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About Inner Relationship Focusing (IRF)

If you’ve read my posts “DIY Graduate Program” or “Letting grief show up however it wants to,” you’ve seen references to IRF, or Focusing for short. It’s been an incredibly useful process for me lately (I’m tempted to say transformative) and resonates with many of the ways I’m already learning to move in the world. It’s likely to come up again in this blog both because of its importance to me personally and because learning this process has become part of my DIY Graduate Program, so here’s a bit more detail about it.

A definition of sorts

Focusing is, at a very basic level, a process of awareness, of noticing. It is body-centered, meaning that we learn to pay attention to the many clues our bodies give us - sensations, feelings, images, thoughts, etc. Noticing these things allows aspects of our inner reality to emerge that we might not get to through “thinking” alone. As we gently allow these aspects of ourselves to just be there – accepting, listening to, and acknowledging their needs without trying to force revelation or change – we actually create the space for change to happen. That change could be emotional healing, getting unstuck from long-standing patterns, discovering and trusting our inner compass, or all of the above. It's called inner relationship focusing because you're building a relationship with all these aspects of ourselves that are present inside us.

What I’ve noticed

Since practicing Focusing for the last few months, I’ve noticed that I’m able to realize ever more subtle feelings closer to real time, even if I have just enough space to recognize something - say frustration, or sadness - building up in the background, and just being able to say hello to that. When I can be aware of and acknowledge those feelings, they’re not operating under the surface in unconscious ways. Even if I don’t realize what was going on for me in a situation until an hour or a day or a week later, I can still acknowledge it, which also seems to help move the awareness closer to in-the-moment over time.

The practice of allowing whatever emerges to just be there, just as it is, whether I can get any words around it or not, and without trying to change it, is such a relief! In that space of acceptance, acknowledging what these things have to communicate to me has resulted in some profound shifts and realizations, though they often don’t come in the Focusing session itself but sometime afterward. This back burner aspect completely resonates with how I’ve discovered that my intuitive thinking preference works - let an idea, emotion, inspiration, conundrum, whatever, simmer on the back burner (vs. trying to figure it out head on) and important things happen! It’s not that front burner analysis (problem solving) is never necessary or useful, but for me that’s often “cart before the horse.”

I hope that’s given you a taste of what Focusing is and what it can do. Inquiring minds can find more information at Focusing Resources and The International Focusing Institute.

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