Healing your internal clutter

Have you ever just wanted someone to listen to you, without interrupting, without giving any feedback, or advice? Do you find that when you really feel heard, seen and validated that things seem to shift quickly? Too often we want to change things when they are uncomfortable instead of just sitting with what is there and seeing what comes of it. Whether we are alone or with others there’s this strong need to fix and change things, almost in a forceful way. 

I’d like to continue to expand on the powerful technique of focusing (a form of somatic healing by Eugene Gendlin) to help you approach your life, yourself and inner world differently. By shifting to creating a safe space within you, you will be able to unlock the stuck feelings, repeated patterns and frustrations that prevent you from allowing change to happen naturally. In focusing, you give attention to something inside of you and allow it to share, shift and change on its own. With the wisdom you gain from the experience, you can take action from a deeper knowing instead of from a place of anxiety, stress or overwhelm. 

How you can approach going within

Pretend that you are in a meadow and approaching a wooded area. As you get closer to the trees you notice a shy animal peeking out from a bush. What would you do not to scare away this animal? Take a moment to visualize this situation. See what you feel in your body. Stay awhile and notice how you would shift your attention, energy and posture to make this animal feel safe. Now imagine that that small animal is a part of you, a part that needs attention and is too afraid to show you what’s inside. This is one of many exercises in focusing that help prepare us to go within: gently, slowly and safely. 

When we approach ourselves and our inner parts gently and without trying to change anything, we allow that shy animal, that part of us, to come out and share what needs to be seen and understood. Imagine you have a friend who is going through a hard time. You wouldn’t push them to tell you something if they weren’t ready. You would wait, notice what they need and shift with them. You would walk alongside them and go in the direction that they are going. This is what it’s like to focus, whether alone or with a companion. Having a companion with you while you focus allows you to have a witness, someone to see and be with you while you approach and sit with something inside of you that needs attention and could potentially be too big and scary to do alone.

This practice allows you to address things regularly instead of letting it pile up inside of you creating both internal and external clutter in your life. Once you get the hang of taking time to connect with yourself you will be less reactionary, more present and in tune with yourself.

Roles of the focuser and companion

In focusing there is a companion (someone who sits with you while you go through the process) and a focuser (the person who is doing the four steps to go within). Each has a role in the process and together they both get to experience going within and giving attention to a part of you that needs it. Check out my last blog for different statements that both the focuser and a companion can use during the process. 

It’s important that when a focuser shares what’s going on, the companion only reflects back feelings and emotions, not their own thoughts and interpretations of the process. Sometimes a focuser might start talking from the mind instead of sharing what’s inside. The companion can help the focuser, get back into presence (fully being with the body in a calm state ) and focus on the felt sense, naming it and keeping it company. 

Here are some basic principles for each to help you get started.

Before starting the session, tell your companion  what you need. You are in charge.You are there to support. The most important thing is your presence (being grounded with yourself, body and mind, environment and the person you are with)
Let your companion know if their reflection matches what you are experiencing. If something doesn’t match you can say, “that’s not quite right, it’s more like…”Pause and reflect back what the focuser is sharing. Be sure to follow their lead
Try to connect with something inside that wants your attentionBe aware and acknowledge your own feelings 
Share as much or as little as you want at any given timeNotice throughout the session how your body responds to what’s going on and at the same time what is going on with the focuser
You can end the session whenever you like ie. before the agreed amount of timeSpeak calmly, slowly and clearly
You can ask your companion to repeat something if you need to have it reflected back againPause before reflecting back what was said by the focuser
Use gestures, sounds and words to describe what you are sensingSaying hello to something inside of you that comes up while the focuser shares

Remembering to stay in Presence

What is Presence when we are talking about focusing? Presence is the state where you are sensing your body, the room, are aware of your thoughts and are feeling centered. It’s where you feel patient, non-judgemental, open, allowing, spacious, calm, grounded, interested, and curious. It’s here that you can feel safe enough to go within and see what needs your attention without resistance. Resistance may come up and it’s a matter of taking a step back and coming back into Presence. This can be done by repeating the steps of a lead in (see last blog) or stating “I’m noticing that something inside of me feels unsafe….” This will help you take that step back and  return to a grounded Presence with yourself and the moment. 

The difference between mindfulness and focusing

You might be thinking at this point that a lot of this technique sounds like mindfulness. While many aspects connect to being present and noticing, focusing goes much deeper and is more about giving attention to something and allowing it to do what it needs. Mindfulness is simply about being present with what is. Both have elements of being present and aware of your body and what’s around you, however, focusing has the intention to go deep within to be with an inner part.

Noticing what is happening in the momentRequire practiceNaming and welcoming something inside of us
Be fully present and aware of what you are doing and where you are Noticing what’s happening without judgmentCreate an inner environment to invite things to come in contact with, consciously connect to an inner state where change naturally occurs
Aware of your body and what’s going on at any given momentAcceptanceSensing how something inside of you feels from its’ point of view
Noticing from a sensing place of sight, sound, touch, taste Compassion for self and othersFully being present with what is there, sensing the whole of it
Intention is to observe and be with not necessarily in relationship with itBeing the observer instead of over identifying and being merged with somethingCreating a relationship with what you are giving attention to
Trying to achieve peace and calm through awareness Being connected to your bodyGiving time to our inner space to allow something to unfold naturally and what what wisdom wants to be shared

If you would like to read a more in depth comparison check out this article on focusing and mindfulness.

Like anything in life that you want to get good at, you need to practice. Focusing is something that takes time, commitment and a sense of curiosity. Each time you pause and take a moment to see what’s going on within, you can look at it with fresh eyes. Instead of assuming that you know what it is (“Oh, you again! I know why I feel this way”), approach the felt sense as if you have never seen it before. When you approach yourself in this way, discovering yourself becomes an exciting, ongoing adventure.

the handbook


Aenean leo ligulaconsequat vitae, eleifend acer neque sed ipsum. Nam quam nunc, blandit vel, tempus.