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BioSpiritual Focusing

Peter A. Campbell, Ph.D.
Edwin M. McMahon, Ph.D.
Founders: Institute for BioSpiritual Research (now The Biospiritual Institute)
This article was written c. 1999

As a culture, we have lost the art of inward listening, of Focusing within. We listen to the radio, TV, movies, and read newspapers. But rarely do we stop and listen inwardly to what our body's unique felt senses are trying to tell us.

BioSpiritual Focusing opens a hidden door to this wisdom. It is the connection or bridge into a world of inner gifts.

Our History

In the 1960's, psychologist Dr. Eugene Gendlin wondered why some of his clients undergoing therapy got better - and others did not. True healing he found, occurred when the person listened inwardly to difficult feelings in a special way. He called this step - by - step process, "Focusing."

"Meaning," he realized, was not only thought in the mind. It was also felt in the body. Dr. Gendlin called it a "felt sense" to distinguish this newly discovered meaning from emotion and thinking.

In the early 1970's, Dr. Peter A. Campbell and Dr. Edwin M. McMahon, Catholic priests and psychologists of religion, began to explore the link between Focusing and spirituality. They found that the body's ability to experience felt meaning is the forgotten bridge into the experience of Spirit.

Body meaning, they learned, comes as a spontaneous gift or surprise. It is not a byproduct of logic and reason. It can not be predicted or controlled. There was a transcendent or "graced" quality to meaning in the body.

Drs. McMahon and Campbell widened Focusing to emphasize this gift dimension, linking the mind-knowing of our information-based culture with our spirit-based wisdom, opening a whole new paradigm of human consciousness for exploration. They called this synthesis "BioSpiritual Focusing."

In 1975 Drs. McMahon and Campbell founded the Institute for BioSpiritual Research, a member-supported international network of people from different ages and backgrounds who practice BioSpiritual Focusing in their daily lives. The Institute is not affiliated with any church, political party, country, or vested interest.

How Do I Learn BioSpiritual Focusing?

BioSpiritual Focusing is a simple, practical process that re-awakens your ability to allow the gift of your body's wisdom to guide you into greater wholeness. It is more than just "thinking" or "feeling." It is "felt-sensing" unique personal meanings and directions that come from deep inside you. This requires time, patience, and willingness to develop the habit of felt sensing.

Is there a difference between feelings and "felt senses"?

Feelings and emotions are passageways to your body wisdom - the felt sense. That is why feelings are so important, even if they make you uncomfortable. They are a compass guiding you to your next step. A trained BioSpiritual Focusing teacher companions you on a gentle inner journey into these felt senses. If nurtured and listened to with caring presence, they will lead you into the body-life of Spirit.

Will I always need a companion?

In the beginning, you work with a trained companion until you are familiar with the process. Then you can focus alone, although when facing complex or highly charged emotions, many still prefer to be companioned.

Is the process confidential?

Yes. You do not need to tell your companion the subject triggering your body feeling. A companion's response supports your inner "process". It does not inquire into "content."

Is This Therapy?

The Institute for BioSpiritual Research does not promote BioSpiritual Focusing either as a substitute for professional psychotherapeutic or psychiatric care for those who need it, or as a substitute for training or licensing in the above fields.

However, BioSpiritual Focusing is always therapeutic. It is a process through which you discover your own unique inner path "within" a Larger Life-Gifting Process. You enter into the "body-life of Spirit.

What is the Institute for BioSpiritual Research?

The Institute is an international network of several thousand people -- parents, counselors, health care providers, hospice volunteers, clergy and sisters, teachers, therapists, retreat house staffs and spiritual guides --in fact, anyone dedicated to peace making through human wholeness. We believe it involves taking the actual body-steps that invite the gift dimension of life (grace) to unfold within ourselves and in our relationships with others. Through BioSpiritual Focusing we take time to open our body's awareness (not just our mental processes), so that we may experience a "body-feel" for the giftedness of life and the deep inner connection of all things. This is what we mean by a body or "BioSpirituality."

Through workshops, publications, and videotapes, we share very practical, teachable skills and attitudes that help us live a peace-making process in our daily lives. We invite you to join us.

Spirituality for a New Millennium---

"Beyond diverse doctrines, religious interpretations, language, ethnic, cultural, and social variations, the one reality we all share in common is the human body. This is our ultimate common ground, a starting point from which to begin the search for a global spirituality.

"Why? Because we believe the next step in human evolution will flow from a maturing inner wholeness. But this will never occur unless each person's inner struggle to grow can somehow be situated within the earth's larger organic movement toward unity. The organism which best experiences these two movements together as a seamless whole is not our mind, but our body's unique way of knowing and being in the world.

"There is felt truth, a felt meaning, a felt direction within our bodies that can guide us into this life of growing unity which we call--Spirit. "BioSpiritual Focusing is the body's lookout point into this hope-filled future."


The Institute for BioSpiritual Research is now The BioSpiritual Institute

The BioSpiritual Institute