I love to combine Focusing Psychotherapy with intuitive art-making. Focusing is a process developed by psychotherapist Eugene Gendlin. It involves holding open, non-judging attention to our internal knowing... a knowing that is directly experienced in the body but is not yet in words.
Gendlin gave the name "felt sense" to the unclear, pre-verbal sense of "something" in the body - the inner knowledge or awareness that has not been consciously verbalized yet.
A "felt-sense" is not the same as an emotion. It is more like an intuition of our growth edge. This bodily-felt "something" that is not yet known. This "something" may be an awareness of a current situation or an old hurt that is coming up to heal.
Crucial to the concept, as defined by Gendlin, a "felt-sense" is unclear at first. Gendlin also described our felt-senses as "sensing an implicit complexity, a holistic sense of what one is working on."
This is an emotional Focusing "check-in" art exercise that I did last year that inspired a deep and permanent change in myself. It was inspired by psychologist Dr Kathy McGuire. I used markers for my drawing, and I often closed my eyes to more deeply sense what I was feeling in my body.
1. How am I today? Sense inside of yourself, and ask yourself, "How am I today?" Close your eyes, and just wait and see what comes.
I am sensing.....a light shining from within.
2. Felt-sense. Now, ask yourself, "And, what's the feel of this whole thing?" Again, wait for the "intuitive feel," the more-than-words...of the whole thing to form . Find some words to fit with your inner feeling.
I am sensing.....a light pushing out from my inner core, yet something is blocking it.
3. Draw a symbol that represents your felt-sense. Sense into an image that feels just right for the felt-sense and open your eyes. Create an intuitive drawing that resonates with this "feel of the whole thing."
(See my drawing above.)
4. Refine your felt-sense drawing. Keep working on your drawing to capture it just right, going back-and-forth between your inner felt-sense and your visual symbol until there is a sense of fit.
"Yes, that's it."
5. Feeling of all okay. Now, ask yourself, "What would this be like if it were all okay?" See if you can get some words for the feeling of "all okay."
All okay is... sensing a strengthening of internal self-respect.
6. What is in the way of "all okay?" Now, ask yourself gently, "What's in the way of that being okay?" Wait for what comes as a bodily sense, an "intuitive feel" of the whole thing.
What is in the way of okay? The need for outer validation.
8. A small step forward. See if you can find any small step that would bring you closer to how you'd like it to be.
I am envisioning a strong core of inner dignity emanating out into the outer world.
9. Enjoy your insights. Now, just spend another minute enjoying what has come.
I am enjoying the feeling of solid self-respect inside.
10. Come back to the outer world. When you're ready, end your session for today and slowly come back into the room.
I am back!