Embodied Situated Cognition /Focusing

A felt sense is "readily accessible in experience and thus we are able to work with it phenomenologically" using Focusing (Madison, 2001: 7). Although Focusing is initially taught as a series of steps, it is actually more an approach than a technique, and different teachers present the steps in different ways (see Cornell, 1996; Gendlin, 1981), but the principles remain the same. Focusing begins when we sense our bodily response to something. We then seek a symbol for that response - what Gendlin calls a handle (Gendlin, 1981) - and sense whether that symbolization fits our felt sense. If it does, we can spend time exploring the symbol and allowing it to carry forward our initial felt sense (adapted from Jordan, 2005: 6).

Quite often a felt sense will open up and an understanding that had been implicit comes into our awarness. At such times there is an experience of a bodily 'felt shift', a physical affirmation that some significant knowledge has emerged from the implicit into conscious awareness. A 'felt shift' describes just what we mean by an 'Aha! moment' that is accompanied by a release of bodily tension (Gendlin, 1981: 39).

Psychotherapist Madison explains how throughout a Focusing session he keeps his attention on the "one intersubjective world" occupied by him and his client "as it exists each moment in our individual bodies" (Madison, 2001: 12). Another Focusing psychotherapist describes the experience of what Csordas calls "somatic modes of attention": "In my work I have felt an ache in my chest in the presence of a patient's grief, or a tingling in my arms and legs in response to another's anger etc. and I frequently consult my own body sensations (and my reveries and stray thoughts) to help me understand my patients' experience" (Solomon, pers. comm., 2007). Solomon uses Focusing in this process of consulting his body, and describes it as a way of "speaking from the body rather than about the body" (Solomon, 2006: 9; author’s emphasis).


related links:

Gendlin, felt sense, embodied situated cognition (embodied knowing)

External links
The wisdom of the body by Joseph Bray. Interesting article about Focusing in Therapy Today

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