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The Community Wellness Focusing Interest Group at the Focusing Conference in Cambridge (UK) 2016

The Community Wellness Focusing Interest Group was for me one of the highlights of the International Focusing Conference in Cambridge (UK) July 20th-27th 2016. It was an experience of co-creating a community through listening, translation, our previous communities and Focusing attitude.

Some months have passed, and I have been writing about my experiences at the Conference (all posts indexed in this post in Spanish), and a warm and tender feeling comes to me when I remember this Group. Every morning during the Conference all participants joined one of the 15 Interest Groups. These were groups intended to be an open space to share personal and professional perspectives about Focusing in specific domains. I was tempted by many of the titles (there was even a «No-interest Interest Group»!) and I am very happy about my choice, while I regret not being able to split myself in order to attend to many others…

community-wellness-focusing-group

Community Wellness Focusing Interest Group at the International Focusing Conference, Cambridge (RU), July 2016.

The Community Wellness Focusing Group was hosted by Nina Joy Lawrence, Pat Omidian and Heidrun Essler, who created a holding space for all of us to participate and, as they advanced, «to bring Focusing skills and attitudes into our daily lives and into community groups» –including our own group. Thank you!

The first element was listening. We were sixteen participants from six different countries (Afghanistan, China, Germany, Spain, UK and USA), and not everybody was fluent in English, so the first step to build our community was to ensure that everyone could express themselves and understand anything that was said: that meant that we ended using three different working languages (English, Chinese and Spanish). What could have been a burden (translating, for example, what a Chinese participant said to English, and then to Spanish, and then replying in English, and then translating to Chinese and to Spanish, and so on) became a precious gift: the possibility to listen to each other from a deep Focusing attitude, even before the words were translated. So we cultivated a slow-paced way of being together, a space where everyone was listening to people speaking in foreign languages and, somehow, at the end, we were starting to understand each other’s experience before translation.

A second experience that was very moving for me was translation itself. I have been translating in different settings and from different languages for over two decades, and very usually in professional settings (for example, translating foreign Focusing trainers here in Spain). But for me translating a Focusing conversation always brings a special effort, how to translate both the words and the implicit experience in those words.

That took me to a different level: the fact that I was translating (English and Spanish, both ways) in a group that felt like a community reminded me of how I used to translate immigrant teenagers for group-building in an association that no longer exists. When I shared that experience of both satisfaction about being able to translate in a community setting and grief about the disappeared association, other fellow members shared about the communities they had lost too –and how our previous communities were present and had a space in what we were creating.

During those four sessions we talked, tried exercises, commented, discussed… As I shared in the final row, I had arrived to the group with the main goal of getting ideas, techniques and exercises to create a community that uses Focusing. However, I have taken away something very different: a Focusing attitude that fosters presence, that allows the group and each of its members to attend to a different quality of feeling, a connection that is kept in the body.

Those are some learnings that will stay for me (in fact I have visited Focusing Initiatives International, the organization that helps spread Community Wellness Focusing, and I have joined the Community Wellness Focusing Discussion List), as well as a deep gratitude toward our hosts and every member of the group. Now is the time to carry all these experiences forward creating communities with this Focusing attitude.

I wish for those of you who read me deep experiences of community-building like this.

F. Javier Romeo-Biedma

Note: Picture posted with the permission of the members. No personal names are given in respect for their privacy, apart from the hosts that publicly offered the Interest Group.

Leer esta entrada en español.

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07/11/2016

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07/11/2016

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