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

For suggestions and complains click on:
drilanshalif@geocities.com or: gshalif@netvision.net.il

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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
to the Impossible missions???
You ask by e-mail I answer here.

CHAPTER 5 - III. Daily Focusing

This stage is about improving the proficiency of sensate focusing, deepening the understanding of its mechanisms, and acquiring the habit of initiating it - even when not compelled to. This stage is intended for all the "graduates" of the first six steps for beginners, who have not yet despaired of gaining something from the General Sensate Focusing Technique. In this stage, the main issue is about the routine of daily allocation of attention to the activity of sensate focusing.

1. The nape of the neck

Many may remember the pictorial biblical description of stubborn people as being "stiff necked". This expression means that a person so named, does not yield to pressure - physical or moral - from others. It seems that the hardening of the muscles of the nape of the neck by contraction is the most common of all the available means used to weaken or dampen the intensity of unwanted feelings and sensations. It influences all of them, without regard to their nature or source. It is usually applied - without being aware of the fact - to internal processes and to external pressures.

In our daily life, the chronic or temporary hardening of the nape of the neck is used as one of the important weapons of the "Trash-Programs". They use it to reduce the high and unbearable levels of intensity of sensations and feelings to "bearable" ones, with which one is able to deal if one chooses to.

This treatment is not restricted to the unbearable ones. In their effort to keep the conscious mind "clean" from any unpleasant experience, the trash- programs are also aided by the contraction of the nape of the neck muscles. Unwittingly, it is even applied against the "distraction" of most of the moderate feelings as well. Consequently, a plethora of subliminal sensations are constantly, "just waiting" to gain access to the awareness or to be invited in.


When we want to invest effort in sensate-focusing and we cannot find any feeling upon which to concentrate, or when the feelings that exist are too weak, we are not helpless. We can "cure" this by "opening the nape of the neck" - slightly relaxing the muscles of the nape - using various means. As a result, at least a few of the subliminal sensations will enter the awareness.

Sigmund Freud and other orthodox psychoanalysts did it by lying the patients on their backs on a couch. You can do it whenever and wherever you want by focusing part of your attention on these muscles - with or without a gentle touch or caress preceding it. One can do it also by leaning one's head on any kind of support while standing or sitting. These tactics can also be used as an amplifier (or booster) for the ongoing felt sensations or as a means of changing them.

The last tactic can even be used to a very precise degree as one can open and close the nape to a minute extent by enlarging or reducing the angle at which the head reclines.

Maximum opening of the nape is achieved whenever the head and the neck are in a straight line with the spinal cord which is straight as well. As this position is very similar to that which characterizes a high level of pride, it invites to the awareness many felt sensations related to trash-programs involving the emotions of status i.e. superiority-inferiority, pride-shame and adoration-depreciation.

As the "focusing while opening the nape" can release pent-up
emotions, it is advised that the beginning focuser will
do it cautiously, taking the following measures:

The first measure: open the nape very gradually and only while standing erect, lying comfortably on your back or most preferably - while sitting comfortably with a good (from an orthopedic point of view) support for the back and the head. Refrain from doing it when you have pains in the neck or the higher parts of the back. Never force it too far back even if no pain is felt.

The second measure: do not "open the nape" while in an emotional turmoil or even when you only have strong emotions, feelings and sensations.

The third measure: whenever the felt sensations aroused during the opening of the nape become too intense to work on comfortably, decrease the opening and even harden the muscles if needed.

The first precaution must be taken in order to protect against the abrupt stiffening of the neck, constriction of the muscles there and in the back and chest, and other orthopedic damages. A good support will prevent the uncontrolled and swift recruiting of other muscles of the body to do the job of quenching the aroused sensations and feelings.

As a beginner, it will be easier for you to build the new habit and to find your physical and emotional limits, if you do it gradually, while sitting comfortably and paying a lot of attention to the sensations of the nape and the surrounding muscles. Better postpone the more intense opening of the nape to the later stages of your training or just leave it to the experienced focusers.

The second precaution is taken with regard to situations and emotional climates in which it is unwise to intensify the sensations or to try to find what is lurking behind them. Actually, the existence of any felt sensations the intensity of which is more than moderate is an indication to refraining from opening the nape. The emergence of one while you are doing it is a sign not to continue with the "opening" or at least to reduce it. The recommendation to evade the initiation of tackling intense sensations and feelings has many reasons, the most prominent of which are:

The first one is simply because they are unpleasant.

The second one is that the best results and the least damage are derived from the focusing on felt sensations of moderate and less intensity. Though it is not based on systematic research, my accumulated experience of seven years training new focusers - indicates this. It seems that the more intense sensations and feelings - so much appreciated by the professionals - too often strengthen the cover-programs or even initiate the swift automatic process of building new cover-programs, thus delaying the improvement of the trash-programs involved.

The third one is because of motivation. After the excitement resulting from the surprises encountered while starting to meet the focusing phenomena subsides, and after the extremely unpleasant feelings and sensations start to dissolve, two of the main factors inspiring the focusers to continue are the emotions of pride and amusement. When we choose as targets of focusing sensations with a near neutral quality and of low intensity, short and easy focusing tends to dissolve them. Thus, we supply ourselves with challenges that yield quick results.

I and my trainees, as well as various scientist, have found that often, the knowledge that doing something will yield good results in the future, is not enough. It seems that our emotional system, and the way it functions as our main motivation factor, is very childish.

The third precaution is taken when the "opening of the nape" brings too strong feelings or other sensations and they do not recede when you decrease the relaxation or stop it altogether: Whenever you open the nape, be ready for the need to use the emergency act of "rubbing the hands together while focusing". Preparing for this measure beforehand, you will not forget it when flooded by intense felt sense.

The focusing on the nape of the neck - with or without opening it, can be used for other purposes than the search for a felt sense to focus on. Even when a suitable felt sensation or any other sensation appropriate for focusing is available - there are sometimes good reasons or potential benefits for focusing on something else. It is mostly so when the prolonged focusing on the original ones does not bring the wished for results fast enough.

One may also want to change the targets of focusing whenever their unpleasantness increases or is prolonged, when they become boring, or because they cause unwanted reactions like tears, sobbing, and coughing. The focusing on the nape of the neck or its opening usually makes other feelings and sensations available for focusing. In both cases, the focusing on the newly invited ones usually cause the old unwanted ones to recede or to disappear.

The focusing for about half a minute on the nape of the neck - with or without opening it - as an introduction to each sensate focusing session and before any other serious activity of focusing, is recommended.

Many trainees have found that when one dedicates time to focusing on a "longer than a few seconds felt sensation" (of other locations than the nape) or when one is engaged in a "project" of focusing on a specific content, this introduction makes the mission easier and improves the results.

2. The facial muscles and the vocal cords

The facial muscles and the vocal cords are, in essence, the outer extensions of the system of the basic emotions and are directly connected to them. All through one's life, the muscles of the face and vocal cords are continuously fed by the basic emotions. In return, they supply them and the other parts of the emotional system with a continuous and indispensable natural biofeedback, related to the emotional supra-programs active at the time.

Usually, those reciprocal relations are active at the margin of awareness and we do not attention to them for more than a very short period from time to time. One can always pay special attention to the facial muscles and the vocal cords if one wants, and get in return the awareness of felt sensations there. The facial muscles respond quickly and easily, but those of the vocal cords do not. This is so because the base line of the natural biofeedback of the vocal cords is weaker when one is silent.

When the initial focusing of attention on those two sources does not bring results, there is no room for despair, one can still get the right results if one only focuses on a point there. Even the most protected trash-programs are affected by this act. Usually, after a while, the cover-programs yield to the pressure and some felt sensations other than that of the normal tension of the muscles emerge from them - there or elsewhere.

The focusing on the marginal sensations of face and vocal cords contributes mainly to the improvement of the active ad hoc supra-programs. However, in the long run, diligent focusing on them brings huge profits for the whole emotional system.

3. The mouth

Despite the fact that the mouth is a part of the face, a special section is dedicated to its care. It acquired this honor as it was established scientifically by cross-cultural studies all over the world, that people use it more than any other part of the face in order to modulate, inhibit, control, or restrain their subjective feelings and to disguise their nonverbal expressions. The most common of these activities is the pressure applied by the lips against each other.

Sometimes, we manipulate the muscles spontaneously, other times, deliberately. Part of the time we observe this activity, but mostly it is done unaware.

Very early in life we learn to use the mouth to lie about our emotions and feelings. (False crying is the earliest, denials and lies come not much later.) Later, we learn by imitation or by trial and error additional ways to manipulate the muscles of the lips and those around the mouth in order to influence deliberately our emotional processes and those of the people observing us.

We use this knowledge "generously" in order to attract the attention of those around us and get assistance and consideration from them; also as a means of adapting to the emotional behavior rules of our culture; and as a tool for the regulation of our own emotional processes. In time, the ad hoc programs built for the activation of those behaviors, consolidate as trashy supra-programs.

As happens with other activities often executed they become habits and we tend to activate them automatically. Most of the time we are not even aware that we are activating these programs. Frequently we are only dimly aware of the temporary or permanent furrows resulting from this.

Consequently, the muscles of the mouth are very active even when we are silent or asleep, generating many chronic and semi-chronic constrictions of the muscles of the mouth, even when one cannot observe any significant effect on the lips or the adjoining skin.

Sometimes, we can reverse the process and get rid of these habits, and furrows too, by deliberately activating the automatic habits and by consciously manipulating these chronic or semi-chronic expressions. As those activities summon felt sensations related to the trash-program involved, we can focus on them and enable the mending processes to work on them intensively. Other times, we can just focus on the mouth passively. Both ways we contribute immensely to the improvement of our emotional system.

We can focus there while attending to other assignments or even when we are focusing elsewhere. We can concentrate on feelings and sensations there. We can also focus on the various points of the mouth in order to capture and "domesticate" emotional supra-programs the natural biofeedback of which is very weak - even if only slightly above the threshold of the awareness or only subliminal.

During the last few years I have examined the effects of placing the tongue between the upper and lower front teeth. Originally it was tested as a measure to be taken in order to break the habit of pressing the jaws firmly against each other. (This habit is usually a part of trash-programs that unwittingly inhibit anger or just fail to regulate it. Sometimes it is even expressed as grinding the teeth.)

It was found that this manipulation of the tongue activates the defense mechanisms (regulated by innate programs that work like reflexes) that protect the tongue from being punished by the teeth, and keep us from seriously biting our tongue on purpose. The activation of this reflex always causes a substantial automatic relaxation of the facial muscles.

It was also found that this relaxation undermines the component of facial muscular tension, which is an essential part of many trash-programs. By doing this, it forces the adaptation and accommodation processes of the mind to change and mend them.

Placing the tongue between the teeth, till it gently touches the lips, can become a "chronic" habit that induces substantial tranquility. The best version of this act is done while the mouth is closed, with a division of about a millimeter only between the lips, in order to avoid (social) embarrassment. This act can be most beneficial in circumstances in which one wants to achieve a fast reduction in the felt tension or to enter a calmer mood - as for instance when going to sleep.

Examine now, the sensations at and around the lips and mouth. Then,
thread the tongue between the frontal teeth till it touches the
inside of a lip or a cheek. Better leave a gap of about a
millimeter between the lips to prevent competing
sensations of touch or pressure there.
Focus for a minute or two on the
sensations felt there and the changes occurring in them.

4. The muscles of the body in general

There is a whole category of sensations that are usually near the threshold of awareness which originate in the muscles of the body. Most of them are the result of chronic contractions or "stiffness of muscle tissue". These, and the occasional stronger chronic sensations there, are the result of the "criminal" activity of trash-programs. The small minority of those sensations that do engage awareness is like the tip of a floating iceberg seen above the water.

The majority of the sensations stemming from the muscles are the result of the intimate relations between the supra-programs and the muscles. Those relations consist mainly comprised of the dynamic induction of tension in the muscle by the active programs and a natural biofeedback supplied by them to these programs.

Many of the prominent trash-programs (that are often called "personality", "character amour", daily habits, prolonged basic moods, etc.) need a kind of biological feed back from the tension receptors of the muscles for their regular activity. These muscles serve these programs as the air serves the juggler who cannot hold all the balls he is juggling in his hand, and as the sand at the bottom of the sea serves for the anchors of ships.

External interventions

Various schools of gymnastics and massage find those stiff points and succeed in relaxing them - temporarily or nearly permanently. Many people massage themselves intuitively in those places with similar results. Focusers can do this intuitive massage at the same time as focusing. They can search systematically all over the body for the most stiff or tender muscles to treat.

These activities stop the habitual course of the dialogue between the muscles and the ongoing ad hoc activation programs and force on them the editing and updating of the `mending' processes. In all these contexts, their improvement is quite easy to observe.

These activities improve the quality of life as they free the muscles of the skeleton from too crude use by the trash-programs, and allow them to behave in greater harmony. Simultaneously, they improve the quality of life immensely as they force the mending processes of the mind to treat the crippled programs, which have just lost their physical support.

This phenomenon is the main reason for the growing popularity of the treatment of the body by the many "physical therapies" of the various holistic "body and soul" schools and methods. The most famous in the West are: "Alexander", "Feldenkrise", the various schools of massage, the Neo-Reichians and their "Bio-Energy", a few "Eastern Cults", various types of Yoga, Reflexology, Shiatsu, etc.

Regardless their division of opinions and criticism of each other, most of these treatments improve the body function and that of the mind as well. One who is versed in the rationale of the various focusing techniques can detect in the practices and the explanations of these schools the echoes of common principles.

When one goes on a "hunting trip" in order to capture and then domesticate trash-programs, one may find them hidden in the stiff muscles of the skeleton or in any other "knotted" ones. One may also catch them at the orifices and other sphincters like the mouth, eyes, etc. These muscles are among the favorite targets of various holistic schools - especially that of "Paula".

Whenever one interferes in the "dialogue" between the trash-programs and the muscles, the latter usually respond with discernible sensations in various places simultaneously. Focusing on these felt sensations forces on the trash-programs involved, an intensive work out by the mending processes.

Beware of two dangers: The first is a physical one. Like any touch or pressure you or others apply to any place in your body, you have to be sure that it does not damage your health. Whenever in doubt or in pain ask the advice of the experts and professionals into whose field this part falls.

The other is an emotional one. Whenever trash-programs are provoked, it is better to be prepared to receive more than one asks for. The interference in the dialogue between muscle and programs can upset "a whole apple cart". For instance, one of my trainees tended to get the introductory signs of an "anxiety attack" each time he tried to work on a specific muscle. Only months of careful and sensitive recurrent work on it solved the problem, with out provoking a fully fledged anxiety attack.

Freezing the activity of the muscles of the body

The use of the muscles in the service of the emotional system is not restricted to the focusing on spontaneous sensations arousing in them or on those achieved by touch and the manipulation of the nape.

We can also use for this purpose the voluntarily-controlled-muscles, with which we can manipulate the system of activation programs in many other ways. Frequently, we can change what is going on in the system of emotional supra-programs by an intentional activation of muscles - with or without added focusing.

In daily life, nearly every one of us uses, from time to time, the stretching of the body as a means of heightening wakefulness, vigilance, rigor or vitality. Usually, as in the case of yawning, we sense their spontaneous arrival and only manipulate their intensity in a voluntary or semi-voluntary mode. Nearly everyone strains the muscles in order to reduce the impact of bad news, or unpleasant sensations like those experienced in the dentist's chair.

Everyone can use music to change mood by singing or listening to material with the right shade of emotion. Everyone can voluntarily change the pattern of muscle activity (and constriction) that is part of the emotional climate of the moment.

For instance: straightening the back helps one to recover from a melancholic mood; voluntary relaxation of the skeletal muscles dampens anxiety; the relaxation of the neck muscles (especially those of the nape of the neck) weakens vigilance and tension; the relaxation of the facial muscles weakens any ongoing emotion - good or bad; deliberate manipulation of the pattern in which the facial muscles are constricted ("pulling faces") changes the quality of the feelings and mood of the moment - at least for the duration of this activity.

From all the various options open for actively inducing mood changes, manipulation of the facial muscles is the one most commonly used. Nearly all of us use, from time to time, the constriction of the lips in order to squash the explosion of a soaring anger. Many, if not all of us, try, and usually succeed, to erase the smirk or smugness from our face - when it is uncalled-for or when we have to continue in a more serious or intentional activity. Most common is the habit of using the modulating activity of partial relaxation of facial muscles, for blurring or camouflaging the facial expression that goes with an emotion or feeling.

The above activities are usually done automatically - unconsciously or only with a very slight awareness. However, quite often, after a spontaneous start or even without one, they continue as intentional activities. The aim of these activities is twofold: a) to adapt the expression of emotion to the cultural norm and to other practical considerations b) to "trim" the felt sensation of the emotion of the time to a more bearable measure. For instance, to diminish the intensity of laughter that starts to hurt or that of crying that starts to suffocate.

The focusing on the sensations that accompanies the voluntary activation of the muscles while they are used to manipulate the emotional climate, enhances their effect. This concentrated attention on sources of natural biofeedback - those that are above and those that are below the threshold of awareness - while using them, helps us to find the trash-programs that make the previously wished for change, difficult.

Recommended activations

Often we find ourselves engaged in a repeated "nervous movement": rhythmic movement of one of the feet; touching or manipulation of the hair or any other part of the body; "small habitual games" like playing with bits or parts of the clothes, or with small articles; etc.

Except in minority cases, when we do it intentionally to alleviate the affect of boredom, these activities are the spontaneous semi-automatic products of trash-programs.

By freezing our ongoing movements of that time, we prevent the smooth operation of the ongoing trash-program of which they are a part. We force these programs "to seek help" from the brain processes that are in charge of aiding "helpless ad hoc programs" to adapt to the unexpected. (In the terminology of J. Piajet: we force on them adaptation and accommodation).

If we focus our attention on the sensations that are aroused as a result of the freezing of a repeated movement - their "cry for help" - we draw the attention of the mending programs to a larger extent. Thus, we add another "hunting ground" to the collection of processes used for "catching" trash-programs. As a by product, with the use of this tactic we can free ourselves temporarily, at least, from an unwanted habit.

If you want to rid yourself of a habit of this kind or wish to use it for focusing, do the following:
Start the execution of the unwanted habit (fingering the nose or nail biting for instance) voluntarily - even when you do not feel the urge.

While executing the habit, freeze in its course the most essential movement of the behavior pattern.

Start the focusing activity on the strange sensations that emerge in your body, or in the muscles involved - if you do not observe any.
For instance, if you want to stop biting your nails (or only to improve slightly the trash-programs involved), do the following:
bring the most preferred finger tip to your mouth.
Catch the nail with your teeth, and before biting it, freeze the movements involved.
Start to pay attention to the various sensations of that moment - especially those of the muscles of the jaws - both to those that are above and those that are below the threshold of awareness. (Using this procedure, a few of my trainees succeeded in getting rid of this habit.)
When one is working on this kind of a project, one can use both tactics: activating the pattern voluntarily some times, and "catching" it when activated spontaneously.

5. The common excitations and itching

The skin, which is the main boundary and interface between our body and the world, supplies us with a never ending stream of input and data. Part of the data is natural biofeedback about the pressure applied to various surfaces by our body weight - due to the pull of gravitation - during movement or rest. Part of the data is the result of physical and chemical interactions between us and the world - like insect bites and inanimate irritants.

However, most of the itching and scratching - the single and the recurrent ones - are not of this origin. They have nothing to do with "real" agents. We feel them time and again without finding any apparent source. For most of us, the overwhelming majority of skin irritations are without external cause and they are generally the result of the active ad hoc trash-programs.

Most of the itchings emerge as if randomly at various locations of the body. Some are like frequent visitors or guests which arrive at the same places time and again - like those that make us scratch at specific locations of the head, rub the nose, etc. Part of these result in the habitual scratching or touching (mostly absent-mindedly) of a certain point, which are the peculiar characteristics of various individuals.

However, though most of the itching and scratching is haphazard, we can use them systematically as "hunting grounds" for trash-programs. We can add an intentional one to the spontaneous minimal attention we give those phenomena. We can fall into the habit of focusing on these itchings for prolonged periods of time or just to add a few seconds each time they occur. We can even focus on the places where they used to emerge and cause them to appear. By doing so, we can clear or at least quicken, the mending of many of the ongoing trash-programs involved.

The focusing on the itching can also help us to refrain from scratching at inconvenient places or times. This result is most important when the itching is in places we cannot (or will not) reach permanently or temporarily. For instance when the itching occurs at times when our hands are engaged or dirty; when the itching is in a recuperating wound; when it occurs at intimate locations when in formal circumstances; etc. Experienced focusers suffer less while this itching lasts and they also succeed in curtailing it.

Whenever the itching occurs, whatever the intensity and duration, and no matter what the social circumstances - it is recommended always to delay the scratching for a few seconds. The few seconds dedicated to the focusing on these usually short-lived sensations before we scratch or turn our minds to other things are frequently most rewarding.

It is especially so when one is in the first stages of building the sensate focusing habit. This, like the focusing on sensations that are near the threshold of awareness, is one of the easiest ways to put attention resources to good use. It converts unused or misused resources to the long term betterment of the quality of life. Those felt sensations are very seldom too intense or too long-lasting and very seldom need the treatment of the emergency measures.

6. The general survey

Whenever we want to invest unengaged brain resources of a moment in an act that will surely improve our quality of life in general, without being keen to work on something specific, we can scan the whole body systematically or haphazardly.

When we pause somewhere to focus on, the natural biofeedback of that place is enhanced. This may result in the emerging of a discernible sensation previously not attended to or even one that has been subliminal before, and if it seems worth while, we can focus on it. If nothing emerges from the systematic search, not even at the face or vocal cords, one can always shift to the slight spontaneous tension of the muscles.

Therefore, if (or when) you are convinced that you are benefiting significantly from the use of the sensate-focusing technique, you will be able to allocate unused or misused resources of the brain to this activity, whenever and wherever you wish - even if the desire for it lasts only a few seconds. You will be able to do it whenever you prefer the new "game" rather than the current activity.

Experience of many focusers shows that one can dedicate to this activity surplus attention resources like those existing while one is engaged in "small talk", routine waiting and traveling, waiting at bus stations, long journeys, situations that do not tax the concentration and any other situations not needing all conscious attention. It also point to a strong connection between this kind of investment of resources, and a decline in the excessive tensions, softening of the voice and the relaxation of over-tense facial muscles.

This kind of focusing is like a savings account to be used for rainy days. It forces the system of activation programs to invest in the improvement of ongoing programs, more than the needs of the ongoing activities call for. Later, when most needed, the improved programs will act in a more efficient manner. Usually one can not point at a connection between a specific focusing of this kind and a specific gain. However, periods in which one does a lot of this kind of activity always culminates in a discernible improvement.

This activity is most recommended for all periods of time when one has no better target for the surplus brain resources. When one does not have a "project" to focus on (or is not in the mood for investing in an existing one) and there is no other significant sensation which draws attention - one can allocate part of one's resources to this activity. You will have the option of doing this whenever you are bored or tired from the activity of the moment or when involved in an activity that does not need all your attention.

We have more senses than the somewhat diffuse sense(s) of the body tissues - like touch, pressure, pain, irritation etc. The most prominent are hose that enable us to see and hear. We can at one and the same time attend to one or a few of them together, simultaneously with the attention paid to the felt sensations fed to the awareness.

For instance, we can attend to the sensations of the face and the vocal cords - together with the input coming from the eyes and ears while singing. We can do the same when a muscle is in spasm or a painful contraction.

While we emit sounds: speak, moan, etc. we can attend simultaneously to the natural biofeedback embedded in the quality of the voice, and to the one supplied by the feelings and sensations in the throat. While shaving or putting on make-up, we can attend to the sensations of the face (or to the subliminal ones there), and simultaneously, look in the mirror at the target we are focusing on, etc.

In these cases and their like, in which the natural biofeedback comes through two or more channels, the expedition of the mending process is much more than doubling the regular rate.

Experienced focusers can devote a large part of their attention to this focusing, in parallel to most other activities. Many of the focusers find this the best remedy for intensely boring situations.

Some of the focusers (especially those who previously practiced certain methods of "Meditation") reported the benefit and even pleasure derived from a "general tour" of the body - especially before going to sleep or just after getting up. They observed that among the more beneficial places were those which usually receive the unpleasant "announcements and summons" of the emotional trash-programs. The most beneficial results were derived from scanning the facial muscles and the vocal cords.

Very often, while we are scanning the body and focusing at a point or place, the sensation there weakens and recedes very fast to a subliminal level of intensity, or to one only slightly above the threshold.

The habit of focusing on a specific region which is frequently troubled - in spite of the disappearance of that sensation from our awareness, i.e. "returning to the crime area" whenever the time permits, is also most profitable. It hastens the improvement of the trash-programs which cause the problem.

The habit of focusing on subliminal sensations and those slightly above the threshold of awareness, can be applied to other places and points in the body. Among those, of special importance is the focusing on points and places where you usually feel the strongest sensations and those related to specific harmful trash-programs.

It is worthwhile to continue focusing there for a few seconds more before changing the point of focus, especially if the said sensation was very short-lived and connected to a very trashy program. Even the focusing on the place of a sensation that just faded (or shifted), still enhance the impact of the natural biofeedback it send to the center. This "residual" focusing has great value as it has a special quality - it signals to the involved supra-programs that they have changed for the better.

Thus, instead of the usual negative messages about the unpleasantness of the situations - which are relatively hard to learn from - there is, for a change, a positive one. It was found through systematic research of learning and concept building, that humans and animals derive more benefit from positive information that says this is right, try it again, than from one which says - it is wrong, do something else.

7. Focusing on the emotional expressions of others

In addition to that which you gain from focusing on your voice and your face you can gain even more when you do the same to the voices and faces of other people. This kind of focusing can, especially when you cannot or do not try too hard to organize your impressions verbally, activate within you specific trash-programs that parallel those of the other person.

These trash-programs that are a kind of echo*, are related to the emotional climate of the other, as expressed by the melody of his voice and his facial expression. The activated trashy programs create in you a felt sensation that is directly relevant to the said trashy programs. Thus, by the added focusing on your emerging felt sensation you can catch them, as if you grip them by the hairs or a handle, and force on them the processes and programs that are in charge of updating trash-programs.
This can (and does happen) because of the perceptual components of the emotional system, that deal with the task of perceiving the emotional expressions of the other. These components are very thrifty. They use the same brain processes and subsystems as those which create our own subjective experience of emotions and help sensations feelings, moods, etc. enter the awareness. Thus, the natural non verbal intuitive perception of the natural expressions of the other, creates in us a felt sensation which is like an echo of that of the other.
This process is the main channel for the automatic interpersonal (and inter- animal) communication of emotion. It is used for the immediate and prompt transfer of huge quantities of information that is extremely difficult, and even impossible, to verbalize. This kind of communication can bypass most of the trash-programs of ours and of others, which hinder voluntary emotional communication. Consequently, listening to and looking at the other person creates in us a kind of "emotional echo" usually called "Empathy".

This kind of focusing opens an important channel that enables us to get in touch with contents that are seldom, if ever, available to intensive processing. Sometimes it makes us "stumble" on crucial trash-programs that were not available for focusing on before.

This is so as much of information and emotionally loaded contents are prevented from becoming available to our awareness. They cannot break through and become available to the awareness (or pre-awareness) processes freely on their own merit. Many of them cannot pass through the channel of the more conscious deliberate and intentional cognitive processes because of our "defences". It seems that a large amount of emotional information can bypass the reluctant gate-keepers (the cover-programs), only by "hitchhiking" on the back of the emotional expression of the other.

These intrusions enrich the diversity of trash-programs that are subject to the amendment processes of updating, adaptation and accommodation. As a result of the above perceptual processes, whenever we perceive the facial expressions or the intonation and other qualities of the voice of the other person, the perceptual processes "take us on a short trip". However, if the circumstances are ripe, it can even take us on a long one - to the emotional whereabouts of the other and beyond.

While on this trip our trash-programs, which are related to the emotional climate of the other, are summoned to the fore and are forced to expose or even surrender themselves to the mending processes of the updating supra-programs. After a few encounters like this, with the mending operation of these supra-programs, they lose a substantial part of their `trashiness' and become available to the regular processes of mending and updating.

Sometimes this is the easiest way to pull out trash-programs that are under heavy layers of cover-programs. It seems that sometimes this is the only way open. The focusing on the emotional expressions of the others is also recommended to those whose trash-programs chronically weaken the emotional expressions of their faces or voices.

In contrast to sensations and feelings that are aroused from within and are available very often, those that are aroused due to our perception of the others are sometimes of singular occurrence only. You are not advised to focus compulsively on those that come from within as they will come again and again.

But, it is highly recommended not to miss any emotion, sensation, or felt sensation that stems from attending to the other person. It is especially so if he, or his expression, is not frequently met.

The importance of these "imported" subjects for focusing is the fact of our not being able to deal with them without the help of other people. Once we encounter them, we cannot be sure when or if we will be able to get in touch with these protected trash-programs again.

Attending to the voices and facial expressions of others can be another part of our "saving program". Whenever we are not too busy and, there are faces and/or voices around, we can scan them and through this, give a quick "once over" to a lot of our own trash-programs.

Sometimes, focusing on the expressions of the other, activates within us an intense or important target for focusing, as well as opening new "hunting ground(s)". Sometimes the focusing arouses in us a strong feeling of identification with the other (called empathy by the professionals). When this occurs, they are always worth a long focusing session.

The contribution of listening to the voices of others and looking at their faces does not only enrich the available content of focusing and the emotional communication one emits, but also enriches our whole emotional life. As the emotional supra-programs are used simultaneously for internal and external communication, the enhancement of the input processes dramatically changes the workings of the system.

The focusing on other people also makes our social life more lively so long as we are sensitive enough to their feedback - verbal and non verbal - about the influence (comfort or discomfort) our activity has on them. If we do not exaggerate direct eye contact, the enhanced attention to the others and their feedback to us, will usually encourage the social climate to become warmer and the relationship with those around us to become more cordial.

Sometimes, intentionally or unintentionally, the other person can take you on a trip to a most unpleasant place or to a very turbulent emotional climate. Whenever you find yourself taken to an unwanted place (or ride), just stop. Curtail the surplus incoming data. You can always avert your gaze, or stop listening, or start to think about something else, or use any other of the emotional attenuation tricks each of us has learnt during socialization.


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