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How to change without trying too hard


Ilan Shalif (Ph.D.)

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Originally written in Hebrew by the author and assistance of associates

Copyright (C) 1992 Ilan Shalif

Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the
terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 2.0 or any later version
published by the Free Software Foundation. See the Licenses page at for more details.

My condition is that it is done without textual or spelling errors.
In copying or quoting, the source may be mentioned
but it is not mandatory.

The term "emotions" stands here as a representative for the general content various aspects of which are called by the different names of, "emotions", "passions", "moods", "feelings", "the subjective experience", "felt sensations", "felt bodily sensations", etc. The reason for this choice - if not obvious - can be found in the following chapters.
Back to first page
To do it yourself - now To the Daily Focusing To the recycled emotions To the Special projects To the Guide for the guide To the Emotions
to the Impossible missions???
You ask by e-mail I answer here.


What "Focusing" is and what it is not

1. Prologue
      "It is all in the head"
      So what?

2. For whom the following chapters are intended and for whom they are not
      The good news:
      The bad news:
      Respect for the suffering
      Only improvement
      The vengeance of psychology

3. How and why to read this book

4. Key to concepts, abbreviations and strange words

5. Do it yourself - now!
       I. A warning for beginners
      II. First stage - the beginning steps of guided sensate focusing
          First step - know thyself
          Second step - finding the exact address
          The third step - more intimate acquaintance-ship with sensations
          The fourth step
          The fifth step
          The sixth step
          Summary of the first stage
III. Daily Focusing
         1. The nape of the neck
          2. The facial muscles and the vocal cords
          3. The mouth
          4. The muscles of the body in general
          5. The common excitations and itching
          6. The general survey
          7. Focusing on the emotional expressions of others
 IV. Second stage - recycled emotions (for very advanced focusers only)
          Why to recycle
          Why not Psychoanalysis?
          Hurrah for the practical leftism
          A - Reconstruction  of neglected opportunities
          B - Lost & Found
          C - Changing behavioral patterns
          D - A violent patrol
          E - Popular scientific literature, art works, nostalgia
          F - A most violent patrol
          G - The provocations
       V. Synthetic emotions or "remedy before disaster"
      VI. Special projects - for advanced focusers only
     VII. Impossible missions???
          1. Steps to be taken against psychosomatic disturbances
          2. Increasing the pleasure derived from smoking or curbing the
             The first step - preliminaries
             The second step - getting acquainted with the habit
             The third step - the beginning of the real struggle
             The fourth step - the real struggle itself
             The fifth step - branching to restrictors and abolitionists
             The sixth step - the decisive struggle
             The seventh step - the final assault
             Regular maintenance
             Vicarious focusing on smoking
          3. Regulating the sexual functioning and reducing disturbances
          4. "Cultivating the voice" and the reduction of tension
          5. Controlling the body weight
             First step
             Second step
             Third step
             Fourth step
             Fifth step
             Sixth step
    VIII. Concluding remarks

 6. A short guide for the focusing "coach"
      I. General recommendations for professionals
     II. The main body of the guide to the focusing "coach"
            A general introduction
            The first focusing session
               The first step of the first stage
               The second to fifth steps
               The sixth step
               Summary of the first session
           The following sessions

 7. The emotions
   What are the emotions
   The biological basis of the emotions
   The basic emotions
   The list of 15 basic emotions:
   The essence of emotional phenomenon
   How are the emotions of daily life created?
   The emotional experience

 8. The activation programs

 9. Ad hoc activation programs

10. Supra-Programs

11. The emotional Supra-Programs

12. The cover-programs

13. The trash-programs
    Why are programs trashy?
    Common roots of trash-programs

14. How it really works
    Paying attention
    Biofeedback or how the head works
    "Illegal" feedback or "how the trash-programs are hunted"
    The lost paradox
    Selected Bibliography Supplement: A form for marking the time when
    bad habits are activated


The General Sensate Focusing Technique (To be called sometimes in the following chapters by the short form of "Sensate Focusing" or simply "Focusing") is first and foremost an easy and systematic way to influence one's emotional climate and to deal with each sensation which comes to one's attention. By investing a small part of your mental resources in focusing on the plethora of sensations occurring in daily life, with the added consideration of topics worth focusing on - you will be able to achieve nearly everything.

Using this technique, you will be able to influence the course of your whole life, and each detail in it as well. With this technique you can relieve tensions, pains and any other unpleasant sensations and feelings; put end to psychosomatic disturbances; and even resolve indecisiveness. The technique can also be used at will to change single habits or even the personality.

Sensate Focusing is not a new kind of meditation. It is not a relaxation of the mind resulting in its freedom from thoughts and feelings. Although focusing is not an emotional storm and does not need physical effort, it is not a peaceful rest. Focusing is really a kind of struggle: a fight for freedom - done everywhere and every time you choose to dedicate part of your resources to it. It is still a fight even when done in an armchair and when the felt sensations focused on are only mild or even pleasant ones. Focusing is the struggle which will free you from the invisible emotional shackles you still endure.

Focusing is not an artificial activity or a fast trick to be used by professionals who treat you. It is neither a cult nor any other ceremonial activity. Focusing is just a natural activity you do many times a day - alas it is done by you half consciously, for too short periods and in a very inefficient way.

The development of the ability to take the various steps of "Sensate Focusing" in your daily life, and getting into the habit of paying more attention to the various sensations of the body, are like other measures taken to keep the body in shape - with the investment of a small amount of resources and effort you will achieve a huge improvement in life quality and prevent many troubles.


Who of us has not experienced a stomach ache (or at least butterflies) before a test or examination or an important interview. Who of us has not felt a `pinch' in his* heart when he sees the loved one who broke his heart, pass in the street, arm in arm with another. Who does not feel a lump in his throat on learning about a tragedy that has happened to someone close. Whose anger was not aroused many times upon witnessing evil or injustice. Who of us is completely free of events of bottled fear - the kind that makes us feel tense but does not allow us to relate it to a specific or defined thing? Who has not felt depressed, or just in a bad mood that goes on and on...
Everything hereafter is directed towards both sexes. Therefore, for the sake of economy, only the male form will be used - biased of course by the gender of the main author. This choice does not express in any respect, that the male is superior to the female in any way.

"It is all in the head"

Since the main psychological processes discovered by scientific research became common knowledge, people regard most of their troubles as stemming from their mind: their obsessive thoughts, the unacceptable emotions, the bad feelings and moods, the various urges and desires, the psychosomatic ailments... and every thing that makes us feel guilty. All these and more, are regarded as the result of fast and unconscious processes occurring in the head incessantly. These days, even cancer is regarded as a psychosomatic malady and psychological factors are said to be an essential part of the cure.

Actually, all the important functions of the mind and body, all that we do and feel and nearly all that happens to us, is the result of the working of programs of the mind. Just as the focusing on the feedback of the measuring instruments of the "biofeedback training" enables one to change physiological functions like "brain waves" and electrical conductivity of the skin - so can the focusing on the sensations of the body change the programs of the head which are involved with them.

That is the why the general sensate focusing technique
will enable you to change anything which
is dependant on you or your mind.

So what?

The technique was developed for people who are no longer willing to relate to their emotions like the weather, about which one speaks about it but does nothing at all to change. The technique (and the book too) is intended for these who are dissatisfied with the quality of their lives and the accepted ways of changing it (or getting reconciled to it). Therefore, I sought for a better way to manage the human emotional life. I looked for a technique or a certain practice which would enable one to organize the variety of one's sensations and emotions in a systematic and comfortable way.

I searched for something more effective than the archaic techniques developed in the Far East throughout history. I looked for something more available than the various kinds of psychotherapy known at that time* had to offer.
Only while working on the English version of the booklet did we find the enlightening book of Professor Eugene T. Gendlin - Focusing, Bantam Books, New York, (revised edition) 1981; and established connections with The Focusing Institute, Inc. of Chicago, Il., U.S.A.
Eugene Gendlin and his group have found, after meticulous research, that the gains achieved during psychotherapy are restricted to certain kinds of patients. They have found that these patients spontaneously focus on their felt sensations during their psychotherapy.
They have also found that people can be taught the focusing procedures - in and out of psychotherapy settings. They concluded that the focusing by itself, even without the help of a professional therapist, guide or coach, can solve people's psychological problems.
I sought something more natural than the use of chemicals (Alcohol, Drugs, Tranquilizers, "Sedatives" etc.), so common in Western culture. I was looking for something suitable for every one. Something that anyone could do in parallel with other activities, as a part of daily life.

I searched during the eighties (mainly 1985 to 1990) - and found - something suitable for the "Healthy" and not harmful for those who are "Unhealthy". Something that can also be done without a guide, a coach or a therapist.

The technique was developed in parallel to studies and research in the emotional field which culminated in a Ph.D. Most of the development of the technique was carried out with about two hundreds people - most of whom were between the ages of twenty to forty. It was carried out during semi- structured sessions and was characterized by informal relations.

After seven years of training with the new technique, it was found that previous participants continued to practice their acquired proficiency in focusing after the cessation of the weekly meetings. However, most of the veterans do it less intensively unless in deep trouble.

The contribution of those who took part in the development of the technique was not restricted to being passive subjects. Many of them searched for short cuts and new tactics. Some of them even tried to teach others how to use the technique. The names of those who helped to develop the technique and in the authoring of this book, as well as those who helped with the booklet will not be mentioned individually. The acknowledgment of their precious part is represented in the title of the booklet by the word "associates".

After locating new ways to manage the emotional and sensual part of life, it seemed suitable to share it with others. It was first published as a non-commercial booklet of the "do it yourself type" (1989). Then, the essential parts of it appeared in a daily newspaper. In both (as well as here), the readers were invited to try the new technique and to contact me for clarifications and feedback - and indeed, many of them did so.

You are here offered a book - for reading and application - which is a revised and advanced version of the first Hebrew edition of summer, 1989. In spite of the improvements, this edition too is designated only for those who are not very choosy, and for those who can be shown the preliminary results - even when only half the work is done...

The publishing of this book has two main goals. The first and most important is to enable you to change your emotional climate. If your application of the new technique does not solve all your problems, at least it will change the way you look at them. The second - and only slightly less important goal, is to enable you to take part in the development of this technique, in the improvement of its presentation and in the enlargement of the circle of its users. Thus, you are invited to send your comments by E-mail, or Snail mail.


If your main goal at this moment is to read about functional means or practical ways for improving your interpersonal relations, about better ways to cope with the world you are in, or recommendations for change to introduce into it, you are reading the wrong text. This book is not even a guide for analyzing or solving problems of life by effective thinking methods.

The sole substantial usefulness anticipated from the casual reading of this book is that you may broaden your mind a little. On the other hand, if you use the knowledge and the exercises of the chapter "do it yourself now", you will have the ability to influence purposefully your feelings and sensations by giving them systematic attention.

The good news:

It is reasonable to expect that after not too long a period of training, you will be able to lighten gradually: unpleasant feelings, sensations, moods and other bodily sensations felt, by means of concentrated attention. Most of the time, you will be able to reach such a state after several seconds of concentrated and focused attention paid to them (to be called hereafter "focusing"). At the beginning of the training and even afterwards, when difficult cases are encountered, changes will be felt only after a minute or even several minutes...

After a relatively short period of training (sometimes even during the first hour) you will profit immensely from the application of the focusing technique. You will be able to use your newly acquired knowledge for targets more significant than only elevating low moods and easing hard feelings. You will also be able to achieve such objectives as solving long standing interpersonal problems, internal conflicts or getting rid of damaging habits.

The bad news:

However, these latter aims are not easily obtained. They require preliminary attainment of suitable skills and proficiency in the new focusing technique - i.e., proficiency in concentration on the felt physical sensations of the body, and the no less important skill of the recycling of the relevant emotionally loaded contents.

Moreover, not just a few people are "stuck" with nearly permanent or recurrent nasty sensations or feelings or moods. Few of these unpleasantness-es are really very difficult and are relatively resistant to quick solutions. It is especially so when they are the result of a real and very meaningful event, where the results and consequences do not pass quickly. In these instances, a significant result that is more than just momentary relief is not easy to achieve. It may be felt only after the accumulation of an hour or even several hours of focusing, spaced over a period of a few days or weeks.

In the early stages of focusing, the only significant improvements one can expect - and succeed in achieving as a reward for diligent work - are only within the domain of one's emotional climate. Long-term results and basic change in the emotional and behavioral routines (habits, temper, long term moods, "personality trends" etc.) are even harder to achieve.

Besides the proficiency in the technique, the more serious objectives require a lot of systematic activity over an extended period of time. These objectives are seldom achieved without weeks and months of diligent use of the various tactics of the technique - in accordance with the guidance offered in the guide - chapter 5.

During the search for the limitations of the technique many difficult goals and problems were encountered. However, I have not yet encountered an impossible one. Perhaps you will have greater success!

Respect for the suffering

Before you continue to read this booklet - BE WARNED!! Too much use of sensate focusing (giving a lot of concentrated attention to the felt sensations of the body) can bring about irreversible results. The exercises and steps which will be discussed in the "Do it yourself now" section, may bring an irreversible change in the quality of your life or even in your personality.

Those whose suffering, deficiencies and inadequacies are precious to them and those in whom human suffering gains more respect than compassion or pity - will do themselves a favor if they refrain from reading this book.

These people who find it very important not to change, will be wise not to take any of the various steps in the training in sensate focus. Even a single execution of one step of the preliminary stage can cause the beginning of processes which will bring about an irreversible change.

It seems that the manner in which the text of this book relates to sensation, emotion and to human suffering may seem inappropriate to many. The treatment of this domain might seem to them too matter of fact - and thus, disrespectful. My approach may hurt the feelings of those with afflicted souls and those dealing too seriously with literature and poetry. Here we apologize for this unintentional, but alas unavoidable aspect of our de-mystification and banalization of the emotional phenomena.

The contention that emotional and other felt sensations of suffering can be relatively easily eliminated (or at least got rid of when encountered) will probably anger many opinionated people. It will anger all those who attribute an important positive value to human suffering. It will most anger those who delegate the bulk of human suffering or even all of it to a divine source.

I do not share the opinions of those mentioned above, nor do I share the belief of those who are, in principal, in favor of the eradication of human suffering, but tactically, believe that "the worse it gets, the quicker it gets better". Moreover, I do not believe in any purifying effect of suffering. Therefore, I do not see even one reason to be lenient to the feelings of the various sorts and creeds of overt or covert sadists and masochists, nor do I feel any inclination to ask their forgiveness.

Only improvement

Alas, in order not to infuriate those who see the main root of human suffering within the inappropriate social order, it is emphasized here that the ideas and suggestions presented in this book are not intended to replace the striving for a better social order but to supplement it.

However, the accumulated experience of many trainees shows that even before any significant improvement in the social order is achieved, alleviation of personal suffering is possible. The first steps of the disentangling of the unpleasant emotional complexity - already achieved in the beginning of the training in sensate focusing - start to contribute to this end. This, and the achievements of the following steps, enable the individual to distinguish better between the contributions of the various factors to his suffering.

This distinction allows - quite early and even before all internal and external harmful factors have been neutralized - the mobilization of resources available to the individual. This mobilization makes the dealing with all sorts of factors easier. Thus, the sensate focusing processes enable the individual to improve the quality of his life - even before any environmental change takes place.

For those who are active in the struggle to change the social order because of the prevailing unnecessary suffering involved within it, the freed resources will enable them to do so in a more successful and human fashion.

The vengeance of psychology

The popularity of dealing with psychology in the past decades, has resulted in an increased awareness of the different processes which occur within the individual. The general knowledge about these processes - already accumulated through systematic research and "field work" - is huge. That part of it which is accessible to all, is still too small, but it is also on the increase. There are also more people who are no longer content - and thus do not consent to leave their feelings and "emotional problems" to the professionals who specialize in this field.

This trend is similar to the spreading tendency to take part in sports and other physical activities for health and body maintenance outside of any formal framework or organization. This tendency expresses - among other things - the wish to eliminate the monopoly of orthopedics and other specialists on the maintenance of the well-being of the skeleton and muscles.

Similar tendencies can be found in the wide stream of movements for the liberation of the individual from the reign of "Professionals and authorities in their field". This stream expresses the growing tendency of people to take responsibility for their own functioning and place in the world. ("Eliminating School" and "Medicine's revenge" of Ivan Ilitch are among the outstanding books aimed at achieving this end through "destructive" means. They try to do it through their contribution of "Exposing the conspiracy of the experts of the establishment".)

There are also "constructive" means to meet this end. Many people take the trouble to make organized knowledge - based on applied sciences - available (accessible) to the layman. They take the pain to "translate" scientific findings and professional publications into texts written in everyday language, and invent new techniques of the "do it yourself" type. And so, the previously mysterious knowledge of the chosen few becomes intelligible to the ordinary person, who with this help can becomes independent of professional assistance.

The knowledge accumulated by me and my trainees and brought to this book - and especially that which is brought to the chapter "Do it yourself" is of the "constructionist" kind. It contributes our share to the growing body of knowledge that enables the liberation of the individual from total dependency on professionals.

This growing body of knowledge contributes more than any other modern factor to the growing feeling of the freedom of people in modern times. One is no longer forced to choose, again and again, between self-neglect or fearfully submitting to the experts - to whom one has to apply for every little malfunction of one of the systems.

How lucky we are that the strength of the resistance of the professionals and their ability to take revenge for their lost exclusiveness is not like that of the gods... who according to the Greek mythology punished Prometheus for divulging the secret of fire to mankind.


This booklet comprises chosen topics from a wider domain - chosen for their essentially, for the explanation of the practical guidelines offered to the reader, or the concrete steps suggested to him. It belongs to the fast growing "Do It Yourself" library. It's main message is "Feel It Yourself" and it is mainly intended for three types of readers:

The first type consists of those who relate to their emotions as a factor which contributes a great deal to their lives. They regard the feelings of the daily life experience of human existence as a blessing that enriches them - and not as a calamity or pathology. This way of relating to emotions is characteristic to most of the Bohemians and other people active in various fields of the arts. Recently, it has become the main mode of relating for wider circles of society.

Lately, the increase in this mode of relating to emotion is overwhelming, and it is prevalent even among very "sane" people. The main contributing factor to this phenomenon is the very fast growth in the number of those who believe that "life should be a valuable experience that is worth living and not a purpose, mission or punishment".

The second kind of person this booklet is meant for is the increasing number of people who are aware (at least partially) that emotions are not only something that happens to them or to others. These people are from the growing sector of the population who are involved with interpersonal relations to a great extent.

Because of their training and occupation they become progressively more aware that their emotions - as well as those of others - are something that they use (and manipulate) for different purposes. Many of these people feel or think that it would suit them to become more sophisticated users.

The third kind of potential readers are those to whom the topics dwelt on in this booklet seem very familiar. This group of potential readers includes all those who have discovered in a vicarious way or by chance or because of ideas they have picked up somewhere... the curious effects of the willful manipulation of the attention paid to the felt sensations of the body.

Many of them have found, by themselves, that the concentration of attention on the common headache - if done persistently - tends to weaken it or even cause it to disappear. Some of them generalized from the headaches to the unpleasant sensations of other parts of the body. A small minority even applied this to the more vague and hard-to-place feelings and moods.

This kind of potential reader also includes all those individuals who are used to being "in touch with themselves". For many different reasons, people get into this habit. Having this trend - intentionally or unintentionally - they are used to `listening' to their physical sensations and thus, to all the felt senses of their feelings, emotions, moods, passions, etc.


If for one reason or another you wish to improve your understanding of the human emotional system and its functioning, and especially if you wish to improve the functioning and quality of your emotional system - this booklet is meant for you.

If all you want is only to improve the quality of your ongoing feelings and moods or a certain aspect of your life - this book is for you too.

This book may also be useful to professionals whose work is involved with the emotional systems of others. We hope they will not misuse it.

The reader who wants to become acquainted with the emotional domain as a whole, before taking steps to change it, is advised to read first the theoretical chapters.

The reader who is more interested in the practical side of the new technique is advised to start with chapter five entitled "Do it yourself now", which is a guide for training oneself in the use of the focusing technique.

Readers who work in the domain of the social sciences, are advised to read the following chapter as a summary of the theory and the concepts of my version of the sensate focusing.

Readers who are interested in topics that are mentioned but not explained in the booklet in detail, are invited to write us about them (or even to phone). They may get a copy of the preliminary drafts dealing with those topics, which, for one reason or another, were not included in this edition.


* Actually, this chapter can be regarded as a condensed preliminary introduction or a summary - to be read as a unit by itself. Therefore, the order of the items included in it is not alphabetical. After the first reading, or without it, it will serve you as a short dictionary.

The concepts

        2. Activation Program           6. Feedback
        4. Ad Hoc Operation Programs    7. Felt Sensation
        3. Basic Emotion                5. Input or Feed
        1. Basic Emotional structures  14. Sensate Focusing
       12. Biofeedback                 11. Socialization
       13. Natural Biofeedback         16. Subliminal Perception
       15. Cognitive Processes          8. Supra-Program
       17. Cover-Program               10. Trashy Supra-Program
        9. Emotional Supra-Program
1. Basic Emotional Structures are approximately 15 - 20 neuro-biological structures of the brain. Their main components are located in various parts of the "Limbic System", which is an archaic part of the brain. Each of these structures is a relatively independent part of the emotional system and is in a reciprocal relationship with nearly all the other systems and subsystems of the brain and body.

Each of the basic emotional structures is in charge of the continuous appraisal of the condition of the individual, with regard to a specific aspect of his existence as a human being and as a living creature.

The ongoing appraisals are done for actual, potential and hypothetical circumstances and activities - directly and indirectly related to the individual. The appraisal of each is like a point moving along a continuum located between two opposing poles, the content of which is specific to it.

For example, those of the structure in charge of assessing the amount of present and future dangers, are made along the "Fear-Serenity" continuum which is better known as the Basic Emotion(3) of "fear".

These appraisals are conveyed to the other subsystems and culminate as specific behaviors, as internal and external communications, as various physiological and cognitive processes, and as subjective experiences. More on what are the emotions

2. Activation Program or Activation Plan or Scheme: is a pattern for the activation of processes in the mind and body, stored in the memory. Usually it does not operate by itself but by means of a temporary ad hoc operation program(4) constructed for the specific occasion from various programs already stored in the memory. More on the activation programs

3. Basic Emotion: is the most common name for the combination of the individual brain structure of a basic emotion and the activation program(s) of this structure. Each of the basic emotions includes a program or a subprogram for the perceptual component; for the integrational one; for the intra-body activation one; for the behavioral one; and for the expressive one. Each of the basic emotions includes also a program for the component which is responsible for the subjective experience of the activity of that basic emotion.

At the beginning of the life of an individual, these structures are activated and operated by innate "Activation Programs"(2). Later in life, these structures are operated by dynamic combinations of the innate activation programs and a plethora of acquired ones - mainly built in the early years of life (to be called, in the following chapters "Supra-Programs"(8).

4. Ad Hoc Operation Program is a temporary structure of (or in) the memory, which was built in order to execute one of the many functions and processes of the mind, body and behavior. It is based on activation programs, previous experience and other materials already stored in the memory. Taking into consideration the specific circumstances of the moment, it is built anew for each occasion, by the ad hoc operating programs active at that time.

Each ad hoc program includes within it more or less clear and detailed expectations about the relevant future - the course of the executed program and results - and a subprogram for concurrently checking (while it is being executed) the congruity between what is expected and what is actually happening.

When needed, this component supervises the introduction of changes into the executed program and in all the relevant activation programs. This part of the ad hoc program is the main agent of improvisation, learning and change. More on the ad hoc activation programs

5. Input or Feed is the process of transferring energy, matter or information, or all of them, from one source or various sources, continuously, on schedule, sporadically or vicariously, to any destination that is capable of absorbing it.

6. Feedback is a type of transfer of input (mostly to be used as information) from one part of a system (the feeding one) into a process which goes on in another part of the system (the one which is fed) caused by previous or concurrent input from the part which now gets that input in return. In daily life, this concept is frequently used to label the information regarding the influence of previous activity, behavior and speech - of the target of the feedback, on its source.

7. Felt Sensation or "felt sense" for short is the name of those sensations of the body of which we become aware. All of them are related to mental processes. Frequently, when attended to, they are organized and felt as a meaningful whole. These sensations derive from five main sources:

All the time - the ongoing activities of the subjective experience components of the basic emotions.
During low levels of activity - natural biofeedback resulting from the influence of the other components of the basic emotions on the various receptors of the sensorium of the body.
While in actual activities - processes involved with locomotion and other purposeful behavior: actual one, tendencies and preparation for future ones are the main suppliers.
When things are as usual - the somewhat less prominent suppliers are those of the biological equilibrium maintenance systems, and of other routine internal information about the state of the organism, supplied by the sensorium.
Most of the time - the ordinary and the extraordinary stimulations of the body by animate and inanimate agents. Included here are, among others, the pains and other sensations inflicted on us by accidents, by bad habits and by malicious acts or negligence on the part of others.
8. Supra-Programs or Supra-Plans are complex brain activation programs which were built during the course of the life of the owner. They are based mainly on innate programs, on supra-programs that were built previously (of innate ones), and on the accumulated memories of the activations of programs in the past.

The building of a new supra-program involves various kinds of trial- and-error - actual and imaginary. It is usually based on previous drafts and versions of that supra-program, and relevant ad hoc operation programs which were built in the past. Besides the other components from which a supra-program is built - every supra-program also contains emotional components. More on Supra-Programs

9. Emotional Supra-Program is a supra-program in which the weight of the emotional components is prominent. Often the activation of the emotional components of the emotional supra-program causes an explicit subjective emotional experience or at least a feeling, mood or some sort of a felt sense, which one can attend to.

For the ordinary adult in our culture the emotions become over the years, more a result than a reason for activity. This process is responsible for the progressively diminishing part taken in our life of the supra-programs in which the weight of the emotional components is very prominent.

For example, for a grownup man with a broad education, figuring the multiple of seven times four usually does not involve supra-programs highly loaded with emotional components. However, if the seven represents the number of payments he has to make; and the four is the amount of thousands of dollars in each payment; and zero is the sum of his assets and credit - it is most probable that the above computation will involve supra-programs that are heavily loaded with emotional contents. More on the emotional Supra-Programs

10. Trashy Supra-Program or in short - Trash-Program is one of the many important but malfunctioning supra-programs which were constructed during a person's life time. Though their functioning might have been reasonable at the time, it is no longer so. The existence of such programs (plans) is possible mainly because a regular regime of mending and updating of activation programs is not customary in our culture.

This is so, since even the most important instances of felt sense related to the ongoing activation programs which are the most crucial feedback about the parts of programs that need repair, are seldom attended to. This is mainly because the members of our modern culture are advised not to devote "too much" attention and other mental resources to their emotional processes.

The habit of ignoring sensations of the body, originating from physical, emotional and other mental sources of felt sensations, is itself the result of a Trashy Supra-Program. It was built into each members of our culture, during the long processes of education and socialization(11).

These activation programs are called "Trashy" because their daily activation, without the proper updating so much needed, causes life to have the kind of low quality that is called colloquially "In The Trash" or "life in the garbage pail". More on the trash-programs

11. Socialization is a general name for the process of bringing up the newborn till they are mature members of society. Most of the efforts of those engaged in this task are devoted to the creation of the supra-programs of the young (though they seldom know it, and think that they are teaching and educating them). The roots of the main trash-programs of a person can be traced back to these processes.

12. Bio-Feedback is the shortened name for the feedback people receive from their biological systems - originally given to the information individuals received from instruments, while they are measuring ongoing biological processes of their body. It is usually connected with the word "training" to create the concept "biofeedback training". This kind of training is supposed to enable people to control measurable biological processes of their body, in spite of the fact that they are usually unaware of them and the way they succeed in doing it. (We can become aware of only part of those when they reach extreme levels.)

13. Natural biofeedback is a longer form of the term "biofeedback". It will be used instead of the shorter one, in order to stress the difference between the two main kinds of feedback: the instrumental bio-feedback described above and the natural biological feedback. In contrast to the former, in which the feedback is supplied by instruments, in the latter, both the information and the means of its communication are biological.

For instance, a tense muscle can supply us with an indirect instrumental feedback about its tenseness when we attach to it the electrodes of a Myo graph. We - and our central nervous system - also receive from the same muscle a natural and more direct biological feedback which comes from the tension-sensitive receptors of the muscle via nerves.

It seems that the internal processes initiated by natural or instrumental biofeedback - are the only processes that can update the Trashy Supra- Programs. We can enhance or weaken the influence of the natural biofeedback on the various activation programs of the mind at will and in a relatively wide range.

When we want to weaken its influence, we only have to divert our attention from its source or mask it by a supply of competitive inputs to awareness. When we want to enhance it, we usually have only to increase the amount of concentrated attention paid to it or curb the influence of its competitors.

The General Sensate Focus technique and Gendlin's Focusing are essentially systematic procedures, aimed at the enhancement of the influence of the natural biofeedback, on the processes responsible for the mending and updating of the various activation programs. (Though Gendlin does not use this kind of conceptualization.)

14. Sensate-Focus(ing) or Focusing: The act of concentrating attention on a sensation at a point of the body, or to that of a region (small or large) or to the totality of the sensations felt at the particular moment. It can be done relatively spontaneously and it can also be done deliberately... and even as part of a schedule.

It can be done for a very short time (for a second or two) and it can also be done for longer periods that sometimes continue for many minutes or even for a whole hour.

Masters and Johnson, the famous sexologists, have used this concept and activity in their work and writings since the early sixties. They developed a most practical and directive program for overcoming problems of the sexual functioning of couples.

The key concept to their program and the main remedy for this problem is the sensate focusing. The participants of their program are trained through progressive steps, to focus during fore-play and intercourse on sensations of the body that are related to the erotic zones. This technique helps the trainees to acquire the habits needed for mutually satisfied sexual relations. Thus the remedy for their specific problems is achieved. More on how it really works

15. Cognitive processes is a technical term for the different kinds of processing information done in the brain while it deals with the new input and with the older ones that are stored in the memory. It is mainly used to define higher level processes the products or results of which are accessible to the awareness and logic or potentially so.

It was usually attached to the objective non emotional perceptions and verbal conceptualization or thinking. These are named now "the cold cognitive processes" in order to differentiate them from the more emotionally loaded ones - "the warm cognitive processes".

16. Subliminal - perception or sensation - is the term used to define the input of a process to the subsystem of the awareness when it does not engage our consciousness. This can happen when the input is too weak to begin with, when psychological "defenses" and other filtering processes - the "Cover-Programs"(17) - weaken it and when we consciously choose to attend to something else.

Though we are unaware of them when in this condition, they may still have a profound effect on all the ongoing processes of the mind - mainly on those that are outside of the awareness. Even when they are subliminal, we can influence them consciously in a systematic way.

For instance, when a sensation becomes too weak to discern, we can still continue to concentrate our attention on its source of origin in the body, and thus continue to enhance its effects on the other ongoing processes.

17. Cover-Program is a kind of a Supra-Program(8) that serves to prevent or to weaken the activity of other supra-programs and to prevent or restrict their intruding into the awareness. Sometimes the covering affect is applied only (or mainly) to some of the components of the emotional supra-program - mostly to those that are available to the awareness.

The most prominent cover-programs are usually called "defenses". These defences - as the name implies - are supposed to be a system of mental processes which protect us from becoming aware of forbidden material or unwanted and damaging emotional experiences.
The cover-programs take part in regulating the allocation of the limited amount of brain resources and the limited capacity of awareness to the various tasks at hand. They are valuable and faulty in all the ways the other supra-programs are.

The main problems the cover-programs cause us - during focusing and during the spontaneous attending to the natural biofeedback - are the restricting, diminishing and weakening of the appropriate felt sensations(7) needing focusing. As a result, the updating and mending of the "covered" programs is limited. More on the cover-programs


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