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Ideas from “Conversations at the Edge” with Gene Gendlin and Ann Weiser Cornell 2016

Gratitude, awe and humbleness – those feelings stand up among all the rest after attending the latest course with Gene Gendlin and Ann Weiser Cornell about Focusing, the Philosophy of the Implicit and Gendlin’s work.

conversations_at_the_edge-2016I am deeply grateful for having had the opportunity to join “Conversations at the Edge with Gene and Ann” during these past weeks of September and October 2016. Ann Weiser Cornell has been organizing these “Conversations at the Edge with Gene and Ann” several times a year through her platform Focusing Resources as a phone course by Gene Gendlin and herself in which participants can ask whatever they want: questions for Gene Gendlin, requests for ideas and even to be accompanied through a Focusing process by Gendlin himself.

gene-gendlin-ann-weiser-cornellGratitude, awe, humbleness… I had already listened to audio and video files of Gene Gendlin, and I have found them very inspirational. But being with him in a conversation over the phone is something profoundly different. Even if I did not dare to ask anything during the first three sessions, listening to him interacting live with other people has a special quality. His presence, his openness, his clarity are very moving, and he shares his wisdom with some pearls of his knowledge and his attention.

And I want to share some of the ideas that I enjoyed the most:

  • The concept of crossing, summarized by Gene: “Crossing makes it possible to say anything and be understood in some new way by saying it in a new system, saying ‘How is this (or can be) an instance of that?'” We can always say anything by expressing it from another point of view. A metaphor is possible by saying one thing in function of another: “A is, in a certain sense, B.”
  • A fascinating discussion between Gene and a participant about how to define Focusing, and his objection about defining the necessary and sufficient for something to be Focusing. One of the many ideas is that “Focusing is staying with ‘that’, even when there is no relief yet.”
  • Focusing as a way to listen to our inner movements: “There is a lot in us that wants to be heard and has not been heard yet. What is in me that wants to be heard?”
  • A bright message of hope: “Focusing does not need trust [in the process] in advance,” meaning that we can start a Focusing process even distrusting something in us, and through the process we will arrive to trust it.
  • Gene sharing that he considers himself “very biased in favour of keeping the good things and leaving the bad things apart,” meaning that he prefers to stay with the pleasant aspects of each process and not insisting and trying to “understand” (in the head) the painful aspects, once the process has solved them: “You do not need to go there,” he said.
  • “Focusing is a technique, but not only a technique.”
  • Focusing is always an inner process, even when we are Focusing on external objects (trees, landscapes, paintings…): there is always a body feeling.
  • The formulation “Let’s stay a minute with that,” letting the word “that” contain all the meanings, without specific words, so when words come, they will be new and fresh.
  • Talking about how a culture can configure a person’s experiences, Gene said: “Every human being is always more than their culture.”
  • “The felt-sense is always more reliable than emotion or logic/reason alone.”

And I have a special memory of talking with Gene about my approach to find a handle for violence with Focusing, so we can all detect and prevent it, as I usually teach in my trainings for Child Protection professionals (social workers, psychologists, educators, teachers…) and families, and feeling his interest and receiving his support and encouragement.

There were many other interactions plenty of interesting ideas and experiences, with the presence of Gene and Ann. I keep them with care, and private.

So I feel gratitude, awe and humbleness for having spent these hours listening to Gene Gendlin live, with his warmth, his openness, his curiosity, his deep interest in what each participant had to ask or share. A true lesson. An inspiration. And a celebration.

I send from here my gratitude to Gene for being available and to Ann for making it possible at all levels.

With gratitude, awe and humbleness,

F. Javier Romeo

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