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Defining empathy as feeling into.
As a feeling, somatic and sensory way of being.

Empathy has many definitions. It started out as a word to describe the experience of feeling into a work of art. So it started with a focus on the feeling quality. Later on empathy started to be seen as a mental or cognitive process. So there has been this back and forth pull between feeling and cognition. Currently, there has been attempt to combine this by saying empathy has an affective an
d a cognitive component. This is called affective empathy and cognitive empathy.

I would like to go back and build on the original use of the word as a way to describe the experience of feeling into. Feeling into ones own, others and the world. 

The origination as:
einfühlung - Empathy 
German, from ein- 'into' + Fühlung 'feeling'.

Affective Empathy
relating to moods, feelings, and attitudes.
- relating to, arising from, or influencing feelings or emotions 
- expressing emotion

Cognitive Empathy
- of, relating to, or involving conscious mental activities (such as thinking, understanding, learning, and remembering)

Empathic Concern 
seeing suffering and wanting do take action.


    Poem by Rumi who talks about feelings being guests
    The Guest House
    This being human is a guest house.
    Every morning a new arrival.

  • Exercise: What does empathy feel like as a full body felt experience to you?
  • defined by academics, because of their training have a bias to control, detachment and analysis.
  • imaginative empathy, adds the step of being able to not only feel into ones self and into others, but can imagine being in different situation and what it feels like from that role. The focus is still on the felt experience
  • Empathic listening - reflection of feelings for fostering great accuracy and fidelity.
  • create a model of feelings,  I experience feelings is a 360 degrees space. 
  • P bloom and his therapist. if he is angry and depressed, doesn't want the therapist to be angry and depressed.
  • Empathy metaphor of the Sea anemone
  • Expressing feelings -
    • allowing the free flow to move out. 
    • they are often are suppressed in one way or another.

  • Labeling Feelings
    • translating the feeling into words
  • Communicating feelings
    • reflection for accuracy

  • Focusing and feelings - Gendline talk
    • feeling into the present and  in the moment bodily feeling
    • navigating the space of feelings
    • A feeling that you acknowledge
    • A feeling that you touch 
    • not holding on to the feelings and attaching or being it. 
    • focusing for gene is spending time with unclear present feelings. the murky and foggy edge. Into an unhappy feeling. don't need to feel into the happy feelings.
    • being next to feeling, touching feelings, 
    • a bad feeling is bringing something, what doe it want to say or convey?
    • There is you, and there are the feelings. not holding on to them. Self as presence.
    • the relation between feelings and words. words get generate automatically from us.
    • write an initial poor sentence from the feeling. 
    • every moment is so complex that you can not capture it all in words, picture, etc. but you can speak from it. 
    • sensing and connecting a word, there are words the feel accurate and those that do not.
    • language is part of the inherent quality of the body. The body knows the language.. then why does the body bring up words that do not fit or express the feeling accurately?
  •  Feeling space. 
    • I sense a 363 degree feeling space. different feelings occupy different areas of that space and they are constantly shifting, moving, and transforming. The feelings have different qualities to them. That is colors, textures, etc. I struggle finding words to describe them. I would like more vocabulary to describe them with words. They can be expressed with words, but also movement, body vibrations, sounds, painting, etc. 
    • some of the feelings are fairly constant over time
    • Many new feelings of pain are coming into my life as I get older.
    • acknowledge the feelings, there is spaciousness, there is the pain in the back, there is pain the the head, there is the anxiety pain in the core of of my body,
    • sensing into the edge of where new feelings arise. I did a singing gestalt activity where you sing it was like singing what was coming over the horizon, I didn't know what was coming, and it was scary to stay at the space and to be expressing it in real time as words in a song, that was also being accompanied by a piano.
    • I recall artists talking about their creativity being just taking dictation. There are words arising from over that horizon and all they have to do is write them down as they appear. It is effortless. I am noticing that it does require stay at that edge of the horizon and seeing what appears. 
    • Different qualities of the feelings, In this 360 degree feeling space  I can just sit here in this space and describe the the space. It's a room of sorts, full of things. Each of those things can be described. 
    • so what feelings would be good to spend time feeling into? From my experience it was fear.
    • sensing into a feeling and nothing my shift to begin with, but eventually it does.
    • what is the quality of other peoples feeling space and what metaphors do they use to describe it.
    • feelings arise and we can suppress, repress them or act them out. if I feel joy welling up it can fill my body and radiate out.
    • Instead of self in presence, 
      • how about self in relationship
      • self in empathic relationship
    • how to have the feelings take on a voice and be in an empathic relationship.
      • this feels painful. 

Take a feeling test.




Why emotions are important
Professor Robert Elliot of the University of Strathclyde discusses why emotions are important and how we can get stuck in our emotions.

YouTube Video