Welcoming tensions around nonstandardisation and maximum diversity.

The Focusing Institute’s Diversity Statement was approved by the Board of Directors in February 2009,

I think it is a brave and wonderful statement, as it grapples with the ‘tension’ that so many institutions deny between valuing diversity and being efficient rather than fudging a compromise in which life-honouring principles are sacrificed for homogeneity. In order to be measured robust, transparent, clear many educational and professional organisations resort to tick-box exercises so they can profess that what they are offering is the same, in a ‘cute-cutter’, ‘chain-shop’ style, yet we know that the beauty of interaction is determined by the relational experience which spontaneously happens in a moment and it cannot be measured. Gendlin’s philosophy juxtaposes the ‘unit-model’ which suits Industrialised, Cartesian processes and the ‘process model’ which is oriented towards living, organic processes which cannot be measure and compared. So when the Focusing Institute speaks of Diversity amongst it’s trainers and training experiences it embraces the tension arising when the real wonder inherent in diverse beings and processes seemingly contradicts with the need for effectiveness, efficiency and goals being met, which are also very valuable. And in true Focusing fashion the Institute ‘feels’ into that tension, recognising it and being with it freshly, giving it space. And being curious about what will arise.

The statement is not diminishing the importance of being effective, efficient or meeting goals, that is its primary function but in holding firm to ‘maximum diversity’ by refusing to reduce its work to ‘frozen structures’ it keeps the ethic alive. Anything ‘Focusing’ is a ‘Carrying forward’ while something frozen is petrified, held-back, static and dead. Institutional trauma happens in just this way when we attempt to freeze even an example of what is good. Then the ideal of ‘maximum diversity’ become ‘diversity from the best example’, which is not diversity at all but the kind of diversity which becomes a problematic whitewash, for example diversity as different from the unseen norm of white supremacy, ( Resmaa Menakem  speaks to this well in “Notice the rage; Notice the silence”.) To freeze Focusing into one particular way would be to reduce it, compromise and negate it in order to preserve it, we see this when spirituality becomes dogmatic, radical utopias become totalitarian autocracies and in an everyday event in our schools and homes where we take on fixed roles rather than respond to needs, we become automatic and loose heart. In this Diversity Statement rather than ‘solve’ the problem of ‘Unit Model’ and ‘Process Model’ or Industrial reasoning and Ecological reasoning the Institute welcomes open, respectful communication and saves it’s core principle, doing so is messy and at times tedious, and so is life, but it is also ‘maximally diverse’ as any open living ecological system, and it means that life carries forward inherent unknowable complexity. It refuses trauma, reductionism and death and ‘honours what arises freshly in the moment’, and this is the ethic in which organisations and individuals can be robust and true and diverse-with.  We recognise the tension- and we lean in- again and again.

‘Focusing is a practice that honors what arises freshly in the moment. Frozen structures of any kind are antithetical to the ethic of Focusing. Therefore, The International Focusing Institute takes as a core value the principle that the practice of Focusing, how it is taught by certified Focusing teachers, and its application in different fields will not be standardized. Diversity of approaches will be protected. Constructive critiques among Focusing Trainers or between TFI and individuals presenting or applying Focusing are welcome and should be offered by means of open, respectful communication. TFI itself will seek to honor the values of non-standardization in its operations while recognizing that tension can arise between maximum diversity and the need for effectiveness and efficiency in meeting its goals.’