My life with “Focusing”

The Focuser’s Focus, Vol.19, No.4, Winter Issue 2017

My life with “Focusing”

 By Christel Kraft
(Certifying Coordinator, Canada)

Thanks to Mieko Osawa who asked me about my personal experience with Focusing.
This article is in answer to her questions, from my heart with caring and love.

The term “Focusing” did not come into my life till much later but what I remember from my earliest childhood is “something” that was and still is a foundation of my living.

Sensing, feeling, observing, questioning? – –  A loving mother was teaching me to become still, guiding me through a short prayer that confirmed a loving, protecting inner presence before she kissed me good night and tucked me into my comfortable warm bed for the night. – –
I felt safe.

Was there a time when I wanted to know more about this indwelling presence which Mom called Christ?  – –  Memory of two Sunday school teachers left a lasting strong impression on my early life: Their teaching combined with some beautiful Light and Love that shone through their eyes drew me into their presence. That’s what I want !! –  came a call from deep inside me.

Even after 85 years of life, I can still see and feel myself into that moment.  It became a first deep focal point for my life during many years of school, friendships, life and family disrupting war time, and refugee experiences. – – Underneath the outer living, I stayed connected to some inner knowing and guiding.  At the same time I also searched for some kind of connection to people who “had the Light in their eyes”.  –

Many years later when our 5 year old child(son), coming home from Sunday school, asked: “Mom, what is the Holy Spirit?”  My answer jumped out of my mouth: “Look for the Light in people’s eyes!”  The symbolic inner connection was still there!! –

After a long Pause here – –

How do I condense a learning, searching, exploring, questioning LIVING towards the theme of this article about “Focusing” ? –  I met many interesting people, much controversial religious, spiritual, philosophical, and psychological, teachings. I explored, accepted and I rejected, I experienced moments of bliss and deep pain.  In all of it, I listened, I listened deeply for the inner resonance that became ever clearer over the years. –

There was a moment of shock when I discovered that not everybody lived their life in this searching and struggling way. So many seemed content or perpetually unhappy in what to me seemed a limiting traditional existence without what I felt could be a more fulfilling experience and discovery for them. Did they not know what to me felt very normal and natural?

I also felt that I was not acceptable to those who appeared to be threatened by my constant questioning, changing and evolving. Yet they seemed to live in some safe, well defined circles/groups while I needed to accept a certain degree of aloneness. I wanted to respect them while at the same time was puzzling about how I could perhaps teach them to bring out this to me fuller seeming potential that must be there for them as well. Could I write a book about

“Root Living”?  Going to the roots of life giving energy?? Could this be taught??
Well, you guessed it, Gene Gendlin’s book on Focusing found me and answered my question.

FOCUSING.   I recognized a connection to my lifelong living. I went to Chicago, met Gene, experienced some wonderfully alive people around him, visited a few more times and took part in several exciting learning workshops. –  My response, when Gene asked me after several meetings if I want to be a Focusing Coordinator, was simple: Sure!

I went back home to Winnipeg, continued and finished my Educational Psychology M.Ed. applied some Focusing research to my Thesis about “Adult Development and the Implication for Career Oriented Counselling of Women During Mid-Life.” This expanded into more research and “Reaching Out”, an agency for the Employment for Persons with Physical Challenges. As the Executive Director of this successful and growing endeavor, I was able to also train my staff
and many other groups in the five levels of Focusing.

During those years I also met Rev.Ed McMahon and Pete Campbell and recognized a spiritual leaning in their approach to Focusing. I participated in several of their Bio-Spiritual workshops, and incorporated their experiences into my teaching. – –

At several ongoing visits to Chicago I met many people from all over the world, some of these were also from Canada.  Would or could we create some ongoing connection?  –  My own opportunities for travel were restricted by home and career responsibilities. I did not extend my teachings into other Canadian provinces where other coordinators were and are still actively expanding their own outreach.

In the early times of Focusing we were held together by Gene Genlin’s basic publications and our individual experimentations based on the outlined step-by-step techniques in his book “Focusing”.  Some of us shared training plans we developed based on diverse opportunities in school, continuing education, hospital, social, community settings.  Eventually these were also published on a developing Focusing website.

Several of my students were interested in teaching the Focusing approach and being certified as Trainers by the Focusing Institute.  At that earlier time they were required to have successfully completed the five level Training Program I had developed and attend a weeklong at the Institute.  Six people desired and received Certification from TFI at that time. –

My outreach and connections flowed from individual clients and training groups into several established agencies, associations, and continuing education facilities. I did not keep track of the hundreds of lives that were touched by a focusing related experience. –

My Psychotherapist private practice was growing along with this and the “Manitoba Association for Focusing and Bio-Spirituality” became the catch all for about 20+ years of my creative applications of Focusing, combined with everything else that I sensed in the energy flow of my own growth and learning and in the needs I sensed in others around me. – In order to distinguish it from my earlier teaching programs I labeled it:

 “ EFFE – Focusing Flow Energy Explorations – Passageways Into Your Inner Treasures “

What made it different? –  I had discovered that every deeply meaningful Focusing/Listening exchange is unique and has to be experientially lived.  It cannot be taught, it has to be lived and demonstrated in every situation with every individual.  Yes, there is also value in any kind of teaching, it was just never satisfying enough for me.-

The main difference seems to be the quality of listening which can develop through practice, observation and deeper awareness of a certain kind of attention to an inner and outer listening.
It requires an ability to be fully in Presence to an inner development, and trust into the ongoing sense of the newness that comes during the interaction between the Focuser (client) and the Listener. An inner Essence can open up, needs to be observed, needs to be sensed and followed into during the next movements. This also involves letting go (or leaving out) some instructions and expectations from previously learned “Next steps” – –

Here I need to pause while sensing into how I can relate years of searching towards awakening into a deeper mystical/spiritual higher level of consciousness. Meditations, and questioning every conditioned value and belief with trust into an inner guidance can be at times painful but allows fullness of life to unfold.  Each person needs to find their own path. –

Listening interactions become more powerful if the Listener/guide has reached higher levels of awareness. Different degrees of consciousness can be transmitted subliminally in the process.  I am grateful to people and lots of books that are guiding me in this ever unfolding inner treasure of the Universal Light, Love and Life.

I have enjoyed bringing my awareness into various areas of teaching and living. Some examples of this are dream explorations, stress management, health and healing, therapeutic spiritual counseling, non-violent conflict resolution, discovering your full potential, effective interpersonal communication, assertiveness training, guidance into your inner wisdom, focusing into poetry and other artistic expressions, interactional focusing conversations, and more. – –

My own professional life and career came to an almost sudden twist when my own and my husband’s physical condition required full time nursing care.  That’s where it is now.
There seem some connections opening up, for perhaps more virtual focusing explorations – – –

In 1999 I self-published a somewhat condensed “workbook” : which is now available in pdf from TIFI and iafots@lists.focuslists.org
Energy Flow Focusing Explorations –Passageways Into Your Hidden Treasures”
ISBN 978-0-9937 125-0-0  copyright 2014