Buddhism does not have an adequate psychology. Along with science and social service, psychology and psychotherapy are the cutting-edge disciplines Western practitioners are bringing to and integrating with traditional Buddhist practice. Today most Western Buddhist teachers can recognize when a mental health problem is impacting a significant area of a student’s life and functioning, and refer that student for professional help. But are the rest of us emotionally fully integrated? Dennis Genpo Merzel stated, “Don’t ask if you are stuck; ask where you are stuck.”
We do not have or do not make time to reflect deeply on our daily experience. We live like rocks flung and bouncing across the surface of a lake. Our fellow-travelors in the 12-Step movement remind us to slow down and “smell the coffee!”
Zen and Focusing both teach a way of being, The Practice of Presence to what is. Reality! Enlightenment is not something we attain, but something we do that brings us into intimate connection with the flow of life. Focusing brings to Zen a meditative way of awakening to, reintegrating and healing wounded and split-off parts of ourselves that most spiritual practices do not address, but bypass! The practice of Focusing allows us to be aware of and listen to the deepest personal aspects of ourselves where the threads emotion, memory, thought and behavior intertwine. Where those confluences are distorted or stuck in a knot (klesha) requires a special attention and practice that meditation, koan study and discussions with a guru cannot undue and free. Emotional blocks must be dealt with on the path of spiritual and human development.
Focusing was created by Eugene Gendlin, a philosopher who worked with Carl Rogers at the University of Chicago in the 1950s doing research on psychotherapy. Through studying thousands upon thousands of hours of therapy recordings, they became able to predict with great reliability who would find symptom relief and issue resolution in therapy. When a client in therapy experienced what has come to be called a “felt sense” in the process, they almost always were successful.
A Felt Sense is first somatic, a sensation in the body.
⇒ For more information on Focusing and a connection to certified Focusing Teachers and practitioners: www.focusing.org.