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International Focusing Conference, March 2019, Merida, Mexico

 This lively conference of Focusing professionals from all over the Americas and a few people from Europe was a great opportunity to experience the diversity of the applications Focusing can be used for. Presentations ranged from Gendlin’s philosophy and its political implications to dreamwork, creative processes, couples therapy and Nonviolent Communication. I had an opportunity to connect with teachers from my two-year programme including Ann Weiser Cornell, Akira Ikemi, to work again with Jeffrey Morrison and meet Lynn Preston with whom I have done many Focusing Oriented Relational Psychotherapy calls. I had the chance to meet Beatrice Blake who has been teaching Nonviolent Communication (NVC) with a Focusing lens in El Salvador for many years. Beatrice describes how she uses NVC to help people develop self-empathy, to notice the difference between judgements and evaluations, noticing feeling and needs, empathetic listening and making requests and Focusing to give people the experience of using a ‘Revolutionary Pause’ to break habits and feel into the emergent possibility of each moment. Hearing her students describe the changes they have experienced in El Salvador demonstrates the real world application of these ideas and skills in the most challenging situations.

Lynn Preston and myself at a writing with Focusing workshop.

Having attended the Weeklong the Conference felt like a return to a known community and an extension of that gentle week together. Working in small groups and pairs to listen and honour the quiet voices within happened alongside large groups meeting to discuss links to ancestors and our desire to engage with structural privilege and intersectionality. While this conference is on a large scale intimacy, connection expression still found their way. 

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