Judith Blackstone: Trauma and the Unbound Body

December 4, 2018

Judith Blackstone: Trauma and the Unbound Body

Judith Blackstone December 4, 2018

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.”

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

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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.

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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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Embracing Empathy as Your Superpower

What do I do when a loved one is suffering? How do I have empathy if I’m getting a divorce or losing my job? If my family treats me unfairly? Or if I’m emotionally overwhelmed or in chronic pain?

If you’ve ever asked yourself these questions, I’ve written The Genius of Empathy for you. It also includes a beautiful foreword by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

In the book, I present empathy as a healing force that helps you overcome obstacles in your life with dignity, grace, and power. As a psychiatrist and empath, I draw from my insights and present techniques from my own life and from the healing journeys of my clients, students, and readers. As I say in the book, “Empathy softens the struggle, quiets the unkind voices, and lets you befriend yourself again.”

Empathy doesn’t mean being “on call” 24 hours a day for those in need. Empaths can often wear an invisible sign that says, “I can help you.” However, if you want to heal yourself, have better relationships, and contribute to healing our tumultuous world, you must learn how to set healthy boundaries and observe, not absorb, the energy of others.

To start taking a more proactive role in how much empathy you give others at any one time, I suggest that you keep in mind the following “rights.” They will help you maintain a healthy mindset and prevent or lessen any empathy overwhelm that might arise:

  • I have the right to say a loving, positive “no” or “no, thank-you.”
  • I have the right to set limits with how long I listen to people’s problems.
  • I have the right to rest and not be always available to everyone.
  • I have the right to quiet peacefulness in my home and in my heart.

Practice: Take a Sound Break to Repair Yourself

Plan periods of quiet to recover from our noisy, fast-paced world. This helps calm your nervous system and your mind, an act of self-empathy.

It’s rejuvenating to schedule at least five minutes of quiet or, even better, complete silence for an hour or more where no one can intrude. As I do, hang a Do Not Disturb sign on your office or bedroom door. During this reset period, you’ve officially escaped from the world. You’re free of demands and noxious sounds. You may also get noise canceling earbuds to block out noise.

If too much quiet is unsettling, go for a walk in a local park or a peaceful neighborhood to decompress from excessive sound stimulation. Simply focus on putting one foot in front of the other, which is called mindful walking. Nothing to do. Nothing to be. Move slowly and refrain from talking. If thoughts come, keep refocusing on your breath, each inhalation and exhalation. Just letting life settle will regenerate your body and empathic heart.

Embracing your empathy does require courage. It can feel scary. If you’re ready to discover its healing power, I would be honored to be your guide to helping you in overcoming your fears and obstacles, and enhancing this essential skill for long-term change.

Though many of us have never met, I feel connected to you. Connection is what fuels life. While empathy is what allows you to find peace. With both, we can make sense of this world together.

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Tune in for this remarkable teacher’s inspiring (and in many ways utterly mind-blowing) conversation with Sounds True’s founder, Tami Simon, as they discuss: a nonlinear understanding of time; living fearlessly; how to attune to the helping beings that surround us at all times; raising your vibrational frequency; the practice of asking for signs; following your intuition; how humanity’s belief in scarcity is contributing to our self-destruction; the root cause of the divisiveness in today’s world, and why we need a new way of defining “strength”; moving beyond limitations inherited from our families and cultures; the consequences of repressing oneself; becoming unapologetically who we are; the body as a reflection of our state of consciousness; multiple lives, one soul; embracing your gifts as an empath; and more.

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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 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.

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