Sandy Jahmi Burg

BE your own best friend...

Most of us are not taught HOW to use our body/brain. Focusing is a way of living confidently connected to your own inner knowing in relationship to yourself and others. We learn to live from what we are wanting, our heartfelt joys, our deep passions rather than focusing our attention on what we are worried will happen.

This changes everything about how we experience life.

We're in this together

Focusing has been accessible to me as a way of being as long as I can remember. I can recall hours outside under the stars, tears rolling down my cheeks, holding space for all the parts within me to find peace around big changes I've been called to make. I also carried the understanding that this aspect of life, my inner world, was mine to walk alone. All of my personal growth and spiritual studies confirmed this. And yet, something in me was sad and longed for someone to take my hand and say‚ "I'll go too". Possibly, that longing is part of how I found my way to Focusing. We are not alone here. We are in it together. With this understanding, I approach what I do here as personal empowerment and community building, together, as one.

My goals

As a Focusing Coordinator, I enjoy working with individuals and teaching groups. I offer Parts 1-4 basic skills training and an ongoing Learning Community for Mastery in Guiding Change. This ongoing community can be a path to certification for you as a Focusing Professional with The International Focusing Institute.

I have three goals in teaching: 1- Living a Focusing way of life by incorporating the power of the pause into your natural way of being. 2- Inner Relationship Focusing and the benefits of a regular partnership practice. 3- Incorporating emerging neuroscience and exposing you to other types of Focusing so that you feel comfortable engaging beyond my classes.

I have personal passions for intentional community, neuroscience, health, well-being and spirituality. I have taught mindfulness classes, so you will find these woven within as well.

Community Support for Change

A community of Focusers from SWVA, USA, Canada and around the world gather here to practice these empowering life skills. We join thousands of Focusers worldwide. We practice in partnerships, mostly over zoom or phone, sometimes in person, around the model of Empowered Focuser, Relaxed Companion. We unlearn cultural assumptions like that we have to fix ourselves or get someone to fix us. Instead, we learn to trust that positive change is inherent in us. Aspects of ourselves that may have seemed forever tangled, unwind. We feel lighter, more spacious, whole, integrated. This happens because we are literally re-wiring our brain when we practice Focusing. The number of cells, the neurons that make up our brain stays the same. Throughout our life, we have opportunities to expand the neural connections, the wiring among and between various aspects of our mind and body. We can leave this up to random moments in which we feel safe and aware enough to be Present here NOW (very dependent on our current environment). Or we can educate ourselves on how new neural connections are made. With this knowledge and by practicing these skills, we can intentionally heal that within us which is broken and expand that within us which thrives and enjoys life.

Find Your Unique Way of Supporting Change in the World...

Certification via the Learning Community involves these three applications of Felt Sensing:

1 – Our Relationship with Self

2- Our Relationship 1:1 with Another Person

3- Our Relationship with Community and the Greater World Beyond

FAQ

Maybe you are wondering...

Why learn Focusing if these are natural skills...

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Focusing is an experience, more than words can ever say...

Focusing is a way of being in the world, an experiential way of living from this human body we are blessed to inhabit when we are born. We learn the basics of how to do this from our initial environments: home, neighbors, schools, communities we are exposed to as youth. When we feel a sense of safety from these places, we are more likely to become trusting. There are many layers of trusting. In my experience as a teacher, many people drawn to Focusing are being called to heal trust in one of its many layers. They might say "I don't trust myself." or "I don't trust other people." or "There is more bad than good. Why bother?" 

Trust in the inherent life forward flow of the universe is one essential aspect of Focusing. Gendlin's philosophy and practicing these skills show us that when get out of the way, the steps that come are always toward our well-being (often we are blocking life forward flow from fear). This might be one way you are drawn to learn Focusing. 

Focusing is the essence of Change. 

It took me a long time to affirm that the ongoing bodily experiencing has its own inherent lifeforwarding implying. The little steps that arise at the edge are creative, imaginative, and always in some positive direction.” Gendlin (2003)

There are many activities or techniques you may already use to help yourself adapt and make changes. Regardless whether you belong to support groups,  meditate, exercise, use gratitude practice, bodywork or somatic methods, therapists, coaches, retreats, etc., underlying anything that changes within us or around us is the experience of Focusing. Over time as we live more of our life from this state of being, we become more at ease with changes in the world around us. 

Ultimate self-empowerment is learning these skills yourself. You may still participate in those other activities AND you will also be more skilled at adapting and moving through life on your own or with a Focusing partnership. A Focusing partnership is an even exchange.

Focusing is a series of natural skills, accessible to All. 

 We will all be doing some of the Focusing skills some of the time. In the First-Time Guided Focusing Session that I offer, we pause after the session to review the beginner skills. I give you examples of where they were in your session. 

Unfortunately, our Western cultures discourage use of these skills and many of us do not access them often in our daily lives. Focusing does require a kind of slowing down that we eventually create as we practice more. It's also been compared to learning a language or learning to ride a bike. We must expect that we'll fall down many times in this type of learning process. And that is ok. 

I consider myself a natural Focuser in that I used them already as an infant and maintained them pretty well despite a typical suburban life style in Midwest USA. I supplemented my skills with nature, music, spirituality and retreats avidly for some of the years I made a lot of changes and before I learned Focusing. Since I've learned Focusing, my skills and ability to live a daily Focusing way has exploded. My regular Focusing partnerships are precious relationships that I value highly. I love my life. It's not that challenges do not arise. Plenty do. It's that I feel equipped, empowered and never alone in meeting them. 

 

How Focusing integrates with other things you've learned...

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This is interesting. The simple answer is that Focusing enhances everything you've already learned. The process meets you where you are.

Focusing also sometimes helps you see that you no longer need something you've learned earlier, it somehow no longer applies. This is not something we tell you. It's something that emerges from within you as your authentic truth. This is because Focusing invites us to beginner's mind, the freshness of the present moment and the potential that we might come up with a totally new perspective in the next moment.

Built into our brain design, everything we have learned about successfully being a human being, becomes something we want to 'hold on' to.

The skills we learn here are not truly successful until we incorporate them into our way of being. This generally takes practice. Keep in mind, no one teaches us how to use this magnificent gift of a human body. We each had to find our own way. Generally, we picked up ideas from our environments. Making this shift to living your life as process, will vary with where you start from and how much you incorporate these skills into your daily life.

How Focusing integrates with Neuroscience

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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.

brain-activated

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.

GENDLIN’S THREE TYPES OF THEORIES

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.

44 Benefits of Focusing

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44 Benefits of Focusing

Oct 10, 2015

Why Focus?

I am often asked about the benefits of Focusing. And my answer always has a new twist because something new comes to my own or another Focuser’s awareness that I’ve talked with. This has inspired me to begin a list of how Focusing changes one’s life.  Some of these you would glimpse in a single Guided Focusing Session. Most of them unfold as you practice regularly, really giving yourself time to rewire and integrate your neural circuits to live more of your living moments from the power of Presence.

  1. I Focus because it alters the way I perceive being here alive in this body – more and more my neural pathways are aligned with THRIVING. I experience my life as thriving and everywhere I look I see thriving or at least, the potential to thrive.
  1. “LIVE CONNECTIONS” My ability to experience feeling open, flowing, alive, connected in any given moment has always been with me. NOW, because I understand how to regularly practice my Focusing skills in a partnership and in my daily life – this sense is with me frequently. Very nice. They say our bodies are more electrical than chemical – I get it!
  1. We all get STUCK sometimes. Something in us stands firm and says “I’m not moving on this one!”. I had the honor of filming a local Focuser yesterday share a touching story of how she used her Presence skills so this part of her felt understood. What had been stuck transformed and immediately she had a sense of flow to her life again. Yay for her! And yay for our Focusing movement as we now have video as a teaching tool!
  1. Focusing is the Essence of CHANGE. And, this change is always experienced as toward LIFE FORWARD MOVEMENT. Evolution does not happen randomly once at the time you were conceived. Every time we move forward, we contribute to all of humanity. We pave the way and it is easier for those who follow. Chew on this one a bit.
  1. Focusing is a BODY AWARENESS skill. By practicing, we build our neural pathways to comfortably live more and more from our bodies. Our bodies are always in the present moment so this profoundly changes how we experience life.
  1. To feel PEACEFUL. No more critical voices inside. A regular Focusing practice transforms our inner landscape to a place of respect, honor, trust and love. REALLY.
  1. To resolve PHYSICAL PAIN. Physical pain is something in our body wanting our attention. When it feels understood deeply, like we learn to do when we Focus, it does not need to be that way anymore and the pain releases. Sweet.
  1. To improve your RELATIONAL skills. Sensing what to do or say next in any conversation takes practice and access to the right words. We got that all in a nutshell and simple like.
  1. Focusing invites our EDGES, whether these be creative, blossoming or rough edges. These are the places in us that are fuzzy, not quite known and by Focusing the edge clears. We now know what to create, which way, better who we are. We call this experience a FELT SENSE SHIFT and this is what makes Focusing unique from all other body or mind awareness techniques.
  1. Learning to Focus is an investment in YOURSELF. Focusing is a skill that you carry with you every moment of your life. No matter where your skill level is when you start, practice improves it. Relational encounters with yourself, other people, animals, nature, all become easier and deeper. YOU’RE WORTH IT!
  1. The experience of a Focusing PARTNERSHIP is priceless. I used to believe my inner world was something I had to navigate alone. Baloney.
    Focusing teaches us that 95% of what we can do for each other is Be Present and we ALL can learn to do that. Imagine living life knowing you can always access someone who says “I’ll go too”.
  1. From Self-in-Presence, the state of awareness we practice while Focusing, you will experience that you are ENOUGH. You will know that you are loved and valued as is – with all your holes and imperfections. From here is how you move forward any feelings of low self-esteem or unworthiness from your earlier years. Now, you can authentically live from this knowing that YOU ARE ALWAYS ENOUGH.

You are and will always be enough.

  1. To honor the SCIENTIST in you. Science as it is meant to be. Focusing involves a state of awareness that includes both compassion and curiosity. Imagine when your beloved family member begins to tell you that they totaled your car, that while feeling a tightness rising in your stomach, you are able to listen to their story with both curiosity and compassion. Curiosity and compassion for them, as well as for the tightness rising in your stomach.
  1. To get past SHAME. Most of us carry shame from ‘something’ we did in the past. We typically push it way down there deep. It can create health problems. Focusing attention is just what is needed for that sense of shame to release you for good.
  1. To CLEAN UP OUR CLUTTER. Old stuff clutters our head and body with repetitive thought patterns and disease. Focusing gently, gradually finds what is no longer relevant to our lives and offers it a way forward to a thought or action we’re happy to display on our shelf.
  1. To differentiate TRUTH from STORY in my head. This is a real challenge for a lot of us. Until we experience how to differentiate the two and learn what it takes to reconfigure our neural pathways, we are puppets to our stories. This may not be so obvious to us and is often quite obvious to those around us.

We must reclaim the truth of worthiness from our stories

  1. To sense what FOOD MY BODY NEEDS right now. Very helpful each morning as I peruse the supplement cabinet. By dropping into my body, I hear YES, NO or MAYBE (won’t hurt, won’t help – ha!). By consistently listening, I’ve developed a stronger trust that I am taking good care of my body with the foods I chose to eat.
  1. To FORGIVE myself and others for not being perfect. Forgiveness comes when you can really stay with and extend empathy as needed to whatever needs to be heard and understood within. Harder things often take another listener, right there with you, reminding you, yea, we’re all learners here.
  1. To AVOID REGRETS like these. The practice of Focusing builds my ability to stay present in the moment with whatever is happening; relationships of all types improve. Every minute I spend practicing always moves me closer to my authentic self. That self is now always evolving and so I am continually moving farther and farther away from regrets like these.

Top five regrets of the dying.

  1. To make DECISIONS that feel good NOW & LATER. This is the immediate version of no regrets. If you have two choices, one at at time imagine they are true and listen to what your body tells you. The phrase ‘your gut knows’ comes to mind. Your body has been with you from the beginning of all your choices and will be with you where you are going next – might be worth your time to improve your ability to communicate with it!
  1. To RESOLVE PAST TRAUMA including PTSD. If at any time in our past, we did not have the emotional resources to deal with a situation, a stopped process occurred. This is held in our bodies. Eugene Gendlin’s “Process Model” explains this and the complexities of how our bodies interact with our environment in any given moment. Much more is happening than we are normally aware of. The deepening skills and partnership support of Focusing empower our bodies to gently unwind any stopped processes we still carry forward to FREEDOM. We can ALL learn this and be this support for each other. The impact of this is BEYOND HUGE. Please help me spread this awareness.
  1. To move through BIG TRANSITIONS with EASE. Job changes, loss of loved ones, moves, etc. bring stress for most of us. When I am Self-in-Presence, I trust myself, my choices and I feel supported by the universe. Without careful listening during these times, we miss clues and limit the scope of our creative potential.
  1. To shift our thoughts from fear-based (all those things you are really NOT WANTING to have happen) to the dynamics of what you ARE WANTING, love, thriving, open, accepting – thoughts that describe your passions and desires for your life at your highest level. Oh what a world this will be!
  1. To make friends with my TO-DO LIST. The pace of my life is truly a delight these days. I pause to hear all the options. I make the choice freely. Amazingly, I do not have to do everything that I care about, things get taken care of quite well without me trying to do it all.
  1. Focusing is an integrative process. PARADOXES of all sorts that we naturally carry inside of us such as how we all carry and express BOTH MALE & FEMALE energies are able to find a peaceful co-existence. You will no longer feel tugged in one direction or the other depending on where you are, who you are with or what you are doing.
  1. So you can GROUND yourself in HIGHLY EMOTIONAL situations where overwhelm, anxiety or anger might take over. As we practice Focusing, we learn to distinguish 3 states of being: Presence (the ability to be with our emotions calmly – we get better at this) versus either Merged (as in I am my anger and everything around me now knows it!) or Exiled (I refuse to accept that I can be angry and I’ll hide that anger deep, deep down there where even I cannot find it!).
  1. To step out of the BLAME GAME. Focusing occurs from a state of being we call Self-in-Presence. From here, we experience relationships without judgment. Hallujuhah! The Blame Game loses its punch, we’re playing life in a different ballpark now.
  1. To catch the SUBTLE CUES. Every moment in life carries so much more than we normally notice. The practice of Focusing opens our body awareness up so that we catch more, miss less.
  1. To END ADDICTIONS once and for all without forcing yourself. Addictions are attempts to distract us from getting close to an old emotional issue. We learn here how to give ourselves the type of Presence we were looking for at the time and the whole thing dissolves to no urge no more.
  1. To tap even deeper into your CREATIVE POTENTIAL. The skill of Focusing moves within us like a spiral, the better we get at Focusing, the more expansively we reach the furthest edges of the potentials of human creativity. And always, we move from the center of our unique truth.
  1. To TRUST YOURSELF. From deep, deep within. This is huge. Big. Words cannot describe how life changing this is…
  1. Because we are ready for a life of EVASION NO MORE! This benefit of Focusing is inspired by this T.S. Eliot quote: “Poetry may make us…a little more aware of the deeper, unnamed feelings which form the substratum of our being, to which we rarely penetrate; for our lives are mostly a constant evasion of ourselves.”
  1. To lose the DISTRACTIONS. Be Focused. C’mon y’all – let’s do this!
  1. Has life become stagnant? Focusing brings more FRESH AIR experiences into your life. Pausing to Focus invites something fresh to be here now and you are taking time to really breathe that experience in.

Feeling fresh air.

  1. To HEAL quicker from illness and injuries. Our body’s circumstances are uniquely ours and our body knows intricately what is going on and what we need to heal. We need only ask, take some time to listen deeply and then be skilled enough to understand what is being communicated to us. This works so much better than relying on the opinion of others, even ‘experts’. There is a lot less maybe, a lot more clarity and we move forward quicker.
  1. Focusing is like meditation in that there is often SILENCE. This is not the silence of being with stillness, more like the silence of growth and movement.

How lovely the silence of growing things.

  1. To hold GOOD BOUNDARIES with grace, ease and also, with an awareness for what is needed for your growth now in this environment.

Your current safe boundaries were once unknown frontiers.

  1. BEYOND WILLPOWER lies Presence. Focusing works in situations where willpower alone won’t cut it.
  1. To clearly and compassionately COMMUNICATE YOUR NEEDS. Naturally find yourself using invitations and suggestions with others. This skill helps you avoid being interpreted as telling others to do something.
  1. To understand how one can experience EMPATHY for another person’s experience WITHOUT JUDGING that experience as good or bad. If we are not judging, then we are also not weighted down by the sorrows of the whole world on our shoulders. Radical? Yes.
  1. To move past FEELING ALONE or DEPRESSED. Focusers know how to be with something in themselves that is lonely or depressed and over time, it will not need to be that way anymore, evermore.
  1. To be FEAR NO MORE. The potential of failure is a perception you can move past. As a Focuser, you can find forward movement in everything.
  1. To feel eternally SUPPORTED and BE HAPPY, no matter what challenges life brings our way. Happiness lasts when we build our structure from the inside out.

Happiness starts with you...

  1. Those who PIONEER living a Focused life now pave the way for future generations. It is our YOUTH that will keep the evolution train moving forward. Those who come after will do what we can and more. YES.

Quote from The Alchemist by Paul Coelho

More about my background

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 "I Believe in the Power of Focusing"

Sandy Jahmi Burg at the ocean

I am committed heart and soul to increasing awareness about how beneficial the skill of Focusing is. My vision is to seed Focusing skills locally and around the world to people who are naturally attracted. I see Focusing become an accepted mainstream skill, easily accessible to all who want to learn it. Schools, colleges, businesses, churches, community service and mental health groups, prisons, police and fire, medical institutions, entrepreneurs, people from all walks of life benefit from practicing the natural skill of Focusing. From birth to death, our brains are actively interacting with what is going on inside of us as well as what is going on around us. Focusing helps us experience more from all those interactive moments and from this, greatly expands the flow and richness we experience from life. 

"When I Grow Up, I Want to Be a Mom!"

Scott, Sandy, Jenny and Christina

My childhood dreams revolved around motherhood. I wanted to be a mom. At age 11, I had an intuitive knowing that someday I'd be mom to a blond-haired blue-eyed boy named Scott. Scott came 20 yrs later, letting his two sisters enter the world first. I was keenly aware as my children grew that the way they each processed emotional and other life experiences varied dramatically. Curiosity stirred and I began passionately exploring health, psychology, spirituality, emotions and communication. 

 

The Effects of What we Put in Our Bodies

Garden Glory

I began by applying my 25 yrs experience working part-time as a Medical Technologist in hospital labs toward looking at how our bodies work chemically. I found that nutrition and hormones vastly influenced our moods. Thus began years of experimentation learning new self-care techniques, learning to eat what my body needed now and learning to prepare food in healthier ways. If you’ve ever tried this yourself, you know it’s a gradual process of bringing attention to your body, maybe noticing how clear or energetic you feel now.  It makes sense. Our bodies are miraculously versatile and yet, we can do so much more with a little care and the right building materials!

We Must Feel Safe to Make Changes

Wholeness Circle retreat at Selu Conservancy, Feb, 2008

In 2002, I met Parker Palmer and began studying Circle of Trust, a retreat method that he had developed with a team of facilitators to create safe spaces for professions like teachers to nurture personal and professional integrity and the courage to act on it. I began facilitating Wholeness Circles within a few years, a safe space focused on inner work inspired by poetry, art, music, movement and the seasons of nature. These were generally 2.5 hour evening programs or day long retreats. 

 

Oh, the Challenges of Human Communication!

Peace Navigator logo

Meanwhile, a creative entrepreneurial opportunity landed in my lap. I had an opportunity to create educational content for a cooperative communication computer game titled Peace Navigator in partnership with a 501c3 called The Peace Learning Center that I adored. I became a partner in an LLC called Software Training Institute. Here I studied Non Violent Communication (CNVC) by Marshall Rosenberg and any other model of peaceful communication I could lay my hands on.  I coordinated 30+ students to create the audio/visual effects for the computer game.


The Gatherer Finds Beauty in All She Finds Along the Way

Me in my backyard garden, each plant contributes to the whole!

In 2007, I became a Sufi initiate. Sufism is a way of life in which a deeper identity is discovered and lived. This deeper identity, beyond the already known personality, is in harmony with all that exists. Jahmi is my Sufi name. One of the 99 names of God, Jami means The Gatherer. It reminds us to enjoy the process of gathering, whether of people in your life or the resources you need at this moment.  What is gathered has beauty in and of itself, it is not simply a means to the end result. As Sufi’s experience our inner life as reflective of our outer life, it also refers to gathering parts of yourself to help you better reflect your purpose in life.
 


Abwoon is the Aramaic Word for the Power of the Universe to Give Birth to New Life Every Moment 

www.abwoon.com

From 2007 – 2010, I studied with Neil Douglas-Klotz, an Aramaic scholar and Sufi teacher in his Abwoon Interspiritual Leadership Program.  The intent of this program was to develop leaders in interspiritual practices for peacemaking and service, in ministries of spiritual direction, counseling, teaching and ritual. Oh, the juiciness here! This program centered around the teachings of Jesus in Aramaic, Genesis and older Creation stories, Simple Presence, Heart Awareness, Gratitude, Celebration, Sound and Embodiment as well as Sufi Spirituality.  Lots of dances, chants and meditations.  The focus in Aramaic with Jesus’ teachings were around The Lord’s Prayer, Beatitudes and his ‘I AM’ teachings in his last year. As much as he tried, Jesus could not seem to convince his disciples (other than Mary), that they too, could do what he did and eventually even more…


 
Valuing Humans and the Natural Earth Cycles in Balance 

Landscaping pathway Sandy created

In 2007, I also took a 17 Day Immersive Permaculture Design Apprentice Training. Permaculture is another study of process that takes years of observation to understand. Ideally, permaculture implemented is multi-functional, diverse, life-supporting, aesthetically-pleasing, appropriately-scaled, energy-efficient, and functionally connected – patterning landscapes, demographics and species assemblies to provide ever-evolving, permanent food and resource systems. I observed, practiced and applied permaculture theory to what was already years of Landscaping experience with low-maintenance and natural habitats. I still enjoy offering Sustainable Landscape Design Consults.

 


Circle Toward Wholeness

Logo designed by John Sledd

From 2008 – 2012, I founded and ran a 501c3 called Circle Toward Wholeness.  This logo which I still use was designed by John Sledd. The vision of Circle Toward Wholeness was to provide innovative education for inner peace and wellness to people where they were already gathered in workplaces, businesses and community centers (host sites). I met many amazing people on their own healing paths and was proud to connect them with others when I could. My own studies focused on new information emerging in the field of neuroscience, the scientific study of our nervous system. I came to understand that our bodies work at least as much on electrical principals as they operate biochemically. New research and understandings emerge daily toward integration of our right and left brains toward wholeness.  What an exciting time for us all!


We All Deserve a Safe Thriving Environment to Call Home

Sandy and Bob

One of the facilitators I interviewed for support with a Circle Toward Wholeness video project called Wellness Moments was a musician named Bob Grubel. Bob and I fell in love and have been life partners since 2010.  We live in a charming home Bob built himself where we grow most of our own food and share resources in a small intentional community in Floyd, VA. I closed Circle Toward Wholeness not long after I came across Focusing.

 

My Skill Has a Name – Focusing!!

Eugene Gendlin

I first read about Focusing in a Tricycle magazine in Nov 2011. It was an interview with Eugene Gendlin, the philosopher who named Focusing. I immediately recognized it as something I was naturally good at and knew I wanted to take the training to learn how to teach Focusing. I studied with Ann Weiser Cornell (Focusing Resources) and additionally mentored with Cathy Pascal, a Coordinator from Chapel Hill, North Carolina until March 2014 when I completed my requirements as a Certified Focusing Professional for The International Focusing Institute (TIFI).

 

Floyd Focusing Increases Local Awareness

Floyd Focusing booth at Floyd County Fair, 2019

Oh What Happiness! A lifetime searching for 'Live Connections' and now I live it. Offering Guided Focusing Sessions and educational training in the skills of Focusing brings the most amazing people into my life. I began locally here in Floyd, Virginia. I offered Changes groups at The June Bug Center, free talks at the library and staffed booths at various local events. My early students were super supportive and became assistants in my classes which soon expanded online. 

 

 

Partnering with Mindfulness Organizations

InSchools in Franklin County, program of InStill Mindfulness

In 2018, I was blessed to be hired by InStill Mindfulness as a teacher for their InSchools program. We provided a weekly semester long program in mindfulness training for groups of teachers in districts around the area. At first, this was very much an inner journey. As we went along, teachers were encouraged to incorporate some of what they had learned into their classrooms. Toward the end, we worked 1:1 with teachers in their classroom supporting their way of bringing mindfulness to life in their workday. I had a blast! I also developed deep, deep respect for the teachers I worked with. 

 

Smartview Stories are Born!

Smartview Stories with 3 Inner Companions

On a new moon in July 2018, a very new idea came forth around writing a children's book series makes Focusing skills accessible to children. What a journey this has been! Besides gaining skills as an author, I have accumulated photo editing, graphic design and marketing skills I never imagined I would need. Over 4 years in and this project feels fleshed out enough to really bring out into the world. Blessings to everyone who has supported me this far and cheers to those I'll meet on the way forward! 

 

Support for Bringing Focusing into the World

The Learning Community for Mastery in Guiding Change emerged as a request from experienced Focusers wanting to improve their ability to share Focusing with others. I set it up with a format that encourages students to connect with the greater Focusing world and bring back what they learn to our community. Wow, together we are so amazing!

In Sept, 2021 I applied as a Coordinator-in-Training with TIFI and expanded this program so that it can be a pathway to certification as a Focusing Professional.  A year later, I have over a dozen students in various phases of certifying. I have completed my requirements and anticipate becoming a Coordinator early in 2023. 

Sandy Jahmi Burg

 

Maybe you have been inspired by my story to join us. There is no prep. You begin from wherever you are. Contact me, join the movement and step proudly into your flow!

About Safety...

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SAFETY in this process, in general, is an important topic Focusers take very seriously. If you are concerned about safety or engaging trauma, no wonder! Many common forms of support can be traumatic in themselves. Focusing is different because we are following your body's natural sense of living forward. Like an acorn finding it's way to becoming an oak tree, your body has its own gentle steps it would take toward healing. Focusers learn to trust this process and follow it.

Focusing is not a tool or technique. It is the very essence of change. It's the HOW change happens in the universe on all levels. This might involve behaviors, thought patterns, physical health, essentially any aspect of being a human being. If you have specific questions here, reach out, I can send you more information. I would be glad to have a more in-depth conversation around this as well. 

About Privacy...

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Privacy as we find our way through complex situations is often integral to healing. Many of us carry deep fears in our DNA of being excluded or abandoned. The practice of Focusing reminds us that we are not fixed with labels for life, rather a living process. We learn here to experience ourselves as human beings always evolving and never done.

In Focusing, we are primarily working with an inner experiential process and if it feels best, each of us can keep ‘what’ the experience is about, to ourselves. All content that might come up in a Focusing Session with me is always 100% confidential. I am not a therapist and will not be making mental health judgements. I am here to meet and support you where you are. This same confidentiality is taught in classes. The role of a companion unfolds gradually ensuring a sense of self-empowerment for each Focuser. Companions learn to let go of fixing and saving to trust each of us will find our own way.

Next, Focusing is relationship building and we will be encouraged to honor what feels right to the inner relationship.  One shares what is wanting to be acknowledged and accepted out loud. Anything which feels tender or needing to be protected would be acknowledged as that or silently to yourself. This sense of safety and trust in the Focusing partnership process builds gradually over time.

Focusing was named by philosopher

Eugene Gendlin

"Your physically felt body is in fact part of a gigantic system of here and other places, now and other times, you and other people–in fact, the whole universe. This sense of being bodily alive in a vast system is the body as it is felt from inside."

From my Primary Mentor in Certification

Ann Weiser Cornell, Co-Founder of Inner Relationship Focusing

“I am so proud of the way that Sandy Jahmi Burg has deeply absorbed my teaching of Inner Relationship Focusing and made it into something dynamic and empowering to support her whole community. Sandy is warm, creative, and visionary, a person who blends the grounded and practical with the big view of possibility. She is one of the most active Focusing teachers and the Floyd community is extremely lucky to have her!”

From my initial Co-Mentor in Certification

Cathy Pascal, LCSW & Focusing Coordinator

"Sandy loves sharing the gift of Focusing and it shows! She sparkles with passion and commitment for the work and embodies a deep confidence and understanding of the process. She also gets things done – with large doses of creativity and courage. It has been a pleasure to mentor and work alongside Sandy as well as cheer her on as she continues to cultivate and support a Focusing community. I recommend her highly as a teacher and a Focusing guide."

Moving from 'managed' to 'life-changing'...

Pam Kuras, LCSW

As a therapist, I strongly believe clinicians must continue to do their own growth work in order to best support clients. I first learned about Focusing when I mentioned to a colleague my intent to address some of my own past traumatic experiences. I am a skeptic by nature, but I was willing to follow her suggestion to try this relatively unknown life skill. Sandy’s welcoming style and gentle guidance created a safe space to explore. During Part 3, everything came together for me. With Focusing, I have made breakthroughs that decades of off-and-on therapy, paired with my own daily mindfulness practices, had merely “managed“. I am not exaggerating when I say that Focusing has been life-changing for me. Focusing is now an everyday part of my life, so I often share Focusing principles with clients and friends. I am so grateful that I found Sandy!” 

Visit Smart View Recreation Area

Located along the Blue Ridge Parkway about 25 min from the town of Floyd, Smart View Recreation Area has a lovely picnic area with paved roads surrounded by about 2 miles of hiking trails. There are several excellent overlooks. Various trails meander through moist deciduous woodlands, hardwood forests, and open fields.

Directions