In a timely twist of fate, my first experience bringing Focusing to Hong Kong began as serendipity. In 1999 I received an order for my BioSpiritual Focusing VHS tape, “The Body’s Search for Spirit,” from someone in Hong Kong. What a surprise that somebody in Asia actually knew about it! At that time, I was teaching Focusing internationally but not in Asia, so it was apparent that my teaching and filming career was opening up new vistas.
The order from Hong Kong came from Chan Chee Seung (or Edward Chan in English). Since I was returning home from Australia, I offered to make a stop in Hong Kong to bring him the VHS tape.
Edward had discovered Focusing in 1998 at the Institute of Spiritual Leadership in Chicago. When I met him, he was curious if I would consider teaching Focusing in Hong Kong. Of course, I was interested, and that is how it all began.
Edward (pictured, left, reading a map of Cheung Chau) generously organized a camp for a big group of people interested in Focusing. We traveled by ferry to a Catholic Mission property at Cheung Chau Island, about an hour away from Hong Kong. Everyone was enthusiastic about Focusing and the discovery of the felt sense.
At that time, Edward had already created a personal Mission, which he named Couple Cocreation Society Limited (CCSL). This Mission offered guidance on how to develop, care for, and maintain a healthy marital relationship; how to co-create a married life full of happiness. This particular area of social care was called “Family Life Education” and was offered to anyone who was interested. It attracted young and middle-aged people, as well as those who were preparing for married life.
Participants were professionals in a variety of fields which provided richness and healthy social settings within the Mission. These were people interested in enriching their lives, and having the opportunity to see and spend time with such eager participants was a gift I will never forget.
That encounter began a continuously deepening contact with East Asia. My second trip, also organized by Edward, took place a few years later and this time the Focusing workshop was held in the camp site of the “Catholic Institute for Religion and Society (CIRS)”. The camp site was located in Sheung Shui, a town near the border of mainland China.
This geographic location was very different from the first trip, with its mixture of east and west in bustling Hong Kong. This very ancient town had the felt sense of history. For me as a Westerner, the ancient architecture carried the mysterious reality previously seen only in photos, paintings, movies and other arts. The people I encountered in the streets were simple. Spiritual places of worship built through many centuries were all around. The accommodations were very down to earth and simple, preserving the ancient customs. Also, being situated near the Chinese border brought an additional awareness of a tense political and historical reality.
In the early 2000s, white people were not often seen in places like Sheung Shui and as such, something very unusual happened to me in the streets. There was always a large number of people everywhere, and people on the street and in public places would gather around me and stare at my white face and blue eyes. I say this with no exaggeration – if I looked back, they would turn away but just for a moment, then continue to stare again.
Edward had again gathered a big group of people eager to learn something from the West. I found that students in Hong Kong were – and still are – so keen to learn and continue their education. There is always more to know and they do not want to miss a moment of opportunity. It is such a pleasure to teach people with such a high interest and expectations.
News about my workshops began to spread from these initial visits to Hong Kong. Thanks to Edward’s initiation, my name became known to different organizations in Hong Kong, mostly those related to the Christian/Social establishment.
Edward’s own Focusing knowledge also grew, and I encouraged him to learn how to become a Trainer. Being a very humble person and increasingly involved in Catholic marriage organizations, he modestly accepted my invitation and eventually became a Trainer and the first Coordinator in Hong Kong that I certified. From that perspective, there is no wonder someone else found out about Focusing and my trips to Hong Kong and invited me as a teacher.
With word spreading, I was soon contacted by Doris Lee who represented the Catholic Marriage Advisory Council (CMAC). She invited me to come to Hong Kong to teach Focusing and train people. I worked with her and her groups for several years toward a certification program. A weekend workshop was held at the Christian Organization campsite in the New Territories. Because that group was larger than usual, it gave Edward the opportunity to participate as a student teacher.
When Katherine Kot entered the scene, things picked up exponentially. She heard about me through Edward and Doris, and this connection opened a long and very rich cooperation. Katherine invited me many times, wanting to provide an opportunity for her students and clients to get a taste of Focusing. Many of these students took to it and wanted to practice, study, become Trainers, and teach others.
Every time I visited, a large group of students both old and new was ready to start and due to the demand, several levels and categories of participation continued by phone and virtual training as well.
Katherine also wanted to be trained. She succeeded and recently became a TIFI Coordinator in Hong Kong. Katherine offers her training in Hong Kong, and also on Canada’s west coast for students of Chinese origin who are seeking healing and training. More can be found on Katherine Kot’s Connexion Psychological Practice in Hong Kong here.
In 2008, I had an opportunity to represent Focusing at the 5th World Congress for Psychotherapy in Beijing (left). It was such an honor to be there and introduce some of Gendlin’s Philosophy, Focusing, and Thinking at the Edge (TAE) to very enthusiastic groups.
After that conference, I flew south to Hong Kong to add the first TAE workshop to Edward’s group (right). During these years, I visited Hong Kong at least ten times. With the popularity of TAE increasing, Katherine organized a very large class that attracted participants from as far away as South Korea and Singapore.
The work of Katherine and Edward was integral to the growth of Focusing in China. Katherine has invested great time, effort, money, and love to spread Focusing to Hong Kong and to Chinese emigrants in western Canada and the US. Edward is also still engaged and highly visible in the Hong Kong Focusing Institute (HKFI).
During our recent correspondence regarding Katherine’s certification, Edward and Katherine offered some very kind words relating to my work in Hong Kong, and I humbly share them below.
Chan Chee-seung Edward:
“Precious memories are always unforgettable. Focusing could be spread in the Hong Kong community. The name of Nada Lou should be recorded as the pioneer! Thank you!”
“I especially want to thank Nada for bringing Focusing to the Hong Kong community. So many of us were introduced to this important concept and learning. Nada, you have a lot of grand students in HK.”