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May 2013 Newsletter


In Focus  Newsletter Banner
  May 2013
kye Note from Kye

Dear Focusing Community,

This issue of the newsletter is about how our pause contributes to resilience in intensely difficult situations. The goal of the Community Wellness programs is to build resilience in traumatized communities. Included in this issue is an overview from Pat Omidian and Nina Joy Lawrence on what we've learned so far about what works in bringing Focusing into traumatized communities, across cultures. There is also an article from Yara Jimenez, a trainer in El Salvador who was trained in Community Wellness by Beatrice Blake. Her article gives a close up of what the Community Wellness work looks like in one particular setting.

All this may seem critically important when we read about it, but a long way away from the immediate situations most of us are facing. But what is being talked about in these articles is relevant to us individually, whenever we are in extreme situations. I am freshly aware of this myself right now:

A couple of weeks ago, midway through a roof replacement on my house, we had a torrential rainstorm. Cascades of water entered my house, leaving half of it with substantial damage. It was traumatic to watch curtains of water falling into my home. The aftermath has also been difficult, as I've moved out of the uninhabitable half of the house and done the countless other things necessary to recover.

I am vividly aware of how much Focusing has contributed to my resilience in this very difficult situation. It has given me a way to be with the shaken up parts of me so that I could return to equilibrium. It has helped me to take hold of the blessings of the moment so that I don't lose track of how good life is, even in the midst of catastrophe. It has helped me comfort the overwhelmed one when I think about having to live this way for another six or eight weeks while repairs are made. It has helped me to stop and rest when I need to. Not least, it has helped me to pause and listen to my felt knowing, at several points where I had a niggling concern about a suggested way to repair part of the damage to the house.

I would like to encourage each of you to read this issue not only as about an application of Focusing which happens a long way from where you live, but also as being very applicable to your own life in any extreme situation where you need to nurture your own resilience. In these challenging times, for many of us this is right here, and right now.

Till next issue,

- Kye Nelson, Co-Executive Director, The Focusing Institute

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In this issue:

Note from Kye
Community Wellness Focusing Update
Focusing in El Salvador: Tools for Healing
Featured Event
New Resources
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Support Universal Felt Sense Literacy

article Community Wellness Focusing Update

by Nina Joy Lawrence and Patricia Omidian

quote   "First in Afghanistan, they needed psychosocial understanding of stress and normal development and resiliency ... We noticed them realize more and more how deep the human is, and ask for more Focusing skills."

We have learned a lot about sharing Focusing in different cultures since 2001 when we started working with Afghans.  There we combined Eugene Gendlin’s Focusing theory and Ann Weiser Cornell’s lesson plans with something similar that Afghans already had, Jalaludin Rumi’s Guesthouse poem. The experiment worked so well that we thought spreading Focusing into a new cultural context had a lot to do with finding local metaphors for Focusing so it could be accepted as already belonging.

Co-creating a Way to Meet Community Needs

As other Focusers tried using our model we all began to realize success was due to more than finding a good metaphor.   Community spreading of Focusing also worked in Afghanistan because we responded to what the community needed, not just what we thought would help them. 

We are so grateful to Beatrice Blake for helping us see this more clearly.  She bravely took the Afghan model to El Salvador, developing a wonderful lesson plan including the Guesthouse poem.  What was so meaningful in Afghanistan turned out to be something laughable in El Salvador, so she did what good Focusers do, she paused and really listened to the Salvadorans, who let her know they wanted less violence. She started with non-violent communication skills, and crossed it with some Focusing skills, which worked marvelously!

We now see that Focusing actually did spread by a similar process in Afghanistan. The aid workers said, “We are traumatized and we are going crazy from war.  Help us!”  So we started with their need for psychosocial information and strategies to deal with stress.  Together we explored normal social and psychological health in Afghan families, and discovered the signs and building blocks of Afghan resiliency.  Focusing using their Guesthouse metaphor could then answer their need for resiliency in the face of stress.

Focusing - Not an End Unto Itself 

We have realized that Community Wellness Focusing isn’t about teaching Focusing in order to spread Focusing.  There are urgent needs in the communities that can be met by including small bits of Focusing with other skills.  We are more concerned with aiding the communities to meet their needs.  If the small bits of Focusing skill provide all the help that is wanted right now, we are satisfied.  We can hold ourselves ready to share more when people ask for more. 

Anna Willman, in her book Creating Confidence: How To Do Social Work Without Destroying Souls, talks about the way the Confidence Clinic was co-created in Roseburg, Oregon by the people who needed social services and a few renegade social workers.  When she became involved in the clinic she began using bits of Focusing to meet the needs of the clients, including a Focusing attitude in all group work, teaching the women to listen to each other.

Continue reading this article on TFI website

Nina Joy and PatPat Omidian and Nina Joy Lawrence are Certifying Coordinators for The Focusing Institute. Pat is a medical anthropologist who looks for culturally appropriate ways to adapt Focusing. Nina Joy is a Friend (Quaker), who says, “holding Presence for everything inside fits so satisfyingly with my spiritual practice and with my belief in building peace.” The two pioneered Community Wellness Focusing in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Through the support of agencies like CHA, AFSC, the IRC, Save the Children and UNICEF, various Focusing projects were scaled up for diverse communities, rural or urban groups, universities, iilliterate women's groups, school teachers and other “formed” communities in Afghanistan, using Focusing throughout.

conversation Focusing in El Salvador: Tools for Healing

by Yara Jiménez, CFT

For many years, I searched for a way to heal the wounds left in me by some experiences tied to the civil war that El Salvador suffered for 12 years. Life led me to Focusing, and since I started my training in 2009 with Beatrice Blake, a strong need arose in me to share what I had learned. With time I realized that I wanted to share it with women in communities that don’t have a lot of access to things, especially to tools for healing their wounds.

In 2010 my mother and I started giving introductory workshops on Focusing and Nonviolent Communication to community groups in the country. My experience since then has been of constant growth.

We work in communities that were gravely affected by the war, and that in this moment are in extreme poverty. The solidarity of the international Focusing community has made it possible for our Resilience Circles to reach women, children and youth, free of charge.


Buen PastorI have learned two great lessons from working with community groups. The first lesson has been to recognize that it is easy to forget the fundamental principle of Focusing: we need to respect each person’s process.

One day after a session with a group from a community called Buen Pastor, I was left with the feeling that I had wanted to give the women something they didn’t have, following the traditional teacher-student pattern.

Continue reading this article on TFI website

Yara   Gabriela JiménezYara Gabriela Jiménez, 31 graduated from Ave María University in Nicaragua with a degree in Foreign Relations in 2008. She started studying Focusing and Nonviolent Communication with Beatrice Blake in 2009 and became a Certified Focusing Trainer in 2012. She was awarded the Janet Klein scholarship to the 2012 Weeklong by The Focusing Institute. She works in the Transparency Department of the Ministry of the Presidency of El Salvador. Contact her at


Upcoming Conferences, Retreats and Workshops

25th International Focusing Conference Coming Home
May 29 - June 2, 2013. Lucerne, Switzerland.

Introductory Weekend: Introducing an Advanced Four Module Certification Training Program on Wholebody Focusing with Karen Whalen, Ph.D. on June 14-16, 2013 in Tatamagouche Centre, Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia.

FISS 2013: 8th Annual Focusing Institute Summer School
At the Garrison Institute in Garrison, New York. August 16-22, 2013.

Zen and Focusing Retreat
Meditation, Focusing, Yoga led by Eleanor Buscher, MS, LPC, NCC and Roshi Paul Genki Kahn, LCSW, DCSW on September 27-29, 2013 at the ZEN GARLAND SANCTUARY, Airmont, NY.

Generative Thinking At The Edge: Part 2 - Moving Forward With Generative TAE October 3-6, 2013 at Stony Point, NY with Nada Lou

Advanced Four Module Certification Training Program on Wholebody FocusingThe Wisdom Body of the Conscious Elder: Carrying the Wholeness of Life Forward Inside our Relationships and Communities at Stony Point Center, New York with Kevin McEvenue and Karen Whalen, Ph.D. Starting October 9-12, 2013.

Connections and Crossings Across Cultures
Advanced and Certification Workshop at the Garrison Institute in Garrison, New York. November 1-7, 2013.

Third International Conference On Focusing-Oriented Psychotherapies
The Third International Conference On Focusing-Oriented Psychotherapies will take place on May 14-18, 2014 at Stony Point New York, an hour outside of NYC.


event Featured Event

FISS 2013: 8th Annual Focusing Institute Summer School

August 16-22, 2013 at Garrison Institute in Garrison, New York

Focusing Gems Listen to a free recording of a phone seminar with the five Focusing Institute Summer School Teachers, Ann Weiser Cornell, Joan Klagsbrun, Nada Lou, Kevin McEvenue, and René Veugelers, live on the call.

Beginners Welcome!

garrisonHow would you like to spend one week of your summer vacation at the Focusing Institute Summer School (FISS) learning more about Focusing than you ever thought possible?

Imagine yourself developing an "emotional muscle" to deal with difficult situations that consist of fear, stress and frustration. Imagine yourself becoming your own best friend feeling safe and at home within yourself. By learning Focusing and making it part of your daily living, you dip into the implicit treasures of your body wisdom. Thus, you become a leader who chooses the right next step in challenging times.

Ordinarily you'd have to travel around the world to study with these five master Focusing teachers... but this week they're going to be all in one place, creating an opportunity for going in depth with Focusing and many of its special applications: to health and healing, to thinking, to dreams, to psychotherapy, to spirituality, and much much more! New to Focusing? You're welcome too! You'll be able to immerse yourself in the company of one teacher and sample all five... make it a time of intensive study or more like a holiday with lots of play and fun... and you'll be in a warm and connected community of Focusing people from all over the world.

The Summer School is appropriate for anyone, at all levels of Focusing, from beginners to Focusing teachers, for both personal and professional development. Bring a friend and get a discount! Fees are based on date that the order isplaced and on type of room selection.

If you would like to join us and need to work out a different financial arrangement, e.g a monthly payment plan, please contact Elizabeth Cantor: 845-362-5222 or

Click here for more information
or to register!


resources New Resources

Click on the links below to see some of the new items that have been added to the TFI website over the past few months.

5/2013 イン・フォーカス April 2013 and イン・フォーカス March 2013 Japanese translation of Newsletter. Updated the Japanese newsletter page.

4/2013 ABRIENDO PUERTAS HACIA LA RECUPERACION por Suzanne L. Noël, CFT, CNT. 3er. Encuentro Iberoamericano de Focusing (2011) [PDF]

4/2013 FOCUS-IN RECOVERY by Suzanne L. Noel, CFT, Certifying Coordinator, Costa Rica. [PDF]

4/2013 "I really need some support!" How a Focusing approach allows a child's inner voice to emerge by René Veugelers. Published in TFI Newsletter In Focus April 2013.

4/2013 Updated the In Focus Newsletter page. March 2013 and April 2013 newsletters are now on the website.

WSeeklong podcasts

Connections and Crossings Across Cultures: Advanced and Certification Weeklong

November 1-7, 2013 at the Garrison Institute in New York. Read the Weeklong FAQs and new podcasts from the teachers (pictured above) moderated by Susan Lennox.

4/2013 Defining Moments For Therapists, co-edited by Serge Prengel and Lynn Somerstein. Includes two chapters by FOTs, Susan Rudnick and Robin Kappy. A free PDF version can be downloaded at the website. The concept of the book is as follows: If therapy is a relational process, it takes a person on the therapist's end. The goal of the project is to capture the therapist's evolving sense of self as it is shaped by our experiences as active participants in a creative interaction. The essays in this book are first-person accounts, by eleven therapists, of some "Aha!" moments when they got to understand themselves better, and to understand better why they do what they do.

4/2013 April 2013: William Hernandez. This month's conversation is an invitation to start to explore the pause: Serge Prengel is talking with William Hernandez. Introductory notes for the conversation written by Serge. This is part of our "conversations" series which you can access from the "Felt Community" menu or from


Featuring 47 written memories-memoirs from members of our Focusing community. The diversity of insight, growth, change, and inspiration is both heartfelt and often astounding. Now available in the TFI store.

3/2013 Direct Engagement with the Cleared Space in Psychotherapy by Doralee Grindler Katonah, Psy.D., M.Div. From Person-Centered and Experiential Psychotherapies. Vol. 9, #2. 157-169. (2010). [PDF]

3/2013 ホールボディ・フォーカシング--- グラウンディド・プレゼンスにいること WholeBody Focusing --- Being in Grounded Presence ケヴィン・マクエヴェニュ 認定コーディネーター,フォーカシング・トレーナー,トロント・カナダ (日笠摩子訳)

3/2013 Le Focusing dans la globalité du corps (WBF) - Être dans la présence enracinée par Kevin McEvenue. Publié dans le bulletin de nouvelles de l'Institut de Focusing In Focus Mars 2013. Translated by Marine de Freminville

3/2013 Felt Sense Literacy by Marion Hendricks-Gendlin  Français  Español

3/2013 Experiencing first hand the revolutionary power of the pause by Soti Grafanaki Español

3/2013 Gendlin, E.T. (2013). Arakawa and Gins: the Organism-Person-Environment Process, in Keane, J. and Glazebrook, T (Eds.) Arakawa and Gins Special Issue of Inflexions Journal, No. 6: 225-236

3/2013 Spiritual Path - in focusing oriented psychotherapy by Ifat Eckstein [PDF]

3/2013 נתיב רוחני בפסיכותרפיה מוכוונת התמקדות אקשטיין יפעת

3/2013 Wholebody Focusing resources index page

3/2013 Wholebody Focusing – Being in Grounded Presence by Kevin McEvenue Published in TFI Newsletter in Focus March 2013

3/2013 Snapshots from the First Winter Focusing Retreat By Sara Snyder Published in TFI Newsletter in Focus March 2013


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  • living in poverty,
  • suffering trauma or trying to recover,
  • in chronic pain, seriously ill, or dying,
  • living through war, natural disasters or personal crises,
  • and more
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