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June 2013: Anna Christensen

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I have been a Zen student since 1968, studying with Zen Masters Yasutani Roshi, Eido Roshi, Maezumi Roshi and American Zen Teacher Charlotte Joko Beck from whom I received Dharma transmission in 1997, and I began teaching. I have a weekly meditation group, holding several retreats a year.

For me the two streams of Zen and Focusing can fit together like a hand and a glove. Focusing, a brilliant and efficient skillful means is like a multi-faceted jewel that I can integrate into my zen sitting when I am caught in persistent thought loops – right there on the cushion - and not as two separate practices. Both Zen and Focusing embody direct experiencing of being right here, right now. Residing in that unclear felt sense and staying a little bit longer brings clarity and a felt shift. And once again, I am back in the room, just sitting on the cushion.

Note from Conversations editor Serge Prengel

This conversation is unlike others: It is not an interview through which we get to understand a person's approach to focusing. It is an experiment, in which two people are taking "the pause" as a starting point, and exploring what happens during and after the pause.

The idea of recording this conversation happened as Anna Christensen and I were discussing how to explain, or demonstrate, Focusing to other people. We decided to start recording our conversation, and to try to describe the process itself as we were talking. So, at the beginning of the recording, you have Anna stating what had been happening before. And it goes on from there.

Here's what we noticed as we were doing this. Playing attention to the process itself went hand in hand with observing pauses: Pausing gives you a chance to notice process, and you need to pause in order to observe process. With this pausing and attention to process, the conversation took on a slower rhythm of its own, one that could be characterized as harmonious and gentle, as opposed to the more staccato rhythm that happens in more argumentative conversations.

Hence a possible way to describe the Focusing process: Take a moment to pause, so you can get a sense of the music itself, not just the lyrics.

We would love to hear what your own take is, as you experiment with this kind of conversation, as well as any other Focusing experiments you come up with.

We do not have a feedback form on the Focusing website, so we can use the social media. There is a new page on Facebook just for this topic. Please note that it is open to non-Focusers as well (to build bridges with kindred spirits):

This is part of the "Conversations" series. Click this link to see the list of all the conversations.

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