Focusing On The Creative Edge Video Exercise: Focusing on Creative Project

Focusing = Sitting With The Unclear Edge

Intuitive Focusing, applied to creative expression, is a methodical, predictable road to “Ah, hah!” experiences.  Gendlin’s Focusing (Bantam, 1981) is a step-wise procedure for paying attention to the murky, intuitive, whole-body “feel” of a creative project and going back-and-forth between this Creative Edge and words or images for describing it. When you hit on just the right words or image, you will experience that “Ah, hah!...Yes, that’s it. That is exactly the next step.” With continued rounds of Focusing, you can carry the creative project through many steps of problem-solving.
Focusing simply provides specific steps to encourage the “Ah, hah!” process which creative people have always accessed, usually accidentally. Fortunately, the “unconscious,” or the concretely available Creative Edge, “the intuitive body sense,” can carry more information, all at once, in that murky, wordless “feel,” than we can ever carry in our minds consciously. So, during Focusing, the creative problem-solver has access to “all of it,” “the whole thing,” more than could ever be recited consciously.

From Creative Block To Next Step Through Focusing

For example, a painter is stuck on what a particular painting needs next, right now. She can step back, take a look, and then, ask herself, “What does this painting need?” and, instead of answering from her head, the already-known, she can wait, as long as a minute or more, for the bodily-feel, the intuitive sense, the Creative Edge of “the whole thing, and what it needs now…” to arise as a murky, wordless “feel,” usually in the center of the body, between the throat and stomach…”What does it need?”…..and waiting, just paying attention to the intuitive feel….then carefully looking for words or an image or just the right gesture, the next painterly act, the next step toward “completion.”  Stuck again later? Just follow the same process, stepping back, sensing in, waiting for “the exactly right” next move to arise.

A writer is stuck in a novel: “What does this story need?....What does this character need?.....What happens next?” Again, the writer steps back, takes a moment to go quietly inside, perhaps with eyes closed, and sits with the creative question, setting aside any already-known guesses or solutions, and just waiting, for at least a minute, for the intuitive feel of the “whole thing…this whole question” to arise.  Then, just as carefully, he looks for words or images or metaphors that are exactly “right” in capturing the “feel of it all.”  And, then, “Ah, hah! That is exactly it.” Or, in writing even more than in painting, he can try out the body’s best guess, and, again, check with the body sense: “Is that it?”

Same thing for creative problem solving in a business, engineering, scientific research situation. When “stuck,” not knowing the answer in a left-brain way, the problem solver can simply pause for a moment, go quietly inside, and look for the Creative Edge, the “intuitive feel” for “this whole problem,” wait at least a minute for the intuitive feel to form, then use Intuitive Focusing to carefully find the exact words or images which ,”fit,” bringing that experience of “Ahah! That is exactly it!”

Predictable Creativity

By definition, creativity comes from the not-yet-known. Whether you are trying to find the next step in a piece of art work, a musical composition, writing, or a scientific, philosophical, or business project, you need a predictable, methodical method for having the kinds of “Ah, hah!” moments which otherwise come only when a new solution or idea bubbles up, unpredictably, from the backburner of your consciousness.

The great thing about Intuitive Focusing is that the answer, the next step, comes, not just intellectually, but experientially, as a whole-body response: “Yes. That’s it!” Throughout the Focusing process, the Focuser is constantly checking with the body-sense: “Is it this?    Is this right…?” and waiting for the body’s response. If the words or image or gestures don’t fit, the body response is flat. Nothing moves or changes.

But, when the symbols are just right, an exact “fit” for the whole-body-sensing, then, the body responds with a physically experienced sense of relaxation, tension-release, opening into a new, forward flow of energy. This is the true “Ah, hah!” experience, physically and viscerally felt, as distinct from all the ideas and possible solutions tried before. Gendlin called it a “felt shift.”  Dr. McGuire calls it a Paradigm Shift to emphasize that the kaleidoscope has turned, and everything is new.

And, another check point: the artist or painter or musician or problem-solver can try out the new “next step,” and see if it does fit, again checking with the intuitive sense as this new step is made manifest. Now, the art work, the creation, will “reflect back” to the creator, who can again sense in the body, The Creative Edge, “Is this it?” So the Focusing process, the back-and-forth between symbolizations and felt experience, can be carried on throughout the creative process.

Free Intuitive Focusing Instructions

You can click on the Instant “Ahah!”s icon in the right sidebar of the main page and immediately download the Mini-Manual giving explicit Focusing Instructions for Overcoming Creative Blocks, as well as nine other applications of Intuitive Focusing and Focused Listening which you can try immediately, in personal, interpersonal, and group decision making situations.

 If you click on the Complete Focusing Instructions icon, you can immediately download even more specific instructions for using Intuitive Focusing for problem solving.

Want to learn more about Focused Listening and Intuitive Focusing?

Home | Core Concepts | Free Resources | Is This You? | How We Work | Services/Programs | Case Studies | About Us | Store
Back to top

These materials are offered purely as self-help skills. In providing them, Dr. McGuire is not engaged in rendering psychological, financial, legal, or other professional services. If expert assistance or counseling is needed, the services of a competent professional should be sought.