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2023 Weeklong Review by Tom Larkin

Weeklong participants in Dublin by the Timeline

As I sat looking at a blank document on my laptop preparing to write my thoughts on the 2023 Focusing Weeklong, I took a few moments to let the whole experience flow through me. An image of a small mountain stream came, effervescent and unbounded. The image unfolded, joining and merging with other streams, flowing together, expanding and becoming a river until it flowed into an ocean – the water that connects all our lands.

This journey began a little less than a year ago, as soon as Weeklong 2022 finished, with a meeting of the small group of people who would chart a course culminating in a combined online and in-person (in Dublin, Ireland) event during the last week of June. After six months of fortnightly meetings, this team - Catherine Torpey, Elizabeth Cantor, Melanie Korpi, Beatrice Blake, Ceci Burgos and myself - expanded to include a group of collaborating Coordinators: Bruna Blandino (Italy), Naty Calviño (Argentina), Marta Fabregat (Ireland/Spain) and Roberto Larios (Mexico), as well as our invited “Elder,” Mia Leijssen (Belgium). At the event itself, we were joined by Focusers from 23 countries and five continents, along with tech support people and Spanish/English interpreters. Towards the end of the week, the event further expanded to include Focusers from the entire worldwide Focusing community.

Catherine Torpey officially opened the Weeklong by welcoming participants and outlining the general plan for the week. An opportunity was provided for participants to sense into what it means to be “an instance of transformation” (our words for those instances when we experienced Focusing as a transformational experience) and to meet and share something of those experiences with each other in ‘connection’ rooms on Zoom. Beatrice Blake drew on Eugene Gendlin’s talk in the DVD, Coming Home through Focusing (Nada Lou Productions), to emphasize the importance of bringing the perspective and experience of felt sensing and felt meaning to a world that is often the opposite of all that is life-enhancing. Beatrice quoted Gendlin:

“This same body that’s a plant—literally, I mean—is also an animal, and is also linguistic and cultural. That same body.… When you feel your body, it is already living out of the universe, like a plant, and it is already something that has you living in it like somebody looks out from an animal at you. And it’s already living in a human, linguistic, historical situation. [This deep place] where the body brings the sense of living just now… has a rightness to it, a bodily rightness, like breathing, or like every physical process has its rightness. And yet it has the new situation in it—that just now, or this person here. Then new steps come and they still have a rightness.”

Dublin Home Group

As is now customary at the beginning of Weeklongs, we made a space for Cross-Lingual Focusing. This practice, developed by Robert Lee, facilitates listeners to accompany someone whose language is different from their own, and at the same time allows Focusers to be in their own Focusing process with a receptive listener even when that person does not speak their language. With Bea’s guidance, Ceci and I demonstrated brief Focusing exchanges in Spanish and Irish.

This was followed by an opportunity for participants to do the same in connection rooms. This was a very welcome experience for participants as evidenced by some of the comments:

  •  “I was touched by the Cross-Lingual Focusing experience. Such intimacy. Depth of sensing into each other.”
  • "Cross-lingual Focusing is an amazing experience.”
  • “I felt such a strong connection with my Focusing partner, even though I couldn't understand a word of what was said.” 
  • "Feeling the connection between all these people from different countries gives me a sense of belonging to an international home.”

A bit like a campfire, the six daily Home Groups provided a place to connect, communicate and learn from each other. Facilitators, along with participants, co-created welcoming community spaces wherein people could listen, ask, share, discuss and just generally be in a Focusing way with each other. For some it was a space to land, refresh and replenish having completed their Focusing training.

In between the opening and closing plenaries the core facilitation team made their presentations, which included:

(L-R) Cecilia Burgos, Beatrice Blake, Tom Larkin

Beatrice Blake - TAE Steps 6, 7 and 8 - Thinking from experiencing

Ceci Burgos - Exploring movement and gesture as "handles"

Tom Larkin - Focusing with Nature

Throughout the week, the collaborating Coordinators and participants gave a diverse range of workshops which were very well received:

  • Katarina Halm - A Hermeneutical Circle with PolyVagal Practice
  • Kati Singh - Gendlin’s Cleared Space According to the Buddha: A Translated Meditation on the Heart Sutra
  • Cristina Calle - Focusing as Facilitator of the Process of Creation
    The Spirit Within workshop, led by Julian Crotti
  • Bill Gayner - Introduction to Touching the Earth
  • Bruna Blandino - Grounded Presence and "We Space" in Relational Wholebody Focusing
  • Mary Jennings - "All in an Instant" (In-person and online workshops)
  • Julian Crotti - "The Spirit Within" (In-person workshop)
  • Michaël Hébert - The Practice of Presence-Audio (Intraplay)
  • Marta Fabregat - Resonating as nature; Sensed Ecology
  • Mia Leijssen - Living forward in challenging times
  • Roberto Larios - Exploring the inner Relational Movements in Relational Wholebody Focusing
  • Petr Andreyev - Implying a Better World


Plenary Session
Plenary Session led by Cecilia Burgos: Exploring movement and gestures as “handles”

Since 2019, an “Elder” or Elders have been invited to attend the Weeklong in some capacity. An Elder in this context is someone who has been around Focusing a long time, has probably met and worked with Eugene Gendlin and has, through their Focusing experience, amassed a wealth of Focusing wisdom. This year our Elder was Mia Leijssen from Belgium. Mia made the role her own and participated in a fulsome way by joining the planning team for our fortnightly team meetings and providing opportunities for participants during the Weeklong to meet and engage with her through two “Living Room” experiences via Zoom. In addition, she presented a workshop. These were all very well-received. She made quite an impression on participants, who shared:

  • “Mia is such a wise soul, a pleasure to be in her masterful teaching presence.”
  • “Mia's generous presence is beautiful to behold.”
  • “Receiving the teachings of Mia with such clarity was beautiful.”
  • “It was a treasure hearing from Mia.”

An event such as this would not have been possible without the support of a competent, dedicated and versatile group of people. This includes the skilled tech team who enabled our smooth virtual connection and participation. It includes the interpreters who enabled Spanish speakers to seamlessly engage in the English-language events, and English-speaking people to engage in the Spanish-language events.

Dublin Certificate Ceremony

And it includes the efficient administrative people who, from early on, facilitated our participation in the event.

A highlight of the Weeklong was the certification ceremony held at the very end of the week. There was a small but moving certification ceremony in Dublin where four participants received their certificates. This was followed by an online “walk” along a Focusing timeline that began on December 26, 1926 and ended with the date of the Weeklong. All the Weeklong participants were encouraged to share their own connections with the events noted on the timeline.

The final part of the Weeklong, “Honoring Milestones,” was a combination of something old/traditional and something new – a new tradition. This was the first time that the Weeklong was expanded to include as many Focusing people from the worldwide community as could attend. With beautiful background music played by Till Flo, the names and photos of those who had been certified as Focusing Professionals, Focusing Trainers, Focusing-Oriented Therapists and Focusing Coordinators over the past 18 months or so were displayed on the screen. Finally, there was a space to honor the Coordinators who have passed away since 2015. People who knew the deceased spoke of them and photographs Dinner together on the final night of them were shown. Altogether, it was a very touching and moving ceremony.

Dinner Together
Dinner Together on the Final Night

On a personal note, this Weeklong was my final one as a member of the core team. What a wonderful journey it has been, joining the team as a collaborating Coordinator in 2019 and becoming part of the core team for 2020, which was the first online Weeklong. Through this experience I have come to know and understand how much careful thought, energy and planning goes into an event such as this. I have learned so much. It has been an honor and a delight to work with and get to know the amazing and talented group of people involved in all aspects of the Weeklong over these four years.

I want to thank and pay particular tribute to Catherine Torpey. So many metaphors come to mind; ship’s captain, conductor of the orchestra, film producer/director – a combination of all of these and then some. Her intuition, enthusiasm and vision have been inspirational over that time. I would encourage any Coordinator reading this, should the opportunity to be involved in the Weeklong come your way, to make room on your schedule and grasp the opportunity with both hands - you won’t regret it!

Weeklong 2023 Closing


Tom Larkin

Tom Larkin is a Focusing Oriented Therapist and Certifying Coordinator living and working in Dublin, Ireland. He is also a Forest Therapy guide and leads nature walks and environmental awareness workshops in and around Dublin.