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Trauma and the Unbound Body

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Book Review

Written by Judith Blackstone, PhD
Reviewed by Nancy Eichhorn, PhD

Wholeness is not a vague ideal, but a lived experience. It is a potential, inherent in our human nature. To be whole is to be conscious and in contact with ourselves everywhere in our body, to live within our body. When we inhabit our body, we experience ourselves as an undivided consciousness, a subtle, unified ground of consciousness, pervading our whole body and our environments, at the same time” (pg. 1)

Judith Blackstone’s newest and sixth book on the Realization Process is her first to focus specifically on using this process to understand and heal trauma. She defines healing as becoming whole and notes that “trauma fragments and limits our wholeness” (pg. 1).

She teaches people how to release trauma-based patterns by inhabiting the internal space of their body, specifically at the juncture between pure awareness and our physical and emotional being, what she calls our fundamental consciousness.

Fundamental Consciousness

“It’s hardly ever talked about,” she explained during a recent Utube interview with Bliss + Grit regarding Trauma and the Unbound Body. (Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rb2bhHwIhR0) “Fundamental consciousness is considered a spiritual experience. It’s not talked about (for that reason) yet it brings us to life; it is the basis of contact (in relationship with ourselves and others), and the basis of everything we feel: love, intelligence, expression (voice, gender sexuality), pleasure, our sense of power. These seem like innate qualities of being, but they come to life as we contact our self via fundamental consciousness.”

To inhabit our body and be in contact with our body is an advanced experience. It takes personal maturity and spiritual awakeness.
None of us grow up living within our body.” According to Blackstone, “psychological healing and spiritual awakening are considered intertwined and inevitable aspects of our progression toward personal maturity” (pg. 5)

According to Blackstone, when we become whole within ourselves there’s an openness and we are one with everything around us. As we cultivate awareness and connect with the core of our body, we have the potential to “feel that we are living at the very center of all our experience. We know ourselves as the unchanging center within all of the constantly changing movement of life. Even in challenging situations with other people, or in personal crises, we can remain in this centered position. We are still responsible to other people, but we are not entangled with them or with old patterns of relating with them” (pg. 88).

To be clear, fundamental consciousness is not simply a relaxed state. To be in this place we must let go deep within, which isn’t easy. Thus, Blackstone’s Realization Process, which provides the means to get there. This process includes “practices that cultivate the ability to contact ourselves and open ourselves within the whole internal space of the body so the actual realization of fundamental consciousness can occur” (pg. 44). She teaches people how to attune to their fundamental consciousness to heal. She is clear that she “cannot make any definitive metaphysical claim about fundamental consciousness,” because she doesn’t know what it actually is. However, she is just as clear that “the experience of fundamental consciousness is available to us, it is a given aspect, an innate potential of human nature” and “when you experience it pervading your whole body, you experience the internal coherence of your individual being” (pg. 5).

Healing Trauma

The book was written to show readers how trauma (both extreme, i.e., abuse, severe injury, and those considered relational, i.e., when ordinary events are too confusing or abrasive to be fully absorbed) separates us from our bodies. She discusses how we respond to these traumas in different ways, how we cut off from ourselves. Sometimes we cut off in little ways like tightening our throat to cut off words we dare not speak, or tightening our jaw to cut off sounds we dare not release, or dampening our hearing or our spirit just a tad to adjust to situations around us that are overwhelming. These actions are typically unconscious; they happen as part of our survival mechanism, especially when we’re young and trying to live in the context of abusive/threatening/ demeaning relationships. Emotional wounds are just as toxic as physical to our health, our spirit, our being in the moment and in our adult lives (the fall out). She shares how constriction and fragmentation disrupt and alter the unity between mind and body, between the oneness of self and other. And she offers practices to resolve the separation and become whole.

Each chapter covers part of the Realization Process, a step-by-step guide to come into understanding and then practice. There are examples and case presentations and guided experiences within the chapters to help ground the concepts shared. She notes that she developed these practices and has taught them over the past four decades. She started by healing herself and then moved outward with her discoveries and training to help others heal themselves. The practices are twofold: (1) some directly facilitate body- mind integration through inhabiting the internal space of one’s body (how to contact our fundamental consciousness); (2) some help us utilize our attunement to fundamental consciousness to release trauma-based constrictions in the body.

Bringing this review to a close

Blackstone’s writing style feels personal, familiar. As if we’re sitting together and she’s right here sharing her journey, her process, her practices. The book is filled with insights and considerations allowing me, as a reader, to contemplate what she’s offering. I was not aware of the Realization Process before reading this book.  Now, I feel as if I have a good grasp of the content, what it’s about and how it works. And she offers many practices to experiment with it, to see what fits for me and what may not. My only lament is that there is not a CD or a website available with these practices recorded. It’s difficult to read them and do them at the same time if you are reading this book solo. I look forward to spending more time with the practices, especially coming into the body and contacting my fundamental consciousness. I see this alone as being vital to my meditation process, to my ability to be focused and present in myself, in my being in all situations during the day, throughout my life.