Salvador Moreno López’s Descubriendo el Enfoque Corporal
Fernando Ortiz Lachica
Mexico City, Mexico
Last year I received an invitation to present the book Descubriendo mi Sabiduría Corporal, Focusing by Dr. Salvador Moreno López, a professor at the ITESO, the Jesuit University in Guadalajara. I met Salvador before he became a professor at the ITESO, before he obtained his doctorate or his master’s degree in psychology and before he became certified in Focusing. I met him before he published his previous books, “La educación centrada en la persona” and “Guía para el aprendizaje participativo.”
We met in 1969 when we were both enrolled in our first semester in college, studying Psychology at the Ibero-American University in Mexico City. Shortly after, he invited me to spend the holidays at his house in Uruapan, Michoacan where a 40 year friendship was born. That would have been reason enough to gladly accept to present his book Descubriendo mi Sabiduria Corporal, focusing; however, it was not solely the dear friendship with the author that moved me to do it, but my strong interest in the topic it addresses.
To read the book and to learn focusing, we need to put aside certain beliefs for example, that everything has to be explained or that it is best to do things well and in the least possible time. When speaking about the attitudes that are useful not only to practice focusing and promote personal development, but in everyday life, Salvador proposes getting closer to the knowledge of focusing as if it were a trip, a journey with multiple paths and directions with no pre-established route.
It caught my attention that the author recommends attitudes such as waiting slowly, accompanying with patienceacc a and the importance of listening. The Ents come to mind, tree-like characters that inhabit the forest in Tolkien’s Middle-Earth in the Trilogy of The Lord of the Rings. According to Treebeard, the eldest of the species, the Ents speak in “…a lovely language, but it takes a very long time to say anything in it, because we do not say anything in it, unless it is worth taking a long time to say, and to listen to.” Should we talk when it is not worth spending much time talking or listening? Is Salvador Moreno an Ent? Or should all psychotherapists be Ents? But now I feel the need to speak of focusing and the content of this book.
The word focusing or its equivalent in Spanish “enfoque corporal”, is usually used to designate a popular technique found in a book with that title, which was translated reaching 400,000 copies in English aside from being translated in more than ten languages. In reality, Focusing is much more than that. When investigating the factors that contribute to psychotherapy’s success, Eugene Gendlin found that the crucial factor of change in psychotherapy is the ability of the client to see within himself, to stop and to enter a special form of bodily awareness which he called the felt sense. Subsequently, Gendlin proposed that this ability could be taught and he named it focusing. Focusing consists of observing the spontaneous reaction that takes place in the body when we evoke something significant. In this way, a felt sense arises which we then must pay attention to without judging, interpreting or interfering. Engaging with the felt sense, the implicit emotions and meanings that are associated with certain people or situations can be known.
The work of Gendlin is large: a collection of ideas, processes, attitudes, modes of interaction, techniques and methods. Salvador’s understanding of Gendlin’s work allows him to explain in a simple and practical manner, topics that seem quite complex.
I find a series of ideas in the text that make me reflect about how I conceive psychotherapy. I agree with the author that change happens primarily as a result of processes and not contents. After all, there is increasing consensus regarding how contents are constructions that have little or nothing to do with the real causes of our problems or our suffering. Also, and in a collaborative spirit, Salvador uses words such as “accompany”, which reflect the attitude that he recommends and practices when working as a psychotherapist and educator.
Among the author’s recommendations is to be aware of what we sense not only in our feelings but in everything that we feel, given that the living body is in a continuous interaction with the environment and contains environmental information. So, when teaching Focusing in both the therapeutic and educational contexts, an encounter or dialogue is created in the body itself where we can discover meanings behind what we have already experienced, identified and comprehended. In this process, we can recover the direction and energy to live and change or face the inevitable peacefully.
For Salvador, education, personal change and psychotherapy are in Weber’s sense, a calling, a vocation that has given his work and life sense for the past four decades. In Descubriendo mi Sabiduria Corporal, he shares with us, his readers, his experience, his knowledge and his passion for these topics.
 Gendlin is a philosopher, psychologist and psychotherapist. He worked closely with Rogers at the University of Chicago. He has been awarded acknowledgments by the APA on three occasions for his contributions to psychotherapy, philosophy and for leading a foundation dedicated to teaching focusing.
Fernando Ortiz Lachica
Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana-Unidad Iztapalapa
Mexico City, Mexico