Focusing for Zen practitioners
Saturday, March 21, 2020
11 am to 4:30 pm at Still Mind Zendo
SMZ Members: $50
Refresher for SMZ focusers (who have already taken this class before): $35
To register, please fill out this Focusing Registration Form and mail in your check. Space is limited. Please register by Tuesday, March 17.
Julia McEvoy, SMZ senior jitsu, certified as a Focusing teacher by The Focusing Institute
Ronde Bradley, SMZ member, certified as a Focusing teacher by The Focusing Institute
A few words on Focusing by Roshi Janet Jiryu Abels
"Focusing guides you to the deepest level of awareness within your body. It is on this level, unfamiliar to most people, that unresolved problems actually exist, and only on this level can they change." -- Dr. Eugene Gendlin
The modern Zen master Robert Aitken Roshi has said that Zen practitioners can find no better support for their practice than to learn Focusing.
Focusing was first articulated by the psychologist Dr. Eugene Gendlin in the 1960's. It is a simple method that helps ordinary people access and be with their feelings, especially difficult feelings -- part of the self-understanding necessary for the "letting go" in Zen. It also teaches how to access one's "body knowing" (as opposed to "head knowing") on an ongoing basis as a primary source of trusting oneself. Another word for "body knowing" is "experiential knowing," which is the "knowing" of Zen.
Accessing this deep level of awareness, accessing the richness and complexity of the relative self through the doorway of feelings, and learning to see that difficult feelings are not what they seem to be but rather are guides into the truth of who we are, is the work of Focusing.
Focusing is not Zen, but because it is so close to the process we follow in zazen, it is exceptionally helpful as a tool to assist us in the ultimate work of Zen, which is the surrender of self. As Professor David Fontana writes: "One needs to have a strong self in order to have the resources to go beyond it." Focusing helps us realize this strong self.
Please also refer to Roshi's January 2005 newsletter article "Zen and Focusing"