Focusing and Subtle Touch

in May, 2004 issue of The Focusing Connection

That a human being is a complex creature I knew, yet I’m realizing this more and more, experiencing my own Life’s process and that of others. Focusing has been a big part of this ever since I met Ann Weiser Cornell, and started focusing in the Inner Relationship way with her, about four years ago. I met Focusing much earlier, but I had some problems.

The problem for me was, that I could sense and feel everything, but something stopped me expressing things, something didn’t let me speak. And at that early time I didn’t have the word “something.” Nor the Presence language, like, “I’m sensing something…” All I had was a nice teacher, taking us along on his kind of journey, but he taught little about how to do it oneself. No starting questions like, “How is this distance?” and “How would you like me to be with you?” (This might sound like advertisingAnn’s stuff, but really I’m just telling my truth here and what it meant to me.) I wasn’t exactly empowered as a focuser, and somehow couldn’t say what all kinds of guiding questions did to me.

So I got stuck, quite badly, decided to focus just by myself, with what I call God as a listener. Whatever God was to me, he would just listen. I could say anything and everything, he would not judge, not fight with me, not punish, or abandon me, he would let me cry for minutes without being affected, never ask questions, and I would be warm again. (I suffered from bodily coldness a lot then.) I could ask questions though and feel my deepest longings. Like finding a place in the world, being able to tell my issues, having meaningful relationships, feeling happy, having children, etc.Looking back on that period now, I realize I was merely very lonely.

To make a long story short, I learned Ann’s way, and even teach it now. And ever since I focus in that way, I started to learn how to communicate with people, how to connect, how to be clear and honest, and my life started to feel so much like in process. In April I visited California for two workshops with Ann and I remember my last session over there. I sensed my hands as parts of my antenna (my inner area, heart area, along my spine, the part of me that senses and resonates with things from outside). How they can tell me things I’m sensing while touching, giving me impressions of somebody or something outside of me. And that impression is sensed inside and known inside, and those hands can express that again towards the outside, and so on.

In that same week I had the strongest interest in doing more with Cranio-Sacral therapy. Something inside told me I wanted a session of that, it would do me good for my headaches and pelvic discomfort. I had a session here at home, and it did do me much good, and I remembered the things I learned in my Bio-dynamic training about Cranio-Sacral therapy. So much came back. So over the last weeks I’m sensing whether that kind of touch and treatment would be helpful for a client, and I’ve been combining it with Focusing. It works so well. In the way that I listen to a story, attune myself inside to what might be happening with that person on a physical and emotional/feeling level, asking inside how my hands can meet and what the felt bodily life force (chi) could need and than I start letting my hands guide me, touching the person and making clear that the client is in charge. She can stop me, correct me, ask me, tell me what she feels. Like in Focusing: “How is this distance, how do you want me to be with you?” “Is this firm enough, do you need it softer?” and the like.

Communication is part of it, although a person can also be silent for a long time. I’ll keep sensing inwardly for what I feel is needed and I assume if I hear nothing, all is fine. And of course the person makes a choice to start a session like this. I’ll ask permission to touch in the first place.

The other day there was a client who had been fasting for several days, came for a regular Focusing session (without touch) and found a part in her stomach, feeling like empty, hollow, while a part in her belly, or intestines, felt like too full, something felt stuck, and literally she hardly digested, was constipating. She felt it was connected with a part that was afraid, yet didn’t want to go into that that day (for her own reasons). So I suggested she have a Focusing-cranio-sacral session, or, as I call it, working with subtle energies and the chi-energy. I first gave her a back massage, giving her a sense of the whole of her body and working on the nerve linkages along the sacrum and the spine, feet, cranium. Than the last half hour she was lying on her back, well supported under her knees. I sensed into her chi-energy system and let my hands as antennas tell me where to go and what to do. I used gentle touch, lots of “being with,” some mobilization, some unlocking until she said again, “There is something like a hole in my stomach now.”(She knew the Presence language from having taken Focusing 1 and 2.) I replied, ”So there is something like a hole... just see if it’s OK that I put my hand on and above it like this” (one hand was under the sacrum, one hand on the stomach area) “and to acknowledge this feeling and we can be with it.” “Yes, it is OK. “And you can tell me when it feels like it’s been enough, OK”? She nodded. I held my hands there for several minutes until she said, surprised, “This something has changed, it feels OK now.”

“You might sense if there is something more it needs,” I invited. After some silence: “No, it is just fine now.” After that I sensed into her Chi system again and put one hand under the sacrum and one hand under the occiput and again held them there for several minutes. I had this image of holding a baby and having a sense of how she wasn’t held as a baby with this kind of what we call Full Bottom support. I did not tell her though, was just silent, since I could also sense that she was ‘with’ that and being silent too. My speaking would disturb her too much. We needed to end the session, asking if more was needed and suggesting her to thank her body and her Self, for communicating as it did. We didn’t talk much more.. The next time she came she told me how she had realized how it felt like I had held her as a baby and had felt so safe and supported, carried in a way and how she had felt so good for days. And her belly had let go of the inside, something had started to shift in the intestines over those days, not being constipated anymore. She was very surprised and happy. And so was I. And curious to maybe find “more.”

Wilja Westerhof may be reached at info@focusbronnen.nl or +31 522 48 24 47.