Babies and children grow and develop into healthy whole human beings through safe and healthy attachment experiences with primary care-takers such as parents, family members, and later on, community members. All of us learn to feel safe and thrive inside our early home environments because of nurturing bodily contact and resonance which begins at Mother’s breast and extends out to include other members of our intimate world. We lie on our father’s chest. We are held by our grand-parents and siblings. Our warm animal body recognizes safety, acceptance and encouragement to explore our rapidly developing sensory capacities as we interact with our world. The sense of self grows and emerges through this tactile exploratory interaction of my whole living body, in connection with the living bodies of my childhood world.
My living animal body grows and develops. My sense of selfhood as a whole and happy person becomes stable and ever emerging when these intimate relational connections are present in healthy, supportive and mutually satisfying ways. There is room for the child to grow and develop. There is room for Mother and Father to also respond to the child and grow and develop through that interaction. However, a living animal body also develops holding patterns to adapt to unhealthy, incomplete and unsatisfying attachment bonds between child and caregiver.
Focusing is a practice which invites another human being, a Listener, to sit with a person who is exploring something wanting attention in the life situation of the self’s BodyMind. The Listener is a physical and inter-human presence which supports and encourages the Focuser to maintain connection with some aspect of the self. In Gendlin’s words, the felt sense Focusing space has been called the space of the client’s client. Something in me is wanting my attention. The Focusing process is all about supporting the Focuser’s experience of themselves. It is a tool of self-development which balances function of cognition and bodily felt sensing and processing.
Wholebody Focusing extends the attentional space to include the body as a whole, both the outer structure inside of gravitational space, and the more subtle inner felt sensing and energetic body space. Perhaps most importantly, Wholebody Focusing places conscious bodily awareness on the living relational field between Focuser and Listener and on our ambient environment.
The Listener in Wholebody Focusing learns to not only listen with a Focusing attitude. The Listener in Wholebody Focusing particularly learns to listen and resonate from an awareness of their body as a whole. The awakened conscious living body is a gifted organic tuning fork of other living bodies. From this larger sense of Me Here, the Listener tunes into the much larger living body of the relational space of WE HERE. I learn to consciously notice my body’s internal responses to another person’s living body, to make space for You There, separately from me, yet somehow, more connected to Me. I am also learning to make space for another person’s bodily responses to me and their struggle in that.
Like the good enough parent who nurtures and supports the developing child with their whole living body of loving, caring acceptance, the relational space of Wholebody Focusing invites consciousness of the whole living body, person to person, to emerge more fully into awareness of both Focuser and Listener. As Wholebody Listener, I am listening with everything that I am as a person, inhabiting a warm living animal body. I listen with my feet’s connection with the ground, right on up through my whole breathing organism. I listen with my feet, legs, pelvis, all of the organs of my middle torso, my whole musculo-skeletal nervous system, both central and peripheral, my heart and chest, my throat and neck, my reptilian brain stem, my emotional mid-brain, my rational fore-brain.
Because there is a lot to my conscious living body of wholeness, I invite my animal body to attune itself to the Focuser’s. My whole living animal body seems to know how to tune into your’s. I like the statement: I don’t know how to open up to connecting with you, but perhaps something in me, my Body Wisdom, does. Inside of the Wholebody Heartfelt Connection Process space, Wholebody Focuser and Listener take a minimum of 10-15 minutes to invite our two living bodies to attune to each other until we can both find a mutually satisfying We space. This is a dynamic and deeply relational practice of meeting adult self to adult self, with genuineness and wholebody awareness. The following process steps summarize how we can meet each other in mutuality of shared presence. Within the structure of the Wholebody Heartfelt Connection Process is a dynamic back and forth of mutuality in shared presence – as Listener I respond naturally to how the life emerging from the Focuser’s process impacts and enlivens my BodyMind in ways that can offer more support and information to the Focuser. It is no longer all about the Focuser, but rather, all about a much larger WE HERE.