Monday, October 19, 2020

Boundary and compassion


The path of opening the heart is not the same as becoming an unboundaried, leaky vessel for the unloading of another’s unlived life. It is to the degree that we are attuned to our own grief, sadness, shame, and rage that we will most skillfully navigate within the we-space of the relational field.

Most of us we were not trained in the art of embodied attunement as we live in an increasingly disembodied world, where the capacity to hold unfolding emotional experience was not encoded into a tender developing nervous system.

But despite early relational trauma, inconsistent empathic mirroring, and transgenerational narratives of dysregulation and insecurity, you can embody and practice this now. You can experience reunion with the disavowed inner other and play with him or her, weaving together emotion in the body, story and image in the mind, resting and exploring in unstructured states of being.

While appearing “compassionate” on the outside, being an emotional doormat involves the re-enacting of early, unconscious organization. We learned that devaluing ourselves was the most reliable route to get our needs met, fit in, receive attention and affection, and maintain a precarious tie to an unavailable attachment figure. This activity was not neurotic, but was lifesaving, creative, and intelligent from the perspective of a little one wired to connect.

But the inner passageways are luminous and ache for reorganization by way of the slower circuitries of empathy, curiosity, wonderment, and awe. Look carefully and see the ways you may habitually place others’ needs over your own – not out of true compassion for them, but as a re-enactment of early interactional fields of shame and unworthiness.

Inside, something is stirring, a longing being awakened to return home, for new circuitry to encode, for a new pathway to light up and come alive.

Slowly, one moment at a time. Safe. Connected. Open.

Raw. Tender. Sensitive. Embodied.

There is no urgency on the path of love.


Photo by Dave Hoefler


Learn more about my new book - A Healing Space: Befriending Ourselves in Difficult Times - and read Editorial Reviews here. For a full list of online retailers, see the book's page at my website here

To learn more about and purchase my previous book - The Path is Everywhere: Uncovering the Jewels Hidden Within You - please visit the book's page here

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Voices of intergenerational trauma and trance


At times, the wisest, most skillful, and most compassionate action is to establish a boundary with another person. To stand up and assertively say No. To move in an empowered and swift way to protect our own integrity. To privilege our own autonomy and interiority. To meet narcissism, abuse, and neglect with a fiery, fierce, and direct response.

This is not only the case with “external” others – other people in our lives – but also with the multitude of “internal” others who surge out of the psychic underworld and take form as voices and figures of the interior landscape.

You might recognize them by their predictable refrain: “There is something wrong with you. You have failed. No one will ever love you unless you change and become someone different. You are not okay. You have fallen short. You have done life wrong. You are no good. You are uninteresting. You do not belong. Your sensitivities and eccentricities are not welcome here.”

These are the voices of the past, the shadow of a culture of materialism and greed, of the lineages of transgenerational trauma and trance. The voices of disembodiment, insensitivity, of a societal and global ego that has fallen out of communion with the natural world, the body, and the imaginal realms.

These internal visitors to an open, sensitive nervous system must also be met with the boundaries of discernment. To realize those moments when we fall out of the wisdom-presence of the here and now and into the time machine of the “there and then.”

To engage in dialogue with these figures and to proclaim our own basic goodness. To stand on the rooftops and declare that sensitivity is not pathology, that the shaky tenderness is not pathology… but path.

To not merely accept their conclusions, reality tunnels, and the lenses through which they have come to see things. But to cleanse perception with clear-seeing and the wildness of love.

To take the risk of telling a new story, dreaming a new dream, spinning out a new tale, weaving new cloth. And to allow ourselves to be turned by the great Weaver Herself… as new vision is revealed, as we become that vessel in which she can come alive here again.


Photo by Rene Bernal


Learn more about my new book - A Healing Space: Befriending Ourselves in Difficult Times - and read Editorial Reviews here. For a full list of online retailers, see the book's page at my website here

To learn more about and purchase my previous book - The Path is Everywhere: Uncovering the Jewels Hidden Within You - please visit the book's page here



Sunday, October 11, 2020

On psychotherapy


I’ve been asked recently how I work with a person in therapy. Of course, each situation is unique and in large part a matter of (al)chemical interaction and our intersecting worlds of emotional, somatic, and imaginal experience.

If someone is struggling with trauma, drowning or flooded by unbearable feeling, we build resource in the nervous system, bottom-up by way of metabolizing sensation in the body, recognizing micro-moments of dysregulation and exploring ways of coming back into ventral. Safety and connection. I’m here with you. We will do this… together.

With borderline or narcissistic organization, we build structure in the sense of self, where there have been profound deficits and consistent empathic failure, a seemingly infinite number of relational ruptures with little or no repair.

In these situations, we would not lead with transpersonal work such as active imagination, shadow, or resting in open awareness, but first build the requisite safety or structure, and repair the pathways of relational misattunement.

For someone relatively regulated and more neurotically organized, we would explore the transpersonal bands, with an emphasis on uncovering and shifting one’s center of gravity into the embodied experience of open awareness… focusing not as much in establishing resource or emphasizing safety.

But underneath it all, it’s clear I know little about the soul, how it heals and unfolds. The person in front of me is vast and majestic and I can only stand in awe at the power and beauty of one human heart as it longs to return home. To attune to and be a companion within that level of mercy and grace.

In the end, in my experience, it’s not techniques that heal. It’s love that heals. Techniques are fine, but it is the relationship between two nervous systems and the love that infuses that which allows the techniques to come alive, if and when they do. Love first, techniques second.

The nature of what this love is must be discovered moment to moment as it emerges in that vessel where we dwell together and is the neural and spiritual scaffolding that opens a light into the darkness.


Photo by Adrian Campfield


Learn more about my new book - A Healing Space: Befriending Ourselves in Difficult Times - and read Editorial Reviews here. For a full list of online retailers, see the book's page at my website here

To learn more about and purchase my previous book - The Path is Everywhere: Uncovering the Jewels Hidden Within You - please visit the book's page here