Life Forward Knowing

Gendlin’s philosophy reminds us that all of life has its own forward knowing, its own next step toward thriving. Here we see an acorn boldly finds its next step by sending out first a root and then a sprout. This next step is deeply rooted in the experiential nature of paradox. There will be something known and also something unknown in this move. The acorn knows to send out a root and also does not know if this ground will have what it needs next. To find our next step toward thriving, we learn to hold space for both aspects of a paradox together. Like an acorn waiting for the right time to sprout, our organism may stay unclear about our next step for quite some time. As we improve our skills of interoception, our trust in ourselves as living process moving toward our well-being expands.


Gendlin was clear that Focusing is not just listening within ourselves or holding space for others. We are finding our own right actions and acting in the world. What is a right action for us in this situation, won’t always be appreciated by others. Especially in these times of cultural norms changing. Many people will insist that the old patterns worked and will work now if we all just follow them. It is helpful to recognize that our personal right actions often still come with doubt or fear. No wonder! We are being called to do something brave or courageous.

Relationship Check

Where this fits the relationship, we can borrow this valuable practice from our Exploring Interaction practices. Essentially, we are inviting appreciations about how we are with ourselves as well as what we appreciate about 'the other' that we are in relationship with. Always there is room in our space for fears and what is asking for improvement; however, we intentionally bring together those with our appreciations. In general, appreciations are something to share and celebrate now. Fears or judgements are something wanting more of our attention and we promise to come back to these until we are clear on whether they require action. 

Self Mentor

If your goal is more authenticity, we begin and end by checking in on how we are mentoring ourselves. Our goal is to experience a greater sense of flow around doing 'hard things'. The owl, Ashamaya, models this for us with how it brings trust, humor, humility in holding space for life situations that unfold in the stories. A significant part of this is understanding how 'sticky' our left hemisphere is. Our LH likes to hold on to patterns it knows from the past. We will become more efficient at recognizing when this is holding us back by studying left-right hemispherical views as portrayed by Sleuthin and Hummah.

As our own Self-Mentor, we want to meet the qualities of being that fearful parts of us need.

Humor can Radiate Kindness and Empathy

Here in a scene from Smartview Stories, Ashamaya, the owl, smiles while gently holding fearful Sleuthin and frozen surprised Hummah (all represent aspects of self). Finding our sense of humor, while holding that within us which feels challenged, may be just what is needed to help an awkward experience move forward in a positive way.


Integrating Neuroscience


Crossing Gendlin's Theories with Neuroscience

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. 

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.

Right hemisphere represented by Hummah, an octopus



In Smartview Stories books, which integrate Focusing and neuroscience, our right hemisphere is represented by an octopus, Hummah. 




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.

Sleuthin represents our left hemisphere in Smartview Stories.



In Smartview Stories books, our left hemisphere is represented by this guy named Sleuthin. 


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, 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.

Ashamaya the owl represents being our own Self Mentor


In Smartview Stories books, coming back to our right hemisphere in this particular way of holding space is represented by an owl, Ashamaya. 







This is step 3. We intentionally pause and move ourselves toward Self-in-Presence or being our own Self Mentor.  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 relational 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. In fact, you'll find aspects of Focusing in all relational healing modalities. Gendlin's philosophy describes the essence of change in the universe or how this all adapts and evolves. 

Without self-awareness, we will repeat 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. A key reason I am writing Smartview Stories is because I believe the imagery of our RH as Hummah, our LH as Sleuthin and our Mentor Self as Ashamaya is a valuable reminder of how to help ourselves experience neural plasticity.

Smartview Stories Inner Companions

Please contact me if you’d like to explore any of this more with experiential exercises.

Smartview Stories Three Inner Companions


Meet our Smartview Stories™ Inner Companions!

Based on neuroscience, these three aspects of being human help us experience and live our life. They are with us at every moment. As we become more aware of them, we understand HOW to better support ourselves, and those around us, in all types of life situations. May this trio of inner companions inspire you in your journey toward thriving. 

Smartview Stories Inner Companions



Nomi Miller, illustrator of Smartview Stories Inner Companions



Our Inner Companions are illustrated by Nomi Miller. Nomi is a believer in magic and the power of words. She likes to draw, dance, sing, be silly and do nothing at all.

Nomi lives in a garden colony in Denmark where she is entertained daily by her young son Ruben.




Introducing Hummah!

Hummah portrait, Inner Companion from Smartview Stories

Hummah! [HUMM-ahh] This female companion is always monitoring our environment for us. She gives us access to all of our body senses: vision, sound, taste, smell, intuition (gut sense), touch and overall body wisdom. Hummah is fluid and flexible, a skilled shape-shifter. She is comfortable in the dark and okay with the unknown. 

She is capable of broad, sustained alertness in ways of “being”. Hummah says “I am your body”. She helps us explore, create, connect, and relate with the world. Hummah is so wired to connect that it can be hard for her to say no. Yet, when our experiences do not feel safe, she may choose to withdraw. Dance, art, music, sports, nature, and metaphor are some of her favorite activities. She is content to pursue these passionately with no sense of purpose. Hummah enjoys reading people’s eyes. She often can tell how real someone’s words are this way. 


BEING is a way to remember Hummah.


Look who was born on Feb 14 this year! Our first prototype of  Hummah! She was created by Nance's Lovables LLC. LaTara sews custom stuffed animals in fabrics of your choice. LaTara can create custom Hummah's for anyone interested until we eventually contract with a larger company. Below are a few pictures showing just how fun it is to have Hummah around. 


Introducing Sleuthin!

Sleuthin, Inner Companion for Smartview Stories

Sleuthin! [Slu-THINN] This male companion helps us access all that we have learned about being a human on this planet. He loves to separate and label things, solve problems and find missing pieces. He is always engaged in some purpose, enjoys helping others and is efficient in routine situations.


Sleuthin prefers and defends what he knows! When things are under control, he is happy! Sometimes he worries about the future. And boy, does Sleuthin like to talk! He has access to our language center and can fire off endless repetitive thoughts when he does not feel heard. A valuable awareness is that Sleuthin tends to ignore what he does not understand. 


Sleuthin says “I have a body” and has lots of ideas to keep it busy.


DOING is a way to remember Sleuthin.

Introducing Ashamaya!

Ashamaya, Inner Companion from Smartview Stories

Ashamaya! [AH-sha-my-ya] Through the power of the Pause, this unisex companion helps us claim our human birthright powers as wizards of love, time, and space. The emphasis here is on process, we are forever in flux. Change ruffles no feathers here! Embodying trust, anything is possible. 


Ashamaya understands that everything belongs. Everything. The owl’s eyes takes in an expansive mountain ridge view while its wings open wide to hold whatever is here right now with tenderness. No worry or fear is too big for the wings of Ashamaya. This creature can hold the entire planet when needed. It is the quality of the space that Ashamaya creates that sets a tone of cooperation, teamwork and trust in life's forward flow. We are in this together; the owl reminds us again and again. When we pause, open our wings with both kindness and clarity, we allow ourselves to grow toward our highest potential. 


BEING WITH is a way to remember Ashamaya.



And here is an excerpt of the Inner Companions as Ashamaya leads them in planning how they will support Wendy in Book 1...



It’s story time, my Companions! Let’s gather around.

Three Inner Companions from Smartview Stories

Ashamaya fluffs its wings out to each side. Hummah takes a seat on one side. Sleuthin follows. The owl waits as they settle in.

Ashamaya smiles and then speaks. “It is time to help Smartview Village tell another set of Focusing stories. Our mission for this book involves awkward moments. I wonder what comes for each of you when you hear the phrase ‘Awkward Moments’.

Sleuthin starts. “Ugh. Clumsy. Difficult. Unmanageable. No skill. Very annoying.”

The owl nods. “Yes, I hear this phrase brings up a lot that can annoy you.”

Hummah chimes in, “For me, awkward brings an image of tripping over my
own arms or tying them in knots. It’s downright embarrassing and might even be painful.”

Ashamaya’s face softens as it imagines this experience. “Oh, my! And for you, awkward moments bring a sense of embarrassment, maybe even pain. Thank you for sharing. This is a splendid start. And, there is more I’d like you to watch for as we help our friend Wendy. Our story involves Wendy at her new school.”

And, together they form a plan…