When the Pandemic struck last March, I was just completing a 7-month on-line teacher training group with Judith Blackstone called Realization Process, Healing Ground. Judith teaches 4 main practices that can really strengthen our presence in the world as HSPs. These practices are truly the most useful resources I have found to date about living as HSPs in this non-HSP centered world.
A New Perspective On Protection
I am drawn to Judith’s work because I like how she talks about sensitivity and protection, in an entirely new way that resonates with my experience. In her own words,
Although sensitivity may cause discomfort, it is an entranceway into life’s spiritual dimension. Sensitive people sometimes try to make themselves more solid or dense, or to shut themselves off from the onslaught of stimuli in their daily lives. However, the cure for this discomfort is actually to become more sensitive and open. As you continue to develop your sensitivity, your consciousness can become so refined that it is finally the luminous transparency of fundamental consciousness, pervading the material world. When this happens, stimuli can move through this dimension of consciousness without disturbing it. As fundamental consciousness, you remain steady and open while the movement of life flows through you. This means that you can continue to become even more subtly attuned to life without being overwhelmed by the world around you.
Attunement to fundamental consciousness also helps you tolerate stimuli in your environment because it requires you to inhabit your body. When you live within your body, you have a felt sense of internal depth and wholeness. You can also feel the qualities of your being, such as your love, understanding, and power. This is an experience of actually existing, and of possessing yourself from the inside. This internal depth, wholeness, and quality of being cannot be broken. Stimuli move through it without altering it.
As your senses become refined—as you reach the subtle range of your senses—they also become unified. The vibrational nature of reality that is revealed with your subtle senses is seen/heard/touched/smelled/tasted all at once. Finally, as you realize yourself as fundamental consciousness, you have a single, direct experience of each moment. All sensory stimuli seem to emerge directly out of the pervasive empty space of your consciousness, without any effort on your part. This produces the feeling of immediacy or “nowness” that is associated with spiritual experience.Judith Blackstone from Belonging Here: A Guide for the Spiritually Sensitive Person
The Body During The Pandemic
I found that with the extra stress everywhere around me during the shelter-in-place part of the pandemic, I was not doing very well by midafternoon each day, even though I have a daily morning meditation practice and would get a good strong start on the day. In order to support myself and other HSPs, I offered a daily 30-minute session in the midafternoon teaching Judith’s practices for 7 weeks during April and May.
When the 7 weeks were up, I was feeling more stable so I switched to offering a biweekly meet-up group focusing on teaching and doing these practices together: https://www.meetup.com/Highly-Sensitive-Highly-Spiritual-Depth-Oriented-HSPs/
Body Lessons From The Realization Practice
How are the practices helping me personally? My first lesson from the practices was learning how I tend to stay on the surface of my body when other people are around. As a defensive response to people being so overstimulating, I must have learned to harden the surface of my body in an attempt to protect myself. One of the main practices I received from Judith is learning to inhabit your body from the inside, to be fully present in the fullness of your own essence, in your body. I don’t find this very difficult when I am alone, but as soon as another person shows up, I have a habit of fleeing to the surface of my body and no longer being attuned to know how I feel. That has led me to be very quiet in groups (or anytime I don’t feel safe) or, when I need to speak, to have a false self that speaks. So I am gradually learning to stay fully present in my body when other people are around. Honestly, I find it quite challenging. Yet I am happy to have found a way to not always disappear.
Another lesson focused on me coming out the front of my body and merging with other people. Judith taught me what it feels like to maintain a front of my body and stay within the container of my own body. I’m not sure how this habit originally developed. Perhaps out of compassion and a desire to alleviate other people’s suffering, I learned to come forward out of the front of my body to soothe and comfort other people. My habit certainly is most likely to appear when the person I am with is distressed. Having Judith model the experience of maintaining the front boundary of my body really helped me to find that boundary myself.
In addition I noticed that although I was doing well with maintaining my upper body front boundary, I was having trouble with the lower part, which resulted in my feeling other people’s fear and terror in my own body. Whenever the other person was triggered in their nervous system into fight, flight, freeze or collapse, I would find myself in a similar state. When I expressed this new dilemma, Judith warmly stated, “Yes, you do need to maintain the front of your lower body as well”. And then she again showed me the experience of having a front of my lower body, a container for that part of my body I could feel a “zipping up” of my front lower body; the sense of power or strength in the back of my pelvis and my legs felt like my own adult legs (as opposed to feeling like my childhood legs).
I still have so much to learn and have only just begun to integrate all the learning that is available from the realization process practices. I am delighted to have finally found help at such a refined level, help that matches the real needs and dilemmas that I experience in my daily life as a highly sensitive person.
Image: Gary Ellis – Unsplash