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What is Focusing?

Focusing comes from philosophical works called The Philosophy of the Implicit.

Focusing is direct access to a bodily knowing.

With training you can find the entry point to this embodied knowledge. After you find this entry, then you become able to stay long enough to interact with it. Then you can do many different things when you reach such a profound level.

What's NEW

The Radical Acceptance of Everything: Living a Focusing Life - by Ann Weiser Cornell, Ph.D. and featuring Barbara McGavin

Thinking at the Edge: Grassroots Introduction to TAE Manual Book One by Nada Lou

Creating Free, Self-organizing Spaces in the Social Body  Keynote address by Mary Hendricks, Ph.D. Toronto, May 2005

Judaism and Focusing Process by Rabbi Goldie Milgram

Thinking at the Edge FOLIO

Today people live at various distances from this bodily source.

We offer well-developed and tested instructions for direct access to embodied knowledge and the new steps of change and resolution that come from it.

After you find this deeper level, it takes practice to stay here. In a difficult moment most people cannot hold on to the body-sense of the situation long enough for steps to come. We can help you learn how to do this.

Then the unclear felt sense can "open" into a whole field of intricate detail, from which surprising steps of change come.

You can check yourself. Notice where in the next few sentences you no longer know what we are talking about. We can take you on further, from there.

You have a bodily orienting sense. You know who you are and how you come to be reading this page. To know this you don't need to think. The knowing is physically sensed in your body and can easily be found. But this bodily knowing can extend much more deeply. You can learn how to let a deeper bodily felt sense come in relation to any problem or situation. Your body "knows" the whole of each of your situations, vastly more aspects of it than you can enumerate separately.

You can sense your living body directly under your thoughts and memories and under your familiar feelings. Focusing happens at a deeper level than your feelings. Under them you can discover a physically sensed "murky zone" which is concretely there. This is the source from which new steps emerge.

At first, this murky "something" may seem opaque. Although concretely there, it may not seem promising. With certain teachable steps of bodily attention it opens. How you sense the situation shifts. New possibilities of action arise beyond the already-given alternatives. The whole scene changes. An intricate territory of factors, events, conditions, and new questions emerges where there was only a slight bodily sense at the start.


What Our Training Includes:

  • How to find your bodily-sensed "murky edge."
  • How to let your bodily sense become stable, so it does not disappear after a second or two.
  • What to do once you can spend some time at that edge. A new kind of space opens in which you can do many things.

focusing bookThe book Focusing describes six steps of Focusing to get you started and offers trouble shooting for the difficulties, one or another of which most people encounter in learning the process.  The book has been translated into many languages. You can try out the six steps right now in your language: English, Nederlands, Deutsch, Español, Dansk, Japanese, Româna, íslenska, Japanese, Portugues, Russian and Suomi.)

More than 600 certified focusing trainers from 31 countries are available on your private telephone for one or several hours of Focusing training.  This will let you begin. We can arrange a session for you or you can contact a trainer on our list.  We also offer workshops and a nine-month training program and many books, videos and audio tapes.


Focusing Partnerships

You can focus alone, but Focusing can be easier and deeper with a partner. Many people have regular Focusing partnerships by phone.  It is helpful to Focus with someone who is not closely involved in your life.  It is easier to speak and listen without judgments or personal reactions.  Partners may focus on work, creative or personal issues. Focusing Partnerships are not friendships, not therapy, not family.  Focusing Partnership is a new social institution. You can read about Focusing Partnerships and after a few hours of training, you can request a partner from our world wide partnership pool. 


Focusing-Oriented Psychotherapy

From our list you can find a focusing-oriented therapist (FOT) who lives near you and speaks your language.

Focusing-Oriented Psychotherapy is supported by many research findings which have shown that psychotherapy is more successful when people focus during sessions.  The American Psychological Association has recognized Dr. Gendlin and The Focusing Institute with three awards.  There are many professional articles about focusing-oriented psychotherapy and excerpts from the book, Focusing-Oriented Psychotherapy in our psychotherapy section.


The Philosophy of the Implicit

The living body is always going beyond what evolution, culture and language have already built.

The "Philosophy of the Implicit" comes after postmodernism.  It goes on further from the current impasse in which the "objectivists" hold that human experience is an illusion emanating from brain structures and chemistry and their opponents, the "relativists," hold that human experience is just a product of one of the many cultures, histories and languages.

The Philosophy of the Implicit leads to new concepts in physics and biology, to understand the human body differently.  Your body is not a machine, rather a wonderfully intricate interaction with everything around you, which is why it "knows" so much just in being. The animals live intricately with each other without culture and language.  The different cultures don't create us.  They only add elaboration.  The body is always sketching and probing a few steps further.  Your ongoing living makes new evolution and history happen -- now. 


Thinking at the Edge

Thinking At the Edge (TAE), like Focusing, is a practice developed from the Philosophy of the Implicit. 

It is a set of exact steps to develop a fresh use of language and a new kind of theory to speak from something in one's field which one knows but has not been able to say or write.  This is a way to say something that can restructure the basic terms and practices in a field, rather than being able to say what fits the current viewpoint.

Current science, social policy and human relations tend to exclude the intricacy of the individual's experience. TAE is a way to think and speak about our world and ourselves by generating terms from a "felt sense".  Such terms formulate experiential intricacy, rather than turning everything we think about into externally viewed objects.  Language and concepts that emerge directly from experience can point to aspects of experience that cannot otherwise be formulated.


Felt Community

"For the first time in my life I feel that I belong to a group of people whose way of being with themselves and others expands, rather than contracts, my best sense of myself.  More and more people are developing Focusing Partnerships, forming a virtual felt community throughout the world."

Currently the cultural routines and roles that used to connect us are insufficient. We have to innovate all day, find new ways to be a woman, man, wife, parent, teacher, executive, old person, young person. Our close relationships tend to fall apart. "Nobody seems to fit with me," people say. Each person is intricate inside, and lonely. Modern urban society is atomized.

With Focusing we find that the human body is much more finely ordered than the definitions of our various cultures and common phrases. Behind the usual emotions, feelings, memories, images, perceptions, and thoughts is the directly-sensed murky zone. When it opens we discover that we and others are rich, intricate, finely organized and always imply freshly emerging possibilities. 

We estimate there are one million people practicing Focusing.  We invite you to participate in our non-geographic felt community by joining our discussion list, volunteering to work with us, becoming a Focusing Partner.


The Focusing Institute was founded in 1986 as a not-for-profit organization whose purpose is to help make focusing available to the public and to the international scholarly community through teaching, research and written materials.



All contents copyright 2003 by The Focusing Institute.
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This page was last modified on 2005-07-18