Back in the 90’s, Judith Closson attended a class at Esalen Institute led by George Leonard and Michael Murphy. This led her to the Mill Valley ITP group, CITP, and the beginning of new outlooks about life. “In general, I live consciously in a state of much more awareness,” says Judith.
How did you become involved in ITP? And are you currently a member of any ITP group?
In the mid to late ‘90’s I enrolled in a week-end class at Esalen Institute with George Leonard and Michael Murphy. It was wonderfully inspiring, of course, and after inquiring, I was encouraged to contact an ITP group in Mill Valley. I did so and was on my way to an emboldened, uplifting, and more balanced and centered experience of living my life.
Within your practice, what insights have you experienced that have made the biggest impact in your daily life?
Presence!!....within and without. An increased awareness of what is going on inside, outside, and all around. This has come about through seeing and learning from my teachers, friends, and colleagues. I saw intentions being created to manifest Joy and Love within circles of family, community, and our larger world and universe. So, when I’m at the grocery store now, I notice who’s behind the counter, and we interact. That came about as a direct result of an ITP class many years ago.
What ITP practice resource/exercise/quote has been most helpful in your transformative journey?
There are two quotes within the practice that I try to use regularly as I go about my day:
- "My entire being is balanced, vital and healthy.”
- “Ground, Relax, Aware, Center, Energize,” as George Leonard would say.
Another helpful one that came to me through The Life We Are Given is from Sri Ramakrishna, “The winds of grace are always blowing, but we have to raise our sails.”
The above-mentioned #1 and #2 bring me back into my body and out of my head when my emotions may have taken over. To have such resources as these quotes, when accompanied with the breath, I am returned to a place of calm within. Sri Ramakrishna’s quote is a wake-up call for me. It’s an invitation to take action! “To put it on the mat,” to show up with the gifts and talents given, and to offer oneself as a speaker/singer “praising the Mystery with whole-hearted participation.”
There are three more quotes from Living An Extraordinary Life that I find uplifting and galvanizing:
- Page 11, “Like the human heart, the world points beyond itself to something greater and more beautiful than its present condition.” – George Leonard & Michael Murphy, also found in The Life We Are Given
- Page 68, “The world is with us; the more alive we are, the more the world will be with us.” – Michael Murphy
- Page 91, “There is an almost sensual longing for communion with others who have a larger vision. The immense fulfillment of the friendship between those engaged in furthering the evolution of consciousness has a quality almost impossible to describe.” – Teilhard de Chardin
Have you participated in any ITP programs and if so, what resources or teachings have benefitted you most from the experience?
I have participated in many ITP programs, and one of the latest was the dynamic Ki of Cooperation which has teachings on how to live in a state of harmony and balance within oneself and with the larger world. The Ki of Cooperation Guidebook itself is a work of art, of beauty and depth on every level. The artwork takes your breath away, all the while enhancing and deepening the concept of Ki, defined as life force or energy of life. The foundation of the Ki of Cooperation training is Integral Transformative Practice (ITP). So, the teaching on Staying Current on page 30 of the guidebook, was of utmost importance for me as a tool to enhance my relationships with others: “Staying current means staying in the flow of life — greeting what arises with curiosity, discernment and a generous spirit —on our own terms and in our own unique ways.” Staying current starts with inner awareness and then moves outward to engage with another or with community, or even with the world at large. “Where genuine interest in the other prevails and is reflected in honoring differences along with inquiry to understand and find common ground.” “A key aim of Staying Current is to develop the capacity to respond, rather than react and to expand our options for self-expression in a given moment or situation.” This takes practice, I know, and paying attention to our body’s physical sensations can give us clues on how to listen, inquire, or respond.
What is one affirmation you have/or had that has been particularly helpful in realizing your extraordinary capacities?
“I Take the Hit as a Gift” is the one affirmation that has carried me through my recent diagnosis of breast cancer, and major surgery two weeks ago. As I repeated the affirmation daily for about two months prior to surgery, I felt “carried” through that period. I was calm, felt balanced and centered, and contrary to my nature, did not overreact to what was a shocking diagnosis. To me, that was extraordinary, for which I am deeply grateful. Another important affirmation that is very much in process has to do with manifesting my gifts/talents in the world; showing up as a singer/performer “praising the Mystery with whole-hearted participation.” As I continue my recovery from surgery, I am practicing the vocal scales daily and singing my songs. The poet Rumi inspires me to keep going: “Where is the Musician in my soul that its singing may echo in a thousand heads the enchantments of love?”
Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or newsletters that align with and support your practice? Please share with our community.
- Living An Extraordinary Life by Christina Grote and Pamela Kramer
- The Life We Are Given by George Leonard and Michael Murphy
- Living An Examined Life; Wisdom for the 2nd Half of the Journey by James Hollis, PhD
- The Future of the Body by Michael Murphy
- Mastery by George Leonard
- 10 Poems to Change Your Life by Roger Housden
- Evolutionary Love & the Ravages of Greed by Adam Crabtree
In what ways have ITP and this practice supported your work/engagement in the larger community and world?
In general, I live consciously in a state of much more awareness than I ever did prior to coming into ITP in the mid to late 90’s. I moved from the Bay area to Washington state in 2009 and did not return to the practice until about three years ago when I began Zoom classes for a variety of offerings, plus the Kata every Monday and Thursday afternoons. My interactions with family, friends, and the general public have improved immensely. I listen more and pay attention to what is taking place internally and externally with me, and what is happening externally with the other. I intend generally, to bring positivity to communal engagement, to focus on the other with kindness and openness in my heart. A quote flashed through my psyche lately, and it said: “Love is given, it is not earned.” Perhaps that came to me as a reminder that I do not have to try so hard to please others, or to be perfect. I only have to live with warmth, joy, and immense gratitude for all the blessings bestowed.
Any additional comments you would like to add about ITP?
I would like to applaud and thank Pam Kramer for her amazing leadership of ITP and ITPI. Her enthusiastic presence, imagination, and warmth permeate the organization, and all of us on Zoom! In addition, allow me to thank all those friends who expressed caring and comfort when I was going through surgery. Being part of the ITP Community has been a great gift in my life. The enthusiasm of all my friends engaged in classes and the Kata charges the energy field with joy and wonder, which infuses us all in body, mind, heart, and soul. In 1996, I attended a Golf in the Kingdom Workshop at Esalen Institute. I was so enamored by the joy and spirit of being in community that I wrote a poem called, “Blessedness.” It really expresses how I feel being part of the ITP Community. I bow in gratitude to the late George Leonard and to Michael Murphy for their enormous contributions in leading, teaching, inspiring, and uplifting our world.
September 1996 – It later became a song.
by Judith Closson
I do not have to speak
I only have to look at you and let you in
For my mind to ride the Mystery
And my heart to burn with flame
And my soul to wrap itself around the Universe
And melt in Oneness.
For I've been going places I have never been
And you, you here, you Family, Friends and Teachers
Have been leading me there
Delighting me with your music
And showing me how you are you
All I've had to do is be present for your gift
And in that moment, see,
See, what really matters
You have touched me by being you
Softened me, deepened me, and opened me
To Dancing and to Listening
And to feeling held in Blessedness
On the breath of God.