Discovery of Presencing – Harmonic Convergence

 Harmonic Convergence – Orcas Island Washington, August 16, 1987

 

Sunrise on Orcas Island

Sunrise on Orcas Island

It started out as a normal vipassana meditation at 5AM, scanning inside of my body, backlit by windows that were already admitting light into the room. The scanning was automatic, feeling into each body part – moving my awareness from place to place.

About five minutes into this and I heard and felt the word “Now.” The word seemed to travel instantly through all parts of my body. The “now” voice seemed familiar, as if my friend, Jessie Loo, was speaking inside me. She was in the hospital; we had spoken about 12 hours before.

 

BuddahI went on with my scanning but became increasingly aware of the visual light behind my eyelids. I heard “now” again; once again it pulsed through my body. What was this? It seemed as if my friend was trying to get my attention and convey some sort of message. The “nows” continued and gradually I realized that the “nows” were the message. Each one had a profound effect on my body and my mind. I realized I was being given a practice tool. I started saying “now” silently to myself; I realized that not only could I feel a pulse move through my body, but the light I perceived behind my eyelids would pulse as well. As I continued, my body became lighter and lighter; more and more relaxed. As this was happening I could feel sunlight filling the room – light within and light without! Finally it was time to end the meditation. I felt very grateful for the “nows”. When I opened my eyes I was very surprised, not only had the sun risen, but the clock said 8AM. I had been sitting for three hours!

While still feeling the “nows” inside, I picked up my copy of A Course in Miracles (ACIM) and read some of the words of the Course. All of a sudden it was as if the words caught fire! I could understand the words in a totally different way. Every word, every sentence was written to be read “now.” My body and my reading practice came together! This was an overwhelming experience. For months I’d been trying to make sense of passages in ACIM, much of which had seemed to be written in some kind of code. I had received the cipher; the riddle was being solved. “Now” was the key to understanding.

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I was full of the joy of discovery and I wanted to share it with friends who were also ACIM students. I drove to my friend Catherine’s house. I spent some time explaining to her what had occurred. Then I realized that the “now” was also the way to understand what in ACIM is called the “holy instant,” which I now call “presence.” I asked Catherine if she would like to share the “holy instant” with me. I suggested that we both practice the “nows.” We tried for a while – I felt totally at peace and very present. Catherine however started to shift in her chair and look away with her eyes. Finally she said: “This is very intense.” I got the feeling that she was afraid of being taken over by the experience. We talked about it over tea and then I left for my next stop. I was wondering what had happened – why was the experience difficult for Catherine?

 

cupsNext I drove up the mountain to visit my friends, Dave and Sherry. It was 9AM. They were both sitting at the kitchen table; we greeted one another with hugs. D and S were earnest spiritual seekers, also world travelers. Dave and I were hiking buddies. Although retired, they were very energetic and highly curious. We had had many conversations about spiritual matters. We were not churchgoers. The three of us had been pondering the meaning of the “holy instant” for some time. I told them about my experience and then Dave and I started to practice “nows” together. As we looked at one another I said: “Say and feel the present moment ‘now’ in your body as I do the same.” All of a sudden Dave and I were recognizing one another for the first time! We were experiencing the bond of many lifetimes together. “Welcome back brother,” our eyes and hearts seemed to say. The mirroring of our eyes became a strangely familiar feeling in our bodies. With curiosity we talked with one another about what we were experiencing. Sherry, who was witnessing, said: “This is very profound for both of you.” As we talked from this sharing of presence, the strangely familiar feelings kept coming over us. I left Dave and Sherry’s, with the knowledge that the “now” was real and could be shared.

galaxyI then met my friend Lynn who had arranged that we climb Mt Constitution in celebration of the Harmonic Convergence. There was great expectation among non-churched spiritual seekers that the so-called Harmonic Convergence would open us up to a state of higher consciousness. She has a healthy skepticism, a joyous inner spirit, and a strong curiosity. We had both done a summer-long intensive, practicing vipassana. I carried our lunch: sandwiches, oranges, and cookies. As we climbed up the mountain, I told Lynn about my experience. The hike was strenuous but pleasant as sunlight dappled the shadows. We came to twin lakes. Cerulean blue dragonflies were lazily skimming the lake surfaces as we ate. Then we climbed to False Summit, a promontory that overlooks most of the Eastern half of Orcas Island. We sat on the cliff top, next to a medicine wheel and meditated.

Mountain View Orcas Island

Mountain View Orcas Island

Later I attended an outside gathering at the Grange Hall. Jessie Loo had been had been in my thoughts all day. I had said nothing to others about her presence in my meditation… but I knew that, in some way, I was sharing this day with her. I would call her in the hospital and tell her about my day. I found a seat in the front row of the gathering to view a locally produced play called “Once in a Blue Moon.”

 

Ruth & Hubert Kidder

Ruth & Hubert Kidder

Next to me sat Ruth and Hubert Kidder, both in their nineties – Quakers since World War II. I was so happy to see them. Ruth leaned over to me and said: “Did you hear about Jessie?” Instantly I realized what Ruth was going to tell me. Jessie had passed away on the eve of the Harmonic Convergence. I replied that I had not heard but that I had felt Jessie’s presence all day and a now I felt a relief that Jessie was free. For almost two years Jessie and I had spent seven hours a day, three days a week together, while I performed her kidney dialysis. Jessie too had a keen spiritual curiosity. A few days after Jessie’s death, Jim, her husband, showed me the last entry in her journal on the HC eve: “Going into the light… ”

IntotheLightI felt very grateful for the gift I had been given, which I still attribute to Jessie Loo. She had known me as fellow seeker. She had passed on a powerful gift. At the time the “nows” just seemed to help me to better understand A Course in Miracles. Little did I realize that the gift I had received would transform my whole life; becoming the main source of my inner teaching and outer actions. I am telling this story because I believe that many of you are experiencing your own versions of this transformation. By revealing more of my inner life, I hope that each of you can start to affirm and live out your own experiences of presencing. I want to pass on the gifts of presencing that were passed on to me. One of these gifts is the realization that “there is nothing to fear.”

Please pass it on.

Blessings. 
     Jack

 

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Healing and Paradox Part II

WhiteFlowers

KrishnamurtiMeeting the Intrinsic, the Healer Inside: We keep looking outside of ourselves for leadership, wisdom, safety, assurance, and ways of ending our fears and suffering. We’re all looking for a life-formula that will assure us. We are looking for those supports in spite of the fact that if we look at life itself we will see that it is eternal. We have various beliefs that range from pessimistic to optimistic outcomes after our bodies die. Some believe that we will receive eternal life in our present state of awareness, and that the “I that is me” ego will be here forever, based on a belief in merit earned or accumulation of Earthly success. There is no evidence that either eternal rewards or eternal punishments are so… yet these are the issues religions fight about.

InnterPeacePresencing Somatics: We find that our direct relationship with creation exists inside of us, not through some outer agency, but through our own somatic awareness. Instead of vainly trying to find a formula for continuing life beyond the body, we can seek and find the evidence of our own participation in eternal life inside ourselves now. As we practice presencing more and more, we start to become aware that we are accompanied inside by a Being that is always with us. Some call this internal Being the “Holy Spirit”, some call it the “Soul”. I call it the Intrinsic one, meaning “always with us” because it is inherent or designed into life itself. We can also call this Intrinsic one the “inner healer”, “inner teacher”, “inner Self”. As we become aware of this “One inside of ourselves”, we recognize that this One knows us totally and loves us totally.

Shared Being: This Intrinsic one we share with all sentient beings… it is individual and personal and intimate, and yet collective, multi-personal, and conjoining. By developing a conscious relationship with this One we find that we are participants in eternal life which is always shared and always in the present. The Intrinsic Being inside of us is eternal. The Gifts of Presence: Love, Meaning, Joy, Purpose, Peacefulness, Gratitude, Co-creation flow naturally from our opening to this most primary relationship we have… with this One inside.

HandsOnMeeting the Intrinsic: How can we experience the Intrinsic here and now? Like a near death experience, once we become consciously aware of our own intrinsic being, we no longer fear death. We start to experience the constancy of this relationship, which is the healthy core of all relationships. The Intrinsic one will never interfere with the ways we choose to live our lives, but if we move towards It, It will always be with us in our internal awareness. How do we reach towards the Intrinsic? We are going to experiment with prayer, as an opening to this relationship. The prayer will come from each one of us in our own way. If we use Psalms as an example, true prayer always comes from personal honesty. In that sense it will always succeed because the One we are addressing knows and loves us totally:

“I speak without conditions to the One who lives in me. I stand in my own ground and I can be perfectly honest, without fear or self-duplicity. I cannot speak falsely because You [One inside] know my heart and do not judge me. As we meet in prayer I learn the freedom of true honesty.”

Joe and wife, Elaine

Joe and wife, Elaine

Personal Healing: Joe has cancerous tumors along his spine. Joe is a very good friend of mine. He is loved by many persons on Orcas Island. Joe is in his 60s and is in very good physical shape. It doesn’t seem possible that Joe may die before that rest of us. He is a very loving man and continually optimistic about life. I am very fortunate to know him and to be loved by him. My friend and partner, Koito and I have trained 20 Orcas Island Odd Fellow men to work in pairs on Joe with presencing and somatics once or twice per week. The men are very happy to do it because before the healing trainings, each had wanted to help Joe, but had felt helpless to do so.

Joe is a spiritual man and has been praying for strength and guidance throughout his ordeal. Joe is very open about his fears of dying… When he is fearful he practices becoming present in his own body. He does not want to die so soon and of course no one else wants him to die. However they are not trying to hold on to Joe or fix his body. All , including Joe realize that these times of healing are precious and unique. They all, look forward to these joinings. During the healing sessions from the men Joe feels full of love and light. After his sessions, he takes a very restful nap. The men know that the healings are mutual sharings of presence. “No one is healed alone.” As would follow from these sharings of presence, the men are witnessing great changes in their own lives… lettings go of fear, changes in their own bodily symptoms, deep appreciations of one another, and gratitude for their own lives. Joe himself has been learning so much from the inner awareness and has been teaching us all by his presence and his loving heart.

Fear of the healing process: Many of us are so afraid to be with someone who is seriously ill or dying that we remove ourselves from the company of those persons. Also persons who are ill tend to feel separated from others in part because they are being invited to withdraw inward. Many, dying persons feel guilty and embarrassed by their situation. Many of us are afraid of keeping company with death. Those of us who are learning to keep company in presence with the ill and the dying are starting to feel the effects of mutual healing… and a sharing of the Intrinsic. What do we discover as we start to look within? We fear that we may find deadly demons of the past lurking in all the dark places. Instead, when using the lights of presence and curiosity, we find that the demons are actually guides and helpers and that the white light of awareness and golden light of clarity become more and more revealed.

Joe's burial Orcas Island

Joe’s burial June 2024
Orcas Island

Post Script: Joe passed away in June 2014 on Orcas Island, WA.

Below is an excerpt from a tribute to Joe:  “Pulling for Joe – Reaching for Joe” by Jack Blackburn
To read the full tribute CLICK HERE

As we were pulling for Joe, he was pulling for us; now we are reaching towards his new experiences

Joe: Alpha and Omega become one and life continues, from form to emptiness, from emptiness to form

At 3:30 am the cock crowed thrice and Joe took his last breath, George’s eyes sparkled, he was there when Joe let go: “Did you hear?”

I came later, in time to commune with Elaine and Joe’s body; we cried and laughed together, we three!

Joe’s face sublime; his hands folded-in puppy dog style; one eye partly open; this waxen Joe was still curious!

Joe: Heaven is here. There is nowhere else. Heaven is now. There is no other time! Do these words resonate?

Joe: Heaven’s challenge is before us every moment; why not now? Form, emptiness, what is the difference?

The waxen Joe gave me an opportunity to bid adieu to my friend of many years, you’re free Joe, Hurrah!

Joe and I shared inner secrets together over the years, starting with revising the Odd Fellow chaplain’s words!

We both knew there was something deeper going on here with these gatherings of men! Heaven’s now?

What do you say to dying persons? Dora Kunz: “I tell them they are dying, so they can heal their lives.”

This is one of the inner secrets that Joe and I shared: “You are dying Joe; bring us home with you.”

Joe brought all of us into “healing his life;” men were changed; men could admit their fears; and heal!

Now we are all reaching for you Joe; we confidently reach into our own emptiness; heaven’s gate.

In Friendship, Love, and Truth;
Jack Blackburn 2014

JoeFuneralJune2014two

Joe’s burial June 2014 Orcas Island

Healing and Paradox Part I

HealingWholenessOur mistake is equating healing with symptomatic relief; whereas true healing is the realization of life. In healing we move into the embrace of what life really is. Life is not the short time we spend in the body, life is eternal and un-separated.  Healing is a process of moving into the eternal and un-separated. In practical terms healing is joining or embracing the ones we perceive as “others.”

What do we mean by “healing?” Healing means “hale” (whole).  But we know that life in a body is fraught with difficulties. Even the most “healthy” persons experience illness and deterioration. So healing must have a deeper meaning. If we focus on symptomatic relief, we know that symptoms return… if we focus on creating happiness, we recognize that happiness is not based upon our own happiness alone… but includes the happiness of those around us… If we think that healing comes from others we miss the opportunity to connect with our own healing process inside… so there is something else we are missing: Healing has to be a process that accompanies us throughout our lives and that is there in the best times and is there in the worst of times and is even there as we take our last breath. But what is the process?

When they are dying, I tell them they are dying so they can heal their lives.

Dora van Gelder Kunz

Dora van Gelder Kunz

~Dora van Gelder Kunz Originator of Therapeutic Touch, 1993 interview with Jack Blackburn

Healing as a sharing of presence Christos (collective human consciousness). In true healing there is always the possibility of reversing roles because both persons are being healed. This is a very important point:

No person is healed alone, healing is always a two way process.

First Photo Taken of Earth

First Photo Taken of Earth

For many the first photograph of the whole Earth represented wholeness, a sharing of the Christos… our collective species consciousness, a significant change in humanity’s conception of itself… the oneness unity and finiteness this picture evoked offered us the possibility of inclusiveness as a species. We are earthbound in more ways than one… all life forms are composed of recycled earth, air, and water. Our concept of healing has to take this recycling of finite earthliness into account; we all die and all forms on Earth are recycled so the healing of life cannot mean attachment to the forms of life. We are starting to realize that life itself is eternal, that our essence is formless and can put on innumerable forms. We are babes of consciousness observing the interaction of our own earthly home.

BodyThe Body: Our bodies are designed to repair and heal themselves. All bodies wear out and the healing mechanisms break down… we can then give them the support they need to continue the healing processes. The person that lives in the body also at times needs support. The key to self-healing is to learn to join with the healing processes of the body. In somatics we learn to feel what is happening in the body sensorialy, and then use those senses to guide our consciousness to join with those processes. This is healing for both the body and the mind because it is an act of joining rather than pulling away in fear. The healing is an act of presencing, because we are feeling what is occurring now in the present moment.

Healing can be considered a truly democratic movement. Finding self-healing methods that can be shared with others points to the possibility that the Implicit, (eternal Being within each person)is shred in presencing. This is similar to the Mahayana Buddhist tradition of conscious beings choosing to reincarnate over and over until all humans awaken. Teaching and learning Reiki and other healing systems thus becomes a democratic way pointing to self-healing and sharing of healing… ending the concepts of separation and specialness and creating oneness and the ending of fear.

DrBobBarnsUnique Healer: When Dr. Robert Hardy Barnes retired from medicine and became a hospital chaplain, he realized for the first time that doctors hide behind an impervious mask of authority. When he removed his stethoscope and wore the chaplain badge, no one paid attention to him. He was helping people face death and loss, a realm he had never entered before. He realized that as a doctor he was not dealing with death. In fact he was fighting the patient’s symptoms until it was obvious that “death had taken over.” At that point he would remove himself from the patient: “I’m sorry but there is nothing else we can do medically.” The patient and the family then came under the purview of the chaplain. Bob realized that doctors perform medicine to hold onto the body and not to heal the patient. The doctor, with rare exceptions, has not confronted the fact that everyone dies, even medical authority figures.

TheGoodDoctorBob developed a course for the UW Medical School called: “Why Doctors Fear Death.” He himself started doing the work of accompanying dying patients, especially doctors, and helping them to heal their lives and their sense of failure. He found that when doctors develop symptoms themselves, they feel guilty. They do not want their patients to know they are ill, and when they are dying, they hide themselves away. Bob came to the sense that personal honesty is the best course in dealing with issues of guilt and failure. He wrote a book called: The Good Doctor is Naked, and he chose to live the rest of his life in humor and honesty… and free of guilt. I was lucky to know him and to witness his own personal healing.

Reiki_Healing_auraExperiencing eternal life through the temporal body: Ask ourselves: Can we use the body which we know will die to reach a “true knowing” of eternal life. We feel the sensations in our bodies and then start to create interactions with those sensations using proprioceptive awareness… breathing into, touching into, moving the feeling, feeling the shape, intensity, warmth, increasing-decreasing…We follow presencing more and more into layers of inner knowing and see if we can discover a secret truth. We have to enter a state of deep presence in order to experience the qualities of eternal now, one of which is mu, or emptiness. As we interact with our bodies in these ways, we become aware that life does not depend upon form. As we perceive mu, we also enter a state of living awareness. Our temporal body gives us the knowledge that life is always now.

Do not be afraid to look within… bringing the light of awareness into all the dark recesses, cells, and  catacombs hidden behind seemingly thick doors of fear and ignoranceCourseInMiracles

~From: A Course in Miracles

 

 

Just Enough in Practice Part II

Just Enough II

Dear Ones ~ This is the second half of “Just Enough in Practice” – Part One was published previously – you can view it by clicking HERE
~ Blessings, Jack

"What if......?"

“What if……?”

When we engage with our clients’ somatic awareness… less is truly more: Somatic awareness comes from attending to our experiences through our internal senses. When we ask clients what they are feeling inside most cannot tell us. Why is this so… because our minds are preoccupied with other concerns. We react to our symptoms rather than interacting with them. The reaction comes from fear and overlays the body’s natural signals with fearful messages. Even though our bodies have repaired themselves countless times, we reject that data and focus on the “what ifs.” “What if it is cancer; what if it becomes infected; what if I am now permanently disabled or disfigured; what if I cannot work any longer; what if my insurance runs out, what if they find that I’m at fault?” Interacting with the symptoms directly is an alternative to fear and produces less suffering. When we teach our clients to “barely attend” to the messages coming from their bodies the first thing that happens is that they become less fearful. Next they enter a parasympathetic state of awareness, which allows more blood flow and relaxation of tissues. Next they enter a state of presencing which allows them to join with their bodily healing processes, letting the body digest the fearful stimuli so that the healing is also a forgetting of trauma.

Buddha_closeup“How little can you do:” The term “bare attention” occurs in Buddhist meditation training. It is an internal application of “just enough.” It means not reacting excessively to anything that occurs. But “bare attention” also implies a basic trust in a life of balance and peace. If we practice presence when we work with our clients we are giving them the same messages: We trust them to live their lives fully and in accord with their own destiny. If they are complaining about their lives or what has happened to their bodies, we meet them with compassion and teach them to trust in life. And most importantly, we help them digest the fears that are causing their suffering. We apply the “just enough” approach so that they become directly involved in their own healing. By doing so we are teaching trust in life as well as full participation in whatever is occurring. At the same time we are opening them into direct dialogue with their own “internal Healer,” which emerges directly out of self-presencing.

Somatic DoorwaysSymptoms as “somatic doorways”: Normally the conscious mind tries to avoid areas of discomfort. The tightness that forms around the injury site causes its own symptoms, i.e. limited motion, stiffness, achiness. This is a natural protection against further injury and when we try to move against the guarding we receive further discomfort. It takes a certain amount of time for the body to repair itself. But in the pushiness of our modern lifestyles we neither want the discomfort, nor have the time for the rest required for the normal healing mechanisms to occur. So we mask the pain and sometimes put an artificial restraint around the wounded area. Long after the body has repaired the injury we still experience pain and lack of movement. The somatic doorway is to go directly into the discomforts and limitations without causing further discomfort. There are a variety of ways the practitioner can create this kind of intervention. The most important element is the conscious interaction with the symptoms by the client. In other words, we create a “safe haven” for the client’s explorations. We can alter the symptoms mechanically but this often creates more pain for the client, can re-injure the area, and also supports the client’s weakening of somatic awareness.

Deane Juhan

Deane Juhan

Gamma Sensory: Deane Juhan (author of Jobs Body) talks about how the gamma sensory motor system, based in the autonomic nervous system, splints and limits an injury site. This limiting and lack of feeling is also receiving impulses from the conscious mind: “Don’t hurt, don’t feel.” When a trauma happens we limit sensory access to that part of the body. So the way we can create direct access by the client’s conscious mind into the area is to create pain-free positioning and encourage the client’s curiosity to interact – proprioceptively, or neuro-muscularly, within the guarded region. We use our own palpation skills and verbal accompaniment to encourage the clients to interact “just enough” so that their somatic awareness is increased. When this happens, the small safe interaction by the client produces change. The practitioner can then follow any kind of softening and warming into a pain-free movement of the area. So the client plays a major role by steadily increasing somatic awareness of the area until there is restoration of movement and greatly reduced anxiety of further pain. The settings in the gamma sensory motor system that were created to protect access and movement are reset during this process and both client and practitioner can feel the changes.

Foot Work llProfound: There is a “just enough” engagement between our touch-presence and the client’s inner engagement. The client comes in cautiously with feeling awareness to test the effects of the interaction. When those interactions are met by more and more freedom of movement and less and less pain, the client responds with more trust of the process. So what starts out as bare attention becomes a greater acceptance of the somatic process. These changes can be felt by both practitioner and client. The practitioner started the process by giving the client “just enough” stimulus to start the interaction. By working in this way the practitioner is able come in “under the protective radar” of the conscious mind which has avoided and even feared direct sensory access to the region. We are working with the client’s sensitivity and gently building trust for the process. The releases that happen are guided by the body and do not result in re-injury. A small example: Release of sacral tuberous ligament tightness works best with bare tactile stimulation by the practitioner and bare engagement by the client. Whole Anatomy Trains structural patterns and connective tissue can be approached in this way: “Barely breathe into or barely touch my fingers from the inside of your tissue. I can now feel you coming in. Now touch my fingers as lightly as possible from inside. That’s it. Notice what you are feeling inside as I remove my hands.” In this way the practitioner is guiding the client into an awareness of her own healing response.

Just Enough in Practice – Part I

LIvingSimplyJust Enough: “Just enough” is a term that has been used to describe engagement with life that is mutually beneficial to humans and nature. When we take just enough to supply our needs we maintain balance with the rest of life. When we work just enough to provide our sustenance we allow space for others in the work force and more space for our own amusements. When we save just enough to get us through a fallow period we have less spoilage and more opportunity for sharing with others. When we touch the Earth lightly we are constantly rewarded with the beauties and surprises of co-creation. When we support others in their self-discoveries and expressions of their gifts and skills we create a richness in life that is beyond any other rewards. When we observe and learn from nature we become wiser and much less fearful. Presence and gratitude emerge from all of these choices of living lightly. The primary obstacle to all of these choices is fear. The messengers of fear tell us we will never have enough, be enough, see enough, or make enough. Presencing is the antidote to fear.  In our work with touch we can also be aware of using “just enough” physical and sensory information with clients to create powerful changes. We can work in somatic partnership with our clients to support the body’s healing apparatus. We do not have to overwhelm the body’s defenses or create a sympathetic response.

Students1Reaching towards one another: The basis of this, the first of two articles (Part II will be posted next week), is that when client and practitioner both feel into the same part of the client’s body, both become consciously aware of tissue changes. They also can feel one another’s conscious awareness through direct sensory interaction. In this sharing of sensory information each person is brought into presence… because the conscious interaction of awareness is occurring in the present moment. Owing to the mutual presencing, some quite surprising things occur. There is a palpable flow of healing energy back and forth. And when either person uses proprioceptive impulses to modify the interaction the other person feels the results. And surprisingly, the intent to reduce the amount of proprioceptive content produces a much stronger impulse for the other person. For instance the practitioner can feel the client breathing into the practitioner’s hands on a part of the body; when the client changes her attention to just barely touch the practitioner’s hands from inside her body sensory awareness, the practitioner receives a huge jolt of energy and feels a profound tissue release from the client. We are exploring the internal dynamics of this interaction… there seems to be a felt sense of “just enough” connection between both persons to create an interaction of consciousness in a realm of increased sentience.Serene

Creating a meeting place of shared experience: In order to create such a meeting place between both persons, at least one of them has to be somatically aware of presence in his/her body. This awareness is shared by a calling into presence. When the practitioner asks the client to “feel into”, “breathe into”, “touch into”, “expand into” a place that is being touched, both persons start to experience the liminal feeling of meeting in presence. The signs of presence start to occur, clear signals of joining or sharing presence: stillness, silence, timelessness, no thought, and mu or emptiness. It is important that the one initiating the exchange use “just enough intent to meet,” so that neither person is overwhelmed by the experience. We can choose a feeling of “reaching towards,” gently and with great willingness to “underwhelm rather than overwhelm.” Consciousness is perfectly capable of such discernment of purpose.

FootWorkMeeting in presence: It can be a “felt sense”, or proprioceptive, or interoceptive experience and it can happen in any part of the body. The same can be true of motor nerve interactions. Rather than having a client push through his/her own resistance, we can ask the client to barely feel into places of her own bodily defenses and initiate just enough neuromuscular engagement to match what she feels coming from the practitioner. In such an approach the client is witnessing her own patterns with bare attention. For instance if we feel into the contracted tissue that is protecting a recent injury while the body is repairing the tissue, we barely initiate a muscular action, that may relieve some of the limitation and speed up the repair process by sensing and joining in with sentience or somatic awareness and increasing blood flow and relaxation. We may feel much warmth and softness come into the repair site.

Reiki2When we engage the client’s somatic awareness very surprising things can happen: We can use gentle tapping, decompression, distraction, verbal coaching, and narration to help clients engage into their own internal sentience. Almost as soon as the client barely engages, we feel great changes in the tissue. When we first palpate the defensive contractures around an injury, we become aware that the client has little sensory awareness in that body part. When we draw clients’ conscious awareness into the defensive contractures and support their delving with our own conscious presencing of the area, something changes. The client goes into a parasympathetic response, drawing deeper and deeper breaths, relaxing the tissue and experiencing warmth and pleasance. The more this happens the more the practitioner is able to follow the waves of change in the tissue. The more the practitioner encourages the client to feel into the experience, the more completely the tissue restores itself to the state of tonus prior to the injury.

FaceMassage1When we guide and feel a client’s somatic awareness into symptom, we are involved in changing the client’s mind: The symptom becomes a source of curiosity rather than fear. “What are the sensations; can I feel the shape of the lesion; where are the sensations the strongest; what happens when I breathe directly into them; what do I feel when the practitioner taps the painful tissue; can I increase the sensations; can I decrease the sensations; what can I feel when the practitioner decompresses the guarding tissue; what do I notice when the practitioner asks me to describe the sensations?” As the client responds to these interior probings with curiosity the tissue is responding parasympathetically.

Pointing Towards Supervision: Tao of Supervision Part II – UPCOMING SEMINAR

table_candleIn the I-Thou relationship, human beings are aware of each other as having a unity of being. In the I-Thou relationship, human beings do not perceive each other as consisting of specific, isolated qualities, but engage in a dialogue involving each other’s whole being. In the I-It relationship, on the other hand, human beings perceive each other as consisting of specific, isolated qualities, and view themselves as part of a world which consists of things. I-Thou is a relationship of mutuality and reciprocity, while I-It is a relationship of separateness and detachment.

~ Martin Buber, Austrian-born Israeli Jewish philosopher

UPCOMING SEMINAR
The Benefits of Supervision: Evening Seminar with Genjo and Jack
Date TBD

JackGenjo

Jack Blackburn & Genjo Marinello

Jack Blackburn and Genjo Marinello have been providing training and writings about different kinds of professional supervision for many years, both together ands separately. Find out more….

In my writings, I have dealt with many issues that affect bodyworkers, clients, and community. I have dealt with issues that stem directly from clients’ bodies in order to help them grow in conscious awareness. I own here that it would have been impossible for me to write those articles, or even teach the classes that I have taught without the many types of supervision I was receiving at the time.

psychiatristHere is some background. Much more is available on my website. When I was told in graduate school that I would be required to receive various types of supervision, I was appalled! Like the letter I quoted above, I had resolved never to go back to corporate America… never to have somebody tell me what to do.

What I found was completely different. The supervisors I worked with helped me with many of the dilemmas I faced in working with clients, challenged me to design my own goals and achieve them, helped me to start sharing experiences of my inner life for the first time, helped me work through many of my childhood issues, helped me define my practice of body-centered, client-centered spiritual direction and bodywork. In short they helped me to know myself.

Sixteen years later I am still drawing  upon those sharings and in one case am still working with the same supervisor. I can unquestionably say that those sessions changed my whole life. I was supported by those individuals in every way possible and to reach further in my life than I ever thought possible.

As a profession, bodyworkers are now facing the prospect of required supervision. Some on the massage board may be concerned that, without adequate oversight, bodyworkers could be susceptible to moving beyond their depth of training and “scope of practice.” Some in the community may advocate that the real reason for supervision is so the supervisor can provide answers in the form of advice and guidance to the practitioner. This corporate view of supervision misses the point that for supervision to work it must appeal to practitioners and empower their growth.

fob_circleIn my ethics classes (Ethical Dilemmas in Bodywork) I have introduced concepts of peer supervision so that practitioners can create peer groups for discussing their own ethical dilemmas and other professional concerns. The core process of peer supervision is about listening without prejudicial responses, and not about offering advice. Peer supervisors are there for one another, as friends and as colleagues, to offer the support of listening and witnessing.

“Listening into Being,” a phrase borrowed from spiritual direction, means that when we are truly listened to, we are enabled to hear our own inner truth. In my own teaching of supervision I lead groups and individuals through a process of silent listening, which means to listen to another without responding with affirmation or repudiation. This is a basic starting point for learning true supervision.

Even something as simple as asking a question can be a form of giving advice or offering approval or disapproval. So it is an important first step to practice silent listening. Silent listening allows supervisor trainees to hear the chatter of their own minds… called “metathought”. Until we practice silence, we stay unaware of how much we are listening to ourselves rather than others. It can take a long time of practicing silent listening until we become comfortable with the silence of no-thought, one of the signs of presence.

As a profession we bodyworkers can provide that kind of support for one another. Our work is probably the most intimate of all forms of caregiving. As we accompany clients over the years we are witnessing for their changed relationships with their bodies. We are addressing the instrument of their livingness, the body, in a caring and affirmative manner. If we journey with them long enough we may witness their transition towards less physical and more spiritual existence. As we change, our bodies change, our work changes, it is very helpful to have our friends and colleagues witnessing for us. As we recognize those changes within ourselves, we start to recognize that our supervisory relationship is one of the deepest relationships we will ever have.

Jack Blackburn's Focus Group 2010

Jack Blackburn’s Focus Group 2010

 

~Jack Blackburn © 2010

Jack Returns to Seattle May 26th – CE Classes May to August 2014

Jack Blackburn Returns to Seattle on May 26th, 2014

Jack Blackburn Returns to Seattle on May 26th, 2014

BEOL_hands_squareMaturing our profession: Two months ago I wrote that our upcoming classes (in Seattle) would include seminars on peer supervision, palliative care, body-centered verbal interaction Focusing and Table Talking, and on-going meditation for bodyworkers. At the time I mentioned that I had recent conversations with colleagues about maturing our profession. As the class schedule will show, I really believe that it is time to consider what we have learned from 30 years of professional bodywork and where we see our profession going. There are plenty of examples of dumbing down the profession by certain massage schools and shopping center salons. On the other hand many practitioners have formed associations with other professional caregivers and are starting to incorporate aspects of those professions into their work with different touch-centered approaches. Also we are doing more research and publishing about leading edges of touch therapy like fascia studies, client somatic awareness, different arenas of the work like palliative care, lymphatic work, and direct client involvement in their own healing.

FaceMassage1What are your thoughts? The upcoming supervision seminars offer opportunities for you to meet with colleagues to not only discuss different kinds of difficulties you have encountered but also to discuss openly the kinds of changes you would like to see for our profession. As we have each grown as professional caregivers we have shifted the ways we work with our clients. Some of these shifts have come from new techniques we have added to our practice, and from accumulated experience we have garnered from our sessions. Some things work; some things don’t work. Some clients make dramatic changes in their lives and bodies; some clients seem to remain in the same situation over the years. How have you refined your work over the years; how have you taken care of yourself over the years? What about spiritual aspects of the work we do? I ask this because even though we may be giving what is called deep tissue or “direct” work, we notice that our clients seem to be opening up a spiritual awareness as they receive bodywork over time.

FlowerBowl3Not superficial: Bodywork is not superficial! Many of us realize that bodywork may be changing the way that humans perceive one another as well as the ways that we are living our lives. I have had the advantage of witnessing these changes in two different cultures: Japan and the United States. One of the things I have learned over the years is that everyone is capable of having an inner life in which their awareness becomes capable of feeling their body sensations accompany inside what is occurring their outer experiences; and this ability opens them up to a self-knowledge that is very transforming; they are “remembering now.” This experience of presencing their lives, their own destiny, and their own inner guidance is a gift of body awareness. When the client becomes adept at somatic awareness it is a profound start in the direction of spiritual awakening. It is perplexing that we can struggle for years to feel peace and love inside, but as long as we are dominated by our mind’s thoughts it seems impossible to let go of a constant state of anxiousness. And yet the simple act of paying attention to the body sensations brings us directly into presence, and lack of fear. This is one of the gifts we can offer our clients. It is ironic and amazing that the body, just like all the other forms in our lives, is impermanent and yet it can bring us directly into an awareness of the eternal now! I have even used this technique with dying clients who seem to undergo a profound inner transformation!

CLICK HERE for the Trillium USA Class Schedule

 

~I hope that you can join with us! Blessings from Jack

 

Home of Trillium USA 5762 27th Ave NE, Seattle WA 98105

Home of Trillium USA 5762 27th Ave NE, Seattle WA 98105