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How to change without trying too hard
Ilan Shalif (Ph.D.)

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Back to the CONTENTS To do it yourself - now To III. The Daily Focusing To the recycled emotions To the Special projects To the Guide for the guide To the Emotions

What are the emotions The activation programs Ad hoc activation programs Supra-Programs The emotional Supra-Programs The cover-programs The trash-programs How it really works
to the Impossible missions???
You ask by e-mail I answer here.


I. A warning for beginners

Caution!!! You are now starting the maintenance of your central life system! Even when life is at its worst, and is "deep in the garbage pile" - hasty actions can make things even worse.

Though none of the people who have used the proposed procedure reported harmful effects to their system, one can never be sure whether or not you, or any of the other future users are the exception to the rule. So, do not be a hero! Do not try to challenge too many unpleasant emotions or bad feelings while you are only on the first steps of the new procedure. Do not do it even if you take all precautions and responsibility.

Moreover, consider the fact that previous users reported that concentrated attention to a sensation or a feeling may sometimes strengthen it temporarily. They also reported that, frequently, the unpleasant feeling focused on can unexpectedly change into another intense and unpleasant one - before relief comes and saves you.

Therefore, the use of the suggested procedure for the self-maintenance of the emotional system - without an experienced friend or coach - is not recommended to those at "high risk" for emotional flooding or acute psychosomatic disturbances. These reservations are also relevant to those who are in intensive medical treatment, intensive psychotherapy or any other intensive therapy or think they need it - whatever the reason may be.

It is not recommended to be self-applied by those who are cowards or only very anxious as they are liable to get an anxiety attack.

However, if you are really curious or of the inquisitive type, or just want a basic improvement in your feelings or a complete betterment of your emotional climate - you are invited not merely to read the following pages, but also to take the following steps:

II. First stage - beginning steps of guided sensate focusing

First step - know thyself

Sit comfortably, with support for your head so that the nape of your neck is relaxed, the head and the neck are in a relatively straight line with the spinal cord which is straight as well. This will prevents muscular tensions in the neck from interfering in following tasks.

After reading the beginning paragraphs, you will be advised to take a small tour of your body. The starting point may be the place you are usually aware of or feel once you have "decided" (or discovered or discerned) that you are in a bad mood, or that you have unpleasant emotions or feelings or sensations. It is recommended that you choose as the starting point, the place where you are now feeling the worst.

Usually this point is located in the intestines, chest, neck, or the head. Less frequently it is located in the nape of the neck, shoulders, back, feet or hands. Sometimes it is hard to find a more accurate address to those feelings as many of the parts in our body have scientific names which are not part of our daily vocabulary. Another contributor to this difficulty is the common lack of proficiency in focusing attention on feelings and sensations that are of a low or moderate intensity.

After you pay a brief notice to the starting point, start to scan slowly the various regions and organs of your body. Pay attention, for a short while, to the various sensations of each - whether you can define them as pleasant, unpleasant or neutral.

It is recommended to start the tour in your body - now
After completing the first tour, it is worth doing again - parallel
to reading the following paragraphs:

The head: One can feel pressure or pain or various unpleasant sensations in different regions of the head or in all of them simultaneously. The most common place for those feelings is in the front of the head - in and around the eyes. A lot of itching of various intensities is also felt there from time to time, mainly on the scalp.

The face: Though it is a part of the head it is entitled to a name of its own. The 23 pairs of muscles of the face are in permanent and close connection with the emotional system. Their connection is specially strong with the active ad hoc programs(4) of the moment - mainly with the "trashy"(10) ones, the parts and procedures of which are emotionally loaded. The most active region of the face is that of the mouth. Most of the problems here are mainly esthetic. The intense ones are expressed as furrows, distortions of the face or a tightened mouth. Less often there are "ticks" or a general hardening of the face muscles and jaws.

The nape: (and especially the root of the head): This is the upper end of the long muscles of the back. These muscles - especially of the upper end, are the source of headaches and other bad feelings or discomfort of the head. Various activation programs(2) use the controlled hardening of the muscles of this region to regulate the intensity of various feelings and emotions, mostly to reduce them.

The throat: Usually, the precise address is the region of the vocal cords. At this point we usually feel the lump which is hard to swallow, the suffocating tears and other kinds of sorrow. The vocal-cords like the muscles of the face - are always in very close touch with the concurrently active "trash-programs".

The chest: In this big bulk there are a lot of addresses and variegated sensations and feelings - distress, pressure, pricks, stubbing pains, sharp and dull pains, shrinking and hammering of the heart, contraction of the diaphragm, etc. The most dramatic occurrence in this region is asthmatic suffocation, triggered by mental stress. The most grave expressions of emotional stress in this area are disturbances that affect the function and health of the heart. These stresses may "donate" an important contribution to death due to heart failure - especially when they are of long duration.

The belly and intestines: The external muscles of the abdomen, the many yards of intestines and the other internal organs, have an abundance of possibilities. Each sub-region has its own characteristic variety of feelings and sensations. The pains of convulsions, nausea, stress, pricks and "butterflies"... are the most common. Diarrhea, constipation and ulcers are the most acute expressions of the effects of emotional stress on this region.

The muscles of the skeleton: These muscles are a major part of the body's weight - and even more so in lean people. These muscles can be tight, stiffened, rigid, slackened, strung, stretched... or simply painful. The majority of adults often feel pain or other bad feelings in their back - usually in the lower part. The common name is "low back pain". When one is out of luck, one learns from the physician its orthopedic name - Lumbago.

Itching, scratching and other irritants: Very often we feel itchiness (or other excitations of the skin) in the region of limbs, head, torso, etc. Sometimes (according to the prevailing code of manners), there are no moral, physical or health restrictions and we touch, rub, scratch or scrape the place absent-minded (or almost so).

Sometimes we have to refrain from doing this due to various restrictions. In these cases we try to distract our attention, and hope for a quick disappearance of the irritation.

Sometimes, we are forced to continue paying attention to the discomfort for many long seconds... until we yield to the urge or reach a compromise.

The overwhelming majority of these sensations are not of an objective source like a sting, or an insect bite or any other irritant to the skin, but a result of the activity of our emotional system. We shall dwell on this subject later in a section intended for the sensate-focusing for the advanced.

This is the end of step one

After finishing the second tour of your body, you are invited to return to the starting point and prepare yourself for the second step. However sometimes, while you are on the first step, unexpected changes have happened at the starting point, and thus a surprise awaits you there. Even if your point of departure was a significant and unpleasant sensation, it may already be changed or even dissolved.

In such a case, you can choose for the second step, any other uneasy or unpleasant sensation you still have. In the rare case where you cannot find any - leave the sensate-focus training and have a good time while it lasts. When an unpleasant feeling or sensation returns you will be able to resume the training.

If you are one of those people who are hard to stop while things are unfinished, you can still resume this step, even if you have lost the last of the bad feelings. In this case you can choose as a substitute, one of the facial muscles that are on the left of the mouth. (If you are left-handed - try the right side.)

A somewhat more sophisticated means to this end is: the "opening of the nape* of the neck", recycling of emotionally loaded memories, structured imagery and self-provocations. However, if you are doing this step without the aid of an experienced focuser - be careful not to invite too intense feelings.
Opening the nape is a term used in this book to name the act of reclining the head slightly backwards on a comfortable support. This act relaxes the muscles of the nape and neck. As a result, their ability to lower the intensity of subliminal sensations of the body diminish and they become perceptible.
This activity is usually like opening a tap. You can set it to achieve the required intensity of feelings by "tuning" the amount of the relaxation of the muscles of the neck. The crude tuning is done by adjusting the curvature and slope of the support used for the back and the head. The fine tuning is done by a minute adjusting of the extent you lean back, and the extent you direct your chin up or down.

Second step - finding the exact address

After the "general visit of courtesy" to the feelings and sensations of various parts and "regions" of the body, try to localize the exact address of one of your body sensations. Choose the one you know the most, the one which is the most interesting or the most intense.

The aim of the following task is to deepen your acquaintance with the felt senses of your body. In spite of the obstacles and inconveniences you may encounter in the first trial, it is worth doing for a few seconds - before you resume reading about the obstacles and the explanations as to how to overcome them.

This is the recommended point at which to execute
the first trial of the second step.

After doing the task once, it is recommended that you do it from time to time, while you read the following paragraphs. There are many difficulties you may encounter in this step - which seems so innocent at first - hopefully not all of them on the first day of focusing. Following are the most prominent ones and their remedies:

It is hard for anyone who is not skilled and experienced, to continue concentrating on a point of the body without drifting into some other physical or mental activity. Sometimes, the focusing itself arouses a chain of associations or other cognitive processes. This might interfere with the ongoing focusing or even prevent its continuance.

Following are three options one can implement when this happens:
Give in and change what you do for a while.

Intensify the efforts of focusing to overcome the distractions.

Choose any simple word or a syllable that first comes to your mind and repeat it silently many times. This repetition paralyzes the distracting thoughts and enables you to continue focusing during the recitation*.
In their verbal games, children find that the fast repetition of a word obliterates its meaning and stops all other thoughts. Scientists have found the same effect in their laboratories, during cognitive studies and call it semantic satiation. The Mantra of the Yogi has the same use in the various Eastern meditations. This tactic is also recommended to stop unpleasant or disturbing thoughts occurring in other circumstances.
Sometimes, because of the expedition of the processes of the natural biofeedback, the effort to perform the first step may cause the unpleasant sensation to migrate. In that case, one can join the migrating sensation and "escort" it along its course. In such a case, you can substitute the task of demarcating a course for that of locating a point.

The general tour of the body itself, and especially the effort to locate the precise address of a sensation, may cause a swift and uncontrolled process of natural biofeedback. In this case, trying to implement the second step may cause a weakening, flickering, or even disappearance of the sensation, before completing the mission of finding the exact address.

This can happen due to the regular ("spontaneous") work of the relevant activation processes and programs - as in normal daily life. It can also be the result of the intensification of natural biofeedback resulting from your unintentionally "meddling with the natural flow of the emotional stream". This is the usual outcome - whenever one increases that part of the resources of the brain and mind which one dedicates to any sensation of the body (through intentionally or unintentionally paying it more attention than before).

Though this lengthens the time needed for the location of the address, it is not recommended to rely on memory while trying to locate the address of an evasive sensation.
When meeting an unstable sensation, do not panic into hasty activity, as it is not the last time you will "hear" from it. You are bound to meet with this unpleasant sensation again and again during the following weeks. Only numerous repetitions of the drill can cause a common unpleasant feeling or sensation to change into an infrequent visitor.

As mentioned above, it is sometimes hard to find a sensation to focus on. Usually it is the work of the cover-programs and only very seldom the result of other mechanisms. Both of them restrict the ability of emotional processes to breakthrough to the conscious without "a proper invitation", as if they "know better" what is good for us.

Sometimes however, the opposite is true: the failure of the cover-programs to regulate the entrance of the felt sense to the awareness results in the intensification of the unpleasant feeling to an almost unbearable level. Following are a few corrective measures.

If a sensation becomes too strong, beginners are advised to refrain from being "heroes" and do one of the following instead:
a) Focus for a while on another feeling or sensation.

b) Do something else for a while.

c) Do something to curb them. For instance:

Rub the palms of the hands intensively against each other in order to "trim" the inflated unpleasant sensation to a bearable level. The quick palm rubbing floods the brain centers, which create the too intense sensation, with sensory input. As a result, their ability concurrently to create the unpleasant sensation is weakened. The same palms when held together as if in prayer - help to regain concentration when focusing is disturbed.

Constrict the muscles of the mouth and press the lips against each other. The mouth - which is activated by many supra-programs, is the most useful eraser for emotions and other felt sensations. The pressure of the two lips one against the other activates the restraining and inhibiting functions of the mouth on the creation of the felt sensations. It serves the conscious when applied intentionally, and the unconscious - when done spontaneously.

Certain patterns in which the muscles tense the mouth, inhibit specific feelings and sensations. The introduction of a gap of only a millimeters between the lips - with or without the added intrusion of the tongue between the frontal teeth - will cause a progressive relaxation of the mouth muscles. This causes a decrease in the ability of the lips, as well as that of the other muscles of the mouth, to erase or inhibit emotions and their felt sensations.

The other important "eraser of emotions" and felt sensations is the "nape of the neck" and its muscles. The Biblical nickname "stiff neck" for stubborn people is an example of popular knowledge. Hardening the muscles of the nape of the neck blots out the current emotions and feelings.

The voluntary hardening of these muscles - just before, or in the early stage of the development of bad feelings - helps us to repel the induction of unpleasant feelings. We usually do it without being fully aware of the fact.

Mainly we do it before a painful medical treatment or when unpleasant feelings are imposed on us by those wishing to intimidate us. The conscious hardening and relaxing of those muscles, will enable you to regulate your sensations without too much effort.
Prolonged focusing can be perplexing because of its peculiarity - even after being experienced many times - especially for those who are not used to paying attention to mild and weak sensations of their body. A few trials will be necessary before you get used to it and even love it.

The following paragraphs will describe the preferred way of executing the task of finding the accurate address of the sensation of a feeling, an emotion, a mood or any other felt sensation.

First of all we repeat, emphasize and clarify that the task of finding the exact address is to be a nonverbal one. There is no need to find a verbal name for the location, as no mail is sent there. Sometimes, the very effort to find a verbal name makes things worse, it is nearly always redundant.

The preferred way of getting over the obstacles in the process of finding the address of a sensation is by an imaginary probing and touching there with a soft and elongated object. The fastidious ones can use an imaginary paintbrush - the rest can use in their imagination the more convenient pointing finger.

When one uses a pointing finger, one can imagine bringing the index finger near the sensation, or even placing it there for a short time. When one uses the imaginary paintbrush for the same purpose (a soft one is to be preferred), one can put it there instead of the finger. Most of the time, however, sensation is not on the surface of the body but within it. Thus, both the finger and the paint brush can reach the place by imagery only.

Sometimes, especially when the sensation is hazy or spread over a large region or both, it is hard to focus on the entire chosen area at the same time. In a case like this one can choose any point in the region and concentrate on it alone. When this approach does not help one can try another "trick":

Sometimes, a slight pressure, caress, or a gentle rubbing of the skin near that sensation helps mobilize the needed attention and concentration. Some times the needed resources are mobilized by repeating the above actions a few times for a short while. However, sometimes the physical contact which is intended to help is itself a distractor. When this happens, one can start focusing on the after-image of the gentle contacts instead.

In all these versions, one starts focusing with a few seconds of attention to the feelings caused by touch. Then, gradually - while those feelings are fading - shift to the genuine one.

Before you continue with the following step, do the
second step again. This time dedicate to
it a whole minute - or even two.

The third step - a more intimate acquaintanceship with sensations

Concurrent to the reading of the following paragraphs, imagine
that you are really touching the specific place of the
sensation with your finger or paint brush.

When the actual area of the sensation is bigger than the tip of the finger or the brush, try gently to demarcate the borders of the area of the sensation with one of them. If you used your real finger to mark the surface of the place of the sensation, take it away now. The sensations of contact with the body might distract you. If you are using the imaginary paint brush - you may leave it there.

Sometimes the border of the region of the sensation you are focusing on is blurred. In such a case it is nearly impossible and unimportant to demarcate the exact borders. So, just try to find, inside the general area of the sensation, the sub-region where the sensation is the strongest.

Stop paying attention to the various sensations,
and concentrate on reading the following
paragraphs, until the fourth step.

The third step summarizes the chapter about the search for the exact address of the sensation to be focused on. It has six main purposes:
To acquaint you with the specific sensation to be focused on, in the fourth step and in the future.

To bring about a gradual perfection of the search programs you will use to find the natural body sensations.

To contribute to the gradual weakening of the habits and the activation programs that usually prevent you from long concentration of attention power on body sensations.

To improve your acquaintance with the specific sensation so it will be easier to focus on in the future.

To enable you to recognize quicker the first changes that will happen to the sensation in the near future.

To register a clear and stable picture of your usually felt sense of the pre-focusing area as a base line - for your private follow up.

The fourth step

This step is dedicated to the work on the felt sensation itself. It is recommended that you choose for it the sensation(s) you have paid attention to during the previous steps. If, for any reason, it is no longer existent*, you can carry out the fourth step on any other sensation that you like, on condition that it is not of a pure somatic origin, as - for instance, the pressure of your body on the surface on which you are sitting.
Frequently, the processes of the brain which are responsible for entering changes into the ad hoc programs involved with the ongoing sensations are accelerated by even a scant increase of attention. This happens due to the intensification of the natural biofeedback arriving from the sensations when attended to. And thus, after the request for added attention expressed by the sensation has been fulfilled, the notice is no longer needed.
Now, after finding and getting to know the region of the sensation it
is time to focus on the point where it is the strongest or where it is
most easily paid attention.

Find this point now and in your imagination, put the tip of your
finger, or the tip of the imaginary paint brush on that
point. Remain in this state a few seconds before
continuing the reading. Let it become for
a short while the central focus
of the body as a whole.

The fifth step

This step is an enhanced and more focused repetition of the previous one. Before repeating it, read the following paragraphs.

Whenever we pay attention for a while to any place in the body which is not too cold, we start a multistage process: first, the focusing of the attention increases the clearness of the natural biofeedback it supplies to the brain and strengthens its impact on all the ongoing processes. This especially influences the processes which are responsible for the entering of changes into the ongoing ad hoc supra-programs.

This results, at first, in the gradual relaxation of the muscle fibers in that area - including those of the walls of the blood arteries. As a result, the arteries expand a bit, increase the amount of blood streaming there and rises the temperature of the attended area. Usually, after a while, this, and the increase in the effectiveness of the natural biofeedback of the area to the brain, helps the subliminal sensations of rhythmic pulsations of the arteries there to gain admittance to awareness.

When the region is not too cold, when one is not too troubled and when there is no "veto" by any supra-program - it takes only a few seconds (up to thirty) of focusing till the throbbing of the pulse (or a change in it) begins to be felt.

In like fashion, it will probably happen at the point of focusing you have chosen. This will help you to sustain longer the focusing of attention there. Afterwards, as tends to happen with most other sensations and points of focused attention, your power of concentration and the portion of your attention paid to the sensation will decrease, and the sensation of blood pulsation will recede to the subliminal status again.

Now do the fourth step again. During its course, focus on the central
point of the sensation. Try to discern the pulsation and
the other changes that might occur there.

If, while you were doing this step, you have not encountered any problem, and if you are not curious to know which obstacles you missed - go to the sixth step. Otherwise, you may find in the following paragraphs a lot of useful information.

Sometimes, when you are attending to the sensation of an area, focusing for a longer period of time is needed till one can feel the pulse. This usually happens when the place of focusing is marginal, when the number of blood vessels there is small or when prejudice is involved. Usually even in these places it does not take much longer than half a minute till one starts to feel the pulsation.

Sometimes nothing helps and even the enhanced natural biofeedback is not strong enough to make one aware of the pulsation and it remains subliminal. This is not critical since the feeling of the pulsation is only an auxiliary device used to help the new trainee in the process of focusing his attention and not an essential precondition for its success.

Sometimes, the receptors located in the walls of the blood vessels of an area are less sensitive than those of the small muscles there. This may cause the focuser to feel a localized relaxation of the muscles and the emerging of felt sensations which are like the "pins" and needles experienced when a limb has `gone to sleep'. The focuser can use them as pointers - just as he uses the pulsation of the blood.

Sometimes it is hard to pay attention for a prolonged period of time to a point or area of the body. Many factors contribute to this difficulty. The following are the most common obstructions and the preferred means to overcome them:

From time to time, a short absent-mindedness occurs or a momentary "falling of tension" in the processes that regulate the concentration of attention and enable focusing. Usually, it takes only a minimal mobilization of resources to redeem the ability to concentrate and to resume focusing.

Sometimes, sensations or pulsations in other parts of the body increase. These may deflect one's attention away from the point of focusing. Often, one can overcome the distraction by heightening the efforts of concentration on the original point. It is also possible to compromise and focus on both - the original and the distractor. It is also permissible - and sometimes preferable - to yield to the distractor and to change the point of focusing to the place of the new sensation.

Sometimes, as the activity of focusing continues, various thoughts start to gain prominence in the consciousness. As long as they do not hinder the focusing, let them continue their own course. If they do disturb the focusing (or the focuser), obliterate them. This can be done easily by monotonous repetition of a simple, short word or a syllable - silently and without even moving the lips - in parallel with the focusing. When the intruding thoughts disturb the focusing too much, it might be easier to stop the training for a while, and return to it later.

It happens sometimes, that the difficulties encountered are "side effects" of positive developments. Frequently, even a short focusing can supply the processes mending programs with a sufficient amount of natural biofeedback. This enables them to solve very quickly the problem responsible for the arousal of the felt sensation and thus stop it. In this case, just search happily for another felt sensation to focus on.

The sixth step

After the primary focusing you reach a stage when the main work of the natural biofeedback, enhanced by the focusing, is done. This stage can be short - a few seconds. It can also be as long as a few minutes. It depends mainly on the region on which you focus, on the sensation or feeling you are focusing on, on the strength of your concentration of attention, and for sure, it also depends on the supra-programs involved - especially the one which causes the sensation on which you are focusing.

As we described in other chapters, the primary sensation you concentrated on, and those that joined or replaced it, are natural biofeedback. This feedback is the output from processes activated by various ad hoc activation programs of the mind - mainly the emotional type - and it feeds both the processes responsible for the concurrent execution of those ad hoc supra-programs and those responsible for their improvement.

Though most of your supra-programs are quite similar to those of other people, they are unique to you. Therefore, every description we outline in the following paragraphs (and those previously outlined) will not be entirely the same as those you may experience.

Now find the precise place of the previous target of focusing (if it
still exists) or the most suitable sensation that you have now.
Focus on it for about a minute with all the attention you
can recruit for this task. Whether you feel the
pulsation or not - try to sense the minute
changes that happen all the time to
the intensity of the sensation,
its quality and its borders.
After a minute, resume the reading.

If after a short time, the unpleasant feeling has already faded, shift for the remaining time to another sensation or area.

If the original sensation you were focusing on disappeared or changed into another or changed address - don't worry. Even when one laughs in the face of suffering and plays games with it - it still does not go away forever after only one session of focusing. Thus, there is no need to panic. The unpleasant sensation will come back after a short time. (Usually it will return a little bit weaker but in the not too exceptional cases it may even become stronger.)

If after a minute, the unpleasant feeling has not yet changed, try to continue the focusing, in spite of the accumulating doubt, while you read the following paragraphs*. It is important to take into account that this may happen frequently in the first stages of focusing.
It was found that all the experienced focusers and many beginners can divide their attention to a few concurrent tasks. Usually, they can focus on two or more sensations simultaneously or focus on a sensation, in parallel to any other duty of the daily stream of life.
While doing it, focus concurrently on the felt sense of your choice
From time to time stop the reading for a minute
and focus all your attention on it.

Sometimes one meets a nasty and stubborn sensation that takes a long time to overcome - especially if psychosomatic problems are involved. This may happen from time to time even in the advanced stages of training and to veteran focusers.

Sometimes, not only does the unpleasant sensation not decrease its intensity after a few minutes of focusing, but rather increases it.

Sometimes, these sensations can really be nasty and unpleasant even becoming unbearable. In these cases cowardice is a virtue. So don't be a hero. Stop focusing until you get over the bad experience. When the worst happens, it is usually better to take a break of a few hours before continuing the focusing.

The following are a few items of information that can make the sixth step easier, more meaningful, and more efficient:
If you have started to notice a pulsation at the place you are focusing on, during any of the previous steps or in this one, you can treat it as part of the target of the focusing. The added focusing on the pulsation strengthens the focusing on the place with the unpleasant sensation and weakens the distractors.

Many times, after a small number of seconds of a joint focusing on the pulsation and the unpleasant feeling, one starts to feel that the target place constricts and dilates like a throbbing balloon (to the rhythm of the pulsation). Usually, that "balloon" inflates gradually till it fuses with the surrounding skin. If at the beginning this is the only sensation there, don't worry, very soon a more interesting sensation will join it.

If the quality of the sensation or its place changes after a short focusing, do not stop focusing on it. Just change to the new place or the new sensation. In many focusing sessions, the first sensation encountered is the result of a "covering supra-program"(17) (a "defense") for another supra-program. Sometimes when one focuses on a covering supra-program, it gives way very quickly and after a few seconds, one meets the real trash- program's sensation which was covered by the original one. In cases like this, the focusing is similar to a two-stage missile.

If you suffer chronically from a lack of unpleasant feelings or sensations to focus on, or those you do have dwindle after a few seconds - do not worry. There are many alternatives to them. As we explained elsewhere, one can always summon a felt sensation or focus on the faint sensations of the facial muscles and the vocal cords. This kind of focusing will cause changes in the ongoing ad hoc activation programs even "without their formal request" submitted as a spontaneous felt sense.

Sometimes, the unpleasant sensation you focus on is intensified at the beginning of the focusing. This usually happens in cases where the covering-programs ("the defenses") are giving the covered programs only a partial covering service, and the initial seconds of focusing weakens the cover- programs quicker than it changes the covered programs themselves.

In these cases the initial sensations are mainly signals of the covered programs weakened by the cover-programs. Thus the net results of the initial seconds of the focusing is the paradoxical increase in the un- pleasant sensation, though no real complications are involved.

If the intensification of the unpleasant sensation is not unbearable, continue focusing. However, you can regulate the intensity of the focusing to suit yourself according to the intensity of the sensation you prefer to work with.

If the sensation becomes too much: change the focus of attention, stiffen a bit the muscles of the nape of the neck, rub the palms of the two hands together or even stop the focusing for a while.

Even short and unsuccessful focusings aborted at their beginning, initiate gradual change and weakening in the trash-programs focused on. This is so because the cessation of the intentional focusing on the unpleasant sensation does not abruptly stop all the attention given it.

As a result, somewhat heightened attention continues to be allocated to it for a while, even after the bulk of it has moved elsewhere. Even afterwards, when conscious attention to the sensation has ceased completely, an enhancement of the natural biofeedback processes continues for a while on a subliminal level.

Verbal thoughts often integrate with the programs on the sensations of which we are focusing, and activate other programs - as an addition or as a substitute. Sometimes, the nonverbal programs one is focusing on activate, during the focusing, other supra-programs which create different sensations.

In both cases you can respond as suggested above - fight against the change, yield to it or compromise. One can treat the intruding verbal processes, just as suggested in previous steps on how to deal with competing thoughts.

More frequently than one can imagine, a pleasant sensation may occur even during this step. When it happens, one is advised to shift all one's attention to it, and focus on it as long as possible. Masters and Johnson (the sexologists) have already discovered how potent this focusing is, when one tries to solve long lasting problems.

Summary of the first stage

If the emotional supra-program(s) of the mind, which created the sensation you applied to the six steps of focusing, was not protected too much, you have already felt an improvement. In the early stages of focusing, one does not usually meet supra-programs that are protected too much. Therefore, the majority of new focusers experience their first improvement during the first trial.

However, though it does sometimes happen, usually one does not get rid of a feeling that is "a frequent uninvited and unwelcome visitor" after one successful session of focusing. In order to make it disappear for long stretches of time, one has to repeat the focusing for quite a few trials during the course of a week or two.

Those of us not disturbed by unpleasant sensations and feelings most of the time are a small minority of fortunate persons. Most of the time, most people in our culture are stuck at various points, problems or troubles - or on all of them together. Those of the majority and even those of the lucky minority, can be sure that focusing will work for them. Up to the present, all those who learned the focusing technique, through implementing the first six steps, improved their quality of life.

The following is a partial list of chronic or semi-chronic sensations and feelings that yielded easily in the first stage of training of fresh focusers:

Pressures and pains in the head; feelings of suffocation, pressure, pain or tears in the throat (including the "ball of lead" which is usually called "Globous Hystericus"); pressures, suffocation and pains in the chest; constriction and other disturbances of the diaphragm; pains, pressures, constriction, spasms and other nasty feelings in the intestines; too many or painful visits to the toilet; various problems with muscles of the skeleton of the body - especially those of the lower back.

Readers who experienced the six steps of the first stage and profited from them are advised to practice the various steps in the following chapter. However, they are advised to do this only after they are sure that they have already derived a substantial benefit from the first stage. Those who tried and did not get any benefit from it are advised to give this book to a friend or leave it in a public place.


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Back to the CONTENTS To do it yourself - now To the Daily Focusing To the recycled emotions To the Special projects To the Guide for the guide To the Emotions

What are the emotions The activation programs Ad hoc activation programs Supra-Programs The emotional Supra-Programs The cover-programs The trash-programs How it really works
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