Starting something new – a class or workshop, a project, this website-can be daunting. How will it go? Beginnings bring up something different for each of us and they offer wonderful opportunities for self-exploration. How do we react to the new in our lives? Bringing an attitude of curiosity to how we respond in any situation is like allowing fresh air in through an open window.

The practice of Focusing offers us a way to be with whatever is going on for us. We all Focus without realising it. When you feel a warm sensation in your heart as you remember someone you love, or when your gut tenses in advance of a difficult meeting- this is Focusing. As I get ready to launch my website I notice a quivering sensation in my throat and stomach, a part of me that is fearful, imagining what might go wrong, and ready to retreat to a safe corner. There’s also a doubtful part that is so familiar I seldom stop to check exactly how it feels, but yes it’s here and it’s a pulling back and down sensation in the middle of my trunk. I’m also aware of a part that’s excited, impatient, eager to get going. This part is in my heart and like an enthusiastic child it wants to leap and bound and race onward.

I tend to try to ignore the scared part, shove it into a corner and pretend it’s gone. But I know it’s there. The strange thing is if I acknowledge this part in a gentle way, it relaxes. The edges soften and my body calms. Doubt needs a slightly different approach. It’s a pattern that has been with me a long time. I’m learning to be more aware of it and notice the way it operates, how reasonable and persuasive it sounds and how it holds me back. Sometimes I get frustrated with its constant “buts” and “what ifs”. Other times I’m able to compassionately say, “Ah here’s doubt again”, and then it relaxes slightly as though laughing at how ridiculous it sounds. The childlike eager part swells happily when I stay with it. Paying it just a little gentle attention brings a feeling of joy and a vibrant energy to move forward.

There are always different parts in each of us, various patterns playing out in all the situations of our lives. When we’re able to pause and notice them bringing a kind attention to anything we find, both body and mind become more at ease. This practice seems strange at first. We haven’t been encouraged to stop and become aware of our thoughts, our feelings, what’s going on in our bodies. Mostly we run away from ourselves.

The body is our starting point, its myriad sensations a language informing us about what’s going on if we take the time to listen carefully. It only takes a few moments to pause and observe inwardly, and give a little gentle attention to whatever we find. Listening in this intimate way invites self-acceptance. And surprisingly it usually brings something new, a fresh way of seeing or being in any situation.

As you start something new take a moment to pause and become aware of how you are. Gently acknowledge the different sensations and feelings you notice in your body without trying to change them. This is the beginning of Focusing.