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Engaging the Ecological Self

Crossing Focusing with the Work-That-Reconnects (WTR) - sample the first class FREE!

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Magic Tree

Frank O'Neill, Certified Focusing Professional

Where & When

6 Tuesdays starting Jan. 18th, 2022, 4-6pm Pacific Time ... AND 6 Sundays starting Jan. 23rd, 2022, 10am-Noon PT
Pacific Time (US)

Online Joining Information

Details provided upon registration.

Early payment appreciated for building a committed group/sangha.

Zoom link and pre-reading to be supplied at least 3 days before class starts.

Pre-Class Homework - Scroll to the bottom ...

Meeting Format


Experienced Focusers having 1 year of an ongoing weekly Focusing partnership, are regularly drawn to the natural world, and want a natural and easeful way of contributing to a more beautiful world.


This is a co-creative journey of discovering and developing your right way of contributing to the world you'd like to see, based on your skills, capacities, and the needs of the world. I will act to provide an evocative sequence of exercises, an overview of Joanna Macy's work, agreements for Emergent interaction, safe and equal participation, and facilitation for staying in process. Practices include journaling, role playing, open sentences, Focusing dyads, and emergent group process based on what I've learned through TAE practice. I've found that sharing a common theme (right contribution to a thriving planet and society) in spontaneous group Focusing tends to generate crossings that enrich our individual articulations and moves our projects forward. You have a felt sense of what wants to be expressed, but it is not yet clear, or you would like more balance and naturalness in the work you are doing. You are willing to speak FROM this personal vision as it emerges IF you have no-content witnesses and collaborators who will treat your reports with Focusing reverence. You likewise hold other's emerging vision as a mystery trying to emerge, and you don't need to 'get it', though of course you'd like to.

CHOOSE A CLASS (new starting date)

• 6 Tuesdays starting Jan. 18th, 2022, 4-6pm Pacific Time ... OR

• 6 Sundays starting Jan. 23th, 2022, 10am-Noon PT


WTR gives us a map (chapter 1) of the transition (the Great Turning) from the Industrial Growth society to a Life-sustaining culture. We'll use WTR practices to evoke our Ecological Self, discover our pain and love for the world, and build group connection. You can read an introduction to WTR in chapter 1 here.

We'll use exercises from Joanna Macy's "Coming Back to Life" and Stephen Buhner's "The Intelligence of the Heart in the Direct Perception of Nature”.

Focusing accesses and gives us companionship for the emerging carrying-forward energy - we'll use Focusing dyads to develop a personal vision or a direction for our natural contribution to the Great Turning.

Emergent group agreements and Focusing-style interaction will then further develop our personal visions and generate support and perspective. They include reporting FROM our ongoing felt-sense inquiry, allowing 'Quaker-style' pauses to let a report 'land', tracking self and other and reflecting what's potent when it serves, responding to another's share from the Aliveness of our personal vision-inquiry, and noticing the degree of Aliveness and connection waxing and waning in the group as a clue to how we are being present to our experience.


Take some time alone (e.g. 30 minutes) for touching the wise Life animating you. Start with 3 long, deep breaths and let your body rest in its current state, without forcing. When your body has shifted into some warmth, bring to mind a wild place, a plant/tree, or an experience of being held, known, and deeply nourished by the Life World. The purpose here is to establish a reference point, and to explore the underlying values or needs met by the experience.

Linger in this communion experience for several minutes and notice the images and qualities of mind that arose/arise in this place. What were the conditions of the experience - the landscape, air, light, etc? Feel the qualities of sensation and emotion, and notice what elements or beings you were attracted to. Was it a river, the sky, a plant or tree, a valley, an animal? What qualities of wholeness or well-being may have been present - aliveness, clarity, compassion, strength, peace, exuberance, stillness, purpose, humbleness ...? Did you discover something about yourself here, or about the world, which stuck with you, and which maybe returns occasionally? See if an image or phrase comes to mind that may capture some of the magic of what was spoken to you by this relational experience.

Now consider the following instructions from herbalist Stephen Buhner:

     "Each phenomenon that we experience is its own language. It speaks always, whether or not we are listening, for we are not the primary objects of its affections. All phenomenon, all plants [and wild elements], give off meanings that alter their structure - their content - in a continual ebb and flow. We are meant to perceive them with a mode of consciousness other than than the linear, analytical mind. This other mode is accessed through the heart, as it feels the impact ... of the meanings we encounter. The mind ... can translate  the communications and feelings we experience into bursts of understanding that include ... language."

Sit with that for a minute. Bring back the experience of communion (above) and maybe the handle. Does it change the experience, the handle? Is there a felt shift, or something new? or does it land you again in the wholeness and nourishment of the experience? Make some notes about this in a journal.

Now, if you'd like, feel again into the primary feeling of nourishment, peace, or aliveness of that communion experience, and explore the underlying values or needs that were met by the experience. (Or, as an alternative, journal a little, in a Focusing way, to explore aspects of yourself that emerged in the communion.) Use the following list of Needs/values and peruse the list, 'hovering' over each word to find 1-3 words that best resonate with the main feeling of the communion experience. Don't settle for a partial resonance, and don't 'think' about whether the word your hovering over is the right one - FEEL for resonance. We are using this list of Needs-symbols as another way to find a handle for the experience, based on universal human needs.

Once you've found a good Needs-handle, rest with that handle for a few minutes; give it space, curiosity, and notice any shifts that come.


I'm a member of a Bay-area Work-that-reconnects practice group, and assisted a 7-day residential Work-That-Reconnects retreat at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico, November 2019, called "Active Hope".

I do one-on-one Focusing coaching and support (since 2016), and have co-facilitated several meetups and RoundTables oriented around Focusing and/or Nonviolent Communication.

If this sounds like the rich experiment you'd like to engage in, please send me an email at [email protected].


Contact Frank O'Neill at [email protected] to register.

Registration Information

Minimum 3 participants.

Maximum 8-10 participants.

First Class FREE (try it out!)

Cost is $150 for the next 5 of 6 classes.

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