“I BELIEVE IN THE POWER OF FOCUSING”
I am committed heart and soul to increasing awareness about how beneficial the skill of Focusing is. My vision is to seed Focusing skills within both SW Virginia and online communities. I see Focusing becoming an accepted mainstream skill, easily accessible to all who want to learn it. Schools, colleges, businesses, churches, community service & mental health groups, prisons, police & fire, medical institutions, entrepreneurs, people from all walks of life benefit from practicing the natural skill of Focusing. From birth to death, our brains are actively interacting with what is going on inside of us as well as what is going on around us. Focusing helps us experience more from all those interactive moments and from this, greatly expands the richness and flow we experience from life.
“WHEN I GROW UP I WANT TO BE A MOM!”
My childhood dreams revolved around motherhood. I wanted to be a mom. At age 11, I had an intuitive knowing that someday I’d be mom to a blond haired blue eyed boy named Scott. Scott came 20 yrs later, letting his two sisters enter the world first. I was keenly aware as my children grew that the way they each processed emotional and other life experiences varied dramatically. Curiosity stirred and I began passionately exploring health, psychology, spirituality, emotions and communication.
THE EFFECTS OF WHAT WE PUT IN OUR BODIES
I began by applying my 25 yrs experience working part-time as a Medical Technologist in hospital labs toward looking at how our bodies work chemically. I found that nutrition and hormones vastly influenced our moods. Thus began years of experimentation learning new self-care techniques, learning to eat what my body needed now and learning to prepare food in healthier ways. If you’ve ever tried this yourself, you know it’s a gradual process of bringing attention to your body, maybe noticing how clear or energetic you feel now. It makes sense. Our bodies are miraculously versatile and yet, we can do so much more with a little care and the right building materials!
WE MUST FEEL SAFE TO MAKE CHANGES
In 2002, I met Parker Palmer and began studying Circles of Trust, a retreat method he had developed with a team of facilitators to create safe spaces for professions like teachers to nurture personal and professional integrity and the courage to act on it. I began facilitating Wholeness Circles within a few years, a safe space focused on inner work inspired by poetry, music, movement and the seasons of nature. These programs were generally 2.5 hr evening programs or day long retreats.
OH, THE CHALLENGES OF HUMAN COMMUNICATION!
Meanwhile, a creative entrepreneurial opportunity landed in my lap. I had an opportunity to create educational content for a cooperative communication computer game titled Peace Navigator in partnership with a 501c3 called The Peace Learning Center that I adored. I became a partner in an LLC called Software Training Institute. Here I studied Non Violent Communication (CNVC) by Marshall Rosenberg and any other model of peaceful communication I could lay my hands on. I coordinated 30+ students to create the audio/visual effects for the computer game.
THE GATHERER SEES BEAUTY IN ALL SHE FINDS ALONG THE WAY
In 2007, I became a Sufi initiate. Sufism is a way of life in which a deeper identity is discovered and lived. This deeper identity, beyond the already known personality, is in harmony with all that exists. Jahmi is my Sufi name. One of the 99 names of God, Jami means The Gatherer. It reminds us to enjoy the process of gathering, whether of people in your life or the resources you need at this moment. What is gathered has beauty in and of itself, it is not simply a means to the end result. As Sufi’s experience our inner life as reflective of our outer life, it also refers to gathering parts of yourself to help you better reflect your purpose in life.
ABWOON IS THE ARAMAIC WORD FOR THE POWER OF THE UNIVERSE TO GIVE BIRTH TO NEW LIFE EVERY MOMENT
From 2007 – 2010, I studied with Neil Douglas-Klotz, an Aramaic scholar and Sufi teacher in his Abwoon Interspiritual Leadership Program. The intent of this program was to develop leaders in interspiritual practices for peacemaking and service, in ministries of spiritual direction, counseling, teaching and ritual. Oh, the juiciness here! This program centered around the teachings of Jesus in Aramaic, Genesis and older Creation stories, Simple Presence, Heart Awareness, Gratitude, Celebration, Sound and Embodiment as well as Sufi Spirituality. Lots of dances, chants and meditations. The focus in Aramaic with Jesus’ teachings were around The Lord’s Prayer, Beatitudes and his ‘I AM’ teachings in his last year. As much as he tried, Jesus could not seem to convince his disciples (other than Mary), that they too, could do what he did and eventually even more…
VALUING HUMANS AND THE NATURAL EARTH CYCLES IN BALANCE
In 2007, I also took a 17 Day Immersive Permaculture Design Apprentice Training. Permaculture is another study of process that takes years of observation to understand. Ideally, permaculture implemented is multi-functional, diverse, life-supporting, aesthetically-pleasing, appropriately-scaled, energy-efficient, and functionally connected – patterning landscapes, demographics and species assemblies to provide ever-evolving, permanent food and resource systems. I observed, practiced and applied permaculture theory to what was already years of Landscaping experience with low-maintenance and natural habitats. I still enjoy offering Sustainable Landscape Design Consults.
CIRCLE TOWARD WHOLENESS
From 2008 – 2012, I founded and ran a 501c3 called Circle Toward Wholeness. The vision of Circle Toward Wholeness was to provide innovative education for inner peace and wellness to people where they were already gathered in workplaces, businesses and community centers (host sites). I met many amazing people on their own healing paths and was proud to connect them with others when I could. My own studies focused on new information emerging in the field of neuroscience, the scientific study of our nervous system. I came to understand that our bodies work at least as much on electrical principals as they operate biochemically. New research and understandings emerge daily toward integration of our right and left brains toward wholeness. What an exciting time for us all!
WE ALL DESERVE A SAFE THRIVING ENVIRONMENT TO CALL HOME
One of the facilitators I interviewed for support with a Circle Toward Wholeness video project called Wellness Moments was a musician named Bob Grubel. Bob and I fell in love and have been life partners since 2010. We live in a charming home Bob built himself where we grow most of our own food and share resources in a small intentional community in Floyd, VA. I closed Circle Toward Wholeness not long after I came across Focusing.
FINALLY, AN EASY WAY FOR ANYONE TO FEEL THE THRILL OF LIFE FORWARD MOVEMENT – FOCUSING!!
I first read about Focusing in a Tricycle magazine in Nov 2011. I immediately recognized it as something I was naturally good at and knew I wanted to take the training to learn how to teach Focusing. I studied with Ann Weiser Cornell (Focusing Resources) and additionally mentored with Cathy Pascal (Integrated Life Practices) until March 2014 when I completed my requirements as a Certified Focusing Professional.
Oh what Happiness! A lifetime searching for ‘Live Connections’ and now I live it. I offer both Guided Focusing Sessions and educational training in the skills of Focusing. Focusing is the most empowering, easily accessible method I have found to access one’s own body wisdom and inner knowing. Focusing is also the essence of change. With practice, Focusing rewires our inner neural patterns so that we function relationally more often in the Present moment and from an integrated place of wholeness. I coordinate a movement called Floyd Focusing that has the goal of educating those in my local and online communities about Focusing and making the natural skill accessible to all those who would like to learn it. There is no prep. You begin from wherever you are. Contact me, join the movement and step proudly into your flow!
And Here’s More ABOUT Focusing…
Focusing of course, as a natural skill, has been with us since the beginning of time. Because of cultural tendencies over the past few centuries, most of us have lost touch with this skill and need retraining. The term “Focusing” came out of research Eugene Gendlin began in 1953 at the University of Chicago. He did 15 yrs of research analyzing what made psychotherapy either successful or unsuccessful. His conclusion was that it was not something the therapist did, rather something the clients did inside themselves during the session. He began to study the behavior and how to teach it. He wrote a little book called “Focusing” that you may have run into. It’s a wonderful book and what is known about Focusing has come a long way since then.
Inner relationship focusing
Fast forward to 2011 when I first read about Focusing in a Tricycle magazine and recognized it as the skill I wanted to teach. I chose to train with Ann Weiser Cornell. She first met Focusing in 1972 as a grad student in Linguistics at the University of Chicago. Focusing was difficult for her to grasp and she spent weeks confused and unable to access anything she witnessed as a Focusing experience. Finally she broke through to a powerful understanding from her childhood. She was ecstatic! Over time, she became the first person to make a full time living as a Focusing Professional, guiding Focusing sessions and teaching classes. I have found Ann’s method of teaching Focusing to be ingenious. I feel it grew from her own difficulties in learning the skill plus her background in linguistics plus a wonderful collaboration she developed with another Focusing Professional from England, Barbara McGavin. Barbara and Ann have been Focusing partners for many years and together they bring a wide spectrum of Focusing experience to creating curriculum that works. They call their particular type of Focusing, Inner Relationship Focusing. There is an emphasis on developing our inner relationships and then taking the process outward from there. There are other modes of Focusing one could study first – Wholebody Focusing and Thinking at the Edge are two I’ve looked at. Inner Relationship Focusing has assimilated really easily with my background. I will continue learning all I can about various ways to make Focusing accessible to anyone who would want to learn it. So far, I have not found anything that is excluded by starting with Ann’s model of teaching. Feel free to contact me if you’d like to talk more why there are various approaches.
WHat makes focusing unique
There are three aspects that set Focusing apart from any other method of inner awareness and personal growth. They are the “felt sense”, a special quality of engaged, accepting inner attention and a radical philosophy of what facilitates change.
1. The “Felt Sense”
The Focusing process involves coming into the body and finding there a particular body sensation called a “felt sense”. A felt sense is an unclear, pre-verbal sense of ‘something’, an inner knowledge that has not yet been consciously thought, a body sensation that has a wholistic meaning. As one learns to stay with the felt sense, understanding deepens, new words and new insights about a situation become clear. There may also be a sense of felt movement—a “felt sense shift” we call it. Here a person would begin to be able to move beyond a “stuck” place. Fresh insights, and also sometimes indications of steps to take, now feel clear and easy to act on.
Felt sensing is not something that other methods teach. It is unique to the Focusing process. I do believe there are environments that encourage felt sense formation. Like nature, music, body movement practices, friendships or other trusting relationships where we feel very safe. In these situations, a felt sense may form and shifts may even happen. These situations tend to happen randomly in our lives however. Taking time to learn and practice Focusing means you are taking a step toward empowering yourself to invite a felt sense about a particular situation in your life whenever you would like.
2. A Quality of Engaged, Accepting Inner Attention
In the Focusing process, after you are aware of the felt sense, you then bring to it a special quality of attention. You might imagine bringing a quality of open, interested curiosity toward whatever might happen next. I like to teach about creating a welcoming space for everything that cares about this topic, like hosting a gathering. You, the you that is bigger than any challenge you might encounter in life, is there bringing this quality of engaged, accepting inner attention. And you are taking time to just hang and really get to know whatever comes as a felt sense better. It is the willingness to care, the really wanting to get to know it, that welcome space you create, that brings forth something new.
3. A Radical philosophy of what facilitates change
This is huge. It really turns upside down what we’ve culturally been taught about change. Let’s say that there is something about you, or about a relationship, or about a situation, that you would like to change. In order to facilitate change, Focusing theory shows us that there must be a radical acceptance that everything is OK the way it is. There is no sense of trying to change anything. There is no doing something to anything (no fixing, no saving, no setting it straight). We accept that this felt sense is here, just as it is, right now and we are interested in how it is, really getting to know it. This turns around our usual expectations and ways of viewing the world. This is what we mean by “wisdom of the body”. The felt sense knows what it needs to become next.
Like a gardener carefully tending seedlings with the light, soil and water they will need to emerge and grow, Focusers learn to provide the conditions and trust the process which allows our felt senses to change, evolve and circle ever closer toward the wholeness we can be.