The theme for this month’s practice series is INTUITION.
Writing with the Felt Sense is a great tool for getting to the heart of what we know and how we know it. This writing process can also help us recognize the feeling of true guidance more consistently. To use it, we begin by attending to the place in our bodies where we notice a change, shift, or new experience related to an inquiry we're making. The feeling might come as heightened sensation, a release, or a message that captures the experience.
This method for accessing your intuition is useful for everything from launching a creative project, making a decision that feels right, or engaging psychological work at a deeper level. Ultimately, charting the pathway to the felt sense as a regular practice tunes our awareness into transformative possibilities without a lot of personal shadow getting in the way.
This practice is based on the work of psychologist Eugene Gendlin and Sondra Perl. Gendlin defines the felt sense as “a bodily awareness of a situation or person or event. An internal aura that encompasses everything you feel and know about the given subject at a given time—encompasses it and communicates it to you all at once rather than detail by detail.”
As you approach this intuitive writing process, remember there is no right or wrong answer to look for. Rather this is a way of honing in on signals in the body and psyche beyond the threshold of our ordinary attention.
Read the whole practice through first and then keep it handy to refer to as you complete each step.
Practice (10 minutes):
- Find a comfortable seated position with your feet on the floor. Breathe slowly in and out several times to release tension and find your center. Notice how you are feeling. Notice how your body feels right now.
- Once you are relaxed and tuned into your body, bring to mind a question you want to ask your intuition today.
- Scan inside to see if the question seems linked to a sensation or location in your body. Ask yourself, “Where do I feel this felt sense? Is it in a part of my body, like my head, chest, legs, abdomen, feet?” Let the answers come to you. As they do, ask, “Is this right? Am I getting closer?” See if you can feel when you're on the right track or if you notice a shift or click inside when you get close that says, “Oh yes, that’s it.”
- After tuning into this bodily sensation, begin to write down the associations that emerge as you pay close attention to that felt sense. These might come as words, images, or feelings. Stay close to the feeling and where it's located in your body. As you come to a stopping point in your writing, pause and ask, “Is there more associated with this feeling or topic?” Listen to see if more comes to you. If it does, write that down as well.
- Now, take a step back from your question and grab ahold of the felt sense of the whole topic again. Consider what about it is important to you. Pause and ask, “What’s missing from this question or topic for me? What have I not yet considered about it?” Listen again for a word, image, or feeling to emerge on its own from the feeling. Write down what comes to you.
- Optional: If at any time in this process you feel stuck, consider what is so hard about this topic. Pose the question and wait for a bodily felt sense in response. You might notice if the stuck place is associated with a part of your body or if it shifts as you get closer to describing it.
- To close this practice, ask: “Does this feel complete?” Wait for the felt sense to respond and make notes on what comes to you.
You have now practiced focusing and writing with the felt sense to access your intuition. With practice, we hope this tool will help you develop clear pathways to your own knowing. If you'd like to try a longer writing practice developed by Sondra Perl, see The Focusing Institute.
Image: "Ink Pens [explored]" on Flickr (cc)