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Christine Jensen : Trauma and Awakening

An interview by Renate McNay

RN: Hello, and welcome to Conscious TV. My name is Renate McNay, and my guest today is Christine Jensen. Hello Christine. Christine specialises in trauma resolution work, and we’re going to talk about trauma in spirituality, and why trauma is a way to fully awaken, and we’ll also hear Christine’s own story of awakening. Thank you for coming.

CJ: Thank you for having me Renate.

RN: So Christine, your life started with a big trauma, or drama. Would you like to tell us what happened?

CJ: Well, I was brought up in Australia, and my mother...

RN: In the outback.

CJ: Yeah, yeah, way in the outback of Australia. We didn’t have any roads, there were no street lights, no telephone. When my mother was pregnant with me, she had a serious fall, and started to haemorrhage. She was probably about seven or eight months pregnant with me. Of course I don’t have a memory of this, of course we were living remotely, and my father was working as a geologist, away. So she was on her own. She propped herself up with some cushions. We had a very faithful dog at the time, and she tied a note to his collar, and said “Paddy, go and get help”. Our nearest neighbour was about two miles away, so Paddy faithfully trotted off. Our neighbour had a telephone, and rang, and the doctor came.

RN: So he went to the neighbour, who took the note...

CJ: Yeah. Paddy was a kelpie which was a very loyal type of dog - its one reason I so love dogs - so the day was saved and I’m here to tell the tale. I think if he hadn’t taken that note, then my mother probably would have died. I do feel that, that experience has actually coloured my life, or certainly the beginnings of my life, the beginnings of my spiritual journey.

RN: So how did it colour your life?

CJ: Well...

RN: You said in your notes, “it’s the very thing that set you on your spiritual path”.

CJ: I would say so. One of my earliest memories was when I was as young as three or four; I used to tie my arm to the bed post, and put my hand up. I thought if I can keep my hand and arm up for long enough, God will touch my hand. I had a feeling of I wanted to get back home. I wanted to go back to the angels. I have a sense in that in almost dying, and my mother almost dying, that I was almost taken back, because my mother almost died. That feeling, that sense of wanting to go home then, was so strong, that it played out in my early life. It set me on a quest to find the divine, I suppose, something that was bigger than me.

RN: So did you as a child have some kind of sense what that home was about, what it means?

CJ: I just knew there was something out there, that was bigger than me. And that it was something that we all would return to me. Some how it was holding me. Some how it was holding me.

RN: And you were also close to nature.

CJ: Yes, yes.

RN: And you loved watching the stars?

CJ: Yes.

RN: And you said you only understand now how important that was – your connection – and how important that is for all of us, the regulation and harmony of our nervous system.

CJ: Yes, very much so... Very much so.

RN: Can you say more about that.

CJ: I think we entrain from the earth itself. In other words, there is a pulse that comes from the earth. Its actually been measured in hertz. And we can take this pulse, this pulse comes through our bodies, and helps harmonise and regulate our nervous systems. I know that as a child climbing trees, and looking at the stars – my father (as a hobby) was an astronomer, and he built a huge telescope, and we used to spend summer evenings outside on the ground, looking at the stars. So I think we absorb this from nature itself really. The sky, the stars, the earth, water, fire, all the elements were there.

RN: Do you think that most humans don’t feel the pulse anymore, because we are so disconnected from nature, we get more and more paranoid?

CJ: I’m sure of it. I’m sure. In my work as a trauma therapist I see more and more people who are very dysregulated. They are cut off form a sense of connection with others, and with the earth itself. In fact, I’m a good one for giving homework, sometimes I say go and stand barefoot on the earth, half an hour a day. Literally they are sucking up negative ions from the earth, and this can help stabilise their nervous systems. These are kind of old ways that we’ve forgotten about. We tend to think this is not so valid, but it really is.

RN: I remember my grandmother, she would take her, she would take her slippers and shoes off in the morning, and she loved walking when the grass was still damp from the night. That was her healing path, her meditation.

CJ: Yes. There is enough research that’s been done to show that we actually absorb these negative ions, and they have an effect on regulating our nervous systems. So, I was a great one for nature.

RN: So, and then what happened when you were twenty years old, you got involved in a religious movement...

CJ: Yes...

RN: ...A cult. And you were saying you took on a lot of religious dogmas, can you tell us how that was for you, and how you ended up in this cult.

CJ: Actually…

RN: Were you still in Australia?

CJ: Yes, I was. I was a seeker, what I would have called a seeker, and I still do, seeking some connection with the divine. We can go back to the pregnancy and my mother as the starting point… But anyway I was looking for something that would help me connect, so I though ok, maybe I need a teacher. I was in a little health food shop one day, and there was a poster giving details of a talk that was being given, and there was a picture of a woman’s face who ended up being my guru, and it kind of jumped out at me, and I took this as a sign – ok I’m going to go and check this out. I went to the meeting, and had what I would have said at the time, a very strong spiritualist experience. I felt that my heart opened. I felt a connection with this group, and with this woman. I thought, hey this is it, I’ll join, so I did. And I was a very loyal member. I believed that this was the path to try and help emancipate humanity, which was quite a big thing to believe in your early twenties, but I took it seriously, and so did everybody else who was in the group.

RN: How big was the group?

CJ: It was kind of small in Australia, but it was a worldwide group at the time, practising all over the world. It was quite small but very sincere.

RN: What kind of things did you do there?

CJ: We meditated daily. Socially it was a very beautiful, well held group. I believe we’re herd animals, us humans, and we like to connect with others. This became my community really, I thought of these people as my brothers and sisters. We met regularly. We felt it was really important to spread the word. And of course, if you believe this is the path that’s going to bring the whole of humanity back to God, then you get pretty enthusiastic, about spreading the word.

RN: So which kind of dogmas did you take on?

CJ: I suppose I believed that the guru was God, and so everything that she said was truth. There were times when I questioned or doubted some of the truths, but I thought hang on a minute, but she is God and I’m a human being. So any doubts that I had or questions showed that I’m not advanced, obviously as she was. So I would quieten those doubts down. There was one practice that we had… there was a belief that eating a lot of white sugar would cleanse the liver…

RN: Oh really?

CJ: ... And that we think too much and therefor our livers were over activated, so we needed to have a lot of white sugar. Now looking back that seems totally absurd, but if I think we look at it in terms, that we have such a strong instinct and need to belong to a social group, that it actually sometimes it doesn’t matter what those beliefs we take on. We don’t even really question them because we’re gluing ourselves together. So if we have a belief that can separate us from others, so it enforces and enhances the group that we’re in, we’ll buy it.

RN: But you felt really happy there?

CJ: Oh yeah, it ticked a lot of boxes. It was my community, and I had some very strong, beautiful experiences. My sense of devotion – I was a very devotional person, very loyal, I think that was part of my make-up, really. So I think we can become devoted and loyal to something, that is not necessarily very good for us either, but we kind of get off on the feeling of devotion.

RN: So one day I guess it was decided by the guru that you were supposed to marry a disabled man.

CJ: I was invited. There was a wedding list, and we were invited to be on it. We didn’t have to be on it, but as a sign of being devoted, and committed, you would want to do everything that the guru suggested. So, although you didn’t have to, certainly I felt to be a devoted and good pupil, I should go along. And I thought she is God, and God is going to choose me a perfect partner…

RN: So you wanted to be loved by God? (Laughing).

CJ: (Laughing).

RN: So you did everything that the guru said… (Laughing).

CJ: Yeah, yeah.

RN: I guess that was what you were doing.

CJ: Yeah, yeah, I wanted to please. I wanted to please the guru, and she will like me. So here I am. Here’s my free will, I give it all up. And I had a very wonderful marriage too. Yes, he was disabled.

RN: He was disabled, how was that for you?

CJ: Initially, it was wonderful. We have three wonderful children, and we lived in an ashram. That was our own choice…

RN: Still in Australia?

CJ: No this was in England. He’s English, so the arranged marriage… It was decided generally that the woman would move to the country of the man they were marrying. I was in my early twenties, up for adventure, and thought this is great, so I did. And because I was so devoted to the movement, for me in a sense it didn’t matter where in the world I was. I could be anywhere so it was ok, I was still within the wider community

RN: So you had a really beautiful relationship with this man.

CJ: I had a good relationship, and I was part of this beautiful community. Then the doubts crept in, there were certain things that were happening that I wasn’t happy with. The little part, the discerning part that says, hang on a minute, what’s going on here. It was in the background for a little while, and I realised that I was afraid to question. And I thought, hang on a minute, how can I be here, and be afraid, because if I’m afraid of something, I’m holding myself back, and that’s not authentic, that’s not truthful.

RN: And when these doubts started to come up, was there a possibility to talk with someone about it, or were you completely on your own?

CJ: I was with a loving bunch of people, but I can’t remember whether I did talk about it. I think I probably would have felt ashamed about having the doubts, because again, that would have been a reflection on me…

RN: A kind of superego coming in.

CJ: Yeah, yeah. You of kept everything at bay. So I suppose after a while I was feeling less than. I wasn’t feeling authentic, and my heart was closing a little as well. So I thought this isn’t ok, this isn’t right. And I found out then, that my husband had been having doubts for about three years, but he didn’t want to say anything to me, because he felt if he left the movement, then our marriage would dissolve, and he didn’t want that. So we decided to leave together, and then kind of took the plunge.

RN: That was after twelve years.

CJ: Yeah that was after twelve years, yeah, and it was as scary as hell, at first. It was terrifying really, because I felt as though I was losing my beloved community, so that was shocking in itself, and I would say very traumatic. And also I felt there was a possibility of me cancelling my spiritual ticket – which felt, ok if I lose my body, but my God, what if I lose my soul, then that’s it, and what happens then? Eternal damnation.

RN:  So when you said in the ashram that you were going to leave; how did they react?  

CJ: Well, as I said everyone was really loving. They were loving people. All the people who were in it, were in it for the right reasons, and they were very devoted. I think there was a lot of sadness about us leaving, feeling that there would be a separation.

RN: Did they try to follow you, to punish you? Because that sometimes happens.

CJ: No, it wasn’t as dramatic as that (laughing). I think there may have been a bit if a sense that we were having a bit of a holiday, but we’ll be back. And so I went through a bit of chasm really. I didn’t know what to wear.

RN: You had your own uniform in there?

CJ:. No we didn’t but I’d become so entrenched in living in a particular way that to suddenly have no rules and regulations… I didn’t know what the rules and regulations were anymore, so what do we do?  We hadn’t tried to drink alcohol, so my first grown up dinner party in my life, inviting people around, I thought what do you do. People will want to drink. Do I have red wine, or white wine, and what do we talk about, because I can’t talk about spiritual stuff anymore because I’ve left the spiritual group. So there were a lot of doubts, a lot of black holes, and it was quite terrifying. I suppose one thing that kept me going was I thought, if there is a God, and God is loving, then how can I be punished for being authentic. And if it’s that my ego is so huge, and so wrong, well I don’t know that anyway so what am I to do. And then I started to think – I got a bit of fight response,  hang on a minute, this isn’t ok that I’m in this position. I shouldn’t be in this position fearing that I’m going to go to hell when I’m being truthful, as truthful as I can possibly be. So I decided to practise a little mantra. Every day I would go outside and I would shake my fist at God, well at the guru actually and I’d swears. There was a part of me that thought,  you don’t do this. In fact, I actually felt, probably for a few weeks that God was going to send a thunder bolt, and I know it sounds bizarre, but I would go outside. First of all, I would look around thinking, where are the clouds? Is there a thunderbolt going to come and destroy me, and it was terrifying. But then I started to think, if God is going to kill me, it’s going to happen, I’m not going to be able to look behind my back because God’s pretty powerful, I’m going to be destroyed whatever I do or don’t do!  And then I started to think if God is going to send me to hell, then that is going to be a better place then wherever this particular God is that I think is running the show. And at that point I started to feel liberated. Things kind of turned around.

RN: Yes. You said that you felt essential qualities coming or arising inside you. Things that you were actually looking outside of you for.

CJ: Yes. I think when the rules, the regulations, the belief and the dogma, is stripped away, then there is room then for something that is more profound, and bigger than who we are, that can come through. So I did feel stripped. I didn’t know what to believe any more. I didn’t know how to run my life. I had three lovely kids, I was married at the time, but I didn’t have a bigger structure. I didn’t know what that structure would be, or what it was. So in a sense it was like there was nothing, it was almost like I gave up. So at that point I started to think, started to feel that there was something far more real, far more essential that came through. I felt my courage.

RN: You felt very awake.

CJ: I felt very awake, incredibly awake.

RN: And alive?

CJ: Yeah. And free, free and truthful, very truthful. And it was something happening that was beyond my personality, beyond my ego, as well. It’s a bit like standing in a fire, I suppose.

RN: And that all unfolded in quite an intuitive way.

CJ: Yes, it did.

RN: That’s the beauty, and somehow also your logical mind seemed to guide you.

CJ: Yeah, it was kind of on the outside, but I did a lot of reality checking.

RN: So how? What did you do?

CJ: For example, every time I walked outside, and I was serious, I would look for the thunderbolts. And then my logical brain would say, if God is going to kill you off, he’s going do it, whether you look out or whether you don’t. You’re not going to be able to be careful.

RN: He’ll find the moment you’re not looking (laughing).

CJ: Exactly. Exactly (smiling). So ok, just get it over and done with right now.

RN: Take me.

CJ: And then of course, then the realisation, I don’t want to be around a God like that. So said me to hell, it’s going be a better place than hanging out with you (laughing). So the rebellious… I talk about the fight response, fight energy, that came in. I got a bit kind of sassy.

RN: So we’re going to talk about that, because I think you’re working now with women and men who came out of a similar situation

CJ: Yes. I work with people who have been traumatised, who have not been able to contact that fight response. Say for example somebody is being attacked, and instead of coming into a fight response, or the other, the flight response which is running away, they can’t engage, so they go into a freeze response. They get immobilised and frozen. In part of their healing, my work with them is to help them come out of the freeze, and help them to contact this very healthy instinctive animal brain, fight or flight stuff.

RN: Maybe you can tell us a bit about what a trauma is. How does that manifest? What happens in the body through a trauma? I think it was Peter Levine who was one of your teachers?

CJ: Yes. He’s still a bit of a hero. He teaches somatic experiencing which is a trauma resolution therapy.

RN: What I would also like to know is, how did you find this work? What drew you to become a therapist?

CJ: I think it was roundabout 2000, I was doing a cranial sacral course, which was a Buddhist based one, and Franklyn Sills (24:37 the guy who was running it, a colleague of Peter Levine’s, had been trying to get Peter Levine over for some time. The cranial course I was doing had trauma understanding woven into the course. I was already very interested in it, and then I read Peter Levine’s book “Waking the Tiger”, and it made a lot of sense to me. Basically he studied wild animals for a number of years, and he found that, interestingly enough, although they often get attacked, they are in traumatic situations. They don’t have any residual trauma. In other words, they’re attacked, and when the event is over, they can shake out what’s left over, and so they have no symptoms of PTSD, of trauma at all. And 100% of the time, they are in their bodies. They are instinctively aware. They are aware of their instincts. We have a similar nervous system to a wild animal, and look at us, we have so many symptoms of shock, trauma. And it sticks because we haven’t been able to release it from our bodies.

RN: Where does it stick?

CJ: It can stick in the actual physical body. It can show up as symptoms.

RN: Like an illness?

CJ: Like illness, aches and pains, muscular problems. It can also show up psychologically. For example, some people who are traumatised can’t connect with each other. They have lost the ability to feel faith in the world or to feel safe with other people. They lose the feeling, the sense of I’m part of the pack, or part of the tribe, so they may have problems with sleeplessness, or they’re anxious a lot of the time, or they may be depressed. In other words, the instincts have been thwarted, they haven’t been able to engage with these instincts. So my job is to help them release any fight or flight, or freeze energy that is stuck in the system.

RN: And how do you do that?

CJ: Well…

RN: I know how to do it because I’ve experienced it (laughing).

CJ: Maybe it would help if I gave an example.

RN: Yes, it’s always the best…

CJ: Okay. So I saw a woman a while ago who had a very bad shoulder pain all the way down her arm (indicating left arm). She’d had a little fall which had hurt the right side of the body. She’d been to various osteopaths; She’d had a lot of tests done. Any problem on the right had cleared up, but she’d had this problem on the left side that wouldn’t go away. She’d had it for ten or eleven years. She couldn’t move her arm very well, and she also felt a bit stuck in her life. The osteopath had referred me as a trauma therapist to see her, that something wasn’t right, something was being held in her system that may have something to do with trauma. In the first session actually, she was talking about how she had decided with her husband to go through with an abortion. She had grown up children, she was in her middle forties, and there was no way they could afford, nor did they want another child. A huge decision for a woman, or a couple to make. It turned out that just before the operation, when she was waiting to go through, the surgeon came through and sat on her bed, and said “just want to check that you still want to go through with this”, and at that point she froze. She thought I can’t do this. At that moment she couldn’t speak, she was in shock. The surgeon who was writing things down, and fairly busy, took it as a yes. So what we did is we allowed her body to complete something that was very important, that she hadn’t been able to complete. And we did this very slowly, we didn’t do it all at once because, you don’t want to overwhelm people. So we did this over about four or five sessions. And what she had wanted to do, was to put her hand up and say, “No, I can’t do this” (holding hand out palm facing away). What had not been able to be completed in her system was purely this action – pushing the arm forward. I was able to give her a little bit of resistant (holding hand against palm), so she could push the arm, and say the no. Of course it was not just that as well, she had to then feel the feelings, that had shut down in that freeze response – the guilt, the sadness, the feeling of loss. A lot of big feelings there which she had to feel faithfully, and in little pieces. But when she was able to feel that, and go through this motion (palm pushing away), with the arm, probably in four of five sessions, it [the pain] had completely gone. I saw her about a year later and there were no problems at all with the arm and the shoulder. So part of the work is allowing the physical body to complete responses, that it couldn’t have done, which wild animals do all the time.

RN: And you allow that by just giving it space, or how do you allow it, how do you invite the body?

CJ: We know that when we’re dealing with trauma we are dealing with the animal part of the brain; we’re not dealing with the higher brain. Of course that gets involved, it has to, but primarily we’re working with the animal brain. That’s where the fight, flight and freeze is held. The doorway through to the animal brain is through sensation. In other words, what am I feeling? In this particular occasion I started off by saying, what are you feeling in your arm? Of course she knows what she’s feeling in her arm. Also part of the work is allowing the system to build up and have greater resilience, because we have to build up the capacity of the self, as we’re releasing trauma, otherwise it’s too much. [This is done] by inviting her to feel what is being felt in the body. At one point she said, as we were talking about what was coming through the body, through the arm,” I’m feeling very emotional. I’m feeling that something is wrong, and I don’t know what it is”. At this point we didn’t… she didn’t know it was connected with this abortion which was ten years earlier. She had no idea. Her symptoms had been triggered by this fall. So we know that the body is always trying to heal. We have this innate sense that the body wants to heal, and the nervous system wants to come back to a regulated state. So that’s the primary, that’s the core. By inviting her to feel what she needed to feel, and by letting things complete in her system, then her whole system was able to integrate. This of course includes these big feeling.

RN: Then the body starts releasing?

CJ: Yes.

RN: The blocked energy?

CJ: Yes. Sometimes, not all the time, we have something that we call discharge in the nervous system, so with her arm for example, I was able to hold the resistance. She needed to engage with resistance, and then by encouraging her to feel the rest of her body, she felt this tingling, release, this blood flow in the body, so the trauma then was beginning to release. I also had to help her engage with this fight response, that says no I don’t want to do this. I’m not going through this, I’m saying no. So we had to allow that fight response to come through. I sometimes get people up on their feet, and get them to push into my hands to engage this animal, real primal…

RN: Do you find that women find more difficulties to do that than men?

CJ: Surprise, surprise. I’ll tell you what, to this day I have yet to find a woman who is healthy in her fight response.

RN: Really. How come?

CJ: Well, trauma by definition is that our boundaries have been breached, so the sense of self has been breached, somewhere, its been overwhelming (too much, too soon). I think women especially have difficulty in saying ‘no – I won’t’. Alot of women can say 'I can’t’ which is ‘I will keep going, and I will keep going until it’s too much' and then say 'I can’t’ more from a place of weakness, than of will. But to actually stand there and say 'I won’t this needs us to be very aware of our boundaries, and how far we can go, and when we can say no. Also when we say no, when we get in touch with our fight response, there’s often a bit of ugliness. There’s a sneer that comes through. I sometimes get people to do this [sound] – grrrr. As women we’re not… We haven’t been brought up to look ugly (laughing).

RN: No (laughing).

CJ: It’s not pretty. Actually my partner, Bevis (35.27), in my own...(Claiming) my own fight responses and boundaries, he said “look, practice on me, practice on me”. I still have to practice. But I think, getting back to your original question about me in the religious movement, I had to engage with that ‘stuff you’. If you’re God, you can do what you want. Okay I’ll go to hell. So I was claiming this ‘grrr’, this fight response. That’s when we healthily claim the fight response, that’s where our vitality is. We see it in the wild animals, when they engage with the fight and flight, and when the threat is over, and when they’ve released what’s has been left over, there is more vitality.

RN: But you see, the way I see it, you were actually taking responsibility, by saying, no. I won’t do want you want. I think people who say a lot I can’t, don’t you think it has a lot to do with being afraid of taking responsibility?

RN: Sometimes people have asked me, did I get help at the time? I didn’t get professional help. I think it would have been good if I had, but firstly I was in a family situation, in a community situation- this was after I’d left- which held me. I was well resourced I think. I see a lot of people who do not have enough resources, or don’t have the capacity, or resilience. I’ve worked with people who have left countries or left religious groups, and they stay traumatised for a very long time, and they get ill because of it. This is where we need each other. We’re herd animals and we need the support of each other, but for some people who are not as resilient, then their ability to adapt is lessened, because of that, and that’s sad.

RN: Yes. So one thing I’m interested in talking a little bit about, is how trauma not only affects our body and mind, but also our coming home, our awakening. It seems that more and more people are waking up, but it seems they are waking up on a whole pile of trauma, and maybe therefore they are not really able to completely integrate their highest understanding, their highest knowledge.

CJ: I think that’s a good point, a very good point. I think a lot of us, me included, have had mystical experiences, or experiences that turn reality a little, altered states. I think that can be a good thing, but is our container, in other words our body, or our sense of self, is that strong enough, resilient enough, in order for us to hold those experiences and integrate them into the body?

RN: To hold the light. It’s like a different current.

CJ: Absolutely. So if you put a huge current through a small bulb…

RN: It’s like a system that is blocked…

CJ: Or it can blow, hence you get people with psychotic breakdowns…

RN: As we were talking earlier about this kundalini experiences, kundalini arising which is like a thunder bolt.

CJ: It can be.

RN: And if the system is not clean or clear…

CJ: It can’t hold it. And it’s sad …I have seen people have been involved in spiritual paths were there has been altered experience, and they can’t contain it, and there is a split. There is then a split in the psyche, and they may have a lot of physical symptoms. There may be terror as well…

RN: So when you say split, where are they stuck?

CJ: Well I would say there is a split is in the psyche, there can be a psychological split. It’s almost like there are two parts of them, or a few parts. So we know that in trauma, there is often a fragmentation, and the fragmentation can happen within the body, and it can happen also in the psyche. So you’ve got parts of the self that are fragmented and this can show up as severe anxiety, for example - not feeling that you are settled, have the right to be here, that you’re integrated, you’re okay. That fragmentation can be literally terrifying. And then if you hold onto that spiritual truth, and you think, ah this is God for me, this is my connection with the divine, but at the same time you are split, or you’re not grounded, and you don’t feel good, how do you marry that? That can make you more crazy.

RN: And it seems that a lot of spiritual paths seem to emphasise, more the absolute reality, than life, than the body. Then again, there is a split. We want to get into the absolute realities, away from the body, away from life because it’s divine, and not dead.

CJ: Yeah, I think we’ve all got to put our hands in the soil and starting planting cabbages

RN: Yes. There isn’t anything else (laughing).

CJ: This is the container through which we experience the divine (smiling). So the more integrated we are, and in terms of the nervous system the more regulated that we are, then the more we can hold. The more that we can contain.

RN: I had, I might have told you that I had someone here a few months ago, actually a spiritual teacher. He talked very beautifully about the body, and he said, which I absolutely loved “One is enlightened if the nervous system can no longer be swept away by chemical storms inside. Completely calm nervous system, because awakening takes place in the body on a cellular level. And it’s the nervous system that is supporting our awakening”.

CJ: That’s beautiful.

RN: Yes, but that’ seems to be such an endless job, to bring balance into our nervous system,  (laughing).

CJ: I suppose it is. It doesn’t stop moving me the fact that we have this system, this innate capacity to heal. That if we are to … Coming back to this example of this woman with this abortion. Her courage was there; it was like the body knew what to do. I had to guide the process, to follow it, and of course I was tracking her nervous system the whole time, making sure she wasn’t getting overwhelmed, contain the pieces that we did, but her body did it. Her system knew. And to see that, it’s seemingly miraculous to see that unfold. And her ability to feel these feelings –  guilt, regret, sadness, loss- that she had parked. They got stuck, and as she began to feel them, and as this [tapping left shoulder] began to engage with the fight response, then her whole system started to regulate. What does it mean to have a regulated system? It means that we can contain ourselves, and contain more of life, more creativity, more of who we are. I believe quite firmly that someone who can integrate, say loss, as she could, is then able to love more. If we can integrate fear, if we can feel these feelings and have them integrated, then we can be more courageous. We can be more.

RN: We can be more. You also talk about the damage that can be done – we’ve touch a little bit on it already- when we want to meet the divine, the things we try to do to come closer, the experiences, the drugs we are taking, we talked about Ayahuasca earlier, the beauty and the dangerous side if we are not grounded enough…

CJ: Certainly if we are involved in a tradition, we live in a country where there is a tradition, some of these practices… It is certainly not my right to criticise what’s good and what’s not good, I can see in the people that I work with, sometimes, some of these altered states, that have split them. So a lot of it depends on that person’s container, and how big they are, how able they are to adapt. We do want to engage in spiritual practices, with some altered states that is obviously going to happen. We need to sometimes get away from the higher brain, and see things in a slightly different way. And that’s okay, I certainly can’t criticise that. But we have to embody it, we have to bring it back home. This is home.                 

RN: This is home (laughing). That’s beautiful. I know for myself when I started my spiritual path, I had so many spiritual experiences, inside, and I could do all kinds of miracles and things, and I got further and further away from myself, or from this body. I remember Iain had to sometimes take me by the hand and go with me crossing the street. I lived completely in other realms, but then there was the day that I returned to my life, to the body, and that’s very rewarding (laughing). So you’re right, this is home.

CJ: Yes.

RN: So in your daily life now, do you have a practice? How do you stay grounded? Where are you now?

CJ: I think I got to a point where I had to say to myself, my own looking after was more important than the people I worked with. And actually that went really against the grain, because like a lot of people, I feel that I’m here for service, that is through the trauma work this is kind of my path. I’m going to take it to the grave. I love it. But I realised I then had to look after myself more. I couldn’t even say to myself that I’m looking after myself more, so that I can look after other people. There had to be a full stop to that. And the irony was that after I started to look after myself more, then the people I worked with, they felt it.

RN: It benefited them.

CJ: Yes. For example, I’m off on Monday to a retreat in Italy, in Umbria. I went on a similar one last year. It’s called “Nourishing the Heart”. There was a beautiful little practice, a little exercise, that had me in bits, that we had to do where we were invited to put our arms around ourselves like this [hugging herself] and hold ourselves, and to meditate on all the people we felt we have loved, and we had served, whether it was our children, our families, our patients our clients, or whatever, and feel that they were loving us back. “Phew” [exhaling], even now I can feel it. I was in bits, that I was receiving something, and it was very very powerful. For me these kind of experiences where I go off and do something like this, where I open myself to receive. Italy is a good place to do this kind of thing. Lovely vineyards down the road, good Italian food, roses. Being in a nourishing relationship, walking the dog, these normal down to earth things, are ways that I feel I receive, and can help stabilise myself.

RN: Yes. So life is home.

CJ: Life is home.

RN: Finally, you made it (laughing).

CJ: Yes (laughing).

RN: I think that is a beautiful point to stop.

CJ: Oh really, we have to stop?

RN: Yes. Time goes so fast in these interviews. Well it was really great talking to you, and having you here.

CJ: Thank you for having me.

RN: Thank you for watching Conscious TV, and I’m sure I’ll see you again soon. Bye.


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