To help us to end the year in a strong financial position, and to encourage small donations as well as large ones, a generous donor is MATCHING all donations that come into The International Focusing Institute during December, up to $10,000. As of mid-December, we are only 1/4 of our way to our goal.
The Weeklong is the flagship event of The International Focusing Institute, begun in 1979. It is intended for all those who are advanced in their practice of Focusing. It is a warm and intimate event, and features a certification ceremony.
This year, we encourage attendees, if it is feasible, to find a calm and renewing place away from home (with great internet service) to stay while attending the Weeklong online, in order to have a retreat during the week.
Registration and pricing are not yet available for the Weeklong, but last year's cost was $500. Those being certified will receive a $300 discount on tuition. Scholarships are available through the Janet Klein scholarship program. Information on that will be sent out in spring 2021.
DATES AND VENUE
International Focusing Conference
June 22-26, 2022
(June 20 - 21, 2022 for Coordinators)
The 2022 international Focusing Conference will take place in beautiful Ardeche, France, at Lou Capitelle and Spa: www.loucapitelle.com
The French Focusing Community (pictured here) is making everything ready for us all to be together in June 2022. We hope and trust that by then there will be fewer restrictions due to Covid, so that we can fully enjoy being with one another in person. IFEF (Institut de Focusing d'Europe Francophone) has been organizing summer schools each year in France for many years. Now they are ready to share their vibrant community with the world. All workshops will be in French and English. We can't wait to be together.
Vivement Juin 2022!
"Saying What We Mean"
on the work of Eugene T. Gendlin
April 8, 9 & 10, 2021
co-sponsored with Seattle University (Seattle, WA, USA)
The Departments of Psychology and Philosophy at Seattle University, in partnership with The Gendlin Center of The International Focusing Institute, will be holding an online symposium advancing the work of Eugene Gendlin. We invite participants to explore the implications of Gendlin’s posthumous collection Saying What We Mean: Implicit Precision and the Responsive Order (2018). This extraordinary collection, edited by Edward Casey and Donata Schoeller, brings together a series of essays demonstrating Gendlin’s creative and insightful ability to balance conversations across a wide range of voices in philosophy and psychology.
We are delighted to announce the featured speakers will be
Dr. Ed Casey, Donata Schoeller, Robert Scharff, James Risser and Eric Severson.
Gendlin had a unique capacity for thinking “at the edge” of conceptual formulations. He was able to discover, in words and concepts, an evasive connection between idea and experience. Gendlin sought to open up phenomena by exploring ideas that can only be thought in the mode of embodied practice. Gendlin’s hope was that he might awaken an appetite in his readers, a yearning to understand how “the experiential side always exceeds the concepts.” In this regard, Gendlin invites expansive efforts to explore embodied thinking and experiencing.
CALL FOR PAPERS
In Saying What We Mean, Gendlin leaves for us a collection of intriguing enactments of this embodied thinking, with essays ranging across the spectrum of his adventurous thinking. Though all paper proposals working with Gendlin’s thought are welcome, we particularly solicit investigations into the four main themes of Saying What We Mean:
Phenomenology of the Implicit
A Process Model
On the Edges of Plato, Heidegger, Kant and Wittgenstein
Thinking with the Implicit
If interested in presenting a paper at the virtual (Zoom) conference, please submit an abstract of no more than 300 words by January 15, 2021. (If you had submitted prior to November, please re-submit.) Please include your name, institution, degree, specialization, and contact info on a separate document including your country location and time zone. Presentations should be approximately 40 minutes in length, and presenters should anticipate facilitating conversation after their paper is given. We also encourage panel proposals exploring a common theme in Gendlin’s work.
At the December meeting, the Board approved a new “Diversity of Approaches” statement that will be posted on the website. The Board also gave enthusiastic support to the TAE advisory group for their ongoing conversation towards developing a TAE proficiency award. The Board continued its strategic planning process by identifying the top issues to address and the vision we want to focus on as we move forward. We celebrated the announcement of the "Saying What We Mean" online Academic Symposium on the work of Gendlin which is co-sponsored with Seattle University (Seattle, WA, USA).
I am saddened to announce the resignation of Hanspeter Muhlethaler (Switzerland) from the Board. Hanspeter completed his three-year term on the TIFI Board, contributing his reasoned wisdom, as well as his financial and organizational skills as Board Treasurer. I appreciate his years of dedicated service to TIFI, which will continue, in part, through his participation on the TAE advisory group.
The TIFI Nominating Committee is always looking for qualified candidates for the Board and the ILC. You can email candidate suggestions to them at any time at [email protected]. There are a variety of other ways to get involved in supporting the work of TIFI through volunteering. Send a message through the website if you have an interest in exploring possible service on the Board or other volunteer opportunities.
Update from the ILC
In November, the International Leadership Council held two special meetings with the Institute's Coordinators and Coordinators-in-Training. These meetings were held to discuss a document that had been written by the ILC, the Board and the Executive Director to clarify some policies in relation to Coordinators worldwide. The document can be found at the bottom of the "Coordinator and Trainer Resources" page of the website. One meeting was translated simultaneously into Chinese, and the other was simultaneously translated into Spanish. The ILC was pleased at the positive feedback to the document. It seemed to indeed clarify some of the Institute's long-standing policies, and met (at least in these two meetings) with no controversy.
The ILC is continuing its primary work of looking at how certification through the Institute, in all its many facets, can be maintained and strengthened as meaningful, with clearer paths to certification and clearer understandings of the relationship between Coordinators and the Institute.
We would like to express our appreciation and gratitude to Hanspeter Mühlethaler for his dedicated service to the Board over the past two and a half years. To learn more about him, please click here for a full interview with Hanspeter from one of our previous issues.
by Susan Lennox
The Focusing Roundtable programs were created by the TIFI Membership Committee in late 2016 as a free benefit for TIFI members. They were intended to be our way of saying thank you for your membership, while creating new opportunities to build deeper connections within the global Focusing community.
We are delighted that our goal of building the international Focusing community has been realized. Organized by volunteer hosts, every program brings members from around the world together to converse informally about a variety of Focusing-related topics. In the last Roundtable, for example, there were registrants from 16 different countries, with two-thirds hailing from countries other than the United States.
The Roundtable program has grown substantially over the years. In its first full year of operation, we offered 11 Roundtables. The number of unique Roundtable programs increased to 14 in 2018, 15 in 2019, and 16 in 2020. However, with the increasing popularity of Roundtables, the number of registrations grew and many programs were offered multiple times to accommodate the overflow. This resulted in the doubling of the number of Roundtable offerings from 11 in the first year to 23 in 2020.
One interesting development in the Roundtable program is the increasing number of Roundtable series. In some cases, this has enabled Focusers from specific parts of the world to build connections. For instance, TIFI members in Australia and New Zealand created a quarterly Downunder Roundtable series in 2019, which continued in 2020 and is currently in the planning stages for 2021. Many thanks to the following members who offered leadership in organizing and presenting the Downunder Roundtables: Jane Quayle, Heather Rogers, Sue Burrell, Frances Conchie Stanley, Biliana Dearly, David Shapiro Del Sole, and Matthew Power.
Italian Focusers have also mounted two previous multi-part series thus far, with another four-part series planned for January through April 2021. Thanks to the following members for their leadership and fine efforts in creating these programs: Francesca Castaldi, Nicoletta Corsetti, Maria Teresa Belgenio, Brigitte Moretti, Olga Pasquini, Agostino Manni, Lorenzo Salvi, and Patrizia Bonaca. The 2021 program will be offered by Patrizia Bonaca, Roberto Tecchio, Maria Teresa Belgenio, Bruna Blandino and Rosa Catoio.
Other Roundtable series have been created to bring together members with particular interests. A primary example is the Therapists’ Circle Roundtables, enthusiastically organized by Julie Ramsey (USA), Mary Anne Schleinich (Canada), and Steve Moscovitch (Canada). These programs are designed especially for members who work with clients in therapeutic settings, and who use or have used modalities deepened by Focusing and the Philosophy of the Implicit. Current and former therapists are welcome, including psychotherapists, counselors, coaches, somatic practitioners, spiritual directors, occupational or physical therapists, nurses and the like. We were delighted to include Salvador Moreno-Lopez (Mexico) as our first guest presenter on “Interaction and the Music of Speech in the Psychotherapeutic Relationship” during the last Therapists’ Circle of 2020.
We are looking forward to the beginning of a new Roundtable series for members interested in Children’s Focusing in 2021. This series will be organized by Laura Bavalics (Hungary), Rene Veuglers (Netherlands) and Joke van Hoeck (Belgium). We anticipate the first such Roundtable to take place in February or March, so stay tuned.
In addition to the series, the following unique Roundtable programs were also offered in 2020:
Focusing on Purpose: Finding Your Deep Purpose through the Felt Sense
“Return to the Base”:
The Precursor of the Felt Sense and Felt Sense Literacy (FSL)
The Heart and Soul of Writing:
Focusing as the Way In
Focusing & Neuroscience:
Exploring the Crossing of Focusing with Neuroscience
Focusing on the Ecological Crisis:
Felt Sensing Our Way to a Better World
Focusing on Politics:
“Focusing Needs a Structural Political Consciousness”
Focusing on the Ecological Crisis:
Part 2-Going Deeper
Taking Heart in Turbulent Times:
Crossing Focusing with the Work That Reconnects
Focusing on Politics, Part 2:
Focusing, Structural Oppression & Alienation
Monica Gomez Galaz (Mexico)
Ozlem Mavis (Canada)
William Hernandez (Ecuador)
Soti Grafanaki (Canada & Greece)
Susan Rudnick (USA)
Robin Cappy (USA)
Peter Afford (UK)
Jeffrey Morrison (USA)
Annette Dubreuil (Canada)
Peter Gill (UK)
Grady McGonagill (USA)
Frank O’Neill (USA)
Dave Young (USA)
Gisela Uhl (Germany)
Annette Dubreuil (Canada)
Peter Gill (UK)
Frank O’Neill (USA)
Rebekah Hart (Canada)
Frank O’Neill (USA)
Dave Young (USA)
Gisela Uhl (Germany)
We are looking forward to another great year of Roundtables in 2021. The lineup includes programs like Focusing on Politics: Part 3, Focusing on our Relationship with Death, Focusing in Business, Connecting Writing & Focusing, and more.
Roundtables are announced to all TIFI members via email about one month before each event. You can find details about upcoming Roundtables and register on the TIFI website at https://focusing.org/events. Just look for the Focusing Roundtables logo to spot the upcoming programs.
If you are interested in possibly co-hosting a Roundtable, or if you have an idea for a Roundtable topic, please contact Susan Lennox at [email protected] We especially welcome ideas for programs in languages other than English. The Cafecitos series of Spanish-language programs will be joined in 2021 with a new series of Spanish-language Roundtables called Mesas Redondas. Contact Mariana Pisula ([email protected]) or Florentina Sassoli ([email protected]) for more information on these programs.
We look forward to seeing you in 2021. Happy New Year!
Thanks to all of our 2020 Roundtable hosts:
Row 1: William Hernandez, Soti Grafanaki, Robin Kappy, Dave Young, Rebekah Hart, Peter Afford, Sue Burrell, Peter Gill, Monica Gomez Galaz
Row 2: Jeffrey Morrison, Özlem Maviş, Annette Dubreiul, Steve Moscovitch, Frank O’Neill, Julie Ramsey, Grady McGonagill, Frances Conchie Stanley
Row 3: Susan Rudnick, Gisela Uhl, David Shapiro Del Sole, Mary Anne Schleinich, Matthew Power, Salvador Moreno-López, Heather Rogers
Thinking at the Edge: From Helplessness to Hope and Clarity
by Merilyn Mayhew
Thinking at the Edge (TAE) has helped me move from feeling powerless in light of the inaction of politicians to address climate change, to a place of hope and clarity, with clear steps ahead for me.
I'm so pleased I used this as my issue for TAE, because it developed into how to position myself before any storm on the horizon, not just climate change. So, I feel like I'm ready to go with coronavirus, straight into action without the weeping and wailing. (Action, in the instance of coronavirus, means being alert to the needs of those around me, finding the older single people on my street so I can keep in touch with them as the crisis worsens, speaking calm into panicky conversations, and keeping in contact with people in my church so that no one falls through the cracks.)
I came to the TAE class heavily burdened by my own helplessness in the face of the imminent climate change crisis. Here in Australia, we were in the middle of an extreme fire season. We’re used to fire, but usually it’s out in the country, away from us, and for just a few weeks at a time. When I worked for the National Parks, I worked on bushfires but had to travel hours to reach the fire grounds.
But this year, Sydney was ringed by fires. When I went walking, I’d see flakes of ash swirling in the air in front of me. The sky was reddish-grey for weeks from the smoke and ash of surrounding fires. My throat was raw as the fire season went on month after month with no end in sight. We were regularly experiencing 400 C days, in the middle of a dreadful drought that had us all on water restrictions. I could physically feel the suffering of my garden in my body. But around the country, it was far worse. People were dying in the fires; thousands of people were losing their homes. No one knows how many of our precious native animals died—huge amounts of habitat were destroyed.
I knew the consequences of this fire season were going to impact us for years to come. I read up on the science; I had Scientific American articles at hand and could quote information about changing weather patterns. I posted on Facebook. I could see that the weather patterns and forces that led to this fire season didn’t come out of nowhere. This extreme fire season was completely predictable, and future extreme fire seasons would continue to be completely predictable unless something changes—unless laws are enacted to limit mankind’s contributions to the problem.
I amassed solid information on climate change and wrote to my politician. I asked everyone to write to their politicians to ask them to enact climate change action plans. But I knew our politicians were tied to the fossil fuel lobby, and by and large had little leeway to follow their consciences and act with integrity for the good of our country. I felt the need to act on behalf of my children and grandchildren, but I felt powerless to take any useful action. I was aware of many groups and conversations around climate change, but I was not ready to engage with them.
TAE week 1: Sensing and saying the crux of the matter
I paused and sensed the way my body was carrying “all of that”: the fires, the hopelessness, the lack of reaction to my letters to my politician, the fact that fires will come again unless laws are changed…
Then I wrote the crux of it all:
“I feel so helpless in the light of politicians who won’t take adequate action on climate change.”
Between classes in Thinking at the Edge, we Focus on our issue with a partner. I sensed how my body was feeling about the whole thing and expressed it to my partner. When I first Focused on my issue, my body was physically affected – I could smell the smoke in the air, I was coughing and my throat was sore from weeks of ash. A felt sense formed of a scythe from nose to throat, and a strong sense of impending danger. The question arose,
How can I live, how can I be in the world, with this impending disaster?
TAE week 2: Sensing and saying what you know about “all this” from your lived experience
I let the felt sense show me “instances”—life experiences that had to do with my felt sense. I described the experiences in detail, then looked for a particular insight [“pattern”] from each instance.
of being powerless in the face of authority,
of situations where I had a voice and where I didn’t,
where my voice was powerful,
where my voice was hurtful and not ultimately helpful,
run-ins with my father,
times when I could negotiate an outcome, and times when I couldn’t.
I came to realize that most people around the world are similarly powerless to impact their politicians. They are mostly at the mercy of corrupt self-serving governments—this is the human condition.
My crux sentence was developing:
How then do I live, given the reality of feeling and actually being powerless?
Focusing on that brought the sure knowledge that in every situation I have ever encountered, I have always been solidly held no matter how dire the situation. I remembered some of the strong images that had come to me over the years – a baby bird in a nest, securely held by strong hands; a woman holding a baby, herself securely held by her husband; the sense of a strong solid foundation under me. And the sure realization that though I may be powerless, I am not without hope. Hope and peace were there. And the first forming of the way ahead: though I live a small life, live it well, being kind and welcoming to those I encounter.
My next Focusing session brought an image of the impending crisis: a small figure bowed down to the earth in a wide dry land, and on the horizon, a huge roiling orange dust storm. The figure is scrabbling in the dust, desperately looking for a step to take, a solution, fearing she won’t have taken action in time.
That same image of the approaching storm returned next time I Focused, stronger and more clearly than ever. I was particularly frustrated by the useless letter I’d received back from my politician. In my Focusing, I saw the little person bowed down in the huge open desert, the huge orange dust storm filling the horizon and coming closer, getting bigger. The small figure was agitated, looking for what to do, knowing she is all that stands between the approaching storm and all her children and grandchildren.
But also came the realization that all along the line are many others also standing and facing the storm, protecting their own children and grandchildren and communities—and the hope that we are all standing against the storm, all doing our best to live well and trusting that something somewhere will work. The insight came: I am not alone; I am not the only one tackling this. The message therefore was:
Don’t give up! Live with kindness and compassion in the face of the storm.
A few days later, I came across Psalm 46:1, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.” This added to my sense of being securely held, standing on a firm and solid foundation in the face of the approaching storm.
A conversation with a visiting American crystallized my growing sense: I asked him, “How do you, as an American, live when Trump is in power?” He said, “I try to be kind.” I understood exactly. He has no power to change who is President of his country, but he exercises the power he does have: to be a kind, compassionate person to all those he meets.
TAE week 3: Exploring the interplay of felt senses in order to deepen what you know
I held the felt sense of “I am not alone” with the felt sense of “I have always been held.” This “crossing” of two felt senses produced a new insight – this is all relational, it’s about the connections between people, the working together. So, my feeling became, “We are not alone” and “We are securely and firmly held.” My hope comes from standing with others on a safe, solid foundation.
My crux sentence is now:
In the light of the coming climate change crisis, how then do I live?
TAE week 4: Saying what you really mean
First, we were asked to identify a key word in our crux sentences, then we worked with dictionary definitions of this word and alternative words.
The key word is LIVE. As I looked at definitions and followed up with new words, the word LIVE took on the sense of dwelling, abiding, of having an ongoing connection with Jesus which directs and guides, comforts and strengthens me. The adjective form, LIVE, pointed to burning, glowing, giving out a steady light, attracting, shining.
My crux sentence expands:
In the light of the coming storm, how then do I live/dwell/abide/glow?
That points me to a way of life that is about choosing to be kind, gentle, compassionate, generous, joyful, peaceful and patient in all the small encounters of life. And a bigger picture—understanding that if there is a more specific action step to be taken, it will become apparent at the right time. This brings more peacefulness about the whole issue.
TAE week 5: Drawing your vision; extracting the essence of your new understanding
When I next Focused, again there was the coming dust storm, but the little person was no longer bowed down and distraught. Now she was standing up, living, interacting, moving around, being kind, generous, patient—in effect, creating a garden of good all around her. There was a sense of calm peacefulness. The Great Gardener was with her, showing her how to tend her garden. She was sharing the flowers and produce with others, and there were other people working in the garden with her. As they Focused on working in the garden together, the storm receded into the distance. It was there on the horizon, but it had become background.
I remember our actress Noni Hazelhurst talking about waking up in the garden: “And I guess we have to hope that we construct our lives in such a way that with the getting of wisdom in midlife, when we reap what we have sown, the harvest is going to be a rich one. Otherwise the harvest may be barren or diseased. Be careful what you plant, and how you tend your garden. Because you’ll wake up in it one day, and it will be blooming or overgrown or barren, depending on what you’ve planted and how you’ve tended it.”
My understanding grows. We are always gardening in the face of some coming storm – whether it’s climate change, or coronavirus, or rampant populist politicians, or something else. There is always some kind of threat on the horizon. So, my issue becomes:
In a world where there is always some storm or threat beyond my control, how do I create around me a safe, secure, solid place of kindness?
Beatrice described her friend Heazel’s Focusing workshops as places of safety, community, healing, peace and self-care for people who really need it. And those words resonated strongly with me, communicating what I want my gardening metaphor to mean.
My crux sentence becomes:
In light of the coming storm, I want to grow a garden.
When I draw a picture of my felt sense, the terror of the approaching storm diminishes as I concentrate on working in my garden with others. The garden is lush and green and full of colour and fruit. We engage with each other with kindness and good intentions. The place is safe and secure, as shown by the protective dome shape of the trees, but it is not locked away or insulated from the coming storm.
My crux sentence develops:
We consider the storm on the horizon from a place of safety, beauty, community and peace, and together work out how to confront it.
Together, we face the coming storm.
TAE week 6: Bringing it all together
Getting to this point in the process of Thinking at the Edge has allowed me to step out and engage with the climate change conversation out there. I attended a talk, and that led to two action steps:
In the context of climate change, what does our calling to love our neighbor look like? Given that the poor and the vulnerable are the first and most affected by climate change, I sense the need to join a group supporting them. This is the next step from my image—how to extend the community of care out from my comfortable life to the poor and vulnerable.
Given that trees and plants decrease the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, there is much I can do as a gardener to increase greenery. I can plant more trees, I can fill the gaps left in the gardens I care for by this hot dry summer, I can increase my online plant sales, focusing on propagating frangipani trees and selling them cheaply.
TAE class 7: Exploring action steps that fit you
A week later, I am finding the heart to get back into the gardens I care for and start the work of restoring them. I have taken cuttings of frangipani trees and begun to propagate them again. I have joined a group particularly focused on caring for those most vulnerable to climate change impacts.
Now, with the coronavirus, so much of my busy life has been cancelled and with every new thing that was cancelled, there was a huge relief which made me realize that I am too busy, and more importantly and surprisingly, carry too much emotional burden for the various responsibilities I have. So now, every day, I am free to work in my garden. I am free to work it comprehensively from one end to the other, a luxury I haven't enjoyed for many years. It feels only right to take full advantage of this wonderful gift. I'm potting up my frangipani cuttings, but also culling, clearing, moving, and replanting across the whole yard, and it's opening up into this beautiful clean garden space that looks loved and cared for.
We are contacting our neighbours, making sure everyone has a network around them and becoming aware of who will most need support. We are encouraging everyone to connect with the neighbours on each side of them, so that no one falls through the cracks.
Together, we face the coming storm.
Make Sure You Get Our Messages
We are getting increasing reports that our e-mails are not going into your inboxes. We have made this short video tutorial with hope that it helps you to make sure you see all of our communications.
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Have you considered remembering the Institute in your will? Leaving a bequest can be a way to continue to promote Focusing well into the future. Please contact us if you are willing to do this or have done so already. Thank you!
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TIFI sponsors several email discussion lists devoted to Focusing. All are welcome!