A note from Carl,
A quick note to begin: Our schedule of summer offerings is about to burst like the glory of all the tulips and roses around town. Tai Chi in The Park registration opens today, The Art Of Sitting (which you can still join!) begins May 15th, and we have retreats Boulder, UT (Aug 11-13) and Santa Fe (Sept 21-24) coming up. Details are below. We have some other, shorter courses and workshops planned and will share details soon.
On May 1st, Gene Gendlin passed away at the age of 90. Gene was the originator of the practice of Focusing,and he had a far-reaching influence, particularly in the worlds of psychotherapy, philosophy, and embodiment. When I think of how Gene’s work has impacted my life, I think of the Hafiz poem:
Gene’s legacy in one of listening; it is the encouragement of light.
Focusing is essentially an awareness practice. It helps us learn a way of being with our sensations, thoughts, and feelings that leads to greater intimacy, insight and access to the deep knowing and intelligence that lives in our own body-mind.
I was first introduced to Focusing over twenty years ago by my first meditation teacher. While I found the practice quite powerful, it also remained somewhat technical for me; step 1, step 2… Some part of me was taking myself through a structured practice. When I began to work with Russell Delman, who was a close friend of Gene’s, and experienced Focusing as it shines through Embodied Life work, it really came alive for me as way of being, as an attitude toward life. It became an organic process that was at once so natural and familiar, and so far from how most of us have learned to be in our lives.
In Focusing teacher Ann Weiser Cornell’s wonderful book, The Radical Acceptance Of Everything, she asks:
“When was the last time you sat down and let yourself become quiet and then brought a listening, getting-to-know-
Not trying to fix, to analyze, to improve, to advise, to figure out.
To pause, to listen…to have a warm, getting-to-know-what’s there. This is the encouragement of light.
You can expand the question and ask when was the last time you brought that quality of listening to a spouse, a child, an illness, a challenging situation in your life?
A line that feels essential, and that I can hear in both Gene’s and in Russell’s voice, along with many, many times in my own voice, “Oh, hello in there.” I can offer a warm greeting to whatever is alive in me.
That part of me that worries about money…That part of me that feels too busy…That part of me that wants my knee to get better so I can hike and play basketball this summer…That part of me that is enraged about healthcare and public land….That part of me that is so full of delight and wonder at the miracle of our growing boy… Hello in there. I’m with you, I hear you.
So often in our inner life, in our challenging situations, in our injuries, in our relationships, we will do anything but pause and have this quality of “Hello, I know you’re here. I hear you, I’m with you.”
I could go on and on with praise and appreciation for Gene, and the influence his work has had in my life. There is a biography and tribute on his website here.
I’ll leave you with this Felt Sense prayer that to me, expresses a flavor of what Gene has left as his legacy. Gene coined the term “felt sense,” and this poem, written by an unknown Chinese doctor, points to a having a Focusing attitude toward our life.
On another note, we’re so thrilled to offer a weekend retreat in one of our favorite wilderness areas, in Boulder, Utah, just outside of Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument (one of the National Moneuments newly under threat.) Save the date for a powerful weekend exploring the Wilderness of The Body with us at Boulder Mountain Guest Ranch, August 11-13th. We’ll have more details and registration open next week. One day in Boulder is worth 3 days in a city – time expands in this spacious place. We hope you’ll consider joining us! f
If you’re interested in supporting wilderness and the availability of the peace of wild things for ourselves and future generations, please consider calling, faxing, and writing your representatives, as well as the Department of the Interior, and invite your friends to do the same. More on this issue can be found many places, including here and here. Local friends, we look forward to seeing you at the rally on Capitol Hill this Saturday!