Are you the universe?
Here is a quote from Gene Gendlin that allows us a tiny peek into his philosophy and an understanding of the depth and power of the focusing process. It’s also a view into how the universe might lie right within us. In this episode, I thought I would take a simple paragraph from Gene Gendlin’s original book on focusing and break it down into a few parts to help explain what we are talking about when in focusing we talk about “the body”.
First off, heres it the quote and then we will break it down.
Gendlin from the his book – Focusing
“When I use the word “body” I mean more than the physical machine. Not only do you physically live the circumstances around you but also those you only think of in your mind. Your physically felt body is in fact part of a gigantic system of here and other places, now and other times, you and other people. In fact, the whole universe. This sense of being bodily alive in a vast system is the body and it is felt from inside.”
Ok, so here goes. Gene starts this paragraph by letting us in on how he perceives the word body, both as it relates to the organism and focusing as a whole. Right off the bat he is expanding the idea of what most people think the body is. Some might divide the organism into parts, the body being one of them. But here Gene states. “When I use the word body I mean more that the physical machine. ” It’s an important distinction and a perspective shifting moment. I’ll share a personal story of an experience I had with a cardiologist once.
I had been reading a lot and following “Heartmath” a research institute in California dedicated to discovering heart intelligence. The initial thought was to connect the fact that the heart and brain develop at about the same pace in the fetus and that the heart has the second highest number of electrical impulse points compared to the brain. The overall idea is that the heart has its own intelligence that informs the body or own thoughts, emotions and sentiments.
I was so excited to share this idea with a cardiologist I had met at a dinner party but I was left a bit shocked at the response. “bah,” he said, “it’s just a muscle, it’s a pump, that’s it. There is nothing else.” I gasped and kept quiet. But, it was informative, because we humans can can use our analysis skills and rational thought process to form any kind of reality.
Now, I happen to believe that the heart is a lot more than just a pump or a muscle, especially since I have had many focusing experience which generate directly from the heart space and the feeling, thoughts, images and sensations that come from that part of the body. So, this paragraph reminded me of that experience, here Gene is saying, “listen here, when I say body, I mean a lot more than a machine.”
He is opening us up to the whole, to more, to possibility.
Next he adds, “Not only do you physically live the circumstances around you but also those you only think of in your mind.” Here, I feel Gene is connecting things to the whole, he is bringing the body and our thoughts into one experience. He is also beginning to lay out a foundation, one that reminds us that we are connected to all things. Everything from Religion to Quantum Physics has been expounding on this idea in man’s never ending search for identity. Here Gene reminds us that we live in the outside world and our inside world simultaneously, while reminding us that “circumstances” can also be a creation within our own thoughts or though patterns.
Next sentence. Your physically felt body is in fact part of a gigantic system of here and other places, now and other times, you and other people. Wow! That really expresses the wholeness of an individual and the way in which we, as individuals are part of what he describes as a “gigantic” system, one that spans time and space, “here and other places, now and other times”. What a beautiful sentiment to lay down about the body, that the body, and we, are the sum of so many things, that we carry the wholeness of time, place and space inside ourselves. Here Gene might really be telling us about the possibility of the human life force and also he shares its capacity. We are GIGANTIC, which might not even be a word that expresses what we are largely enough. The idea that we are this container that is huge and ever expanding. Which leads us directly to:
“In fact, the whole universe. This sense of being bodily alive in a vast system is the body and it is felt from inside.”
Here we can connect whole whole universe to the being, but also Gene is expressing each individual as being, “bodily alive” within a “vast system” but at the same time he understands the individual and personal nature of this feeling because the experience is “felt from the inside”.
This is of course, just a small taste of what Gene has shared about his philosophy and in one paragraph he is expressing what the focusing experience can lead us to understand about our inner connections, our inner workings and the whole universe. We have the capacity to experience ALL OF THIS, from within the body, that carbon unit that we may sometimes believe is just meat and bones, and blood, muscle and nerve. Something tells me that we, that you are a lot more.
He might even be giving us a glimpse into the thought that thing that ties it all together is us, or that the capacity for us to express and live through our body in this place, from this deep focusing well. Is this very fabric of the thing we like to refer to as the human experience. IN this one paragraph Gene implies so much about where, who and what we are, but it also allows us to approach our own focusing work from the realm of great personal capacity and limitless possibility.
Five sentences, when strung together in this way, describes a philosophy and opens a doorway into the me.
Here is an interesting video about the heart – brain connection.