A Guided Practice to Connect with Our Deep, Inner Being

May 6, 2019
A Guided Practice to Connect with Our Deep, Inner Being Header Photo

When we attune to ourselves as fundamental consciousness, we find that this pervasive space is not empty in the sense of void. Even though it is experienced as stillness, it is lively, luminous stillness.

In my method, the Realization Process, I attempt to avoid metaphysical assertions about what fundamental consciousness actually is or what qualities it actually possesses. However, an important part of the Realization Process, for both healing from trauma and for spiritual awakening, is to attune to specific qualities that appear to be inherent in this lively pervasive space. These qualities, which we can attune to pervading everywhere, are experienced as the fundamental qualities of our own being. In this work, we name these qualities: awareness, emotion, and physical sensation. Attuning to these three qualities can help us feel whole within ourselves and unified with our surroundings.

Before we go further, by “quality,” I mean the “feel” of our experience. A distinguishing characteristic of a quality is that it cannot be translated into a direct description of the experience. For example, the quality of love, exactly how it feels, cannot really be conveyed to someone who has not experienced it. We can talk about the experience—we can say that love is warm or that it causes us to want to connect with someone that we feel this toward, but we cannot put into words the exact experience of love itself. In the same way, we cannot convey, to someone who has not experienced it, the color red, the taste of vanilla, or the sensation of coldness. This is true for all of the many qualities that make up our experience, including the unchanging qualities of fundamental consciousness.

We attune to each quality through a different section of our body. We attune to the ground of awareness in, around, and above our head. By awareness, I mean that part of the ground within which perceptions and thoughts occur. We attune to the ground of emotion in the mid-third of our body—our chest and midsection. By emotion, I mean that part of the ground within which emotions, such as grief, anger, and joy, occur. We attune to physical sensation through the bottom third of our body—our lower torso, legs, and feet. By physical sensation, I mean that part of the ground in which physical sensations such as heat and sexual pleasure occur.

We need to be attuned to all three qualities of fundamental consciousness in order to reach our most subtle and most complete experience of ourselves and the world around us. The blend of awareness, emotion, and physical sensation pervading everywhere helps us attune to and resonate with the awareness, emotion, and physical sensation in other people and in all of nature.

PRACTICE: Attuning to Fundamental Consciousness

Sit upright with your feet on the floor. Keep your eyes open.

Feel that you are inside your whole body at once. Find the space outside your body, the space in the room. Experience that the space inside and outside your body is the same, continuous space. It pervades you. Experience that the space pervading your own body also pervades your whole environment. Do not move from within your body to do this: attune to the space that seems to already be there, pervading you and your environment.

Attune to the quality of awareness. This means becoming aware of your awareness. Attune to awareness around, within, and way above your head. Experience the quality of awareness pervading your whole body so that it feels like you are made of the quality of awareness. Experience the quality of awareness pervading your whole body and environment at the same time.

Attune to the quality of emotion. Sense the quality of emotion in the middle of your body: your chest and gut. Experience the quality of emotion pervading your whole body so that it feels like you are made of the quality of emotion. This is not a specific emotion; it is the subtle ground of emotion. Experience the quality of emotion pervading your whole body and environment at the same time.

Attune to the quality of physical sensation. Come down into the bottom of your torso, legs, and feet to attune to the quality of physical sensation. Experience the quality of physical sensation pervading your whole body so that it feels like you are made of the quality of physical sensation. Again, this is not a specific physical sensation; it is the subtle ground of physical sensation. Experience the quality of physical sensation pervading your whole body and environment at the same time.

Now experience the quality of physical sensation pervading your whole body and environment and the quality of awareness pervading your whole body and environment at the same time. Add the quality of emotion pervading your whole body and environment. At this point, the qualities blend together; they become indistinguishable from each other.

Sit for a moment in this rich field of awareness, emotion, and physical sensation, pervading your body and environment.

This is an adapted excerpt from Trauma and the Unbound Body: The Healing Power of Fundamental Consciousness by Judith Blackstone, PhD.

A Guided Practice to Connect with Our Deep, Inner Being Blog - Judith Blackstone

Judith Blackstone, PhD, is a licensed clinical psychotherapist in New York and an innovative teacher in contemporary spirituality. Her published works include the books Belonging Here, The Enlightenment Process, The Empathic Ground, and The Intimate Life, as well as the audio learning course The Realization Process.

A Guided Practice to Connect with Our Deep, Inner Being Blog Trauma-and-the-Unbound-Body-Published-Cover (1)

Buy your copy of Trauma and the Unbound Body at your favorite bookseller!

Sounds True | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

Judith Blackstone

Judith Blackstone, PhD, is a psychotherapist and innovative teacher in contemporary spirituality. She developed the Realization Process®, an embodied approach to personal and relational healing and nondual realization. She is the author of Trauma and the Unbound BodyBelonging HereThe Intimate LifeThe Enlightenment Process, and The Empathic Ground. For more, see realizationprocess.org.

Author photo © Juliet Lofaro

Also By Author

A Path to Embodied Nonduality

We find ourselves in a time that is rich with paths toward spiritual awakening, especially that pinnacle of awakening called “nonduality.”

The Fullness of the Ground is my contribution to that abundance. It describes in detail the lived experience of nondual realization.

In the book, I offer a series of gentle attunement practices, called the Realization Process, for uncovering and knowing ourselves as a fundamental, undivided dimension of consciousness, pervading our whole body and environment. Pervading our body, fundamental consciousness is experienced as the authentic ground of our individual being. Pervading our body and environment, it is the basis of our oneness with everyone and everything around us. This means that we become whole as individuals at the same time as we transcend our individuality and experience unity with our surroundings.

As a longtime spiritual teacher and psychotherapist, I feel that there is not enough emphasis in some of the nonduality teachings about how this realization enriches our lives. I have been particularly concerned about teachings that encourage people to disconnect from themselves as individuals or to suppress their emotional responses to the world around them. In this book, I instead offer a path to nondual realization that is deeply embodied and that matures us as individuals, at the same time that it opens us to self–other oneness. Far from erasing us as individuals, nondual realization enhances our experience of our own unique existence. It deepens all of our human capacities, including our ability to feel, to think, and to enjoy our lives. It can help heal and enhance our relationships with other people by enabling us to experience deep contact with others without losing inward contact with ourselves.

Central to the method in this book is the important difference between being aware of the body and inhabiting the body. So I often begin with this simple exercise for experiencing this distinction:

Sit upright with your hands in your lap.

Take a moment to become aware of your hands. You may notice how warm or cold they are or how tense or relaxed they are. This is becoming aware of your hands.

Now enter into your hands. Experience yourself as present, living within your hands. This is inhabiting your hands.

You can go on to inhabiting different parts of your body and, finally, your body as a whole. See if you can feel present everywhere within your body, rather than aware of it from the outside.

In the Realization Process, we go through several steps, taking around 30 minutes, to reach this next part. But, for a very shortened version, if you can feel that you are living within your body, then next find the space outside of your body, the space in your environment.

Let yourself experience that the space inside and outside of your body is the same undivided space. Without leaving your body, experience that the space that pervades your body also pervades your whole environment. This is the spacious expanse of fundamental consciousness.

Judith Blackstone, PhD

Judith Blackstone, PhD, is a psychotherapist and innovative teacher in contemporary spirituality. She developed the Realization Process®, an embodied approach to personal and relational healing and nondual realization. She is the author of Trauma and the Unbound Body, Belonging Here, The Intimate Life, The Enlightenment Process, and The Empathic Ground.

A Guided Practice to Connect with Our Deep, Inner Bein...

A Guided Practice to Connect with Our Deep, Inner Being Header Photo

When we attune to ourselves as fundamental consciousness, we
find that this pervasive space is not empty in the sense of void. Even though
it is experienced as stillness, it is lively, luminous stillness.

In my method, the Realization Process, I attempt to avoid
metaphysical assertions about what fundamental consciousness actually is or
what qualities it actually possesses. However, an important part of the
Realization Process, for both healing from trauma and for spiritual awakening,
is to attune to specific qualities that appear to be inherent in this lively
pervasive space. These qualities, which we can attune to pervading everywhere,
are experienced as the fundamental qualities of our own being. In this work, we name these qualities: awareness,
emotion, and physical sensation.
Attuning to these three qualities can help
us feel whole within ourselves and unified with our surroundings.

Before we go further, by “quality,” I mean the “feel” of our experience. A distinguishing characteristic of a quality is that it cannot be translated into a direct description of the experience. For example, the quality of love, exactly how it feels, cannot really be conveyed to someone who has not experienced it. We can talk about the experience—we can say that love is warm or that it causes us to want to connect with someone that we feel this toward, but we cannot put into words the exact experience of love itself. In the same way, we cannot convey, to someone who has not experienced it, the color red, the taste of vanilla, or the sensation of coldness. This is true for all of the many qualities that make up our experience, including the unchanging qualities of fundamental consciousness.

We attune to each quality through a different section of our body. We attune to the ground of awareness in, around, and above our head. By awareness, I mean that part of the ground within which perceptions and thoughts occur. We attune to the ground of emotion in the mid-third of our body—our chest and midsection. By emotion, I mean that part of the ground within which emotions, such as grief, anger, and joy, occur. We attune to physical sensation through the bottom third of our body—our lower torso, legs, and feet. By physical sensation, I mean that part of the ground in which physical sensations such as heat and sexual pleasure occur.

We need to be attuned to all three qualities of fundamental
consciousness in order to reach our most subtle and most complete experience of
ourselves and the world around us. The blend of awareness, emotion, and
physical sensation pervading everywhere helps us attune to and resonate with
the awareness, emotion, and physical sensation in other people and in all of
nature.

PRACTICE: Attuning to
Fundamental Consciousness

Sit upright with your feet on the floor. Keep your eyes open.

Feel that you are inside your whole body at once. Find the
space outside your body, the space in the room. Experience that the space
inside and outside your body is the same, continuous space. It pervades you.
Experience that the space pervading your own body also pervades your whole
environment. Do not move from within your body to do this: attune to the space
that seems to already be there, pervading you and your environment.

Attune to the quality
of awareness.
This means becoming aware of your awareness. Attune to
awareness around, within, and way above your head. Experience the quality of
awareness pervading your whole body so that it feels like you are made of the
quality of awareness. Experience the quality of awareness pervading your whole
body and environment at the same time.

Attune to the quality
of emotion.
Sense the quality of emotion in the middle of your body: your
chest and gut. Experience the quality of emotion pervading your whole body so
that it feels like you are made of the quality of emotion. This is not a
specific emotion; it is the subtle ground of emotion. Experience the quality of
emotion pervading your whole body and environment at the same time.

Attune to the quality
of physical sensation.
Come down into the bottom of your torso, legs, and
feet to attune to the quality of physical sensation. Experience the quality of
physical sensation pervading your whole body so that it feels like you are made
of the quality of physical sensation. Again, this is not a specific physical
sensation; it is the subtle ground of physical sensation. Experience the
quality of physical sensation pervading your whole body and environment at the
same time.

Now experience the quality of physical sensation pervading
your whole body and environment and the quality of awareness pervading your
whole body and environment at the same time. Add the quality of emotion
pervading your whole body and environment. At this point, the qualities blend
together; they become indistinguishable from each other.

Sit for a moment in this rich field of awareness, emotion, and physical sensation, pervading your body and environment.

This is an adapted excerpt from Trauma and the Unbound Body: The Healing Power of Fundamental Consciousness by Judith Blackstone, PhD.

A Guided Practice to Connect with Our Deep, Inner Being Blog - Judith Blackstone

Judith Blackstone, PhD, is a licensed clinical psychotherapist in New York and an innovative teacher in contemporary spirituality. Her published works include the books Belonging Here, The Enlightenment Process, The Empathic Ground, and The Intimate Life, as well as the audio learning course The Realization Process.

A Guided Practice to Connect with Our Deep, Inner Being Blog Trauma-and-the-Unbound-Body-Published-Cover (1)

Buy your copy of Trauma
and the Unbound Body
at your favorite bookseller!

Sounds True | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
| Indiebound

Judith Blackstone: Trauma and the Unbound Body

Judith Blackstone is a pioneering teacher of contemporary spirituality best known for developing The Realization Process, a direct path toward nondual awakening. With Sounds True, she has most recently published the book Trauma and the Unbound Body. In this episode of Insights at the Edge, Tami Simon speaks with Judith about applying The Realization Process to the healing process—whether it’s physical, relational, or psychological. They discuss the Process’s application to unprocessed trauma—especially how fully inhabiting the body can highlight long-term physical constrictions. Tami and Judith talk about the methods for releasing that constriction, as well as the difference between awareness of the body and inhabiting it. Finally, Judith leads listeners in a core breath practice for settling into the body and attuning to the fundamental consciousness that is always available to us. (57 minutes)

Tami’s Takeaway: As part of our conversation about “disentangling the constrictions” that are held in the body as a result of trauma, Judith Blackstone teaches one of the central practices of The Realization Process—the Core Breath Practice. This is a powerful technique for quickly entering the subtle core of the body (a vertical channel that is described in many spiritual traditions). Once we enter this subtle core, we have a powerful resource available to us for releasing traumatic experiences held in the body. The takeaway: do the Core Breath Practice regularly as a way to stay in deep inward contact and “unbind the body.”

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As Joanna Macy approaches the end of a long life dedicated to healing our imperiled planet, she begins the conversation with Jessica Serrante, her student and dear friend, “standing afresh with what it’s like to live on Earth at this moment.” As we look into the face of the climate crisis, injustice, and war, difficult feelings arise; all are welcomed.

You are invited to join them at Joanna’s kitchen table, and invited into a deeper sense of your belonging and love for our world.

In this episode:

  • How to connect with the great possibilities that still exist for us even in these precarious times Joanna reflects on her awakening of environmental consciousness
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We recommend starting a podcast club with friends or family to do these practices together. Links and assets to help prompt reflection and build community can be found with every episode on WeAreTheGreatTurning.com.

What is Somatic Abolitionism?

Somatic Abolitionism is a living, embodied anti-racist practice, a form of culture building, and a way of being in the world. In this immersive audio workshop, Resmaa Menakem presents ten sessions of insights and body-based practices to help listeners liberate themselves—and all of us—from racialized trauma and the strictures of white-body supremacy.

Listen to the first 15 minutes of this audio program:

This is an adapted excerpt from You, Me, Us and Racialized Trauma by Resmaa Menakem.

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Somatic Abolitionism is a living, embodied anti-racist practice, a form of culture building, and a way of being in the world. In an immersive audio workshop, Resmaa Menakem presents ten sessions of insights and body-based practices to help listeners liberate themselves—and all of us—from racialized trauma and the strictures of white-body supremacy.

Learn More

5 Tools to Create More Space in Your Mind

Busyness, distraction, and stress have all led to the shrinking of the modern mind.

I realize that’s a strange thing to say. Most of us don’t think of our mind as something with space in it, as a thing that can either be big or small, expensive or claustrophobic.

But just think about the last time you felt overwhelmed, stressed, or out of control. Chances are, you might not even have to think that hard. You might be experiencing that state right now as you read these words.

What happens in these moments? 

First, our mind wanders. It spins through all sorts of random thoughts about the past and the future. As a result, we lose touch with the direct experience of present time.

Second, we lose perspective. We can’t see the big picture anymore. Instead, it’s like we’re viewing life through a long and narrow tunnel. We become blind to possibility, fixated on problems.

Put these two together and you’ve got the perfect recipe for eradicating space in the mind. The landscape of the mind begins to feel like a calendar jammed with so many meetings, events, and obligations that these neon colored boxes cover-up even the smallest slivers of white space. 

So it could be nice for our partner, for our kids, and, mostly, for our ourselves to consider: how can we create more space in the mind?

Here are five tools for creating mental space. If you want to go deeper, check out my new book with Sounds True on the topic called OPEN: Living With an Expansive Mind in a Distracted World.

1. Meditation.

You’ve no doubt heard about all of the scientifically validated benefits of this practice. It reduces stress. It boosts productivity. It enhances focus.

That is all true. But here is the real benefit of meditation: it creates more space in the mind. To get started, try it out for just a few minutes a day. Use an app or guided practice to help you.

2. Movement.

So, maybe you’re not the meditating type. That’s fine. You can still create space in the mind by setting aside time for undistracted movement.

The key word here is “undistracted.” For many of us, exercise and movement have become yet another time where our headspace gets covered over by texts, podcasts, or our favorite Netflix series. 

There’s nothing wrong with this. But it can be powerful to leave the earbuds behind every once in a while and allow the mind to rest while you walk, stretch, run, bike, swim, or practice yoga.

3. Relax.

When it comes to creating headspace, we moderns, with our smartphone-flooded, overly-stimulated, minds seem to inevitably encounter a problem: we’re often too stressed, amped, and agitated to open.

Relaxation – calming the nervous system – is perhaps the best way to counter this effect and create more fertile ground for opening. When we relax – the real kind, not the Netflix or TikTok kind –  the grip of difficult emotions loosens, the speed of our whirling thoughts slows, and, most important, the sense of space in our mind begins to expand.

How can you relax? Try yoga. Try extended exhale breathing, where you inhale four counts, exhale eight counts. Try yoga nidra. Or, just treat yourself to a nap.

4. See bigger.

When life gets crazy, the mind isn’t the only thing that shrinks. The size of our visual field also gets smaller. Our eyes strain. Our peripheral vision falls out of awareness.

What’s the antidote to this tunnel vision view? See bigger.

Try it right now. With a soft gaze, allow the edges of your visual field to slowly expand. Imagine you’re seeing whatever happens to be in front of you from the top of a vast mountain peak. Now bring this more expansive, panoramic, way of seeing with you for the rest of the day.

5. Do nothing.

Now for the most advanced practice. It’s advanced because it cuts against everything our culture believes in. In a world where everyone is trying desperately to get more done, one of the most radical acts is to not do — to do nothing.

Even just a few minutes of this paradoxical practice can help you experience an expansion of space in the mind.

Lie on the floor or outside on the grass. Close your eyes. Put on your favorite music if you want. Set an alarm for a few minutes so you don’t freak out too much. 

Then, stop. Drop the technique. Drop the effort. Just allow yourself to savor this rare experience of doing absolutely nothing.

Nate Klemp, PhD, is a philosopher, writer, and mindfulness entrepreneur. He is the coauthor of the New York Times bestseller Start Here and the New York Times critics’ pick The 80/80 Marriage. His work has been featured in the LA Times, Psychology Today, the Times of London, and more, and his appearances include Good Morning America and Talks at Google. He’s a cofounder of LifeXT and founding partner at Mindful. For more, visit nateklemp.com or @Nate_Klemp on Instagram.

  • Evelyn Kim says:

    This is the first time I’m learning that if we pay attention to our emotions, physical sensations, and awareness, then we can connect deeply with others and with our environment.

    When I read the paragraphs about how we attune to those 3 elements with different body parts, I thought about our chakras (which represent energy centers in yoga and Ayurvedic medicine). The root chakra specifically came to mind. That energy center relates to our legs and feet. Their contact with the earth can give us a sense of grounding within our environment.

    Since I am launching my life coaching business, I aim to have this type of awareness when I collaborate with other people. That way, I’ll have positive, effective interactions with them.

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