Your Company NameThe Felt Sense
The Felt Sense

If you have ever had a word or a name on the tip of your tongue, but could not quite capture it, you have experienced something like a felt sense. When that momentary search for a word or name happens, it brings a feeling in the body. It may have a quality of building pressure, or it may feel like grasping at something that keeps slipping away. The bodily sense may be mostly in your chest, or in the pit of your stomach, and it can be slightly uncomfortable. Experience tells you that if you relax a bit, and give it time, the word will spontaneously pop into your awareness. Usually, a few seconds after you accept that it is beyond your memory, it comes to you. The bodily sense of the situation immediately eases, you have a sense of new energy, and you move forward with relief.​​​

Our felt sense of a situation is not always intense or uncomfortable. Sometimes the felt sense is joyous and light, as when we have a moment of optimism without quite knowing how it arrived. Focusing is a way to pay attention to our felt sense: to recognize a tug at our awareness that tells us there is more to a situation or problem than we can grasp with our usual thoughts and feelings. Just as in the example above, when we identify a felt sense, how it feels from inside the body, and willingly accept it as it is, it can open up to us. New energy and fresh understandings can arrive with each step into our bodily sense of "the whole thing."

​​The felt sense feels vague and unclear at first. We cannot say what it is until we have paused, sat with it, and given it time to come into focus. This takes practice, and is usually easier to learn with another person, such as a teacher or guide.

​​We learn to trust that what we feel from inside our body has something important to tell us, if we bring gentle awareness and acceptance to our experience. You don't have to be skilled, smart, grown up, or enlightened for this to happen. You just need to learn how to tune in to your bodily sense of your situation, with an open attitude toward what will come.

Learn Focusing with Carol Lambert, PhD