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Judith Blackstone: Trauma & the Healing Power of Fundamental Consciousness

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Video Recording (Oct 17, 2020)

Nuggets From Judith Blackstone's Call

Last Saturday, we had the privilege of hosting Awakin Call with Judith Blackstone.

Judith Blackstone, PhD, is an innovative teacher and author in the contemporary fields of nondual realization and spiritual, relational and somatic psychotherapy. Over four decades she has developed and taught the Realization Process, a direct path for realizing fundamental (nondual) consciousness, applying it to psychological, relational and physical healing. The Realization Process teaches that we can enter a subtle pervasive, unified ground of consciousness from deep within our own bodies. We can access an inner source of well-being that helps us heal when we embody ourselves fully; inhabiting the body is "a kind of reclaiming of ourselves." The process includes specific practices to inhabit the whole body, attune to its central channel (through head, torso and pelvis), and open to fundamental consciousness. It also includes practices for discerning and releasing traumatic events, along the exact pathways that we have constricted ourselves.

For more information on Judith's work, please visit her website.

Below are some of the nuggets from the call that stood out for me ...

  • [What lies at the heart of what you do?] Contact, actual contact with oneself, with other people and especially with everything in nature. Of course, many people find it easier to have contact with nature, but real contact with other people, with what you're feeling, that things ring true. That things really ring true. That's what I've been needing, wanting. And, of course, the work I'm teaching just came out of ways that I found to get through to myself, to heal myself. That's what I really needed.
  • Non-dualism to me it means actual realizing oneself as a unified grounded being. So unified within which at the same time is unified with oneself and everything around one. To me non-dualism, it means oneness.
  • [what did you discover of yourself in dance?] Dance meant that same kind of newness quality was now something that I could actually feel animating my body and express that aliveness. It was wonderful.
  • After her scoliosis and surgery, "the real work began, because I had to find a way to undo it. And I went around to healers, I met some very interesting people, went around to every kind of bodywork which there was available at that time. It was early seventies. And nothing worked. So, I had to sit -- and I lived in a big dance studio that I was renting optimistically -- and I had to sit and figure it out myself, actually lie on the floor, figure it out myself and make very deep, subtle contact with myself in order to start to heal that, to begin to feel normal."
  • Her healing process became a kind of "motionless dancing":  "It certainly started out motionless, but I think even more importantly, I was finding that you could refine your awareness, you can get to a more subtle level of your whole being, but that was completely new to me. And I began to be interested enough in it that I lost my despair about having lost my previous life, and began to focus on this -- 'cause this seemed really interesting. And then I started to go to bookstores that we had at that time and grab books that might explain this -- books on yoga, books on martial arts, like, what is this more subtle kind of level of being? And I started to read about it, so I began to make those sorts of correlations."
  • He [Trungpa Rinpoche] also talked about space. He was a great writer. He got the Western mind. He made the books comprehensible to the Western mind. In one of his books, he said that the space inside the vase was the same as the space outside the vase. And that rang true to me. It fit what I was just starting to feel when I got to that more subtle level of my self. There it is. It has been written out. Of course, the wonderful thing about the Asian spiritual teachings are that they are very direct. In general, they are not in poetic form. A lot of the more mystical Western teachings I think are protected that way. They are put into a form where if you haven’t had the experience, you have no idea what they are talking about. But the Eastern teachings are right there. Like, you can do this. Buddha Nature, go ahead and do it. You have it, get it.
  • On not having any "teacher":  "I was not a devotee, you know, I could not be a devotee.  I always had that atheist foundation. Aside from that, I was also desperately looking for my own healing. I have this problem in my back. I was uncomfortable. At the beginning of this, you asked me what homecoming was, and I said “comfort.” I was uncomfortable and so I was kind of desperate for healing. I was also very, very, very curious ... intellectually because it seemed to me that the Buddhists were saying something different from the Hindus and that some Buddhists were saying something different from other Buddhists. To me, coming from my atheist background, that means they do not know, right? These people are saying this, and those people are saying that. We as a human race, we do not know. So, that interested me. I was also looking, so I could not just stop in one place. I needed to know, is this going to help me?  Is this going to help me? And is this going to explain this pervasive consciousness that I was beginning to feel more and more palpably, more tangibly? Where is the explanation for that? ... Anything that at all alludes to this ground of being, I was very interested in that. Because what is it? So, that is what kept me from just parking somewhere."
  • As I began to introspect and intro feel, I realized that I needed healing everywhere. It is very interesting. Once I was sitting through one of Sai Baba’s lectures in India. And Sai Baba would talk in a very general way about loving your neighbor and doing service. That was his main thing. Of course, he had like 20,000 people in the audience. And every once in a while he would just throw in a line that would be about the Universe or seem to be about you in particular. At one point, he said you have to cut through many layers to operate on the spine. And I was like, “What? Did he just say that?” And that is how I felt. I felt like I had been like pierced through many levels of my self and each one had to be healed and definitely the psychological…I was most interested in the kind tightness of I felt in my body—a lot of it was caused by the curvature of my spine—but all kinds of tightness, all kinds of constriction. So I began to work on myself…So I was working on my self and discovered that there was movement inside the constriction. Then I began to be able to do that for myself. I could focus in and I could feel that there was movement in the constriction. In fact, it would move further into constriction, and then it would unwind. And I began to unwind myself.
  • The Realization Process is basically a way of uncovering an experience of this very subtle consciousness that we actually can uncover and experience pervading our whole body. So that it gives us a sense of our whole internal being at once. And at the same time when we experience that, we transcend that individuality, we still experience it, but we transcend it at the same time. And we oneness, this ground of being, pervading our own body and everything around us, not just living beings, but the computer, the printer. So our consciousness becomes subtle enough to pervade all of the content of our experience, in other words. And it pervades inside and out. And in doing that, it reveals and helps us access and release the psychologically based constrictions, the trauma based constrictions in our body, and it helps get to the core of our being, to the source of our love, to our greatest openness of emotional responsiveness, our greatest fluidity of our thoughts, and our greatest fluidity of pleasure, and so forth. Because this consciousness, I call it Fundamental Consciousness, but it is mentioned in many of the Asian teachings. And it is a disentangled aspect of ourselves. So when we know ourselves as it, and it is experienced as a stillness, all of the content of experience moves more fluidly. So we experience stillness and fluidity, change at the same time. They are inextricable…It is a series of practices, a series of techniques for inhabiting the body, opening to the ground of being, Fundamental Consciousness pervading the body and one’s environment, getting to the subtle core of the body, letting go from there, so that we actually stabilize and live and know ourselves as that ground.
  • It is a letting go. Fundamental Consciousness is a letting go. The Buddhist call it self arising. It is not something we create. That is what is so amazing about it. That is why so many of the spiritual traditions have called it Buddha Nature, like our true nature, who we really are, because we don’t invent it or imagine it. We uncover it. And so it is a letting go. But if we just let go, most people will let go from the surface of themselves in a kind of spacey way. Then things look good out there, but they are vacant inside. That is not yet Fundamental Consciousness which pervades our, which is the ground of our own being. So it pervades our whole body and our environment, not just our environment. So we need to let go into Fundamental Consciousness not from the surface of ourselves, but from deep within the whole internal space of ourselves. So that is why I start by inhabiting the body. Now inhabiting the body also turns out to be the deepest contact we can have with our individual being. So it is healing on a personal, psychological level. At that point in our process, I think our psychological healing and maturity is inseparable from our spiritual maturity. It is the same, the same process. So when we inhabit the body, we have a palpable sense of our own existence. That we take up space. Many sensitive people, myself included, feel very flat to the world, like life is just hitting right on us. And like we don’t exist. And I think that some of the non-existence teachings get traction from that sense that we grow up feeling like, “Yeah, I don’t exist.” But when we inhabit the body. we do. We have a tangible sense of actually taking up space with an inner volume of existing. That for me, personally, was very healing psychologically, because I could then go out in the world, and all those people who always seemed so intimidating, so much more kind of there than myself, I had my own tangible sense of existing and then I could interact with them no problem. There I was. So it was very healing psychologically. Brings in self-confidence, and the qualities, this is mysterious but it is not distant from us. It is right here. I found most people can do it. It can take a few months, but most people can find this given the right direction into it. When we inhabit the body, we uncover qualities of our being, so we can actually feel love. You know we feel in our chest, and then we can actually do it everywhere in our body. But to feel love inside your body without even needing an object of love that goes a long way to healing the kind of self-loathing, shame, and so forth that many of us grew up with.
  • Peer teaching:  Anyone who can do these practices and knows them can teach them.  It's the practices themselves that are helpful, if they are, not the teacher. I'm not transmitting my glorified state to somebody else. Their state might be better. I have no idea, you know. So it's not a transmission. It's definitely not about where you're directing your devotion towards the teacher. So in that sense, it's a peer teaching. Anyone who can do those practices can teach them.
  • Sticking to the experiential, not metaphysical:  it's very hard to talk about the ground of being without it sounding like you're making a metaphysical claim.  But I try my best to do that.  I try my best to talk about it as an experience, ... How can we determine which of those claims is true? We can't. So people who will sometimes come to me for spiritual, for metaphysical, information that I can't give. Buddha wouldn't answer -- famously, legend in the legend -- would not answer metaphysical questions. He said it was because it was not relevant to realization. But maybe he didn't know. [laughs] It's possible. So I just go right to “I don't know.”

Lots of gratitude to all the behind-the-scenes volunteers that made this call happen!

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