(By Keith L. Jensen, written on September 16, 2010)
And have ye not read this scripture; The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner: This was the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? (Mark 12:10-11)
I was first introduced to the focusing process in the fall of 1997 when I was being trained by Dr. Deborah M. Khoshaba and Dr. Salvatore R. Maddi to become a certified hardiness trainer. Dr. Maddi had been a colleague of Dr. Eugene Gendlin, the founder of the focusing process, when they were both teaching at the University of Chicago. In hardiness training, focusing is one of three techniques—the other two are: “situational reconstruction” and “compensatory self-improvement”—taught to assist students in broadening their perspective and deepening their understanding of their stresses.
I first taught CLSS 1100 Stress Management: Hardiness at Utah Valley University (UVU) during the spring semester—January through April—1998. I have taught this course each fall and spring semesters since then. Learning and teaching hardiness training has been a huge positive experience in my life. It has given me resources and courage to make big changes in my life.
For the first nine years teaching hardiness training, I just didn’t get this focusing thing. I just couldn’t see much value in it when compared to the other techniques taught in this class. As far as I was concerned it was pretty much a waste of both my and my students’ time. Each semester, I would spend one class day teaching focusing by going over the examples in the workbook and explaining the focusing exercise that the students needed to do. I would read the focusing steps out loud to my students from the Hardiness workbook. I even went so far as to look up on the internet other teachers of focusing and to read through their suggested focusing steps also. I also purchased Eugene Gendlin’s book Focusing and read it. Still with all my “thinking” about the steps of focusing, researching about focusing on the web, and reading Dr. Gendlin’s book, it still just didn’t click with me.
That was pretty much the state of affairs between me and focusing until the fall of 2006. For some reason, I decided to take another look at focusing at that time. I just sensed that there might be something to this whole focusing thing that I might have missed. As has happened to me before, I once again personally experienced the truth of the saying:
“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”
This time focusing fell upon more fertile ground. I found Ann Weiser-Cornell’s website [ http://www.focusingresources.com/ ], and the articles I read there started to really speak to me and make sense. I purchased Dr. Weiser-Cornell’s book The Power of Focusing and read it. I also discovered The Focusing Institute’s website [ http://www.focusing.org/ ], and the information I found there resonated with me. While searching on The Focusing Institute’s website, I read about something called focusing partnership. I liked the idea of this and decided I’d like to do some focusing sessions with a certified focusing trainer so that I could someday have a focusing partnership with someone.
Looking through the list of certified focusing trainers on The Focusing Institute website, I found one that spoke to me. It was Kye Nelson. I read about her and her philosophy for focusing on her website at: http://www.antheosophia.org/ Shortly after the first of 2007, I contacted Kye to see if she would be able to do focusing with me. Over the next six months, Kye and I met two times a month over the telephone for me to be trained in the focusing process and to experience partnership focusing.
During this time, I also attended the 2nd annual Focusing Institute Summer School (FISS) at the Garrison Institute in New York. This was a weeklong training in focusing taught by the best focusing teachers from around the world. While at the FISS, I met Geof Oelsner and we became friends. Geof, M.S.W. and nine years my senior, and I have been doing partnership focusing once a month over the telephone for the past three years. This relationship continues to bless both of our lives.
Currently, I am reading books by and being drawn to the focusing philosophy of Edwin M. McMahon and Peter Campbell. Ed and Peter’s work is speaking to me at a deep and profound level. Being involved in focusing in the way they describe feels like the place where I want to put my time and energy—it speaks to me.
(Excerpts from the back cover of Rediscovering the Lost Body-Connection Within Christian Spirituality by Edwin M. McMahon & Peter A Campbell)
Edwin M. McMahon, Ph.D. and Peter A. Campbell, Ph.D. hold doctoral degrees in the psychological study of religion and spirituality form the University of Ottawa, Canada. This field of inquiry addresses the issue of what in religions and spiritual practices contributes to health and human wholeness—and what generally leads to pathology. Both men are native Californians, born in 1930 and 1935—teachers, authors, theologians, Catholic priests, ordained as Jesuits and members of that order for 25 years as well as confounders of The Institute for BioSpiritual Research, Inc. http://www.biospiritual.org/ . . .
During the last 20 years they have concentrated their attention on developing a more effective, inner body-learning process within which those who share a common Christian faith can best learn a new habit in their important feelings. The priority here is no longer simply one of acquiring more new information, but including as well how our body can know and expresses Christian faith. This practical, missing piece is crucial for all transformational religious maturation within the whole human organism. . . .
The Institute for BioSpiritual Research, Inc. is . . . a member supported, shared leadership community of “peace-makers from the inside” who have come to experience that this transformative, unifying and loving body-experience is grounded in the human organism’s awareness of being a living cell with a Larger Body—for Christians, the Body of the Whole Christ. More and more today, Christians want to be nurtured by a Christian spirituality that ties their own process of maturing wholeness (holiness) together with their body’s gift for recognizing the working of grace inside this same Loving Process, “. . . in whom we live and move and have our very existence.”
(Beyond the Myth of Dominance by Edwin W. McMahon, pp. 120-121)
Affection, which is literally at the heart of a caring-body-presence, postures us in a more open, unselfish, “for-the-other” stance. We are there more as gift to the other, rather than fixer or manipulator. We let ourselves feel value, respect, awe, tenderness, openness, uniqueness, beauty—whatever gets inside us—as we contemplate the other. This transforms the controlling behaviors, drawing them off center stage. We are much more inclined simply to let ourselves and the other just be. However, people often confuse affection with their feelings toward a child, spouse, friend, etc., when they need that person to fulfill unsatisfied goals and needs in themselves. Real affection does not control and manipulate for personal aggrandizement, and that is how you can tell the two apart. Real affection involves a letting go of manipulation, together with availability and vulnerability in our body to being changed by the other, as that other is right now. Thus, being in relationship with affection is always growth-producing, healing, expanding and supportive of wholeness (often for all involved) because it is our body’s way of inviting grace.
Having affection toward someone or something tones our way of being with the other. That is why nurturing and learning from our own capacity for affection is so vital in creating a caring-feeling-presence toward the feelings we hold at arm’s length. With affection, we are far more able simply to be quiet, just to be with the object of our affection, rather than needing to do something or move on. This is crucial when disposing ourselves for grace. The fixing mode is restless and itching to get on with it. Affection quiets us down and eases us into waiting and presence. In Focusing, this is essential for carrying the felt sense of something until it is ready to speak on its own schedule. The allowing for grace to happen is the critical factor whenever a step toward wholeness (holiness) is the issue. Thus, human/spiritual maturation really depends upon how we carry our body feelings.
Caring-feeling-presence is what allows us bodily to hold, without destructive tension, the issues still needing to tell their story. This is not to say that we will not feel pain during such holding. But it is not the kind of terror and exhausting, debilitating tension that we feel when all our fight-or-flight apparatus is revved up for battle or escape. This war syndrome is hazardous to our health in every way. The alternative, even though it includes unfinished pain, feels like we are on the path home. There is anticipation and excitement in being on the right track.
Caring-feeling-presence is an umbrella term I use to describe a wide range of body approaches which help us become reconciled with feelings that we have made into our enemy. It is the most effective approach of which I know to restore our sacred body covenant. This covenant with which human life blesses us has provided us with a body and its own language—our feelings. Honoring this covenant is the antithesis of those disowning habits which our addictive culture programs into us.
We have been taught in a thousand subtle ways that pain is the enemy, as is the healthy tension of any challenge to grow. By deadening this pain, we separate ourselves from the feel of our own unique spirit struggling to be born and express itself through our body. Separated from the body-feel of this life cycle of dying and being reborn, which is our own emerging spirit, we become hooked on the painkillers of canned entertainment, shopping, drugs, or other escapes. How easy it is then to be manipulated and lead from the outside rather than from the body-feel of our own spirit. It is the rare person today who even has any knowledge (in the Biblical sense of knowing by being “bodily in”) about living out of the truth of one’s own spirit means.
(Beyond the Myth of Dominance by Edwin W. McMahon, pp. 132-135)
There is a strange paradox for most of us as we get used to creating a caring-feeling-presence around feelings that before we would have mustered all our forces to push away. We discover power in gentleness, but not in the manner or with the characteristics we generally associate with power. Here, there is no pressured, intrusive, forcing, manipulating, driving. This is not an approach that will break down blockages, pierce through the armor, powerful enough to muscle its way right in and fix all that needs fixing.
Instead, gradually what we find is that the gentleness of this presence is far more powerful than any driving attack we could ever put together. The power lies not in what we do, but in what we do not do; not in the more perfect person we try to create, but in a coming home to the person we really are; not in the fixing of our feelings, but in an open invitation which our body becomes when we let go of fixing ourselves; not in all the strategies of control that we assume will move us toward our goal, but in the vulnerability of letting go of such control. Then, the empowerment just happens. And it dawns on us eventually that indeed this gentle, caring way of treating the adversaries we create inside ourselves is the path home. To journey on that path is to hold with loving and open arms the truth of ourselves. Those open arms embrace not only what is real, but cry out as a prayer never left unanswered. Living that is power.
Millions hunger to live in that power, hoping for peace. There is a direct relationship between this power and the way we treat ourselves, each other and the environment. The worldwide cooperation needed to effectively address environmental issues will not happen without a global spirituality that teaches us, irrespective of religious traditions and cultures, how to take care of our own inner ecology. Effective “outside” environmental care flows out of effective “inner” environmental care. There is really no separation, but an interdependence and interrelatedness that demand we live a caring, inner ecology of growing wholeness within ourselves to nurture the wholeness of the planet. This is what caring-feeling-presence is ultimately all about.
“Inside” & “Outside”
“The Kingdom of God”
20And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: 21Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. (Luke 17:20-21)
People who remain at war with part of themselves will inevitably spread wars around them. War is not just bombs and guns. The most direct, practical way for human beings to assist the process of planetary wholeness is by learning how to be reconciled with the enemies they carry inside themselves. We, who are now the older generation, can develop through caring-feeling-presence in ourselves a spirituality of global care and reconciliation as our gift to the planet and to the generations that follow us. By living and modeling a nurturing body-spirituality ourselves, we will encourage younger people to discover an environmental spirituality that begins by honoring and respecting their own bodies as integral to the process of learning to respect the planet. Caring-feeling-presence gifts people with self-esteem and connects their hunger to experience the Sacred with the way they treat themselves. The effect of this on youngsters literally would be earthshaking, if we adults in the family, church and school would connect this process of discovering our own precious spirit with what we prize as spiritual and educational.
If children could experience that gently owning in their bodies whatever is real was honored and cherished by adults because this truthfulness and vulnerability connected us to each other and a Higher Power, then a caring, unifying, environmental spirituality could be born. When spiritual values are communicated in and through a process of human wholeness experienced within the common Body/body we all share, then cultural ethnic and religious diversity are no obstacle to the emergence of a nurturing global spirituality. When people with diverse backgrounds realize that such spirituality is environmentally healthy, they will simultaneously realize that it is in no way a betrayal of whatever is healthy in their own spiritual tradition.
I believe millions of people are ready for this. People raised and nurtured within the traditional framework of religion are hungry to enrich their spirituality with a broader vision of how to treat themselves, other people and the environment they live in so they do not destroy it and at the same time find the Sacred within it.
What distinguishes our approach from others articulating a global spirituality is that together our starting point is always in owning bodily whatever is real, then developing our cooperative projects and policies out of that body/Body experience. This simple, practical, teachable method, which we call “BioSpirituality through Focusing,” is a process easily adapted for children and for widely diverse cultures. Focusing provides us with the concrete steps and experience of change as the basis for healthier ways of relating to ourselves and our environment. Rather than just discussing ideas and theories about the need for change, Focusing helps people process the way they actually carry their fears, guilt, anger, loneliness or frustration in their bodies. Such feelings are the underlying engine of destructiveness that must first be addressed if any of us are to sense (not just think) alternatives to the way we now do things. Without an ability to own and be drawn inside the untold story within our potentially destructive feelings, then fear and our need for security will continue to dominate human life and relationships on this planet.
I believe growing numbers of people all over the globe are poised and ready to take a momentous step beyond what Marshall McLuhan counseled us to do in the 50s and 60s. Then he used to say that we must re-enter the tribal night, but this time with our eyes open, which, of course most people interpreted as open-mindedness or not being naïve. I think we now know how to enter that tribal night with our bodies open. This is a precision and an evolution of extraordinary significance.
Finally, if we choose, we can embrace a body-spirituality that opens our “inward eyes to be illumined, so that (we) may know (in our bodies) what is the hope to which (we are called) . . . and how vast the resources of power open to (those) who trust.
 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,  and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power in us who believe, according to the working of his great might (Ephesians 1:18-19 RSV)
Back to Keith: Besides reading hundreds of books on psychology, spirituality, human potential, etc., I have also been regularly recording my dreams for the last couple of years. I have recorded over 200 hundred personal dreams and have typed up over a thousand pages detailing these dreams and my reflections on them. One of the main books that inspired me to start recording my dreams was Dreams: God’s Forgotten Language by John A. Sanford, Jungian analyst and Episcopal priest.
“A LITTLE CHILD SHALL LEAD THEM”
(A dream of Keith L. Jensen recorded on Friday, October 16, 2009 from 0555 to 0643 AM)
The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. (Isaiah 11:6)
(Written on Friday, October 22, 2010)
Over the last couple of days, I have been pondering this dream of a little over a year ago. I have realized additional insights that I did not notice previously. In interpreting my dreams, I mainly subscribe to Jungian dream interpretations methods. According to Carl Jung, the characters in our dreams often reflect aspects of ourselves. Jung called dream characters that have universal applicability archetypes. In the following dream, you will notice several of these archetypes. For example, the “I,” or self, in the dream is the Persona. The dream starts out with me floating in a large body of water. Floating in, or on, the water usually represents one’s journey into the collective unconscious. While floating on the water, I notice a young four-year-old girl who is struggling and starting to sink beneath the water. This child represents my true self in its purest form—the Divine Child. Before rescuing this child, I (Persona) first obtain permission to reach out and touch this child from an unseen motherly force. This unseen character in my dream is representative of the Great Mother. I find it interesting that in the second part of my dream, it is my rescued Divine Child who reaches out to the Shadow.
In the second part of my dream, I am back at a location I remember from my childhood. This is the Civic Center building in Great Falls, Montana. It is significant that the name Civic is closely related to the word civil. In this part of my dream, the archetypal aspect of me called the Wise Old Man/Woman counsels me to be civil by taking the higher path.
In the last part of my dream, I magically unlock and enter an abandoned and dusty magic shop. The words abandoned and dusty are accurate descriptions for those parts of me I have neglected and locked away. While in this building, I meet two additional archetypal characters: the Trickster and the Shadow. The way in which my Divine Child reaches out to the Shadow is a perfect example of how one might reach out to those hurting and scary places we each have inside in a focusing way.
Keith’s Journal (Friday, October 16, 2009): I am currently on duty at Hill AFB where I serve part-time in the Air Force Reserve. I woke up after five this morning. It took me about 1.5 hours to remember and write this dream down. For the last 2.25 hours I’ve been typing it up here at Hill AFB. So from waking up to arriving at a typed and somewhat finished product, it has taken a total of 3.75 hours, or 3 hours 45 minutes. The fact is that this really takes up a lot of time. However, I think it is worth it.
Today is my last day of duty at Hill AFB. When I was waking up this morning, I could just barely remember that I had been dreaming. I had just a couple of very faint fragments of memories of my dreams. I’ve learned that if I try too hard to remember my dreams—to effort it—then, they will just float away. However, if I just lay there for a few minutes as I transition from sleep to wakefulness, I will often start remembering a bit more.
I woke up thinking that I could hardly remember a thing from my dreams. I reached over, turned on the lamp by my bed, grabbed my notebook and started jotting down the few memories I had. This method always seems to bring me to a point that, somehow, I just start recalling more and more details of my dreams until my pen has a hard time keeping up with the rate at which I’m recalling the details of my dreams.
I find dreams so fascinating. When I go to bed, I’m never sure what guests are going to show up and which experiences I’m going to have. It is seldom what I expected. My dreams early this morning were no exception.
“We” are floating on Deer Creek Reservoir. I’m not exactly sure who all composes this “we.” “We” kind of has the feel of: Kim (my wife), Brandon (my son), Aveon (my daughter), and me.
The Persona is the image you present to the world in your waking life. It is your public mask. In the dream world, the persona is represented by the Self. You know that this "person" in your dream is you.
We’re sitting on or hanging from the sides of this inflatable raft/island. Brandon is wearing a pair of flippers. He has his head down in the water and is in the back of this raft propelling us through the water with his kicks. I’m surprised at how swiftly he’s propelling the four of us through the water. There are a lot of other people around us swimming, floating, and playing in the water.
Brandon paddles us through a group of people. I notice a little girl who looks to be about four year’s old paddling determinedly through the water. She has gotten into deeper water than she planned and is starting to have some trouble. The look on her face is one of fright and desperation.
Brandon just keeps his head down in the water and continues to churn away with his flippered feet. He doesn’t even notice the little girl or the other people in the water. People have to scatter out of our way so he doesn’t run into them.
We’re coming upon this frightened little girl who is about to slip under the water.
The Divine Child is your true self in its purest form. It not only symbolizes your innocence, your sense of vulnerability, and your helplessness, but it represents your aspirations and full potential. You are open to all possibilities. In the dreamscape, this figure is represented by a baby or young child.
I look around for her mother. I don’t want to reach out and touch this little girl without her mother’s permission. I don’t physically see the mother, but I receive a definite “okay” from her that I have her permission to reach out and touch her daughter and to get her out of her desperate situation.
The Great Mother is the nurturer. The Great Mother appears in your dreams as your own mother, grandmother, or other nurturing figure. She provides you with positive reassurance. Negatively, they may be depicted as a witch or old bag lady in which case they can be associated with seduction, dominance and death. This juxtaposition is rooted in the belief by some experts that the real mother who is the giver of life is also at the same time jealous of our growth away from her.
Having sensed the mother’s approval, I reach over and grab this sweet little girl and pull her over to the side of the raft. I put my arm around her so she doesn’t slip off.
Rescue To dream that you are being rescued or rescue others represents an aspect of yourself that has been neglected or ignored. You are trying to find a way to express this neglected part of yourself.
Some of the other people in the water are getting tired of treading water too. As Brandon paddles through the midst of them, I indicate that it’s fine if they also grab to the ropes on the sides of the raft and hitch a ride too. Soon the raft is covered with people who have climbed aboard or who are still in the water but holding onto the sides. With all this added weight, I don’t think Brandon alone will have the strength to keep this raft moving. At the very least, I think we’ll slow way down. The strange thing is that we don’t slow down at all.
I’m surprised at how swiftly Brandon keeps us all moving through the water. I’m concerned that he might overdue it and burn himself out. The last thing I remember of this dream is of us approaching the shallow and safe waters by the shore. Brandon has gotten us all safely out of the deep waters and back to shore.
A later dream: “We”—again, as close as I can sense this communal “we” has the feel of Kim, Brandon, Aveon, and me—are in Great Falls, Montana. We’re walking along the western end of Central Avenue. We’re heading south on the street that runs in front of the Civic Center.
There are a lot of other people walking along with us. “Someone” who seems to be in charge of this walking excursion asks my group to continue on the higher path.
There are a lot of other people walking along with us. “Someone” who seems to be in charge of this walking excursion asks my group to continue on the higher path.
You see, we’re not all walking down on the sidewalk. Some of us are walking in the air above the sidewalk. The group I’m leading is walking at the highest level up in the air. When this “someone” asks us to stay on the higher path to avoid congestion with the other groups walking below us, we must have been 80 to 100 feet in the air.
The Wise Old Man /Woman is the helper in your dreams. Represented by a teacher, father, doctor, priest or some other unknown authority figure, they serve to offer guidance and words of wisdom. They appear in your dream to steer and guide you into the right direction.
As we are walking along way up there in the air, I can see the tops of the roofs of the buildings below us. We continue south in front of the Civic Center until we reach the other side of the street. From here, we turn left and continue east along this side of Central Avenue. Like walking down a set of invisible stairs, we gradually come down from high in the air until we reach the sidewalk. There’s a store down here that I want to check out. It use to be a kind of new age shop like the “Crystal Ray” in Pleasant Grove near to where we live now.
As we approach the front entrance, I notice that it all seems to be shutdown and abandoned now. The heavy curtains are pulled shut and the front door is locked. I and some of the others with me—Aveon in particular—have some basic magical powers. Our powers aren’t that advanced or proficient yet. In magical ability, we are kind of like first-year students at Harry Potter’s Hogwarts School of Wizardry and Witchcraft. Using our magical powers, we cause the door to unlock and then enter into this abandoned store.
Magic To perform or dream of magic suggests that you need to look at things from a different view or approach problems from a new angle in order to successfully move forward. Alternatively, magic symbolizes creativity and wonder. Perhaps someone or something has caused you to be in awe.
Once inside, we quickly discover that this shop is no longer what it used to be. Right off, we sense that it has been being used for other purposes and that these other uses haven’t been good. The lighting inside is very dim. The room has some dust covered old wooden tables, chairs, and other furniture around in it.
Dust To see dust in your dream suggest that aspects of yourself have been ignored or neglected.
In the dim light, we make out “something” white hanging from a rope attached to the ceiling. We sense that something evil has been going on here. We feel the hair standing on the back of our necks as we sense something approaching behind us. A dread comes over all of us. In unison, we turn around to see what it is. There standing is Lord Voldemort!
The Shadow is the rejected and repressed aspects of yourself. It is the part of yourself that you do not want the world to see because it is ugly or unappealing. It symbolizes weakness, fear, or anger. In dreams, this figure is represented by a stalker, murderer, a bully, or pursuer. It can be a frightening figure or even a close friend or relative. Their appearance often makes you angry or leaves you scared. They force you to confront things that you don't want to see or hear. You must learn to accept the shadow aspect of yourself for its messages are often for your own good, even though it may not be immediately apparent.
He smiles evilly knowing he’s captured us in his web and that we have no way to escape. Voldemort has just recently regained a body. It is still developing. The features of his face look snake-like. He points at the white “something” we noticed earlier hanging from the ceiling. He laughs evilly as he tells us that this is our mighty Dumbledore that he has captured and rendered harmless and ineffective.
The thing hanging from the ceiling doesn’t look like the Dumbledore we know. It’s hard to describe but somehow from looking noble and quietly powerful, Dumbledore has changed him into a silly cartoonish looking character. Hanging from his feet upside down, he kind of looks likes a combination of Caspar the Friendly Ghost and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.
The Trickster, as the name implies, plays jokes to keep you from taking yourself too seriously. The trickster may appear in your dream when you have overreached or misjudged a situation. Or he could find himself in your dream when you are uncertain about a decision or about where you want to go in life. The trickster often makes you feel uncomfortable or embarrassed, sometimes mocking you or exposing you to your vulnerabilities. He may take on subtle forms, sometimes even changing its shape.
We all feel really badly for Dumbledore and want to help him get away. However, our magic feels pretty pathetic against the powers of the mighty Lord Voldemort.
Knowing that he has nothing to fear from us, Voldemort orders us to sit on this dusty old couch while he decides what to do with us.
“We”—now this “we” feels like Aveon, me, someone else, and a little girl of four—all sit on the couch as ordered. Voldemort pulls up one of the dusty wooden chairs and sits down facing us. He gloats as he tells us of his capture of the foolish Dumbledore. Aveon and I feel repulsed by his evil snake-like appearance. Surprisingly, the little four-year-old girl seems more curious than afraid.
From where she is sitting next to me on the couch, she gets up and climbs over me and towards Voldemort. Both Aveon and I are concerned as she approaches Voldemort. He seems confused by her approach. In the past, what he has always felt from people when they see him are feelings of repulsion and fear because of his looks and energy. He is really taken back when this little girl climbs up into his lap and gently begins petting his scaly snake-like face. He closes his eyes and begins to soak up the soothing caresses from this sweet innocent child. He’s feeling and experiencing something he’s never felt before. Or, if he ever did feel something like this before, it was in some distant and ancient past that he had completely forgotten about.
I wake up thinking that maybe with him distracted for a moment by this child that now is the chance for Aveon and me to use our combined spells and try to free Dumbledore.