What are Felt Senses?

Some felt senses are strong enough that they force themselves into our awareness, like the feeling of butterflies in your stomach before going on stage. But, most of the time, felt senses lie below our ordinary level of consciousness. Only when we deliberately bring gentle, inquiring attention inside our body do we perhaps notice a fluttery or jittery sensation. Once we recognize this subtle felt sense, we can learn a lot about what it is that’s making us uncomfortable, and this often leads to a relaxation of the inner tension and fresh energy to go forward. Felt senses are subtle…

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How to Find Your Felt Sense: Start with a GAP

In the course of a very long letter written in 1817 to his brothers in America, the English poet John Keats describes a sudden realization he had while walking home from the theater with a friend: “ . . . several things dove-tailed in my mind, and at once it struck me what quality went to form a Man of Achievement, especially in Literature, and which Shakespeare possessed so enormously - I mean Negative Capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason . . . ”…

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The Felt Sense: Conceptual Mind versus Holistic Knowing

When the conceptual mind loses its moment-to-moment connection to direct bodily experience, it begins to take on a life of its own.  Conceptual mind is very good at identifying parts and putting different parts together in new combinations, but it is not good at holding a sense of the whole.  Therefore conceptual mind often leads us to places that are out of touch with the whole reality of our lives.  It can create alternative realities, both pleasant and unpleasant, that we come to believe in but which are in fact inaccurate or incomplete. Of course there are times when this…

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The Felt Sense: What It Is and Why It’s Important

In the 1950s Eugene Gendlin, a young graduate student at the University of Chicago working with the great American psychologist Carl Rogers, set out to discover why some people in therapy have successful outcomes and others don't. By means of carefully controlled analysis of scores of audio tapes of therapist-client sessions, Gendlin and his team were able to demonstrate that the crucial variable was not the kind of therapy practiced or even the skill of the therapist, but rather a capacity that the successful clients manifested from the very first session that was lacking in the unsuccessful clients. This was…

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