Category Archives: refocusing

Playing with Impulses

This entry is part 11 of 11 in the series Refocusing.

In a previous post I discussed the idea of experiencing the substrate underlying our experience as a sea of impulses, from which we we assemble our perceptions of and interactions with the world around us. This video explores ways of experiencing and responding to external constraint by dealing with underlying impulses. The accompanying narrative describes the themes or storylines Bob and I use through the video, keyed to the running time as shown in your video controller. (I’m keying to the running time because it’s more precise than the clock time displayed on the screen, which I used earlier.) I’ve also captioned the video to identify the theme or storyline in play. If you find this useful, please let me know in the comments.

Continue reading Playing with Impulses

What does Refocusing teach?

This entry is part 10 of 11 in the series Refocusing.

I received a question by email yesterday, and thought my response was relevant enough to the general discussion that I should include it here.

On Jul 21, 2013, at 6:21 AM, Adam Cole  wrote:

Hi, Ralph,

A good start.  I’ve definitely experienced this in work with a high-level Tai Chi teacher.  He moved his arm in an arc and I couldn’t stop it.

What I’d like to see next are some steps for a process for learning how not to inhibit the movement.  (I didn’t want to say, “Steps for learning how to inhibit the inhibit!”)


That’s a great questions, Adam, one that I find harder to address satisfactorily than you might think. It goes to the core of my dilemma about what I want to communicate about Refocusing, and about how to do that. It forces me to think about that dilemma, and try to articulate it, and that’s good!  Continue reading What does Refocusing teach?

Acting by Activating Impulses

This entry is part 9 of 11 in the series Refocusing.

The Conventional and Refocusing Paradigms posit very different underlying realities; they explain the experience of living in and interacting with the world in very different ways. The Conventional Paradigm posits that the physical world really is as we experience it, made up of physical stuff with mass and density that responds to forces of various kinds in measurable and predictable ways. It explains my experience as being sourced in the external events I encounter and objects and forces I engage with during those events. If I find myself unable to move when Bob is holding me in place, or feel pain when he is twisting my arm, the Conventional Paradigm tells me that that is because of the physical characteristics of Bob, of me, and of our physical interaction.

The Refocusing Paradigm, on the other hand, suggests that our experience of physical events is at least partly illusory, created not by the physical causation to which we normally attribute it, but by automatic unconscious habits that create the illusion of that physical causation, in the same way that the programming rules in a video game create the illusion of physical causation within the game. At first glance, this sounds absurd, because the Conventional Paradigm seems so strongly validated by both personal experience and societal consensus. But if we look more carefully, cracks begin to emerge in the supporting evidence; it is not as rock-solid as it first seemed. Refocusing is a way of exploring those cracks, and the Refocusing Paradigm, as I am striving to articulate it, provides one plausible explanation. Continue reading Acting by Activating Impulses

Toward a Refocusing Paradigm

This entry is part 8 of 11 in the series Refocusing.

If you are visiting this blog for the first time, you might find it more accessible if you start at the beginning of the Refocusing series.

My last post described a “theatrical perspective” in which I distinguished between my roles as a character in the long-running drama of life and as the actor portraying that character. I’m now going to explore another formulation organized around the concept of a paradigm, as a collection of shared beliefs, values, and ways of perceiving that determine how those sharing that paradigm shape and understand their experience of the aspects of reality that the paradigm addresses. I’m drawing from Thomas Kuhn’s usage of that term in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, though the subject matter I’m dealing with is somewhat fuzzier than Kuhn’s. Continue reading Toward a Refocusing Paradigm

The Actor and the Character

This entry is part 7 of 11 in the series Refocusing.

Refocusing can be difficult to explain coherently. It revolves around non-ordinary experiences that many people would not believe possible without personally experiencing them, and sometimes not even then. It is based on ideas that seem to violate everyday logic and common sense, and explanations that ignore or violate both our scientific and cultural understandings of physics and how the world works. Nonetheless, I find it relatively easy to convey Refocusing face to face, when I can share the non-ordinary experience that Refocusing makes possible. I can judge how well they are “getting” those experiences as we go along, and reshape the experiences and my explanations as necessary to fit their understanding. Continue reading The Actor and the Character