Notes from 9/25/2020 NYMF Gathering
Forty members of the NY Metro Focusing community gathered together via Zoom on Friday, September 25, 2020. Susan Deisroth welcomed the group and invited Susan Rudnick to make an announcement about the upcoming FOT Conference in October (for details: https://www.fotconference.com/)
She then introduced Lynn Preston and Yao-Obiora Dibia who facilitated the evening’s program: Human Diversity: Community Empowerment – Connecting Across Difference through Focusing. Isabel Adon expertly supported all of us technically and was an active contributor to the process of the program.
Lynn and Yao shared the story of the development and spirit of FORCE – Focusing-Oriented Relational Community Empowerment – a community group now in its third year. From the humble beginning of a local coffee club and the enlivening sense of a diverse group of people to the empowered community group of FORCE, the spirit of this group recognizes the importance of acknowledging differences as well as our inextricable interconnectedness. Learning together to have community conversations about this diversity takes us beyond our polarization, alienation and isolation to an embodied experience of our larger interconnected selves. Lynn reminds us of Eugene Gendlin’s profound words, “We are interaction.”
Recognizing the difficulties in having these conversations, Lynn and Yao guided us through some experiential exercises, one of which was multi-layered – reaching beyond to the edge of our comfort zone and finding one thing that makes us recoil, that is unacceptable, scary, repulsive, that one thing that is alien and cannot be accepted into our lives. Knowing that Focusing is the way forward, we were invited to bring curiosity about and to this otherness. What about it makes us recoil, and then how does that thing feel about us, or how does it feel for itself? We were then invited to share both in partnership and in community space.
In addition to some recognizing that this other repellent thing is not so very different from ourselves, one of our participants pointed to something D.W. Winnicott said in his book Playing and Reality: “It is a joy to be hidden but a disaster not to be found.”
Another participant, in contemplating polarization in relation to his experiences in Ireland, brought to the group: “When I am polarized inside myself, I create polarizations within my community. In Ireland wonderful people who started to listen to the polarization inside themselves, then listened to others. My community can only be as good as I am and reflect back what I put into it.”
Perhaps this curiosity about one's own inner polarization and the other, as well as the need to be found and known for who we are, is the life-forward spirit of the Focusing process in the service of building community across differences.
Isabel ended the evening with an offering from Rumi:
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I'll meet you there.”
Prepared by Cynthia Callsen
and Naomi Glicken and Susan Deisroth
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