The felt sense, a true story
Updated: Jun 29
As I walk along the street all is as it should be. The soft blue sky spreads out peacefully above me and the early morning sun shines warmly on my back. The street is quiet, apart from a myriad of birds chirping back and forth among themselves. I walk slowly taking it all in and sighing with contentment.
Feeling relaxed and dreamy I continue at a leisurely pace, noticing the brightness, and that the brightness has a certain quality to it, a promise of good things to come. I am peaceful and optimistic. The early morning silence is broken by a few birds still calling out to each other. I delight in being a part of this tranquil scene.
At the same time I am vaguely aware of some slight discomfort. Perhaps it is to do with the brightness there is a sort of stillness to it, and an intensity that feels a little unsettling. Then I notice again, how pleasant it is to stroll along with the sun’s soothing heat gently warming my back.
I realise that if I look ahead towards the brightness I get a funny, uncomfortable feeling in my stomach, a nervous, fluttery, edginess that becomes a rather sharp ache. There is something about that perfect brightness, a kind of atmosphere, something unreal. The word ‘artificial’ comes to me, it seems to resonate. I stay with the word and what emerges is a sense of shadows lurking behind the brightness.
Quite uneasy now, I calm myself by breathing in the comforting smell of heat on paving stones.
I shiver. There are still a few birds chattering reassuringly and I try telling myself that all is as it should be. However my body knows better. It is fully alert.
What was that noise….that faint rustling? I walk a little faster….not too fast….its probably a bird….my ears are straining, searching for the faintest sound.
The hairs on the back of my neck are literally standing on end….and then I hear footsteps behind me….I am almost running now…. a hand clasps my shoulder….Something crude is whispered in my ear.
I scream and scream ‘Okay, okay’ he hisses.Then I run in one direction and he runs in the other.
I remember this incident vividly, even though it happened some years ago. I can see now how my vague sense of discomfort developed into a definite awareness of danger. Eugene Gendlin discovered Focusing, he devised the term ‘felt sense’ to describe an unclear, intricate ‘bodily awareness’.
Focusing is a process of deepening my connection with this bodily sense. It is a process that might occur naturally and it can also be learned.
I can focus alone or with a Companion. To begin with I am just trying to get a feel of something faint and delicate. Slowly and gently I build up my connection with it by describing and acknowledging everything that I notice. Because the felt sense is very fragile I need to be sensitive. If I am impatient and try to hurry things along it will disappear.
Gradually the felt sense becomes stronger and more fully formed. Meanings contained within it can emerge, deepening self-awareness and personal insights.
Billy said... 6 September 2015
I found this post quite unsettling - your writing is poetic. The softness of the world you convey, the peace, the tranquility - and the emerging sense of something... the world, the something... and the unwelcome intrusion. Quite remarkable.
Paula Newman said... 6 September 2015
Thank you Billy
Donna said.. 9 September 2015.
I was gripped by your post Paula. As I was reading I could feel my body start to tense with that growing sense of unease. Describing the felt sense in this way has helped me understand the concept a little more. It's always been a big vague for me I'm afraid. On the few occasions I've tried focussing I've struggled to understand what I was doing but I've retained an interested in learning more and have your website bookmarked for the future.
Thanks very much for your thoughtful feedback Donna. I am pleased that my blog has helped.