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October 2014 Newsletter

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  October 2014

Focusing Basics

Ruth Hirsch

Ruth Hirsch, a member of our International Leadership Council, will be teaching a comprehensive Focusing Basics program that includes an 8 week online course. You'll gain a basic understanding of Focusing, and the ability to use Focusing by yourself and with a partner.  Because this is an online course, it is perfect for those who do not have introductory courses available nearby.

Click here to learn more or to register


Dear Readers,

Please don't miss this month's letters from Board of Trustees Acting President David Rome and the note from the new International Leadership Council

TFI logo  

In this issue:

Focusing Basics
October 2014 Focusing conversation: Alexis and Shaun Phillips
Note from Catherine
New Resources

Support Universal Felt Sense Literacy


October 2014 Focusing Conversation:
Alexis and Shaun Phillips

Hosted by Serge Prengel

Listen to podcast: Alexis and Shaun Phillips

Alexis and Shaun PhillipsThis month's Focusing Conversation features a discussion with Alexis and Shaun Phillips about trauma, abuse and the ability to heal. They discuss how the awareness of connection to ancestors and the land helps with this work. This is part of the "Conversations" series hosted by Serge Prengel.

Serge Prengel about Active Pause

In September, we posted an audio recording of Serge Prengel talking about a practice he calls Active Pause. In this recording, he describes the similarities and differences with Focusing, and how it can complement our Focusing practice.


Focusing Adventures: Relating with spirit, beauty, nature, community, and ‘The Whole Big Everything’

February 14 – 21, 2015 – Chacala, Mexico

Imagine yourself on a beach with gorgeous sunsets.    Imagine that you can immerse yourself in the ocean at any time of the day or night and the water is the absolute perfect temperature.  Imagine eating fresh, organic, delicious meals.  Imagine sharing all of this with friends, or better yet with new friends you've just made.  Imagine a night of dancing to a Latin beat.

Imagine! ALL of this is possible while you are learning to connect to your own inner wisdom so that you can fully experience your own LIFE.  Come on an adventure with us at Mar de Jade in Chacala, Mexico -- an incredible opportunity to learn Focusing or to deepen your practice.  It all happens February 14 to 21, sponsored jointly by The Focusing Institute and Focusing International.

Join us!


Focusing Hong Kong by the Protest Site

By Peter KH Cheung

Tamar Park Buffer Discussion Area

Focusing Time Oct 12, 2014 at the Tamar Park Buffer Discussion Area

7.30 pm, Sunday, Oct 12. Tamar Park Buffer Discussion Area, Hong Kong Island, three minutes from the Admiralty protest site. 47 people in all were present, including six Certified Focusing Trainers and several trainees. They sat on the grass, quietly. They checked inside. The first words that came included: anger, fear, confusion, pain, exhaustion, strength, contradictions .…. In the small group and paired exercises that followed, they paused, passed a balloon, touched something placed inside their hands, described what they felt, and listened to a partner reflecting their description, and being their own listener….. For some, this was the first time they experienced peace and connection since the Occupy Central Movement began 15 days ago.

The following are excerpts from what they shared in the course of the evening.

  • “This place makes me painful. It makes me so painful that I want to exile it somewhere far, far away, so that I do not have to feel the pain. But, when I begin to allow this exiling part to be there, and not force myself to love this place, something amazing happens. I begin to sense the beauty of this place. The fond and intimate memories came back to me. Even before I put her away, I already missed her. Indeed I don’t want to lose her. Yes, there is pain. But there is also love. Now I only want to hold her close, to my heart.”
  • “At one point during the exercise, when I looked into her eyes, I didn’t want to hit her hands. Something inside me said ‘No, there is no reason to hit her.’ But, at the sound of the gong, it was as if my hands had to obey and follow an order. They just went off and hit, of their own, as if not under my control.”
  • “At the last round, I was told I could do anything I liked, and I was not going to be bound by any rules. At the sound of the gong, I felt at a loss. I didn’t know what to do.”
  • “This activity about hitting hands enlightened me. At the first and second rounds, my partner was very agile. I got hit 9 out of 10 times, and every hit he inflicted on me was a hard one.
    At the third round, we looked at each other in the eyes. I was waiting anxiously for the gong. When it sounded I swiftly swung my hands up to hit him. But I was shocked to find that he just let me hit, making no attempt whatsoever to flee. I first thought this must be some kind of a strategy that he employed. The second time the gong sounded, I watched how he responded. Again, he just let his hands stay there, peacefully. I was surprised, but I hit anyway. When the gong sounded the third time, again, he did not withdraw his hands. I hit, but this time, much softer.
    When it was his turn, I was prepared for a tough revenge. When the gong sounded, I withdrew my hands very swiftly. But he just kept his hands there, not raising a finger. The second time he did the same. At the third time, I totally trusted him. I let my hands stay there. At the sound of the gong, he held my hands, lightly.
    At the fourth round, we were told we could do anything we wanted. ….At the sound of the gong, I took his two hands, and danced with him. ….
    For me this is a whole process of going from not trusting to trusting. Change becomes possible when someone is willing to take the first steps and risk being hurt.”
  • “When I made eye contact with my rival, I feel differently. Hit or miss, win or lose is no longer the issue. This pause and eye contact made it possible for me to step beyond ‘me’ and see a person in my rival, not just someone whose hands I must hit in order to win. I recall at the protest I was face to face with a policeman, Now, I feel how it too can be one person facing another person. With this connection, I can sense that deep in our hearts, neither of us wants to hurt the other.” 
  • “When I pause, I see not just what is right in front of me. I see wider. I see the whole. I see more possibilities and choices. Now that I see all venues in front are blocked, and there is no way forward, I feel free to turn back or turn to another direction, and try something new.”
  • “Being heard by someone is a very affirming experience indeed.”
  • “As soon as I took that thing into my hands, I felt it was a grape. When I was certain it was a grape I could feel the smoothness of the skin and the soft, firm, bulging volume. I could even see its color. It was black. As I am talking I notice I didn’t pay attention to the seed that felt stiff in the core. I kept telling myself, this is a grape. When I opened my eyes, I saw a dried date, rather stiff, with rough skin. I am shocked how I can insist believing in something so far away from what it actually is!”

The whole Hong Kong society is ripped from top to bottom, breaking up couples, parents and children, lovers, friends, colleagues at work, Hong Kong Chinese and Mainlander Chinese….. Much wisdom is required for a peaceful resolution. And healing is needed for many years to come.

We are in a very delicate situation.There is a complex intricacy that is implicit. On the surface, the government and the students are scheduling a dialogue to take place some time next week. People continue to gather in the Admiralty site on the Island. The 'occupied' area in Mongkok - the main traffic artery in the heart of Kowloon, has changed hands within the last 24 hours, from protesters to police and then back to protesters. There are increased conflicts between police and protesters, especially in the battle for control of the 'occupied' area. There are reports of police brutalities. Stories are also disseminated on the internet about how some policemen are friendly to protesters, including a video clip showing a young policeman sharing his own bottle of drinking water with a protester standing right in front of him when the protester cries out he was thirsty. There are indeed many sides to a movement. Sadly though, much damage is done, and the society is polarized. A lot of healing and reconciliation is needed. It is unfortunate too that many human weaknesses have been exposed. Too little that showed the bright side of human nature have been reported.

Last night, in our Process Model class with Rob, some ideas surfaced. What motivates certain policemen to be so tolerant to the protesters, to be so self-controlling, and so friendly? Obviously, they embody certain values. What are they? As to students, they cry out for freedom and democracy. Instead of getting stuck in the VII formulation, can we go deeper into their more concrete felt meanings, and articulate back to their direct referent?

There seems a dire need for people to listen.

Hope the small focusing group that we have here can, in our very small way, beginning with our immediate living social networks, listen with open and attentive ears, help create a space big enough to hold more than one point of view, and help bring the next steps of re-recognition of and re-connection to the best that is in all of us.

The Admiralty  Protest Site

The Admiralty Protest Site Oct 12, 2014


Greetings from David Rome
Acting President of the Board of Trustees

As acting president of the newly-appointed board of trustees, I am very pleased to give an initial report to our membership on the board’s progress to date. To begin with, the seven members of the board—Jim Iberg, Mary Jennings, Kevin Krycka, Susan Lennox, Jane Quayle, Executive Director Catherine Torpey, and myself—are all personally committed to creating a culture of transparency, communication, and responsiveness to the felt senses, needs, and fresh thinking of all members of the Focusing community. Our true role is to be trustees for the Focusing community and its mission, rather than “Directors,” and we have changed the name of the board accordingly.

In collaboration with the International Leadership Council (also newly-appointed) we are undertaking a strategic planning process that will start with a mapping of the current state of Focusing in the world. There will be particular emphasis on groups and activities outside North America that TFI, as a US-based non-profit, may not be fully aware of. This mapping exercise will include a request to Focusing coordinators, trainers and practitioners everywhere to articulate their regional and local accomplishments and how the Institute can provide practical support and coordination to enhance their efforts. Based on the mapping and input from the community, we will work to clarify our goals and shared culture, set priorities for the future work of the Institute, and cultivate the resources needed to realize those priorities.

We are extraordinarily fortunate to have Catherine Torpey as our new Executive Director. With her background ministering to a Unitarian congregation and before that as a teacher, Catherine brings a high level of leadership, management and communication skills, along with a bright, warm and generous temperament. We are confident that under her guidance TFI has a bright future in promoting global “felt sense literacy,” leading to more fulfilling lives for individuals and a more caring and humane society.

I feel honored to be entrusted with a role in the stewardship of TFI and excited about all that is waiting to emerge. Future issues of the TFI Newsletter will contain contributions from others of our diverse and very accomplished trustees informing members about how the board is going about meeting its governance responsibilities. Also, let me remind members that minutes of the board’s meetings are posted on the websites About Us page and we welcome feedback via email to

David Rome, Acting President of the Board of Trustees


Hello from the International Leadership Council

Deutsch | Español | Français | 日本語

The links above will bring you to the TFI website


Since December of 2013, after our founders Gene Gendlin and Mary Hendricks Gendlin resigned as President and Executive Director, The Focusing Institute in New York has been in a process of re-organisation. Since then there have been many activities to find new structures and to include all Focusers worldwide. In addition to a new Board there is now an International Leadership Council (ILC) which was formed to broaden who is at the center of direction-setting at The Focusing Institute. The ILC works collaboratively and with mutual respect with the Board to advise it on whatever issues seem most pressing to the Focusing community.

We, the members of the ILC, want to let you know that we've begun meeting and are beginning to take steps forward. At this time, we've chosen to start working on issues that were identified at the Certifying Coordinators' Assembly in May of this year. We're planning to launch a page on the TFI website for the purpose of sharing these issues and others that we're addressing. As soon as it's available, we'll post the address of this page.

As we are still in the phase of gathering ourselves together as a group, and gathering information and input from you, we ask for your input and thoughts so that we can bear your concerns in mind as we begin to move forward. We would appreciate your input on any issues or needs you may have relating to The Focusing Institute, by sending an email to (Members of the ILC can read messages in English, Japanese, Spanish, French and German.)

A committee is currently considering launching a large-scale strategic planning process, where your input will be solicited on a wide range of important questions to help us discern the future of The Focusing Institute. Our message today is simpler: we simply wish to open a door of communication between all Focusers world-wide and the International Leadership Council, so please email us at the address above.

This letter comes in Japanese, German, English, French and Spanish. If you speak another language, please feel free to translate the email into your language and to share it with the Focusing community in your area.

The International Leadership Council

Akira Ikemi (Japan), Ruth Hirsch (Israel), Hejo Feuerstein (Germany), Barbara McGavin (UK), Marine de Freminville (Canada), and Sergio Lara (Chile)


Note from Catherine

Dear Focusing Community -

When the Jewish new year began this past month, it was celebrated as it always has been, in conjunction with the Day of Atonement.  As human beings, we love fresh starts.  The past, which stands steadfast, unmoving, is often just what we are eager to move away from.  The Jewish calendar, though, creates a pause after the new year.  During the Days of Awe, the days between the New Year and the Day of Atonement, one is invited to give time and space for truthful, honest consideration of what in the past still needs attention.  In order to truly be able to step freshly into the what is emerging, tradition calls for each individual to take stock of what has gone before; to deal with it soberly and honestly, and when necessary to take corrective action.  To me, this ancient rite echos my experience of the Focusing way.  I love those moments in Focusing when my inner and outer world are truly renewed, but that newness only truly comes when I give whatever amount of time and space is required to reckon with the old.  As a Focusing community, we have a new Board of Trustees and a new International Leadership Council.  As expressed in their letters in this newsletter, they are eager to have a fresh new start with all of you.  And, of course, at the same time, there is the awareness that that which has gone before us is still very much with us.  It is my hope, and I know that it is theirs, that whatever remains of the past which still needs time and space and compassionate attention will be honored and embraced.

As I write this, I am in Portarlington, Ireland, where the Children Focusing conference is coming to an end.  We'll feature more from this incredible experience in the next newsletter, but what I want to share now is that the retreat center where it is taking place is a 200 year old mansion that has been recently expanded and renovated.  I have been moved to observe the way in which the architects managed to build new rooms and up-to-date facilities in a manner that truly embraces the old.  In some physical way, the sleek, open, modern rooms have been constructed in a way that gives honor and deference to the old while bringing new wisdom and light.  It is my dream that the new structures which we are building for The Focusing Institute might similarly honor both the wisdom of the old and the insight and energy of the new.


- Catherine Torpey, Executive Director, The Focusing Institute


Two-Year Certification program for Mental Health Professionals in New York City

The felt sense, of its own accord, brings the exact word, image, memory, understanding, new idea, or action step that is needed to solve the problem. The physical body, in response, will experience some easing or release of tension as it registers the "rightness" of what comes from the felt sense. This easing of tension is what tells us that we have made contact with this deeper level of awareness and that we are on the right path.

This two-year training in Focusing Oriented Therapy course, taught by Charlotte Howorth, will equip the Mental Health Professional to be more in touch with their own felt sense as they assist the client in staying with theirs in order to find their own right path.

Learn more here


Focusing for Generative Thinking:
Tapping your untapped genius

Taught by Nada Lou

Three weekends in beautiful Stony Point, NY
Nine months of partnership
A lifetime of ideas
Begins April, 2015

Nada Lou

Join Us To Discover Your Untapped Wisdom!


The Love Exercise

At the Coordinators Assembly back in May, Bebe Simon led Coordinators in the "Love Exercise." She explained that Gene Gendlin always began his workshops with this exercise to demonstrate the felt sense, and she wants it to live on. Click here to see an excellent video of this simple technique.


Upcoming Conferences, Retreats and Workshops

Introduction to Focusing - Level Two Workshop
November 9, 2014 in New York City with Charlotte Howorth, LCSW. The goal of this workshop is to increase each participant's comfort and expertise in Focusing. Sorry, this class is now filled!

Two Year Focusing Certification Program for Mental Health Professionals
Starting in Winter 2014 in New York City with Charlotte Howorth, LCSW.

Focusing Adventures: Pacific Winter Retreat Relating with spirit, beauty, nature, community, and 'The Whole Big Everything'
February 14 - 21, 2015. The Winter Focusing Retreat at Mar de Jade in Chacala, Mexico. Featuring teachers Mónica Gómez Galaz, Charlotte Howorth and Karen Whalen. Photos from last year's retreat.

Focusing for Generative Thinking: Tapping your untapped genius
Three modules, starting April 10, 2015, taught by Nada Lou. Spend three weekends in beautiful Stony Point, New York. Enjoy nine months of partnershiping with other participants!

The 26th International Focusing Conference
The 26th International Focusing Conference will be Wednesday July 29 to Sunday Aug. 2, 2015, with a Coordinators' meeting the day before, July 28, 2015. We will meet on the Seattle University campus.

FISS 2015: 10th Annual Focusing Institute Summer School
August 14th – August 20th, 2015. SAVE THE DATE! At the Garrison Institute, Garrison, NY


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.

10/2014 If you enjoyed the message in this newsletter from our Board President, David Rome, then check out his brand new book Your Body Knows the Answer. In this "eminently readable, engaging and wise" book, David ehances the traditional Focusing techniques with mindfulness and other Buddhist principles. You can buy it from the TFI store here.

10/2014 October 2014: Our October conversation features a discussion with Alexis and Shaun Phillips. This is part of the "conversations" series hosted by Serge Prengel which you can access from the "Felt Community" menu or from

10/2014   Responsive Combodying, Novelty and Therapy. Response to Nick Totten's "Embodied Relating: The Ground of Psychotherapy" by Akira Ikemi, Ph.D. International Body Psychotherapy Journal. The Art and Science of Somatic Praxis. Volume 13, Number 2 Fall 2014 pp 116-121. Somatic Colloquium - Embodied Relating.  [PDF]

10/2014  Sunflowers, Sardines and Responsive Combodying: Three Perspectives on Embodiment by Akira Ikemi, Ph.D. This is an accepted manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis Group in Person-Centered & Experiential Psychotherapies 13 (1) 19-30 (2014) [PDF]

9/2014  Romeo-Biedma, F.J. (2014). Crossing Focusing and Nonviolent Communication. Reflecting for Deeper Implications. The Folio. A Journal for Focusing and Experiential Therapy, 25 (1), 111-123. [] Versión en español realizada por el autor del artículo: [PDF Español]

9/2014  イン・フォーカス August 2014 Japanese In Focus Newsletter

9/2014 September 2014: In our September conversation, Serge Prengel talks about a practice he calls Active Pause and invites Focusers to explore it. This is part of the "conversations" series hosted by Serge Prengel which you can access from the "Felt Community" menu or from

9/2014 Minutes from The Focusing Institute Board Meeting August 6, 2014

8/2014 August 2014 In Focus Newsletter is now on the website.

8/2014 Descubriendo mi sabiduría corporal. Focusing. Español: By Salvador Moreno López. New book in the TFI store.

8/2014  Minutes from The Focusing Institute Board Meeting July 30, 2014

8/2014  イン・フォーカス April 2014 Japanese In Focus Newsletter.

8/2014  Information on the 2014 weeklong - Connections and Crossings Across Cultures - Workshops and Activities, Processing Groups, Open Space, and Interactive Focusing and the Janet Klein Scholarship

8/2014 August 2014: Our August conversation features a discussion with Katarina Halm. This is part of the "conversations" series hosted by Serge Prengel which you can access from the "Felt Community" menu or from



Join our Discussion Lists and Forum!

TFI sponsors several email discussion lists devoted to Focusing. All are welcome! Click here to subscribe to our lists.

Where is Focusing needed, and what do you need to take it there?  Please go to the Forum for Exploring Our Future and share your answer to this question under the topic 'Hopes, Dreams, and Visions for Focusing In the World.' If you aren't yet signed up for the Forum, you can access it via our website under 'Felt Community', titled 'Forum for Exploring Our Future'.  There are detailed instructions there for how to sign up.  It's open to all members of the Focusing Institute.


Support Universal Felt Sense Literacy

We need your financial support to keep on making Focusing universally available. Together we can bring Focusing to more people who need it. Focusing belongs to anyone anywhere who is:

  • 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
Click to Donate to TFI