Because it is typical to think the same thoughts over and over again, when spontaneous thoughts and images pop in, you can be sure that you are accessing your unconscious mind.
In this teaching, I share how to take the journey to the edge of your unknown, informed by the book "Focusing-Oriented Psychotherapy" by Eugene Gendlin.
Sensing Into What You Do Not Yet Know
Step 1: The Directly Sensed "Source"
We all experience qualities of things that cannot be immediately spoken or conceptualized. When something emerges from your unconscious, you may not be able to immediately sense its source.
You might have a poignant dream or a surprising image might pop into your mind. You might have strong emotions well up, and not know where they are coming from.
With practice, you can learn how to sense into the "border zone" between your conscious and unconscious mind. If you cry unexpectedly, for example, you can sense into the body for the "crying place" and pay attention to that place in your body for a period of time without thinking.
Step 2: The Initial Lack of Clarity
Your emerging growth direction will always be unclear at first. This sensing into what is unclear differs from experiencing a known emotion. You know what it feels like to feel angry, sad or joyful, for example. These familiar emotions are easily explainable.
When you feel vague discomfort, you likely cannot immediately name this quality within. The edge of this discomfort is felt but unclear. This discomfort is the edge between the known (conscious) and the unknown (unconscious).
Silence is often required at this stage because you will likely try to explain your discomfort. Yet, when you talk too soon, the subtle bodily edge of the unconscious can be lost.
Your personality structure resists what feels unknown, spontaneous and unstructured. Your ego tries to keep you controlled and safe. However, you can learn how to get comfortable with "living on the edge" of what you do not yet know.
Step 3: It Occurs in a Bodily Way
Most people try to figure out everything logically. Many even sense intense emotions as "all-around" or in the head. Yet, your unconscious first forms a unique bodily sense, and this sense is unclear at first.
A direct sense of the border zone between the conscious and unconscious occurs as a physical, somatic sensation. It is usually sensed somewhere in the middle of the body. Yet, many of us cannot sense our bodies from the inside without practice.
An unclear body sense at the border zone of the unconscious is not quite yet a usual bodily sensation. It is not quite yet an emotion. It is not quite yet a thought. It does not quite yet have definable content. You can have a very distinct feeling that has not yet opened to reveal what it contains. This is called a bodily felt sense.
Turning away from your familiar thoughts and attending to your body in this deeply meditative way will help you to see the new layer of unconscious material that is coming up for healing and integration. And, if you do not pay attention to this emerging layer each and every day, it is possible to become emotionally accumulated and increasingly overwhelmed.
Step 4: The Felt Sense is a Whole
A felt sense of your emerging unconscious is experienced as part of an intricate whole. You can sense that a felt sense includes many intricacies and strands of information. It is a whole complexity, a multiplicity contained within a rich single sense.
With the emergence of a single bodily sense, a sense of relief comes, as if the body is grateful to express its way of being whole. This subtle felt sense of the emerging unconscious becomes the object of attention to which you can attend to and meditate upon.
Step 5: Change Steps Arise From the Felt Sense
When you attend to your body felt sense for a period of time, it reveals information in the form of inner pictures, words, phrases and colours.
After a period of focusing on the edge of your unconscious, a growth step is often revealed. When a step forward comes from a felt sense, it transforms the whole constellation of your inner being.
A felt sense of your deeper unconscious might offer a big dramatic step or a very small one, but it always asks for a change that will lead to more wholeness.
Step 6: A Step Will Bring You Closer to Yourself
Each felt sense of your emerging growth edge reveals a new way to move forward. When you sense the forward step you need to make, you will feel more whole. When you tune into your felt sense each day, you will become more deeply yourself.
Step 7: Steps are in the Direction of Growth
You likely have many parts inside that have remained silent and inert for many years. With deep attention, something stirs inside that has long been immobilized. When you pay deep attention to what is emerging from your growth edge, your life energy can flow in a fresh new way.
A step that emerges from your growth edge has its own surprising direction that you cannot control through logical planning or goal setting. This developmental growth step becomes clear when you offer deep attention and open up to what wants to emerge.
Step 8: Steps Can Only Be Explained Retroactively
Even the best-laid plans for your life can turn on a dime when you sense into your emerging growth edge.
You can wait for each growth step to become concrete through the process of deep, daily inner attention.
When you choose to sense into your growth edge every day, you will unfold into greater wholeness, healing, and harmony in ways you could have never planned.
Sensing into the Unconscious - A Summary
1. A felt sense forms at the border zone between your conscious and unconscious mind.
2. The felt sense is at first unclear - although unique and unmistakably present.
3. The felt sense is experienced in your body.
4. The felt sense is experienced as a whole.
5. The felt sense moves you through forward steps. It shifts, opens and reveals your growth edge - step by step.
6. A forward step brings you closer to your soul that is inherently whole.
7. The process step that emerges from the deeper unconscious has its own surprising growth direction.
8. Explanations of the forward step that emerged from the unconscious can only be understood retroactively.
Sensing Within - A Daily Process
1. Sit quietly with a journal on your lap.
2. Sense within for any discomfort in your body. Focus your attention on this discomfort for 10-15 minutes.
3. Say to your discomfort, "What would you like me to know?"
4. Write down any images, phrases, words or feelings that arise. They do not need to make sense.
5. Often a vague discomfort will simply want acceptance in the beginning. It might say something to you. It might make a request.
6. Allow whatever intuitive answer comes, and follow through with an action step.