BOOK REVIEWS: “Focusing” and “Let Your Body Interpret Your Dreams”

Eugene Gendlin Ph.D. Bantam Press 1978/81 IR£4.99

and E. Gendlin: Chiron Publications IR£3.30

Available in paperback at Cathedral Bookshop, Dublin.

Dr. Gendlin’s work is only now becoming well known in Ireland. The Author is professor of psychology at Chicago University, USA. He has written books and articles on philosophy and psychology. His work is trans­lated into seven languages. He is president of the Focusing Institute, in Chicago.

In the first three chapters of “Focusing”, Dr. Gendlin describes the re­search that led to the discovery or recognition of the process now known as focusing. The skill of focusing is easily acquired. It empowers one to change from “inside.” “To live from a deeper place than just your thoughts and feel­ings.” (p.4.).

At this point a definition might be useful. According tho the author, “Focusing is the next development after getting in touch with your feelings. It concerns a different kind of inward attention to what, at first, is sensed unclearly.” (p.8.). This vague, felt sense of something within the body, if focused on, can become clear and lead to small felt steps of change.

The book is written in a style that creates a sense of safety and trust about the insights presented. Chapters four through nine can be used as a focusing manual with step by step directions for you to try this simple “life-enhanc­ing” technique for yourself.

Focusing envisions a person as process, capable of continual change and forward movement. Paying attention “inside” becomes part and parcel of a focused person’s life in much the same way as creative artists remain finely tuned to the self within. Dr. Gendlin uses the example of a golfer who gets a “felt sense” in his body when he is ready to swing, (p.85). Staying connected to one’s own inner process is one of the fruits of focusing. There are count­less other advantages.

Let Your Body Interpret Your Dreams takes the work of focusing into a new and exciting area. Gendlin takes the work on dreams from various well known authors and presents a new step called “Bias Control”. It allows the dreamer to interpret the dream in a creative way instead of the usual bias. If you wake up with a felt sense of the dream or areas of the dream in your body and you follow some simple, easily learned steps, you may find yourself on the threshold of great inner development, especially if you felt stuck or stagnant about your inner process and its development in your life right now.

This book, like Focusing, is written in part as a manual giving a set of instructions that empower and enable you to have this learning for yourself – even as you read. Both books invite the reader to a bodily awareness, an inner, distinctly felt sense of some holistic truth. It is more than can be easily put into words. When attended to, it can open our inner resources in ways that are new, surprising and unexpected. The body, according to Gendlin, is a “cosmic system, rich in implications and directions beyond conception”, (p.49)

From my own experience of having studied dreamwork and focusing with Gendlin I strongly recommend both books. Focusing can interrupt a downward journey on a spiral of emotions that keep one trapped in the same barren place inside oneself for years. It is a “growth promoter”. Focus­ing brings a “felt shift” in the body.

Dreamwork with focusing can point to a potential inside that allows you to become a resource in your own healing process. You can take positive steps toward truth, wholeness and energetic living. Dreamwork with focusing empowers you to find a person within yourself redolent with life and promise, waiting to be released. You will find new sources of creative energy.

Anne Kelly

These two books can change your life for the better. For more information send SAE to:

Anne Kelly, Irish Focusing Centre,
6 Forest Park, Rivervalley, Swords. Co. Dublin.
Tel (01) 8404661