Letting Meaning Emerge from Inside
by Robert Brugger


I would like you to have an experience of taking information in a little deeper than you’re doing right now, wherever that is for you… An experience of letting a meaning emerge…and connecting to some purpose.

This is an example of how the Focusing process can work in learning. It is intended to be used in a situation where you are learning something, and want to go a little deeper into what you are hearing or reading means for you.

Take a term, phrase, or sentence that interests you.

As you take in what you just heard or read, notice the before-words sense of it inside you. Allow all thoughts, feelings and body sensations to be present. After a time let words come…an understanding in your body of the material you are exploring.

Take what came, write it down, or have a partner say it back to you…

Notice if the words say your sense of it. Re-write or re-phrase the words until they feel exactly right, and your meaning is taking shape or becoming clear.

How do you understand this? Notice the sense of it…

What does it mean to you?

In your life, what does it mean?

When I did this exercise myself with Kye Nelson, to write and test these instructions as I was writing this handout, this is what happened at each step:

I have a sentence here from the Matisse book… [Matisse on art by Jack D. Flam, "Looking at life with the eyes of a child"]

‘In art, the genuine creator… is not just a gifted being… but a man who has succeeded in arranging… a complex of activities… for their appointed end, of which the work of art is the outcome.’

[breath] hmmm

so if I take my instructions and say ‘taking in what you just heard, notice the sense of it inside you’

…there’s a sense of order and power.

… [long pause]

…a certain kind of working…

and proceeding… which…

… [long pause]

puts things in a certain complex order, to achieve a result.


… [long pause]

There’s something coming now about understanding

I think the question would be ‘How do you understand this?’

Notice the sense of it…


maybe notice how… you understand something…

… and that’s different from trying to figure out how… he meant it…

because I don’t know how Matisse meant it…

Right, exactly

but this is what I’m getting from reading this.


… [long pause]

And then I think you could go to ‘what does it mean to you?’

Okay, can we test it with another sentence?

Have you gone all the way already, with this one, with ‘what does it mean to you?’?

It means to me that there is a… let’s see…

… [long pause]

It means that there is a way of… ordering… complex activities… which result in a work of art…

something one… does with their consciousness… or consciously is doing…

which involves a certain intelligence in arranging things in a…

…I don’t know, I’m going in circles now.

As a painter, what does it mean for you?… In your life, what does it mean?… I think that that’s the next question on the same track, before you have it complete.

Right… right

… [long pause]

As a painter what it means to me is to…to be…in command of a range of complex activities.


And that that can be done… if one takes the time to… learn or study…

What’s also important here for me, in doing this presentation… is that the meaning doesn’t necessarily come that quick, like a thought.

Yes, right

It might take a while to put it into words.


It might not happen in a few minutes, or an hour.

… [long pause]

Personal meaning… might not have words yet.


[long pause]

But there may be a body sense of it already…

Oh, that’s beautiful

… [long pause]

The session continues on. You can read a transcript of the session in its entirety.


Robert Brugger is a trainer with the Focusing Institute, with a special interest in combining Focusing with purpose.
Contact him at 212/543-1422,

More information on Focusing and places to learn it:


Visit the Focusing Institute website, at www.focusing.org

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Kye Nelson is a collaborative consultant and process facilitator.
Contact her at 210/413-4339, info@workingprocess.com, or find out more at www.workingprocess.com.