Now that I’m back in Ontario’s snowy, cold winter, I don’t get out much. In fact, days go by when I stay inside. Going into freezing temperatures can set off my lung disease and my allergy to cold. That sounds like a recipe for depression, but strangely, I’m feeling very much at peace. I’m actually relaxed and happy. It’s something like being on a retreat.
When I check in with the centre of my body, the physically felt “switchboard,” the place that’s in touch with how I’m experiencing my life, I feel at peace. When things don’t feel happy in my torso, I know something is wrong for me.
This “barometer” guides me in how my life should go forward. We all have this knowing in our bodies. Focusing calls it the felt sense.
My body’s felt response is much smarter than my mind when it comes to realizing what’s right and wrong for me. If only I remember to keep checking in with it, I have a reliable guide by which to lead my life.
Recently, with the usual busyness removed from my life, I’ve had lots of time to ponder the wonders of the felt sense. There was a time, though, a couple of years ago, when I lost faith in the reliability of the felt sense. Here’s what happened.
I’d carried out my plan to move from Toronto where I’d lived all my adult life to Kington where my son, daughter-in-law and little granddaughter live. The change wasn’t working out the way I’d planned. I wasn’t happy. Worse, I’d brought my husband here and I knew how hard moving was for him. Maybe the felt sense was not reliable. Maybe this move was all a mistake. The implications were very disturbing.
It was my Focusing partner who got me thinking about the infallibility of the felt sense.
“Have you ever thought that maybe your felt sense is not just about you?” she asked.
“What do you mean?”
“Maybe it works on behalf of Harvey too. I’m just so glad you got Harvey out of Toronto. He’d have been left with his patients and his work. He worked all the time. And now that he’s in Kingston he’s really enjoying himself. He’s getting healthy, he’s making friends, he’s enjoying pickle ball, and on and on.”
This was a new way of looking at the big move.
“You think my felt sense includes those close to me?”
“And a whole lot more.”
I’d forgotten what Gendlin said in his original paperback about the felt sense. I pulled out my yellowed copy of the original 1978 Bantam paperback. It said:
Your physically felt body is a part of a gigantic system of here and other places, now and other times, you and other people – in fact the whole universe.
This sense of being bodily alive in a vast system is your body as it is felt from the inside (p.77.)
Wow! If that’s true, you and I are connected to every plant, animal, human and, indeed, the whole universe.
What do you think? I’d like to hear your thoughts.