In his book “Let your body interpret your dreams”, Eugene Gendlin, the creator of Focusing, explained that, “What is split off, not felt, remains the same. When it is felt, it changes”. (p. 178)
If we want to change something, we are used to convincing, pushing away, forcing, finding some way to make it change. Have you ever succeeded that way? Most likely not, or maybe just for little while. That way often creates a lot of resistance… In Focusing, we do something that may seem paradoxical at first. We actually let it be just the way it is and then we try to get to know it - we listen, sense, and we feel it. When we truly understand it and what it needs, it changes itself… The only way to change is not to try to change. Even a moment of sensing in our body allows it to change. From a Focusing point of view: when we sit with anything, it changes.
There is a lovely story that captures this well…
The Dog Story
(A version of the story created by Ann Weiser Cornell)
Once upon a time there was a child who longed for a companion to play. She was lucky because one day she was given a beautiful puppy.
The child and the puppy loved each other so much and were inseparable… However, the puppy being just a playful puppy would sometimes do some naughty things - peeing on the carpet or chewing daddy’s favourite shoes. The child’s parents were very angry and told the child to better discipline the puppy or it will not be aloud to come into the house anymore.
The child did her best, but the puppy was a playful puppy and sometimes it would forget what was not allowed. And the parents first sent the puppy to the porch and then, when it did what they didn’t like again they requested that it stays far-removed in the backyard… One day when the puppy came to the house through the door left open and found something smelling delicious in the kitchen, the parents yelled and chased it away. Whenever the puppy came back to the fence they would get angry, yell, and chase it away. The child was scared, and she didn’t want to upset her parents even more by saying anything, so she withdrew, sad and lonely.
Years passed… The family moved into a different town and the child, now grown-up, forgot about the puppy. But inside her there was still a place where something was missing… At times that ‘empty place’ inside her was so puzzling and she would go for a long walks to try to understand it.
One day, while going on one of these walks, she came on the edge of a forest. It was dusk, the night was falling, and while she was sitting on the log something moved in the darkness of the undergrowth… She was scared … and curious … at the same time… She didn’t move and kept watching… Her heart jumped when the two glaring eyes appeared from the darkness … Slowly, a dark, furry, muddy creature emerged… A part of her wanted to just run, and another part was sitting there motionless. Something was familiar about this ugly creature. It looked like a dog… A lost dog, untrusting, scared… The sense of familiarity grew in her body. What was it?... And then she could remember that her puppy used to look at her the same way and used to place its head in her hand in the same way… Her dog?! … She reached to pet it, but the dog fled into the dark…
It was getting late and she went home. Over the following weeks the girl returned often to the edge of the forest sitting and waiting until the dog came out. With everyday it trusted her more and more. Gently, she fed him and brushed its fur… And one day it followed her home.