NEW YORK METRO FOCUSING
Program Guidelines for Prospective Facilitators
Prepared by the NY Metro Focusing Planning Group
Last updated: July 5, 2015
NY Metro Focusing meetings offer an opportunity to engage in a felt-sensing, interactive exploration of topics of interest. We value diversity and welcome everyone’s voice. Our conversational process encourages slowing down, listening from a felt-sensing place, and letting what we hear resonate within to bring something new and fresh, both within ourselves and within the group.
If you are interested in leading one of our events or have already agreed to do so, these notes are for you. We are attempting to express our values from a felt-sensing place in ourselves. We hope you will read these guidelines from a felt-sensing place in yourself as well, and we invite you to discuss with us what comes for you.
Because we have learned that facilitators find it helpful, a member of the Planning Group will support each prospective facilitator in preparing a program that is congruent with these guidelines.
Over the past few years we have been working to develop programs that actually manifest a Focusing process. We try to create the opportunity for a group of individuals not only to explore and learn about the topic of the evening, but also:
- to go within with what is being heard or witnessed, letting it resonate and noticing what comes,
- to share what has come if it feels right to do so, and thus
- to experience together whatever may emerge.
Exploratory Conversations are centered around a universal topic with which everyone has experience. They are facilitated by a leader, but at their core they are felt-sensing conversations co-created among Focusing peers. The facilitator brings a well-thought-out and deep personal connection to the topic and guides the group in a felt-sensing way, so that the experience is a rich one for the individual participants and for the group as a whole. Throughout the exploration, the facilitator remains open and alive to what arises within her- or himself as well, and is part of the emerging conversation.
Experiential Learnings are centered around a topic about which the facilitator intends to impart knowledge that participants may not have heard before. These programs are closer to the typical style of presentation or workshop that an expert may have given in another context. Even so, we are looking for an event that not only teaches new material and how it relates to Focusing, but also embodies and expresses a Focusing orientation. This is fostered by:
There could be other successful styles or forms. A facilitator could, for example, lead a shorter experiential learning session followed by substantial group conversation. We are also open to the possibility of an event structure we have never seen before. Whatever the structure, everyone present will be interacting, both with one another and within themselves -- listening, speaking, and in mutual silence.
Felt-sense listening is of primary importance. We come to this apparently simple statement after closely considering the conditions that optimize group process. When people listen deeply within themselves, their inner experience can take shape and their act of listening contributes to the shared experience of the group. If they choose to speak about their own experience, doing so from that place of listening allows them to communicate something authentic and particular. When they listen deeply to one another, they are engaged with each other. When they respond to one another – whether verbally or non-verbally – from that place of listening, their deep engagement is more likely to be perceived.
We have discovered some specific approaches that seem to work well. We include them here in the spirit of sharing the fruits of our efforts and inviting your thoughts in our ongoing investigation of group process. What strategies do you have as a facilitator to add to these?
- Throughout the program, the facilitator can give guidance that encourages, and can also model, felt sensing and listening.
- Instead of inviting people to share what has come for them, a facilitator might make the suggestion for people to pause and notice where they are now and speak from the felt sense as they are ready.
- Rather than giving each person a set turn to speak, the flow of conversational process that naturally emerges from meaningful expression can be encouraged.
- At the same time, people can be reminded to maintain space for each other, and they can be supported in this with suggestions to attend freshly to what is happening within and with one another: Is it time to shift? Is it enough for now?
- When participants are working on their own or in breakout groups, they tend to feel safer and more connected if the facilitator maintains contact during those times, for example by softly speaking an occasional instruction, invitation or encouragement.
- If there are breakout groups, it is important to bring the collective together again afterwards with enough time for a conversation to evolve.
As we have said, our overarching priority is to give people a context to be present with themselves and one another in a felt-sensing way. This priority derives from our belief in the power of Focusing to engender forward movement. We want our events to provide – to ourselves and to our guests – the opportunity for forward movement in our lives.
We are especially interested in new and emerging work and in crossings between Focusing and other human endeavors. Topics could delve into:
- the process and practice of Focusing (e.g. felt sensing, carrying forward, partnering, particular Focusing styles)
- the arenas where Focusing can impact life (e.g. the arts, spirituality, movement, conflict, world issues, life cycles and stages, physical and mental health).
Our typical attendees
Our events are primarily meant to deepen the Focusing experience for people who are already familiar with the process. That said, it is important to acknowledge newcomers and make space for their particular experience. Perhaps the evening will whet their appetite for an Introduction to Focusing workshop.
The program should be no longer than 90 minutes. It bears repeating that the slowing down, listening within and interaction from felt sensing, that our process favors, take time.
Materials for Announcement/Invitation
Facilitators are asked to provide a title, a descriptive blurb of approximately 150 words or less, a bio of approximately 75 words or less, a photo to go with the bio, and (if desired) an illustration photo to go with the blurb. We need the written materials by seven weeks before the program, and the photos by five weeks before the program.
If you wish to facilitate a program, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or let any member of the Planning Group know of your interest, to begin the conversation.
For further information and calendar of meeting dates, please click here: Upcoming NYMF Meetings
We invite your feedback. These guidelines are a work-in-progress.