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Explicit And Implicit Spaces, And Stepwise Paired Crossing

Michael R Finch

In my previous paper, I discussed three spaces - mindspace, bodyspace and a third space that exists before the mind-body split. I also discussed my meditation in which breathing plays an important part, and which can enable these spaces to cross in Gendlin's sense. In this paper I develop these ideas, and introduce two themes: 1) I make a distinction between explicit and implicit spaces; 2) I lay out the steps by which 'crossing' can be used as a practice. I provisionally call this 'stepwise paired crossing'. A general point: I am aware that each of my papers builds on the previous ones, and that they assume some knowledge of Gendlin's work; this might be confusing for the casual reader. For my next project I intend to consolidate some of these recent papers, and to present as a coherent whole a precise account of what exactly I am saying, and why I am saying it.

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Explicit Spaces

What I will call an 'explicit space' is a container or arena for entities which are each self-identical to themselves and separable or distinct, over an appropriate timespan. Such entities, X and Y, which I will call 'objects', can be summarized by the Boolean conditions (Boole's so called laws of thought):

i) X is X (self-identity)

ii) X is not non-X (non-contradiction)

iii) X is either Y or not Y (excluded middle, or tertium non datur).

Examples of explicit spaces:

If X and Y are familiar physical objects - trees, chairs - the space containing them is the space 'out there' which we normally think of as 'space': the space I wave my hand in, the space of the physical sciences.

Mathematics has many explicit spaces - sets, classes, manifolds, groups - each of which contain self-identical distinct objects (points, reals, n-tuples), most of which obey a mathematized version of the Boolean conditions above.

If X and Y are propositions, then the three conditions summarize propositional logic (Venn diagrams, Lakoff and Johnson's 'container logic'). The space in which they exist is then the 'universe of discourse'. In reality, people do not discourse in an explicit space only - Gendlin's whole philosophy is that we function implicitly also. But in most philosophical traditions the universe of discourse is considered an explicit space, where all the containing propositions are held, each separate and already-formed, and can be enumerated individually.

My final example of an explicit space is mindspace. If you consider a 'concept' to be an object in that it satisfies the three Boolean conditions above, then an arena in which concepts exist is an explicit space. Many authors consider the mind to be such a space (an 'interiority') in which I manipulate my concepts (called 'thinking').

Mindspace is often taken to be a direct analogy of the physical space in which we see, only now a mindspace in which we 'see' inwardly. The classical Greek word for mind nous originally meant a vista or a view in Homeric Greek ('what you see' from noein = to see). Julian Jaynes thought that this was actually how minds formed in the historical past, from Homeric times to the present day.

'Mind' is surely subtle and richly-layered, and cannot be captured as an explicit space only. I therefore do not equate 'mind' with 'mindspace'. Nevertheless, I find the idea of mindspace useful, something that I do 'see inwardly' in, and find explicit contents (thoughts, concepts) which are objects in that they are self-identical and separate or distinct.

Objectifying spaces and spatializing objects - 1

From above, I call the contents of any space its 'objects'. So trees and chairs are objects in physical space, concepts are objects in mindspace, and points are objects in some mathematical spaces (the line of real numbers, for instance).

It is usually possible to objectify explicit spaces so that they are objects in some other more inclusive space. My mindspace might be considered an object in a society each member of which has their own mindspace, so that we have a collection (space) of mindspaces, of which mine is one object. In mathematics, spaces are objectified frequently. The line segment of real numbers between zero and one, for instance, is an explicit space that is commonly objectified, and often taken to be an object in another explicit space - for example, the space of all the real numbers, or the plane of complex numbers.

What about physical space? In one sense it can be objectified or reified by just referring to it, and in that sense it is an object in people's minds. While that might be important, I do not mean that here, since I am objectifying an explicit space as an object in another larger explicit space. Physical space is often taken to be the ultimate container, the largest possible explicit space, so that whatever exists - at least physically - is contained in it by definition. (Newton thought physical space was absolute, the physical attribute of God - His sensorium, the 'Divine Knowing').

This view of an all-pervading physical space, however, is modern - the idea was only first articulated in 1440 by Nicholas Cusa, and did not enter Western culture generally until after Newton. In Renaissance and Medieval times and before, physical space was contained in a larger space - spiritual space, celestial space, primum mobile and beyond, the Empyrean. Dante in the Divine Comedy not only tours physical space, but beyond it, breaking through the primum mobile to come face to face with God, 'the Love that moves the Sun and other stars'. None of this is allegorical - it was just obvious to pre-modern minds that the physical space we move about in was bounded, and contained in a larger space.

While this may be difficult for us moderns, I suggest it is still possible for us to objectify physical space in another explicit space, and I myself have experienced this in two ways:

First, at school we were taught geometries of higher-dimensional spaces. In order to get a feel for say four-dimensional space, we 'drew' four-dimensional objects in three-dimensional space. I can draw lines on a two-dimensional page - say of a cube - and if I draw it with the right perspective I or another person will see a cube - it can leap out of the page, as it were, and I see clearly a three-dimensional cube from a well-crafted two-dimensional flat representation. In the same way we 'drew' four-dimensional cubes using wire-frames in three-dimensional space, just like drawing on two-dimensional paper with lines.

The interesting thing is that to the uninitiated, our wire-frame models looked like just funny wire-frame models. But with a little understanding and practice, we could suddenly 'see' a four-dimensional cube 'leap' out of the three-dimensional space. It was a powerful experience, which I still remember vividly after fifty years. It was a living refutation to those who say that we are three-dimensional creatures who can never perceive outside of three-dimensional space.

I have also heard that for someone who has never seen perspective pictures (like in primitive tribes), the flat drawings cannot be seen as three-dimensional pictures. They have to be trained to see that, and it requires practice, although we of course had that training and practice early in our lives as part of our culture. In the same way, our three-dimensional 'pictures' of a four-dimensional object took application and practice to see. This is an important point I return to later in this paper.

Secondly, modern physics treats our three-dimensional 'flat' (Euclidean) space as one among many. Einstein and others show us that physical space can be thought of as curved and has many features that are counterintuitive. Again, this seems strange and unimaginable to the uninitiated, but with practice and training it soon becomes commonplace to 'see' our physical space as an object in a wider encompassing explicit space. Also, in a strange sense cosmologists have returned to the medieval idea that our physical space could be just one among many others in the 'multiverse' theory - and if you join them in their deliberations (as I do) it can seem quite natural to think it.

Finally, in Gendlin's philosophy physical space is a derivative of behavior space through human patterning. I come to this in the next section, since here I am discussing objectifying an explicit space in another explicit space (behavior space is not explicit).

In the same way that I can objectify a space, I can spatialize an object. Objects in physical space take up some portion of that space, and you can conceptually consider just that portion of physical space that is occupied by the object. Modern physics does this, considering an object's space rather like a little microcosm consisting of smaller objects in it. When I first looked through an electron microscope at a 'solid' object, and saw that it was in fact 99% empty space, I remember that as another powerful experience.

In mathematics, you might consider a point as having no space - that is its definition, a zero-dimensional position as an object in space - yet some modern mathematics (Robinson's non-standard analysis) considers even this 'no space' a space nevertheless, having structure and so forth.


Implicit Spaces

An implicit space is a 'container' for an unseparated multiplicity (Gendlin's phrase), 'in' which are the non-self-identical entities. 'Container' and 'in' have to be in quotes here, since they do not mean what they mean when applied to explicit spaces.

In this short paper I will assume all of Gendlin's work on the implicit. Here I will give some examples of implicit spaces, and state why I find it useful to think in terms of 'spaces' (both explicit and implicit).

Examples of implicit spaces:

Gendlin gives many examples in his Process Model and other writings. For example behavior space. Here an animal's possible behaviors cannot be enumerated, and in fact need not exist explicitly before occurring. In other words, behaviors are not self-identical and distinct things that are hidden, lying next to each other in some unconscious explicit space, waiting to occur. As such, the space of behaviors is implicit.

Human situations are likewise implicit, and exist 'in' an implicit situational space. Gendlin's VIII space is of course implicit.

I can now return to the three spaces (bodyspace, mindspace, third pre-mind-body-split space) of my last paper. First, my body exists in physical explicit space, as I wrote previously. It occupies a subset of physical space, and I can usually spatially locate pretty accurately pains, feels, and sensations in it. Parts of my body are lying next to each other in a (usually) unconscious explicit space. But at the heart of Gendlin's philosophy is the 'body' in an expanded sense, as lived in, which functions implicitly.

Rather than say my body is one or the other, I prefer to say that my body is 'in' (or 'contains') two spaces - the explicit space that is a subset of physical space, and the implicit space that Gendlin has written about over the years.

In the same way, I prefer to think of my mind as two spaces - an explicit mindspace, where Boole's 'laws of thought' of separate and self-identical objects (concepts, thoughts, images) are contained and where I can 'see' and manipulate them, and the implicit space of Gendlin's philosophy.

My 'third space', which I defined in my last paper as where Focusing happens, is now the implicit spaces of my body + mind. Or perhaps I should say the implicit space (singular) of my body + mind, since I originally thought of it as prior to the body-mind split.

'Contains' and 'in'

In order to think about implicit spaces we can use the imagery and language of explicit spaces as long as we are also aware of the differences. I myself think spatially, and have been investigating spaces (in math and physics) and have been fascinated by spaces as long as I can remember, so it is a natural imagery and language for me to use and think with.

One of the main differences between implicit and explicit space is what 'in' and 'contains' means. I want to say that object X is 'in' a space. ('Contains' is just the reciprocal, so this is the same as saying the space 'contains' X). If the space is explicit, then 'in' means that X is one of the objects in the space where 'in' has its normal meaning we are all familiar with.

But what does it mean to say object X is 'in' an implicit space? The definition of an implicit space is that there are no 'objects' in it in the sense of self-identical separate entities - and yet I want to say there are. The resolution is to see that implicit spaces are in fact implicit processes (this is one disadvantage of the 'space' paradigm, since it suggests something static - this is one of the tradeoffs of my language I need to be aware of).

So a treatment of 'in' as it relates to implicit spaces needs Gendlin's implicit process concepts of implying and occurring. Put simply, when I say 'object X is in implicit space S' what I mean is that X has occurred from S, and therefore 'was' in it, where 'was' (and time generally) now needs Gendlin's theta-pattern schema.

Objectifying spaces and spatializing objects - 2

Now that I can say that object X is in an implicit space, I can also objectify such spaces in the same way that I objectified explicit spaces above (and also implicitly spatialize objects).

Two examples of thinking this way are:

i) Word-use.

Take a word almost at random - say 'sunset'. This word, whether considered as a type or a token, is an object in the sense of obeying the Boolean conditions at the start of this paper. It has an enumerable set of meanings in the dictionary, but also an implicit space of meanings that are not enumerable.

As I sit in my office and just ponder 'sunset' for the purposes of writing this paragraph, I find many feelings clustering around it - particular sunsets I have witnessed, feelings of stillness watching the orange and red glow of the sun sinking below the horizon, and so on. These are not just private, but 'sunset' has a whole set of similar public associations as well in my culture. I will then say that the word 'sunset' as an object 'objectifies' this implicit space.

ii) Felt-sense.

The implicit space can also be objectified in other ways as well. As I pause my typing, and ponder 'sunset' again, I soon get a felt-sense of 'sunset', I feel the public word 'sunset' as a joy and tingle in my upper chest, and that feeling directly refers to the whole space of meanings, feelings, and associations that is implicit (not-enumerable).

I regard a felt-sense as an 'object' (symbol, attention). A felt-sense has self-identity. I often get a felt-sense that I recognize as being the same one I had yesterday, and it is not that felt-sense which I had the day before, and so on. This felt-sense of 'sunset' also objectifies the implicit space of meanings of 'sunset'.

Thus I have (at least) two objects that objectify the same implicit space. The word 'sunset' is a symbolized concept, and the felt-sense is a direct referent (non-conceptual) but both are still objects in my sense.

The reciprocal process of spatializing an object is similar. In fact, to generate my example (i) that is actually what I did. I started with the word 'sunset' as an object, and implicitly spatialized it.

If you start with an object and spatialize it, and then objectify that space, do you end up with the same object? If the space is explicit, then you probably do (I am not 100% sure about that), but if the space is implicit then you most likely do not. This might lead to charges of regression, but I do not think this is of practical concern. In fact, it explains to some extent the power of the practice I outline in this paper.

What is the point of this different language?

It is time to pause, and to ask what is the point of all this perhaps abstract language?

The point of my thinking this through in terms of spaces and objects is to further my own practice and experiencing. I want to live better, say to be 'congruent' in Gendlin's reformulation of Carl Roger's concept. I want to utilize all my history and experience and understanding and wisdom that I have gathered over the years in my current action and speech.

Of course I cannot do that by explicitly remembering and articulating it all the time, but by attending to my experiencing of my bodily implicit functioning, what I am feeling, and explicating from it (and then back to the feeling).

The question though is how to do that? Just as I find what I am 'really' experiencing by thinking skillfully about and from it, so I need to move up a level as it were, and in the same way to articulate and explicate my understanding of the whole process - what it is, and how I can do it better.

For me, with my history of math and physics, I think in terms of spaces, and I find a deep analogy between explicit spaces (particularly physical space) and the implicit spaces which are part of my living. As I have said previously, there are big differences too, and I need to be aware of them.

Whether thinking like this will be relevant to anyone else, I do not know. First though I have to get it clear for myself, which is the purpose of this paper.

Perhaps everything I want to say about the implicit can be said without using the terminology of explicit and implicit spaces and objects 'in' them. But I find thinking in terms of spaces useful, and the driving force behind what I am doing is to find a useful (to me) way of expressing how to accomplish this way of living and being.


Stepwise Paired Crossing

To summarize so far:

-- I take an 'object' to be an entity that satisfies the three Boolean conditions of self-identity, non-contradiction and excluded middle; in other words, it is itself, and is separate or distinct from other objects that are not it.

-- There are many types of objects: physical objects, images, propositions, concepts, and many mathematical objects. They can be symbolized - words, concepts, propositions - or can be directly referred to data, such as a felt-sense.

-- Just as an object can be in an explicit space, so an object can be 'in' an implicit space where 'in' develops its meaning as I itemize above.

-- Furthermore, an implicit space can be objectified, just as an explicit space can. For example, a word (symbol, token, type) is an objectified meaning space, a felt-sense is an objectified bodily lived implicit space.

-- In the same way, objects can be spatialized.

Thus I can approach (relate to, think of) a felt-sense either as an object in a space or as the space.

So I can wait for a felt-sense to open either by feeling it expand 'into' its containing space, or by feeling it as an implicit space and feeling what is 'inside' it, what it contains (like looking at the solid object through the electron microscope).

I name my practice based on these ideas 'stepwise paired crossing' (a clumsy phrase, perhaps, which might give way later to a more snappy name).

I will unpack this three-word phrase backwards:


To finish my usage of this object/space language, I consider Gendlin's concept of 'crossing', where it is said two implicit spaces 'cross'.

I would prefer to say it this way: if I have an object which is a (implicit) spatialization, then that object can be 'placed' in another implicit space to generate something new.

Consider the word 'sunset' again. My use of the word in a slightly unusual context ('I am in the sunset of my career') is possible by the crossing of the implicit space of meanings of 'sunset' of a native English speaker, with my implicit situation.

Since the word 'sunset' as an object (a word or concept) is already an objectification of the implicit space of its meanings and associations, and I can use 'in' or 'contains' of an object and a space (implicit or explicit), then I can say crossing is one object created by objectification of an implicit space 'in' another one.

By thinking of it in this way, I can use it in my practice (both meditation, and daily living in general) as I show below.


A 'pair' is any two entities considered or held in my awareness together. Often the entities are similar (a pair of shoes, a pair of cards) but need not be. I can give my attention to an elephant and a mouse together, as a 'pair of animals' - possibly an unusual pair, but a pair nonetheless.

I find that often it is easier for me to concentrate on two things a once - a pair - rather than one. For example, I may find it difficult to give my attention to the task I am supposed to be accomplishing on my computer. A perhaps unexpected fact is that if I give my attention to two things - my task at the computer, and the feel of my body in the chair (say) - then very often I find it much easier to concentrate on my original task and get it done.

Since I am able to spatialize objects (words, felt-senses) and also to objectify spaces, and to place one 'in' the other to generate a crossing, then I am able to make a pair of most any issue. That is, if I am faced with any issue that is at first seemingly one issue I can generate a pair from it, and give it paired attention.


The process of creating a pair (object, space) from any one issue allows me to recreate a new unity out of that same issue through crossing of the pair, which is usually 'better' (more insightful, more useful, richer) than the original one issue. I can then pair that 'surpassed' one issue (Merleu-Ponty's phrase) with another implicit space (or objectification of one) to then 'step up' to something yet richer and more.

An analogy might be focusing binoculars. First I close my right eye, or equivalently block the right lens, look at the object I am viewing through the left lens, and focus that. Then I do the reverse, closing my left eye and focus the right lens. I then have a pair of images of the same object, which I merge by looking through both lenses together, and get a better image than through either eye alone. I then have one image, which I can pair with something else to make another pair, and so step on.

There is much that is wrong with this analogy: (1) seeing through binoculars occurs in explicit - not implicit - space; (2) I look through each lens consecutively whereas my pairing happens simultaneously, and (3) while the two images might 'merge' to form one in explicit space, implicit crossing is not a merging (although when I symbolize explicitly I may say that). But nevertheless, there is much that is right with this analogy too.


Practices and Examples

My current practice, both of meditation and of living generally, can be summed up as follows:

1) Contrary to what most people think, it is often easier to concentrate on two things at once, rather than one - what I call 'paired attention'.

2) Spatializing an issue is a technique that fits in well with this. The 'two things' are then an object and a space, and chosen well the pair can cross in Gendlin's sense to lead to something further .

3) You can 'step up' from the 'something further' that is generated to pair it with another object or space, and so repeat the process.


Example 1- The Chocolate in the Fridge

I have a passion for chocolate, but I am dieting. I find myself reaching for the fridge door, to get at the forbidden chocolate inside. I pause. I discuss this pause on three levels: (This is a real-life example that I have played through thousands of times in the past. I have now resolved this conflict completely using my #3 below).

1) The conventional response is to recognize the conflict. This is a clash between my desire for the chocolate, and why I should not eat it. I can think of many reasons why I should eat it (I want it, a small bit won't matter, it is harmful to deny myself things, etc) and equally many reasons why I should not eat it (the sugar and fat are unhealthy, a small bit is the thin end of the wedge that will make it harder to stop next time, I made a commitment to myself not to eat it, etc).

I find most ways of resolving this conflict unsatisfactory, as long as I see it in just these terms. Either my willpower prevails and I sit down feeling virtuous but still riven by craving, or I give in and eat the chocolate but feel guilty and ashamed afterwards.

2) As an aware, but 'mainstream', Focuser I still feel the conflict in #1, but I try to feel a felt-sense underneath the clash. I want a directly felt sense of the situation as a whole. I sense into my body. There is certainly the craving and the wish to remain on the diet, but what do I feel? I feel a hollow pain in my solar plexus, almost like I am nervous (butterflies in my stomach) but this is not nervousness, it is a bodily feel of the conflict.

I give my attention to this felt-sense, and see if it unfolds anything. Although I can only wait, I may take handles to it to see if any will move it. It may well be that I am successful, the felt-sense opens and I take a next step.

3) Thinking in terms of spaces, the pause may go like this: I am aware of the basic conflict as in #1. This is my first 'pair' - the urge to eat the chocolate, and the wish not to. I then get a felt-sense of the whole, as in #2, but I allow this felt-sense to form by holding the two conflicting sides of the pair together, in an equivalent of the binocular example. This might not be new procedure, but it is new to me. Just to hold these two together as a pair is different, rather than see them as in conflict, or trying to avoid both and find some substratum below them both (although paradoxically that is what results).

However, the power of my method is not so much in that first step, but in what can happen subsequently. Having found a felt-sense as in #2, how do I move on from it? My next step is then to pair that felt-sense with something else. I can do this at least two ways:

i) I might see if the felt-sense is itself a space, can I spatialize it? Often I can. I can see it as a datum of a space - sometimes a forbidding and frightening space, something like looking at a dark and still expanse of water, which I personally find threatening with the hint of unpleasant things lurking in it under the surface. Then I put the felt-sense (the object) 'in' that space, and pay paired attention to them as a pair. Once when I did this exactly as I have said, I had a feeling of depth but of peace with it, as another implicit space in which a chocolate-free and desire-free future was clear.

Gendlin says that implicit functioning can be thought of as the 'regenerated past'. In this example I found it also as a realizable future. And actually realizable, since I have realized it! I have had no chocolate, and more importantly no desire for chocolate, for several weeks, since I have done this exercise exactly as I describe it.

ii) Rather than trying to spatialize the felt-sense itself, I might find another space altogether to 'put' my felt-sense 'in'. An obvious candidate is my whole situation beyond my situation-of-the-moment at the fridge door. I keep my attention on the felt-sense as one of a pair, and just feel my whole much wider situation. This may perhaps be possible for me to do because of many years of meditation trying to achieve 'spacious mind'. (Tibetan Buddhists can use the phrase 'spacious mind' as an absolute, instantiating the Void. I use the practice, but drop the metaphysics, to find spaces or to spatialize objects as I discuss in this paper).

In any case, if I can get a clear sense, a feel, of my life situation as one space, then I can put in it my felt-sense of the smaller at-the-fridge situation.

I could then take whatever insight I gain from the above, and pair that with something else and take another step. Sometimes this is necessary, but with this chocolate example what I have described was enough to find a lasting resolution.

The results of (i) and (ii) are often the same, and perhaps are just two different ways of doing the same thing. But that is still important - that they are two different ways. When faced with my at-the-fridge situation, I am often paralyzed by not knowing what to do. Having options is important for me. For example, with a moderate pain, say, or conflict as above, I can choose whether to put the pain 'in' a wider space, or to focus in on the pain to spatialize it. Sometimes there is no option, I can only do one or the other. If the pain is severe, then I cannot get outside of it to put it into a space, I can only go into it (the electron microscope analogy again). If I am confused and scattered so that there is no stable object I can find, then I can only let it be and find the space that the confusion is 'in'.


Example 2 - Using the Breath

As I have said, I want to be 'congruent', to 'surpass' myself - using words from fifty or more years ago, that I still find apposite. I don't know about spiritual goals (which we are all told to shun anyway) of the Void, nirvana, infinite this or absolute that. If they are real, I want them, and I hold that my meditation is a path to them. If not, then just to live congruently is enough, and more than enough.

In either case, I find my meditation practice relevant. I have written about it elsewhere, and the value I place on my breathing, and the feeling of my breath as a lover. Here I apply my 'stepwise paired crossing' to my breathing.

1) First, the breath is a wonderful candidate for paired attention, since it is so obviously in two parts - the in-breath and the out-breath. This then is my first pair. Whatever state I am in - mental or physical - it is obvious that I am in-breathing and then out-breathing and then in-breathing again. Indeed, the standard Buddhist Pali Canon text on breath-meditation starts with just being away of breathing in, and then aware of breathing out, and so on.

I have given in a previous paper many ways of holding the pair of breaths together as a pair to be one thing - just breathing.

2) To deepen my feeling of the breath, I can then apply paired attention to each part of the cycle. For example, as I breathe in, I can feel two distinct movements - my body trunk expanding, and the air coming in and down. Similarly, as I breathe out, I can feel my body trunk moving inwards and contracting, and the air going up and out.

In my previous paper I describe several such paired movements that you can sense with each in- and out-breath.

I myself find this paired attention to my breath very valuable. If I just give my attention to one aspect of the breath, then I can get stuck, I can feel hemmed in by the one aspect I am giving my attention to. I remember years ago getting confused by the phrase 'following my breath'. What is an 'in-breath'? I asked myself. I can sense the air is going in, but there is a sense of expansion and outward movement of my body trunk as well. Which is the 'correct' movement that I should be giving my attention to?

When I discovered that 'following my breath' need not be a sequential following of one movement, or one sequence of movements, but could be an attending to two different movements that are occurring simultaneously, then I found that very liberating, and it was a milestone in my practice.

The point is, that this paired attention to two different breath movements allows something more profound to develop. They seem to 'cross' in the sense I write about above, and I am aware of a feeling of the breath as a whole, even though it is composed of a cycle of different movements. I called this space a 'stillness' in my previous paper, and that remains its salient feature for me.

3) Having found (or generated) a space of stillness, I can then step onwards by making that space one of a another pair. The other member of the pair is sometimes a body sense. This might be a simple pain or discomfort, or an emotion which affects me, or a felt-sense or issue I have about some situation. It might be a chain of thought that I cannot control or get outside of, or it may even be a noise that I hear in my surroundings.

In all these cases I have just listed, they are objects in the sense of this paper, and I can put them 'in' my still space. Sometimes the results of doing so are remarkable. If the object is a pain or discomfort, it is often soothed, but more importantly something quite different is generated or found (Gendlin's theta-pattern time is relevant here).

In a previous paper I pictured it as a crying baby (the 'object') being held and cradled in the parent's arms (the still space). In that analogy, I described the emergent feeling as being love - the love of the parent for the baby, the love of the baby for the parent, and the baby being loved.

4) In #3 above I paired the still space with an 'object' that I felt or was thinking about. An alternative is to pair it with the implicit space of my whole body situation.

Sometimes there just seems to be a lot 'happening' in me, I am confused, so much so that I cannot find a stable 'object' to pair with my still space. In that case, I keep a part of my attention on the still space, as one of a pair, and then just soft-focus (as it were) on all my 'stuff', my confusion. I find that if I do not try to get hold of an 'object', but just let happen all my 'stuff' and confusion that is swirling in and around me, then it separates out into a space. And that space is my whole bodily situation at that time.

Then I can cross the still space with this turbulent, confused, space. I can objectify either one, and put it 'in' the other. Again, something remarkable can happen. It is not that the two spaces merge, but that a newer, brighter, more wholesome, more wonderful space comes. Both the stillness and the turbulence are 'surpassed'.

5) Is this the end? Or can I objectify the space found in #4 and pair it with something further? If you believe in the Void, God, or some similar absolute, then perhaps this is a way to find it. I am not sure about that, but one thing I am fairly sure about, is that if I can step onwards to spatialize and find a total or absolute space (or should that be Space with an upper-case S?) then it is important to pair and cross it with a workaday bodily felt issue. If I do not pair it with a bodily or human concern, then I have left touch with all phenomena and will find myself in some kind of Kafkaesque Kantian antinomy.


Conclusion and Summary

Just as there is a relationship between the not-yet-formulated and the formulated, or between experiencing and symbolized content, in the same way I find a relationship between implicit space and explicit space. You might say that I symbolize implicit space as explicit space.

Much of my thinking and imagining, therefore, about explicit space can carry over into implicit space. Of course there are differences which I need to be aware of, and drawbacks to the language (such as 'space' implying something static - implicit space is anything but static, a living presence and process, in fact). But nevertheless I find the relationship profound, and more importantly useful and practical in my everyday life.

In particular, the fact of being able to objectify an explicit space, and spatialize an object, is a basic human cognitive skill that I can carry over into the implicit. And that also requires some skill and practice. I spent some time above discussing my objectification of physical space, since I find in it a deep analogy to my practice with the implicit, including the work necessary to hone the skills to do it.

I used my terms to talk about Gendlin's crossing as putting an object which is an objectified implicit space, in another implicit space. (Most words in that sentence should have quotes around them.)

This dovetails neatly into another fact I have noticed: that it is often easier to give attention to two things - a pair - rather than to one. Just this realization on its own can have profound consequences. Many human issues or problems or plain confusion are a conflict between two things (I want to do this, but I should do that). And often we try to resolve the problem (issue, confusion) by having each one of the pair argue its case, as it were, in an adversarial court where 'I' am the judge having to decide between the seemingly conflicted pair.

But merely understanding that I do not have to judge, but can hold the pair in my 'paired attention' is a great relief. In the same way, when I am confused I think that I need to get a 'grip' on it, an object in the confusion that if only I can find it and hold on to it will lead me out of my confusion. Sometimes that is possible, but relinquishing that desire, and just letting the confusion be (like letting a flood or tidal wave take its course, there is nothing you can do about it) allows me to 'see' the space in which all the tumbling contents of my confusion exist.

Having found a pair, of whatever kind, in my situation then I put one 'in' the other and find a unity - either an object or another implicit space - that appears to me as a carrying forward, a surpassing, a resolution of some kind, an advance. The beauty of this is that I can start where I am, with any pair; there is no need to hunt for a suitable starting pair - the most obvious pair is usually a possible start. But then using this process of 'stepwise paired crossing' I can step forward from there, and further pairs become clear as each pair becomes a one that can be part of a more interesting pair.

I have found thinking like this, and practicing like this, to be of great benefit in my daily life (no more obsession with chocolate!) and in my meditation, where I sit and give my attention to my breath as a starting pair which then steps on further.


A Footnote

It may well be that my 'paired attention' can be incorporated or linked to a philosophy such as Sartre's, where he uses paired terms to describe an action or process, in an attempt to escape reification and the static representation that one term or symbol alone might engender.

I certainly see a similarity, but have not followed it further. My use of 'paired attention' was born out of my own experience and practice in my style of meditation; but that does not mean it cannot fit Sartre and others' use of paired or polar terms - including of course Gendlin's zig-zag.

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