INHABITING THE BODY AT SEA
I have sailed more than 40,000 miles in a small (35-feet) cruising sailboat on the Pacific Ocean. I grew to crave long ocean crossings (up to 33-days with no land in sight). At sea, nondual consciousness came alive for me because it revealed itself from within the internal space of my body.
“In the Midst of Movement and Chaos, keep stillness inside of you.” Deepak Chopra
There is no stillness aboard a small boat on a large ocean – movement is constant and flows in multiple directions, even when conditions are perfect and the boat sailing at its most comfortable. After a few days out of sight of land, I would come to a place in myself where I felt would give anything, anything at all, if the movement would stop. Stop! Even five seconds. Stop!
Intolerance of movement overwhelmed me; exhausted and desperately struggling, I would break down and give up. Once I finally, unconsciously, let go of the struggle from the depths of my body, a transcendence always would occur – suddenly it felt like everything inside me became still (unmoving) even while our small boat continued to toss in a dozen directions at once.
For the remainder of that ocean crossing, and subsequent out-of-sight of land experiences, my whole body and being became unified as part of an infinite, unchanging, spacious stillness. The ocean awakened an embodied nondual experience inside me. At sea, I found myself living deeper than the movement.
I felt completely whole. As the stillness, I felt connected with but unmodified by all the movement of oceanic life even as the cacophony and beatitude of a small boat at sea flowed everywhere through me. Inside my body, I was undisturbed by, even while intimately engaged with, the movement of the world, of life.
Everything changed whenever I stepped onto land. The chiaroscuro of life engaged my conscious awareness and filled all my experience. I had regularly practiced yoga and meditation since 1974 so was deeply mindful and pleasantly embodied, but on land I no longer felt myself the center of unchanging pervasive space, unified with all life. The movement of life engaged me, and it kept my focus upon aliveness. I had lost the stillness; I could find it in meditation, but it never revealed itself as part of a wholeness disentangled from the movement. Being on land was a constant disappointment.
I retired from sailboat cruising in 2007 and it became urgent to find a way to replicate this nondual experience so significant to me at sea. There’s a lot of time to read while cruising, and my interests had expanded to include nondual thought and meditation. Yet I soon discovered that modern nondual perspectives, like Advaita Vedanta, Vipassana meditation, and the nondual proponents of the Jean Klein lineage, taught that emotions and sensations are an illusion (“maya”) and we need to separate ourselves from them in order to live with no-self in the pure consciousness of the nondual mind.
At sea, I wasn’t separating myself from experience. I was immersing myself in experience and discovering my whole being as the unchanging ground pervaded by all that changes. That’s the kind of nonduality I sought. Besides, in the elevated state of pure consciousness the nondual schools of illusion purported, I knew I couldn’t handle the sails, calculate navigation, or graciously greet South Pacific Island visitors who rowed out to visit us when we dropped an anchor in the protected bay in front of their villages. And that perspective just didn’t make me feel like I felt on those timeless days at sea.
Back on land I explored immersive nonduality, Bhakti perspectives like “love unites us all.” I read Osho, joined a chanting group and then a heart circle, volunteered to serve meals to the homeless. But I found that I needed to give up my individuality to the other (guru, god, partner), and merge with the quality (ground) of love in order to experience nonduality. There always remained a part of me separate from the collective. No matter how much I tried to let go of my unhealthy patterns of relationship, my individuality would assert itself. Giving myself up to anything or anyone, letting go of the essence of me, was not a viable path I was able to sustain.
Even on days when the winds blew relentlessly and we’d reefed down to our smallest sails, on long crossings I felt myself the center of a still, calm presence that pervaded all the chaos. And storms were my experience made glorious because I was the storm and I was also the unchanging consciousness that pervaded it. People used to ask me “Aren’t you afraid on the ocean in a small boat?” Because of this embodied nondual experience, those familiar feelings of fear disentangled themselves from my ground of being and the movement inside me revealed itself as excitement rather than fear.
Inhabiting my body, not as an always changing illusion or merged love, but instead as the internal space that pervades it, seemed to be the key. I explored a variety of embodiment modalities, including ecstatic dance and Kashmiri Shaivism, but they all seemed to focus on becoming the movement, following the flow so that it moves unobstructed. I added Reginald Ray’s meditations to my yoga practice. I danced 5 Rhythms and Continuum, explored the neo-tantra of Source and Sky Dancing, and studied Daniel Odier and the Radiance Sutras.
The Tantra exploration was meaningful, but it aligned me with the movement, albeit the most subtle dimension of the movement of unobstructed pleasure (Lalita). Aligning with the movement was the struggle that I’d needed to transcend on the boat. I had inhabited my body in a such a way that I felt I was the center of all-pervasive unchanging space while life flowed through me in all directions. At sea, I felt unified with a stillness that pervaded me and everything around me. This still space was unbroken by the cacophony of movement. The subtlest Tantra attunements didn’t reveal this unchanging ground of being.
And then I found Judith Blackstone’s Realization Process in 2011. The deceptively simple practices quickly revealed that by inhabiting the whole interior space of my body, I could uncover a tangible experience of my own being as an unchanging still ground that pervaded and unified everything. My long-sought experience on ocean crossings was revealed to be me: I had accessed an unbroken dimension of myself that pervaded my body and all of my environment.
I discovered that embodiment ala Realization Process was different from any other embodiment experience. Inhabiting the body means that I am not just aware of my body, I must include all of my inner experience in my awareness. This requires me to be present within the whole interior space of my body, not just in my mind (or my heart) and to welcome the experience that the space inside (pervading all of my bone, flesh and skin plus my thoughts and emotions) and the space outside is part of who I am, an expression of my wholeness, a subtle dimension of myself unified with the infinite.
Just like when I was on the boat, embodied nonduality feels like am a vast, infinite stillness, centered inside my body, while all the movement of life passes through me without disturbing my attunement to that unchanging pervasive stillness. I am both the stillness and the movement, disentangled.
When I inhabit my whole body, top to bottom, front to back and out through the sides, there’s a subtle sense of fullness, a kind of volume. I can feel myself, my consciousness, my experience, pervading the inside my body. There’s a unity at this depth, what’s outside and inside have a dimension of wholeness, but because I’m settled in the space inside I’m not entangled in any process. The world is happening, and I am fully present, awake and participating, and I’m doing that from inside my whole body. I’m not detached; I’m settled inside and grounded in the unchanging aspect of beingness.
Realization Process opened for me the experience I had on long ocean crossings: I was stillness unified with everything inside, as well as outside, my body. At sea, each moment I was the center of vast unchanging space pervading my body so exquisitely that I was the stillness. On land, as this unchanging ground of being, my experience and my consciousness reveal themselves as disentangled from the movement that flows through and all around me. I think and feel and sense simultaneously, as one wholeness. All experience, my perceptions, thoughts, emotions and sensations, flow through me without altering the steady, unchanging pervasive experience of the transparency of nonduality.
Thinking and feeling and sensing simultaneously is exactly how that transcendent experience felt aboard my sailboat. Often, the wind vane kept the sails on steady course through South Pacific Tradewinds. As day after day at sea unfolded, I was consistently present inside my body, mind and heart, serene, fully awake. I experienced the flow of clouds and ocean, boat and body, tasks and thoughts as a simultaneous, integrated and integral part of my wholeness. This movement of all life never disturbed the feeling of being, at the core of myself, the unchanging space that pervades infinitely.
The Yoga Heart Sutra relates “form is emptiness, emptiness is form.” So often in translated nondual teachings I hear that saying interpreted something like “Nothing is permanent. All life is change, not the true reality of unchanging emptiness. Therefore, emotions and sensory perceptions are simply maya, an illusion.”
Out there on the ocean, the Heart Sutra wasn’t about illusions. “Form is emptiness, emptiness is form” exactly described my perceived experience: all movement (form) was permeated by (and therefore made of) an unchanging unified transparent “ground.” My direct seeing, “bare perception,” revealed everything around and in me as both transparent (emptiness) and substantial (form) at the same time. Nothing was an illusion. Everything existed as an infinite wholeness: stillness and movement, unified yet disentangled. My experience at sea was an essential nondual awakening.
Embodied Nonduality (via Realization Process) makes it possible for me to live on land, in and of the world, with all its engaging sensations, emotions, and thoughts, and also live fully awake in nondual consciousness with my own wholeness of being as the center of a felt experience of infinite unchanging spaciousness. When I live within the inner, nondual space of my body and feel the fullness and volume of myself settled within my internal depth, I am able to embrace all life experience just as I did during my years of ocean adventures: engaged and alive and whole.
Hello! I'm Candace Cave
RP Senior Teacher/Teacher Trainer
I guide people to embody wholeness of being using the portals for transformation offered by Realization Process.
I know what it's like to feel merged, overwhelmed, & disconnected from my body, other people, & my environment.
I know what it's like to feel entrapped by thoughts, emotions, & sensations spiraling in a cesspool of pain & memory.
I know what it's like to feel physical pain so intensely & for so long I'm not sure I want to carry on.
Realization Process helped me successfully transform & integrate all of that carried trauma & pain. I feel whole. I walk with grace.
I teach this seemingly simple, powerfully transformative method based upon my years of study & RP practice, my own experience, & that of my students.
For me, the journey to wholeness of being continues to be profoundly transformative. My interest is to support others as they unfold their own transformative journey. I'd be delighted for you to travel the pathway to awakening along with me.
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"Candace is an exceptional Realization Process teacher. She brings years of dedicated training and experience in the Realization Process, as well as her own gifts of sensitivity, perception and compassion to her work. I am delighted that she is teaching, and I highly recommend her."