"The pain and the fear were consuming."
During the weeks prior to a scary scheduled event (surgery), I could not focus. I made contact with my regular phone partners and we could talk, chat, catch up, offer our friendship, but the pain I was experiencing and the fear about the upcoming procedure were consuming. I could say hello to "something in me" endlessly, but no use. Those "somethings" were bigger than any kind of grounding we could come up with. My partners tried to just stay grounded and listen, but I think they also had anxiety for me; we "lost it" so many times that we decided not to try but to just stay connected.
Any suggestions about what to do in such a case? Another surgery is coming up.
Yes, anticipating a surgery can be a scary time, and especially if you are in pain. I wish you all the best, may it go well for you.
And it's an important question: What to do when what we feel seems so much bigger than we are... so that doing Focusing doesn't even seem possible.
What is possible at such times is to acknowledge how big it is. "I'm acknowledging that these feelings are really intense today," "I'm really sensing how hard it is to just sit with what I'm feeling right now." This is already a baby step into Self-in-Presence.
You spoke of two experiences that are hard to be with: pain and fear. I'm going to make some suggestions that are aimed at those two experiences in particular.
The word "pain" can evoke fear and tension, and is a bit abstracted from the actual experience. I like the word "sensation." Try exploring the sensation you are having, and describing it as if you had never felt it before. This brings you into the present moment... so you don't have to feel how it felt yesterday or how it will feel tomorrow, just how it is right now. "Sharp... biting... stronger on the left..." --whatever it actually is. In my experience, such precise sensing and describing brings both relief (eventually) and faster healing.
Focusing with intense fear
And then there is fear.
My advice would be: don't ever do Focusing with fear.
Or, to put it another way... there is no such thing as "fear." There is only "something in me which is afraid right now."
Like the word "pain," the word "fear" makes the experience harder to be with, harder to relate to, and harder to experience change in.
If you have a Focusing partner who says, "I feel a lot of fear," try saying back, "You are sensing something in you feeling very afraid." Change "fear" to "afraid." (Feel the difference?)
I predict you will find it easier to be with "something that is afraid" than with "fear." It still might be a very strong sensation in the body. And it might still be strong after you acknowledge it.
Perhaps the most important thing to acknowledge is another part of you that wishes these experiences ("pain" and "fear") would shift and change. As long as you are identified with that one, Self-in-Presence is far away. So be sure to say Hello to "something in pain," "something afraid," and "something that wishes this would change."
Focusing involves being present to the experience that is here, just as it is. The body has an inherent life process that moves us forward if we can simply be with what is.