The power of empathy: how being heard calms the body. | living focusing blog

For a while now I have been pondering how Focusing differs from Mindfulness and for me one of the key factors is the place of an empathic listener when we practice Focusing in pairs. This relationship with a companion or listener changes the whole process for me. There is a lot that happens in the interaction that changes the process so what I write next is about just one aspect of that.

It starts with this question, why does the presence of another matter and what do they bring to the relationship?…

 Over the years of teaching, I have observed that a sensitive listener can make a huge difference. And I have seen how we seem to be able to sense the listeners empathy (or lack of it). It is not so much about a technique or the exact words we say, but more about our empathic presence.

The “right” words may make a difference but without prosody, would be meaningless. It is amazing how we can sense the feeling tone behind the listeners words. My son who is only four, can tell if I am doing pretend empathy – where I am saying empathic things but am implicitly holding tightly onto an agenda.