A Feelingwork Session in Detail: Receiving Love

Mapping Fearful Fear


J: So, turning attention back to the Fearful Fear. If you were to say that the actual, felt experience of this is located somewhere in or around your body, where would you say that seems to be?

S: It actually seems to be, like from my heart, maybe like the upper third of my chest. Like if the steel plate starts in the middle of my chest, this starts in the upper third. And it actually goes all the way up to my jaw. So some of it is protected by the steel plate, and some of it is not.

J: OK. And what’s the depth of it? Behind the steel plate, how far back does this Fearful Fear go?

S: Well I’m assuming if my body were sliced vertically, probably about to the middle, wherever the back of my heart is physically located. It goes that deep, like heart deep.

J: Got it. And if you were to say the actual, felt experience of this has qualities of substance, does it seem more like a solid…

S: Like a fog.

J: Like a fog, OK. And this fog, does it seem thick or thin, heavy or light?

S: Thick… and hm… It’s like it’s patchy, so parts of it are heavy but parts of it seem very light. So kind of like overall it’s light, but there are patches of heaviness.

J: OK. And what temperature would you say this fog seems to be?

S: Definitely cold. Not freezing. Maybe like 40s, 40 degrees, like when you walk outside and you say, “Oh! I should have worn a sweater.” But not shivery.

J: Uh huh.

S: But definitely noticeably cold.

J: And what color would you say it seems to be?

S: The heavy parts are dark gray, and the overall color is a light gray.

J: OK. 

S: Like it’s not white, but it’s just kind of a dingy color.

J: OK, so sort of a grayish.

S: Yeah.

J: OK. And is this fog, does it seem to be moving in any way? Any kind of swirl or flow, or pulse or vibration?

S: Not swirling, and not pulse and vibration, but it is kind of moving, like maybe back and forth like this.

J: So sort of a drifting back and forth?

S: Yeah, drifting, that’s a great word.

J: OK, back and forth to the right and left, yeah?

S: Yes.

J: And if you listen internally, do you notice any inner sound?

S: It’s like a soft crying, not sobbing.

J: More like whimpering?

S: Not whimpering, not moaning. Gosh I don’t seem to think of…

J: Well, “a soft, crying sound” is probably close enough.

S: Yeah.

J: OK. Anything else you want to notice about what this feels like?

S: Well, the whole time I’ve been talking about it, the word “shy” keeps coming up for me. Almost like it wants to hide or not be seen or not be noticed. And almost like a little feeling of shame.

J: Mmmmm. So from this place, what seems true, or real, or important?

S: It seems like it really would like to go.

J: “Go” meaning…?

S: Dissipate.

J: Uh huh. 

S: It doesn’t really want to be here. It just is.

J: Ah huh. Any sense of why it’s here?

S: It seems like it was just a really bad day, like a bad weather day, but just like a bad day and it just came up and then it didn’t know how to leave.

J: Ah hah. OK.

S: Kind of like if smog came in and it got trapped in a valley, and short of there being a big wind storm or a really fierce rain or something that would dissipate it, it’s just kind of stuck there.

J: All right.

Notice how precise Susan gets in describing her feeling state. She gives a specific temperature, quibbles about the color, is very clear about the patchy density of the fog, and describes with a gesture exactly how it moves. The gesture also indicates how integrated the experience of feeling is with our ever-present experience of embodiment. We experience ourselves, before anything else, as material bodies in a material world, and this pervasive materiality infuses our every moment.

Also notice how Susan mentions a hint of “almost like a little feeling of shame” as she summarizes her experience of the fog. As a facilitator, I am constantly alert for hints like this one which often point to further feeling states connected to the one in focus. Feeling exists as constellations of interrelated states, and Feelingwork mapping activates a sensitivity to the nuances of our inner experience, supporting us in bringing the full network of distinct states into tangible awareness.