Initiatives International).