A continuing project

Dave Young Liberation Focusing — Freedom from unconscious social programming as depicted by Gendlin

ABOUT DAVE YOUNG

Dave Young is a retired Licensed Clinical Social Worker, who worked with individuals & families. A Focuser since 1981, he was in close contact with Gene Gendlin during the last several years of his life. Dave and his wife Jane were trainers in Gendlin’s Focusing workshops and in McMahon & Campbell’s Biospiritual Focusing workshops, as well as leaders in the Hyde Park Changes Group for several years. Dave has published and presented on various Focusing-related issues for 35 years. He also worked with Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication.

Invitations for your Focusing Practice
(breakout rooms during the July 4, 2022 webinar)

“Read each wrongness sign below, pausing to give your body the time it needs to feel/reveal if it is or isn’t manifesting this particular sign.

When a wrongness sign physically reveals itself, keep gently pausing-toward it until you can explicitly name (or see) its contents, its meanings within its larger context. Without naming/seeing its content, the wrongness sign remains untransformed, and it continues to infect your everyday experiencing & your felt-sensing, this out-of-awareness. Thus your social programming continues to have you, rather than you having your social programming.

Throughout this process, go softly, softly, gently, gently, loving with infinite tenderness toward yourself. Remember: you never choose your social programming. And social programming’s installing & maintaining is often programmed very early in life, and unchanged, it is likely to continue throughout  our lifetime, often with the social threat and/or reality of traumatizing  if you take steps to challenge it. So always respect your capacity’s limits – your felt “go slowly” and “enough for now”.

We have left space after each possible common wrongness sign. You may wish to write down any information about your social programming, any blocking or shutting-down, any steps.

  1. Spacing-Out, Blanking, Empty Spacing, Absence-of-Life within and/or around my body, physically and/or mentally. Feeling Scattered, Dissociating, Not-All-Here.
  2.  Jaw-Tensing, Throat-Aching. This often means that something needs saying or expressing non-verbally, e.g., screaming or crying.
  3. Avoiding-chatting about a touchy/challenging issue.
  4. Urgent, Hyper-Focused, Drivenness. This is often experienced as tunnel-visioning and/or a physical readying to charge-in, attack, defend , especially in the chest, shoulders, arms & legs.
  5. Blocking, Arm0ring,m Pushing-Away, Walling-Off, Keeping Out-of-Awareness, Notice where this is,  and its source – in and/or around your body.
  6. Hands, Arms and/or Legs wanting to do/express something physically, e. .g., pointing, waving, pushing-away, kicking.
  7. Weighing-Down, Heaviness on shoulders, back, check, whole-body-heaviness, heaviness-fields around you. Notice physically, visually auditorially what-&-where is the Source that’s creating & maintaining this heaviness.
  8. Suppressing, Oppressing, Repressing, Draining. Notice physically, visually, auditorially what-&-where is the Source that’s creating & maintaining Suppression, Oppressing, ….
  9. Shrinking-Away-From, Withdrawing, Turning-Away-From, Breathing-Constricting, Heart-Aching, Whole-Body-Constricting, World-Closing-In-On-You. Notice physically, visually what-&-where is the Source that’s creating & maintaining your body-respondings.
  10. Threatening, Menacing, Notice physically, visually, auditorially what-&-where is the Source that’s creating & maintaining this threat.
  11. Cutting-Off-From/Blocking: Loving, Belonging, Being Supported, Celebrating, Beauty, Morning, Crying, Grounding. Notice the Source, what-&-where is the Source creating & Keeping you away from these vital realities & needs.
  12. Chest-Aching/Band-Across Chest, Heart-Aching, Other Body-Achings.
  13. Disturbing Threatening, Assaulting, …. Images, Sounds.
  14. Experiencing Only “Within My Skin Envelop”. Missing “World/Life All Around – its Richness. Notice Physically, Visually, Auditorially What-&-Where is the Source Keeping You Within Your Body.
  15. Odd Exhaustion, Tiredness, Weakness. Notice what’s exhausting, not restoring. Notice physically, visually, auditorilly what-&-where is is Source.
  16. Head-Down, Looking-Down, Avoiding-Looking, Looking-Away-From. Notice physically visually, auditorially what-&-where is the Source you’re avoiding.”

Politics & Liberation Focusing

(6/24/2022)

What, for Gene, is Politics/Political? 

Gene:  For the purposes of our discussions, I define political as opposition to oppression of any sort. If a person is conversant with opposing political oppression, some of these attitudes can be transferred to combating psychological oppression. Focusing-Oriented Psychotherapy, Gendlin 1996, p. 272. (Italics Gene’s)

Our Focusing Needs Politics:

Gene was clear: our Focusing needs to explicitly, consciously, continuously engage with politics.

Gene: “Our practice of Focusing (and every inward practice) needs a conscious political context around it. Focusing needs a structural political consciousness…. We live in a structural political context, and it can help to sense ourselves within it.” [underlining Gene’s]. “The Political Critique of the Awareness Movement”, Gendlin 1984, p. 154.

Commentary: What is a “context”? We, in our individual situations, are also embedded in a wider, structural, socio-economic “context”. This includes our past insofar as it’s shaping our present. Our individual situations are always within this wider “context”, inseparable from it.  “Context” is a term often found in Gene’s thinking.

Commentary: A vital reason that our Focusing needs to explicitly, consciously & continuously engage with politics:

Gene: “…let us bring home to ourselves the real problem of unconscious programming. Let us grant how deeply programmed our bodies really are.  However concerned we are with social change, we might create conformity if we are not aware of being programmed.” (underlining & emboldening, Dave) “Philosophical Critique of the Concept of Narcissism”, Gendlin 1987.

Commentary: Gene shows us there’s no such thing as “apolitical Focusing,” because we live-in a structural, political context. And since our bodies are deeply & unconsciously programmed, we can Focus unconscious of the politics that are always already involved and that are shaping our felt-sensing, our thinking and our acting, generally without our awareness. Gene was VERY concerned about this, which he called “unconscious programming.” (underlining & emboldening, Dave)

Realms: Needed Contents in our Focusing:

Gene: “The realms of politics, personal growth/Focusing and spiritual awareness are usually thought about separately, as three different realms. But they must come together. Nor can any of them be reduced to the other two, however overarching each may be. Although different, [they are] in need of each other.” (Bold & underlining by Dave.) “Politics in Relation to Psychological and Spiritual Awareness,” 1978, p. 1. [Currently unpublished, but hopefully it will show up in the Gendlin Online Library soon.] 

Commentary: Gene is saying that without explicitly involving engaging spirituality & politics in our Focusing & our felt-sensing, we will be lacking something vital, something we deeply need for a more fully & creatively caring forward of us and our situations.

Gene: “Political, spiritual, and psychological vocabularies seem to cover different topics, but if taken experientially they are all one implicitly. Each is opposed to oppression, but different vocabularies give different leverage with it.” Focusing-Oriented Psychotherapy, Gendlin 1996, p. 272. 

Gene Quotes on Focusing’s Limitations & Needs.

Liberating our Focusing by  Engaging “Generally Out-of-Awareness Felt-Wrongnesses”. 

“…we cannot say that any particular steps are freeing in all respects. Indeed, there is no such finite multiplicity as ‘all respects’. When such a step frees us in some respects, perhaps it re-instances old oppression in some other respects. Whether something new is freeing or more control is never a simple question. For example, when are women’s rights freeing, and when do they create pressure on women to work and leave their children? One cannot decide it from the content alone…. The differences between freeing and forcing depends also on the kind of process the individual goes through. Distinguishing between kinds of process offers new possibilities for thinking about what is freeing. “Psychotherapy Research: Toward a Bodily Human Nature”, Gendlin 1989, p. 209.

‘We can observably distinguish such steps (as in Focusing) from the closed, self-imposed steps. The distinction between the two kinds of steps lets us know when we organismically elaborate the social forms further, as against when we only re-instance them.” [underlining Gene’s] “The Political Critique of Awareness”, Gendlin 1984, p. 154.

“…do Focusing steps necessarily free us from oppressive social forms? They do; but we can not say that they always do in every respect, that every oppressive form will change. This is no minor limitation! [underlining & exclamation point Gene’s, bold Dave’s] “The Political Critique of Awareness”, Gendlin 1984, p. 154.

Physical Wrongness Signs of Possible Social Programming by Dave Young July 2022

Introduction

Political Focusing & Action Steps

Political Focusing is never complete without an action step. If, in my Focusing, I don’t also take a step that addresses the system that made that step, that action necessary, I’m using Focusing as a narcotic. That is, I’m using Focusing to feel better while leaving the falseness, the oppression still hidden, unchanged and in place. “As a narcotic” comes from Marshall Rosenberg, applying it to his NVC, Non-Violent Communication.

Closing Gene Quotes from “Politics in Relationship to Psychological  and Spiritual Awareness”:

“Must I not admit to myself that where I am unfinished and incomplete involves others, and not just some box-like notion of ‘me’? Gendlin 1978, paragraph 18.

“…it is a question of simultaneously individual and social development, because human nature involves both.” Gendlin 1978, paragraph 19. 

“…my point is that just as it is unfinished and open, what a person is, so it is also what social structures are.” Gendlin 1978, paragraph 17.

Generally Out-of-Awareness Physical Wrongness Signs as Possible Social Programming

Introduction 

Because Social Programming is often against our values, or at least against our participating in the flow-of-life within & around us, they often create, maintain & normalize physical signs of wrongness in and/or around our bodies. These “physical wrongness signs” are generally out-of-awareness unless we explicitly pause-toward the possibility of their being in and/or around our bodies.

Be with these wrongness signs as you would with a felt-sense. Like a felt-sense, they’re implying steps toward more-right ways of being.

We find these wrongness signs – which usually have been normalized – are sometimes immediately, physically present – right there when we pause to explicitly notice them. Yet even then, they’re usually out-of-awareness UNTIL I pause to explicitly notice them. They usually don’t call attention to themselves like a pain or strong emotion.

Before pausing to check for these wrongness signs, it may be useful to do grounding as you do in regular Focusing. Caution: sometimes “too deep” grounding can bypass these wrongness signs.

Generally, these social programming wrongness signs need more time, even much more time to express (reveal, show, consciously, explicitly live, ….) their content, their meaning than do felt-senses. We often experience PHYSICAL AWARENESS of these wrongness signs LONG before we’re clear about the social programming’s CONTENT, what it’s ABOUT.

We strongly suspect that each person may have something of their own generally out-of-awareness physical wrongness signs. Be alert for these.Common Generally Out-of-Awareness Physical Wrongness Signs 

Possible Social Programming

  1. Spacing-Out, Blanking, Empty, Absence-of-Life within and/or around my body, Feeling Scattered, Dissociating, Not-All-Here.
  2. Jaw-Tensing, Throat-Aching. This often means something needs 

saying or expressing non-verbally, e.g., screaming or crying.

  1. Caught-Up in Things Irrelevant to the Main Issue.

Hyper-Focused, Drivenness. Tunnel-Visioning, Physically readying to charge, attack, defend in chest, shoulders, arms, legs

  1. Blocking, Armoring, Pushing-Away, Walling-Off. Notice where it’s source is – in and/or around your body.
  2. Weighing-Down, Heaviness on shoulders, back, chest, whole-body, heaviness-fields around you. Notice physically, visually, auditorially what source is creating, maintaining this heaviness.
  3. Suppressing, oppressing, Repressing, Draining. Notice physically, visually, auditorially what-&-where its source.
  4. Shrinking-Away-From, Withdrawing, Turning-Away-From, Breathing-Constricting, Heart-Constricting, Whole-Body-Constricting, World-Closing-In. Notice what/where is Source.
  5. Threatening, Menacing. Notice what-&-where is it’s Source.
  6. Cutting-off from/Blocking: Loving, Belonging, Equality, Being Supported, Celebrating, Beauty, Mourning, Crying, Grounding, 
  7. 10.Chest-Aching/Band-Across Chest, Heart-Aching, Body-Achings.
  8. 11.Disturbing, Threatening, Assaulting, ….. Images.
  9. 12.Experiencing Only “Within my Skin Envelop”, Missing “World/Life All Around Me – Its Support, Vastness/Infinity, Richness, Beyond Here-&-Now. Notice its Source.
  10. 13.Odd Exhaustion, Tiredness, Weakness. Notice its Source.
  11. 14.Head-Down, Looking-Down, Avoiding-Looking, Looking Away From, Notice its Source you’re Avoiding.

Gene: “Our practice of Focusing (and every inward practice) needs a conscious political context around it. Focusing needs a structural political consciousness.” “The Political Critique of the Awareness Movement”, Gendlin 1984, p. 154.

Gene: We live in a structural political context and it can help to sense ourselves within it.” [underlining Gene’s]. “The Political Critique of the Awareness Movement”, Gendlin 1984, p. 154.

Commentary: What is a “Context?”

We, in our individual situations, are embedded in a wider, structural socio-economic “context”. This includes our past insofar as it’s shaping our present. Situations are always within this wider “context”, inseparable from it. “Context” is a term central to Gene’s thinking.

Gene: “…let us bring home to ourselves the real problem of unconscious programming. Let us grant how deeply programmed our bodies really are.  However concerned we are with social change, we might create conformity if we are not aware of being programmed.”  “Philosophical Critique of the Concept of Narcissism”, Gendlin 1987

Commentary: Gene shows there’s no such thing as “apolitical Focusing,” because we live-in a structural political context. We can Focus unconscious of the politics that are always already involved and that are shaping our felt-sensing, our thinking and our acting without us being conscious of it Gene was VERY concerned about this, which he called “unconscious programming.””  (emphasis added KH)

“Critiquing Focusing/Critical Focusing,”
  “Focusing on Racism & Other Prejudices”
  “Focusing, Values, Ethics & Obedience Patterns
“‘Where & How Focusing shapes Indoctrination. Where & How Indoctrination shapes Focusing.”
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References

Gendlin, E.T. (1984). “Politics in Relation to Psychological and Spiritual Awareness,”  [Currently unpublished, perhaps to be in the Gendlin Online Library soon.].
Gendlin, E.T. (1984). “The Political Critique of the Awareness Movement”
Gendlin, E.T. (1984). The political critique of “awareness.” The Focusing Folio, 3(4), 139-157. From http://previous.focusing.org/gendlin/docs/gol_2133.html
Gendlin, E.T. (1987). “Philosophical Critique of the Concept of Narcissism”
Gendlin, E.T. (1987). A philosophical critique of the concept of narcissism: the significance of the awareness movement. In D.M. Levin (Ed.), Pathologies of the modern self. Postmodern studies on narcissism, schizophrenia, and depression, pp. 251-304. New York: New York University Press. From http://previous.focusing.org/gendlin/docs/gol_2158.html
Gendlin, E.T. (1989).  “Psychotherapy Research: Toward a Bodily Human Nature”
Gendlin, E.T. (1996).” Focusing-Oriented Psychotherapy”
(CITATIONS – some yet to be added from https://www.citationmachine.net/)

REGISTRATION LINK for July 11 2022, at Help for Helpers, Corona Plaza Life

This group is a weekly gathering to empower, hearten and encourage therapists, counselors, teachers, and helpers of all kinds. It is a way to begin our week by accompanying each other, with embodied listening and connection, to meet the profound challenges of this time.

We will start the meetings with a brief reflection on how focusing can nurture, inspire, and steady us so that we can be present for others. A focusing conversation will emerge from whatever is present for us in the moment.

Note: Dave Young will be in the main room during the breakout room Focusing sessions so any of our participants may join Dave in the main room if you wish to bring questions or ask for support.