How Creating Space Courses Work


There will be lectures, demonstrations, question periods, group exercises, and paired exercises. You will be paired to practice a Focusing exercise with another participant each class session. There will also be an additional paired homework exercise between sessions that will take approximately 45 min. Please plan to attend all sessions for the full time of the meeting. Missing one class is acceptable. If you miss more than one class, it may be best to repeat. We will sense into this together.

For the Video Web Conference class, we will be utilizing a program called Zoom. You will need to download it onto your computer or phone to join us via video. Video Web seminars work amazingly well. Hope to see you here!

Why does 'Creating Space' mean?


Space is a Real Thing

April 3, 2020

I say this a lot in classes. Space is a real thing. Space matters. How you set up your space, within, among and around you, is YOU, actively creating in this world. Many of us, much of our time, do not give space much attention. We alternate between taking it for granted as in “I want” or “I need” (and therefore it’s mine) to assumptions that ‘this’ space has no room for me. If we do this, we are following old patterns within us, or being bounced around by our environment, without awareness that space is something we control. Space is our innate human super power. Here is a recent picture of me exploring my access to breath and air space.

Surprise! I am wearing a mask...

I made some of these cotton masks recently for going out in public places. Let’s note that this was not a sudden decision. My first response to wearing a mask was “I won’t need that, it’s easy to avoid spreading a virus with my rural lifestyle.” I heard this and I used my innate super power by just listening and giving it space to change. I stayed curious as I was aware that people in other countries were wearing masks for ‘this’ virus.  Maybe they knew something I did not yet understand. hmm…

And new information did come in. I heard about people testing positive and not feeling sick. I correlated this to remembering what it feels like to know my body is fighting off a virus and not get sick myself. And something reminded me that we are most contagious to others before symptoms. From here, I realized that I myself, will not necessarily know if or when I am a carrier. I won’t know. I really cannot know. This is always a big shift within us, from following previous patterns (almost on auto-pilot- grin) to accepting that this is a new situation. Interesting. To top my own not knowing off, when I really paid attention, my rural environment is not as easy to isolate in as I may have thought. And other people were not necessarily interested in changing their patterns of interaction. This brought on board my protectors. If you come too close, you’ll get something like this:

Ha ha ha! Can you feel that elbow nudge here?  Give me space y’all!

Claiming a safe outer/inner space and defending whatever is needed now is both our responsibility and our innate super power. And this is my point. As we practice Presence as a state of being, as we begin rewiring within ourselves to create a world where everything belongs, we must rule our space both with kindness and clarity. Rule seems like a harsh word and I want it here on purpose because there is a firmness that comes from access to the bigger picture Presence gives us – the bigger picture being that this is a change from how human beings have used their brain. As Focusers, we greet everything, no matter how much of us judges ‘it’ as bad or unworthy, with kindness. We make each ‘it’, each ‘something’, space to feel safe. This is our human super power. No one can take this away from us. We do it for ourselves and the other. We create space. It’s quite magical really. Our body leads the way. With everything we greet, it shows us the kind of space it needs. For example, a physical inflammation first appears tight or painful. What does this tell us? It is asking for space, it is asking for fresh air as in breathing into the area. It is asking for active circulation, nutrients coming in and waste getting out. It is asking for empathy for how it came to be this way. It is asking for time and space to heal at it’s own pace.

Using our super power of creating whatever space is needed now often requires clarity with ‘the way things are’. For physical inflammations, we have previous conceptions that this part of our body should not have pain – these beliefs can put pressure on the pain to go away (giving it less space). These ideas can also distract us so that we do not give this part of our body any medical support it might need to heal. They very effectively extend the inflammation. This is easy to do if we use our brain from the usual patterns our culture has encouraged. Changing these patterns takes a kind of slowing down and a pause to sense in with curiosity.  Inflammation is our body asking for our attention. It hopes to achieve the simple acceptance and space accommodations from us that it needs to heal itself. Using my mask example above, I wear it with both a clarity that my breath belongs and is safe to be the way it is, plus an awareness that in public environments safety for my breath, your breath and items around me requires a boundary, ‘this’ kind of protection. Not always, necessarily, this is for now, freshly.

Did I imagine myself wearing a mask to the store 3 weeks ago? No. This is new. I acknowledged the newness to that within me that is confused or surprised. I give all of this space within me to adjust. It does not have to agree, it can worry I will be embarrassed or that this is not necessary. This awareness of my own reactions helps me of course, when I sense similar reactions from others around me. Yes, this is new. Wearing masks is new. Showing up in ways that create space for that within, among and around us to feel safe is new.

Creating space is a constant adventure. I invite you to join me here.

Each situation may brings us a fresh sense of what is needed here. Our brain has opportunities to rewire in almost every moment we pay attention to space.

Space is a real thing.

Space matters.

How you set up your space, within, among and around you, is YOU, actively creating in this world.

More about Inner Relationship Focusing and how I teach it


Inner Relationship Focusing was developed by Ann Weiser Cornell and Barbara McGavin. It is a way to learn and practice Focusing that I find very approachable. It would work well in schools as there is an emphasis on language and simple kindness to ourselves and others. Click HERE for an article by Ann on the Origins of Inner Relationship Focusing.

I did my certification in Ann's program. This means I was trained to teach her method. I still do. I also have made it a point to explore other ways of learning Focusing, particularly Wholebody Focusing, TAE: Thinking at the Edge and Social Oriented Focusing. I have added aspects of these that work well with the people that tend to be attracted to my courses.

I have been a neuroscience geek for years and am familiar with a lot of the popular writers - Daniel Siegel and Stephen Porges for example. I find Iain McGilchrist's work particularly relevant to learning Focusing and have created handouts and exercises for all of my courses.

I will always continue exploring how other people teach Focusing and adapting what I do. This helps me immensely in my goal of meeting people where they are.

Integrating Neuroscience


Neuroscience has a lot to say that correlates with our experience of Focusing. It’s much more than I could ever do justice to on this page. We do learn and explore these concepts via our own experiencing in my classes. I’ll share a few key concepts here to give you a feel.


To begin with, this is a piece of art work gifted to me early on in my Focusing career. I was lucky enough to be guiding someone as they experienced their brain coming alive. This is their artistic rendition of what it feels like when neurons make a new neural connection. Focusing is often described as a sense of flow, connection or ‘aha’ moments. Often with your eyes close, one might see beautiful colors or experience an inner sense of spaciousness or lightness.

You are welcome to download this pdf, Crossing Gendlin’s Theories with Neuroscience I created for a workshop on Three Ways of Experiencing. And in Spanish: Explorando cómo las teorías de Gendlin se Cruzan con la conciencia de los hemisferios derecho e izquierdo del cerebro y nos guian en el proceso.

Keep in mind that each of our brains is incredibly unique and that this information is simply guidelines to explore for yourself. Neuroscience also tells us that our brain is more complex than the entire universe yet discovered. Let’s pause here and say that again. Our brain is more complex than the entire universe yet discovered. What we can access here is often limited by what we believe is possible. And beliefs change. I have compiled here a table of a process that a typical human brain goes through in any given moment. 

3 Ways pic

Our brain is divided into two mostly separate parts. Our right hemisphere (RH) is where all of our sensory information feeds into. This is happening mostly subconsciously, most of the time. Thank goodness that it is! If we were aware of the endless communications that take place to keep our body humming away, we’d all be crazy! And yet, some of this information is useful if we train ourselves to ‘drop in’. Many of us are familiar with getting some type of body communication when we are stressed. People who feel they are empathic, intuitive, follow their ‘gut sense’ or are commonly sensitive to their environment would be hearing from their RH. People who feel like their emotions are somewhat ‘distant’ in general are not receiving that information (at least routinely) from their RH. Wiring is as unique as we are.

This is step 1. We can invite our body (RH) to give us ‘its broad perspective’ on any current situation. Our RH will tend to share its perspective as body sensations, emotions, images, short phrases or gestures. This can take some practice to interpret correctly and we practice this as Focusers by taking the understanding back to our body and checking with it. 

Next, whether or not we have any awareness of our RH communication, our body automatically moves over our corpus callosum (which connects the two hemispheres) to our left hemisphere (LH). Our LH stores everything we’ve already learned by labeling, forming categories and collecting this all in separate boxes. Everything that has been stored had a purpose relevant to that time. This memory storage typically happens during our sleep. Our LH also houses our language center, so typically our more wordy thoughts come from here. This information is vital for us to make sense of our current situation with what we already know. Important for us to understand is that the LH, because of its nature of storing only what is explicit or known, lives in the past or projects about the future. The information it offers us may not be true for the situation we are currently in.

This is step 2. Our mind (LH) gives us ‘its perspective’ on any current situation. Our LH will tend to share its perspective with lengthy phrases and opinions. There is likely a feel of control and purpose here: “I know”, “it is”, “should”. There may be competing perspectives from several boxes and a stickiness to being right. 

This division is between two very necessary perspectives that every moment provide us with information that could potentially contribute toward our well-being and also potentially keep us in somewhat of a negative feedback loop. This is where we tend to come up with only solutions that have worked for us in the past. We may notice quite a variety of different ideas about how to proceed arise from within us, they are all something we used or considered before, useful information that was stored in our LH because of some previous experience. And we might feel ourselves pulled between the two hemispheres here, as with each suggestion, our body has an emotional response we may notice. Our doubter voice comes from our RH and we can often get stuck for long periods in a tug of war between an idea from our LH and something in our RH that doubts it.

This way of utilizing our brain where we bounce around feels to me like the general state of brain evolution that humanity lives at. It shows up on those neural imaging scans and there are approaches where it’s all about what parts of your brain you are utilizing, like maybe doing exercises so that you are visiting more parts of your brain. This is all just fine, however, you are still using your brain in the same way. At any one moment, you have access to and are thus limited by, whatever that neuron is wired to. In Focusing, we call this state being “merged”.

In practicing our Focusing skills by inviting Felt Senses and staying with them from a state of being that models Radical Acceptance (that we call Self-in-Presence), we are using our brain in a very different way than “merged”. We intentionally hold space within us for neurons to connect in ways that always lead toward a sense of thriving for us as an organism.

This is step 3. We intentionally pause and move ourselves toward Self-in-Presence as a state of being.  Essentially, we bring ourselves back over to the RH in a way that holds all of the awareness we have from both our RH and our LH for this particular situation, this particular moment of time. Here we are not living merged with any part of our brain. We are creating a space to receive all of our bodies wisdom with a sense of honest curiosity, acceptance and appreciation. This is naturally the space from which new wisdom arises. 

There is a lot that could be said about this space. We study and practice being in this state of being as both Focuser and Companion in our partnerships. This is a continual unfolding that never ends. We may find ourselves with new insights about ourselves, our health, our jobs, our relationships, our daily patterns, or anything about our environment. It turns out this process has predictable steps and they apply not only to us, also to all that surrounds us.  Gene Gendlin, who first named “Focusing” skills, has documented this process in a variety of papers and especially in a book called A Process Model. There are thousands of people, identifying as Focusers, around the world practicing these steps and exploring their own particular ‘edges’ in development. The applications are endless. 

Unless we are aware, we must keep repeating the past. All of us can relate to times of frustration when something that always worked for us before is simply not working in this situation right now. Until we pause and can move our perspective to that of the RH that has access to big pictures and curiosity toward trying something else, particularly something new, we will stay in the past and just have access to ideas that have worked before. We prevent ourselves from learning something new.

Understanding how to access Presence is our key in moving in the direction of true human freedom, where we can make new life-giving choices that work for the world we live in now. Ordinary people can learn these skills. The structure of Focusing classes provides us a partnership model that makes this easier. Please contact me if you’d like to explore any of this more with experiential exercises.


Wholistic: we are looking at wholes, everything here is interconnected and cannot be taken into pieces without losing something of value. It is easy to see this model in nature and ecology. On its own, hard to find an end.

Unit Model: everything is broken down into pieces we experience as fixed, exploring these pieces brings clarity around what they can do, how we can use them. If there is a piece we do not understand, we’ll ignore it for now. It is important that everything here has a purpose we can wrap around. We often live as though time and space follow this model and experience stress about that.

Functional Wholes: here we are looking at one situation, one moment in time, how this functions within itself.

There is a wonderful 10 min video of Gene explaining these types of theories HERE.

If you would like to explore the neuroscience concepts more, I highly recommend this short RSA ANIMATE video about Our Divided Brain by Iain McGilchrist HERE. His book is also amazing, though not an easy read and you can find it on amazon HERE. Iain has a newer book out, The Matter with Things, published in Nov, 2021, that has two volumes. The amount of referencing is phenomenal. There is also a documentary and many interviews with Dr. McGilchrist if you'd like to explore his work more.

Parts 1-3 Partnership Requirement


For Parts 1-3, we will have a partnership rotation schedule set up when the course begins. If you have concerns about partnering, please let me know before we begin or whenever you become aware that some aspect of partnering is challenging for you. Because we meet every other week, generally scheduling with a partner is not an issue. You both will likely have this same time available in the weeks between when we meet. Sometimes, someone is triggering you. Usually, this is a good opportunity to invite this as something to process for yourself. Othertimes, this won't resolve quickly and I will adjust the schedule to support you.

Essentially, reach out and we'll find a way forward. :-)

Part 4 Partnership Requirement


We do not have new exercises at this level and there is no partnership rotation schedule. Essentially, we are Focusing as we know how.

I ask that participants are Focusing weekly with a partner at least one month before class begins and throughout our time together. This is to ensure you have Focusing time to explore the many concepts we cover in class experientially. If you have a regular Focusing partner, you are welcome to Focus with them throughout this class. If not, I will suggest partners either from this class or our greater community.

To fulfill this, it may be that you have two partners that you meet with every other week.

Whichever way you do it, my goal is for you to incorporate Focusing into your life routine. If we have Focusing set up weekly, it's no big deal to skip one for instance, if someone is sick or on vacation. You know your schedule will resume as normal after this break.

A testimonial from one of my students:

Bear Brandegee, Executive Coach, Pittsburgh PA

"Sandy is one of those teachers who will change your life. Someone you can point to and say, ‘yes, her influence gave me an entirely new perspective and skills that were transformational’. She’s so with you in the moment that you feel life moving forward in every class. Having taken both her part 1 and part 2 focusing, I have a new way of being in the world. In her virtual classes, I’ve met wonderfully talented and interesting people and I can’t wait to continue with parts 3 and 4.

I have recommended Sandy to many colleagues and friends both for her on-line classes as well as her extraordinary private sessions."