This is Part 3 of a 3 Part series. Read all the articles here.
By Kathy Keary
In our previous articles, background information and the mechanics of focusing were outlined. Videos supplemented the articles. I suspect that for many, this was your first exposure to this type of spiritual meditation. In this article, I will discuss the topic on a more personal level covering a few points about my own experience of focusing in hopes that it will encourage you to give this life-giving practice a try.
I have found that listening to and caring for the wisdom revealed by my bodily reaction to emotional triggers is a healthy source of healing not only for situational stress but also to ease the baggage that sometimes creeps to the foreground. Our bodies speak volumes if we take the time to listen. Focusing promotes an inner freedom where positive forces such as love, compassion, kindness, and gentleness can grow.
This practice has helped me to accept all that is stirring within without judgement. No issue is out of bounds. This frees me to care for anything that is taking up space within me – any issue that prevents me from feeling good, whole, or free. Whatever is calling my attention in the moment becomes the subject of my loving care. This promotes a greater acceptance of my total self. It increases my awareness of my vulnerabilities which is helpful as I navigate through the day. I can proactively deal with issues that arise that I am aware will spark an emotional response.
Through the practice of focusing, I am more aware when my body is relaying a message to me. I am then able to care for what it is saying in real time. Often times when I am uncomfortable or uneasy, I feel an uncomfortable sensation in my throat area. Placing my hand there and feeling its warmth is helpful in the moment.
Through the practice of focusing, I am more aware when my body is relaying a message to me. I am then able to care for what it is saying in real time.
In our last article, we listed the steps of focusing. We began the process by taking an inventory of what is taking up space within us. Sometimes I am fully aware of an issue that is screaming for my attention. Instead of doing an inventory, I begin by bringing this single issue to heart. At the same time, I do not want to minimize taking inventory. Often times in doing so, surprises surface.
I frequently place my hand on the area where my body is responding to the emotional trigger. When I do that, a felt shift occurs. The felt sense relaxes. Typically I then experience a sense of inner spaciousness.
You may want to imagine that the hand that is comforting you is the hand of the divine. Imagining that it is God’s hand providing warmth, care, and light can be very powerful. The hands that we use in focusing are channels of God’s love and peace. This affirms the reality that the Sacred One is always present and always trying to bring us to fullness of life. Our Creator is forever urging: “Come to me all you who are burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Sometimes my emotional response is affecting multiple parts of my body or my breathing. In those instances, I imagine that divine rays are shining on me providing healing light and warmth. There are times when I imagine those rays coming from within me with the Indwelling Spirit being the source. Holding the emotional trigger like you would a baby or putting your arm around it to comfort it are other options.
Sometimes my emotional response is affecting multiple parts of my body or my breathing. In those instances, I imagine that divine rays are shining on me providing healing light and warmth.
It has been very helpful for me to envision an image that a felt shift brings to mind. One day my focusing dealt with my emotional reaction to a mean-spirited person. Perhaps the hostility could have easily been filed under the “hurt people hurt people” category, but reflecting on the behavior put a knot in my stomach. When the feeling in my body relaxed during focusing, the image that came to mind was Wonder Woman accompanied by the word, “empowered.” The next time I was confronted with this bully, this image and word came to mind allowing me to respond in a more life-enhancing way. My newly-found strength resulted in keeping a healthy self-esteem intact. In this instance, focusing fostered a needed sense of confidence.
In another instance, my focusing dealt with making a difficult decision that had the potential of being life-altering. When the felt shift occurred, the image that came to mind was that of butterflies fluttering around in an open field. It was an image of freedom and relaxation. It coaxed me not to rush into making a decision. This image would resurface reminding me of its significance every time I began to pressure myself into making a decision. My inner wisdom was saying, “Relax. Take your time. No need to jump to a decision.”
If you are intrigued by this practice but do not feel that you are ready to implement it in your life, I would be glad to meet with you either by phone, virtually, or in person at the Renewal Center for individual spiritual direction. Give me a call at 816.803.6413 to set an appointment.
Note: New articles in this series will be posted to the website on Mondays. The full series can be found here: An Invitation to Something New: The Contemplative Life. On Thursday’s we’ll send an email to remind you of the articles.
[Kathy Keary, a Precious Blood Companion and spiritual director, holds a master’s degree in theological studies and is a graduate of the Atchison Benedictine’s Sophia Center’s Souljourners Program, an intense study of spirituality and spiritual direction. Kathy believes that the divine is present and active in all of life and encourages others to be awakened to the God in all including the divine within. She enjoys accompanying others on their journey to wholeness discovering the person they were created to be.]