When you are accessing a part to work with it, it may not be clear at first. It may start out as a vague image or felt sense—for example, “folded over on itself.”
You get to know a part like this by staying with your experience in a patient and curious way. Don’t push for clarity prematurely. If you are open and interested, the part will know that it is welcome, and the nature of it will become clearer in the course of a few minutes. For example, “folded over on itself” might gradually reveal itself as a part that is curled up to protect itself from attack.
You might feel a vague emotion, such as a sense of poignancy, or you might sense a narrowing in your chest or an empty place in your body. When the sensation or image isn’t entirely clear at first, it simply means that your access to the part is still in the process of forming. Some of the most interesting parts start out this way. The practice of Focusing is an excellent method for allowing parts to gradually come into view.
This process of clarification can happen slowly in stages. Take your time and the part will gradually emerge, like the development of a photographic image in a darkroom. For example, what started out as an empty place might begin to include an experience of feeling unsatisfied. Then you might sense that it is in your belly. Over time it might show itself as an empty sack needing to be filled. Finally, it might reveal itself as a child who needs nurturing because she feels empty inside.