Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Attachment, fusion, and the yoga of relationship

In close personal relationships, it is important to emphasize a secure attachment bond and the co-regulation of challenging emotional states. 

To practice kindness toward our lovers and friends, listen to the way they are making sense of their experience, attune to what they are feeling, and hold them during difficult times.

It is also essential to be on the lookout for unhealthy fusion, honoring the reality that we are not only connected, but also separate. 

Any secure attachment must include healthy differentiation, where at times the most skillful activity will be to establish firm boundaries, assert our independence, privilege our own personal integrity, and allow the other to struggle with feelings of aloneness, uncertainty, and confusion.

At times we will disappoint those we love, and this will activate our historic core vulnerabilities… and theirs. 

For many of us, disappointing another is just not safe, and we will do whatever possible to ensure they do not come face to face with the surging material of their unlived life. But allowing them to meet the reality of their own heart is an act of profound mercy and compassion.

While transpersonally we can speak about unity and oneness, within the relative we are also distinct, with our own histories and ways of organizing our experience. Each with our own fate and relationship with the divine, our own paths to travel; our own unique ways entering the mystery. 

To dissolve these differences into some homogenized spiritual middle does not honor the sacredness of form.

If we do not consciously explore the reality of our separateness, it will inevitably manifest in less than conscious ways, unleashing unmetabolized shadow into the relational field. 

Like all work of depth, this art form evolves slowly, as it marinates in the alchemical vessel of the body.

May we be kind to our partners as we navigate this territory – especially during these challenging times – honoring the vehicle of intimacy as one of the most provocative, sacred, and holy that we have in our modern world.

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Tending to the Soul: A Self-Guided Online Course

My self-guided, home study course on Tending to the Soul: A Journey of Being and Belonging, and a Spirituality of the Heart is currently available: 

>>Learn more or register for Tending to the Soul 

There are times in each of our lives when a chapter comes to an end, when we find ourselves on the precipice of rebirth and renewal.

Something has dissolved – the dream of me and my life and the way it was all supposed to turn out – but it’s not yet clear what’s going to arise from the ashes to take its place.

As disorienting as these times of transition can be, they are evidence of a sacred process occurring deep in the personal and collective soul. For it is only from a shattering that the phoenix is able to emerge.

The question now for so many of us is: what is it that the soul wants? Not what I thought I wanted, what I should want, or what others want for me, but what is calling to me from the depths of who and what I am, into a life of new vision, purpose, and meaning?

As we engage in this holy reassembling, it can be so easy to lose track of our home base, whether we imagine this center as the palace of the soul, the light of the spirit, or the ventral vagal safety-pathways of the holy human nervous system.

The great poets, alchemists, wayfarers, and mystics have declared that the path is everywhere but it can take a slowing down and a cleansing of our perception for this to become a living reality.

Learn more about the course here or you can write to support@mattlicataphd.com with any questions.

Monday, November 27, 2023

The path is everywhere

The path of the heart is not only one of transcendence – ascending and rising above – but also one of descent: Into underworld, earth, and shadow, and into relationship with the figures of the somatic unconscious.

The lunar way isn’t as clear as its heroic or solar counterpart. It is unclothed: of fixed concept, a precise map, and knowing how it’s all going to turn out. It has a way not of confirming but of dismantling the spiritual persona.

No promises, no guarantees, no mythical tales of some “permanent” state of enlightenment or unending transcendent experience, where we can remain safe and free from the reorganizing fires of love, which burn through the known to reveal essence.

In the mandala of the lunar, we make room for Kali to come and dissolve even our most “powerful” realizations, evidencing her lack of interest in our fantasies of resolution.

We cannot travel inside her body, her being, if we already know what’s “real” and what’s “true;” or if we’ve mistaken the map for the territory, which is always wild and untamed. Our “mastery” is of very little interest to her.

Held in her temple are the holy images of our broken dreams, disappointments, hopes, and fears – the entirety of our unlived life; the grief of the ancestors, the lamentation of the earth, and the sensitivities of the soma.

Here, in the center, the wound is opened and no longer bandaged, which is what allows the tincture to enter.

The feast is laid out before us, sprinkled throughout the oceans, stars, forests, and green light; and all through the eyes of the one in front of us. The path is everywhere.