Sunday, November 19, 2017

When sitting with a friend in pain

At times, you may find yourself with a friend who is upset, falling apart, confused, hopeless, sad, and afraid. Nothing is making sense anymore, they are overwhelmed, and the emotions are unrelenting.

You are unsure how to help.

While their pain may trigger you, and bring alive an avalanche of urgent, anxious, fixing energy – activating the shadows of your own unlived life - an invitation has appeared.

Slow way down. Ground awareness in your body and listen. Not just to the words they are saying, but to the secret request that is emerging out of their heart. Perhaps they are not asking for you to fix, cure, or even heal them. Perhaps their deepest longing is not for advice or teachings or even being reassured that everything is okay. It is not okay, and that is okay.

While you may be burning with the need to talk them out of their experience – overflowing with solutions, techniques, and processes – return into spaciousness. Infuse the environment with pause, rest, and resonance. With the slow circuits of empathy and presence, step into the vessel and seal it with non-urgent loving kindness.

This may not be the moment for you to give your friend an answer, but to hold them as you confront the vastness of the question together.

Offer the gift of a soothed, calm, and regulated nervous system. Turn your heart into a temple and sanctuary where together you can validate their feelings, and provide safe passage for their process to unfold. Do what you can so that they feel felt, that they need not heal in this moment in order for you to stay near.

Never, ever underestimate the power of love. Even one moment of empathic, attuned, contact can change our lives forever. Please don’t forget that for many, they have never actually known this sort of holding – or have had it in only very small amounts.

You have tremendous power to be a vessel in which healing can come into this world, to help another make new meaning and find new breath. To slowly dissolve the trance of unworthiness and know their true nature. Please do whatever you can. And please never, ever give up on love.

My new book – The Path Is Everywhere: Uncovering the Jewels Hidden Within You – is now available 

My next event will be a five-day retreat, The Place the Light Enters, with Jeff Foster, April 4-9 at Sunrise Ranch in Loveland, CO. 

Friday, November 17, 2017

Regulating with another

While one goal may be to regulate very intense feelings and emotions on our own, at times the most skillful and kind approach is to reach out to another for help, for a friend or partner or therapist to share their soothed, relaxed, grounded nervous system such that we may regulate with them.

Where, together, we can return into our window of tolerance and breathe deeply, bringing in new perspective, new levels of meaning, and to reorganize our experience in a new way.

This reaching out to another is not a sign of “codependence” or that we’re doing it wrong or that we’ve failed, but is the reality of a human nervous system, which is a miracle, really.

We are relational beings with open, sensitive, vulnerable hearts and mirror neurons and can offer one another so much. To listen to one another and attune deeply to what our brothers and sisters are feeling and how they are making meaning of their experience.

It can be difficult to truly reach out to another when we are struggling, when we are suffering, confused, or in pain. Many of us did not have a safe place to share our feelings, our fears, our trauma, and our confusion. Stepping into this sort of trust is sure to bring forward so much within us.

It can also be challenging to listen, to feel deeply, and to let ourselves be touched by the pain and the struggle of another, as doing so has a way of constellating any unresolved emotional material deep within us. To set aside any demand that the other change, shift, transform, or heal – just for a moment – so that we can make contact without any agenda except to listen with our hearts open.

Yes, it’s hard. And at times heart-wrenching. But perhaps it is worth it. To take that sort of risk, to push ourselves just a little, to share ourselves with our friends, family, co-workers, lovers, and counselors. To reach out when we need help and to truly be there when that same request is made of us. To explore the realities of self-regulation and also co-regulation, self-love and other-love, to dance in those opposites as we move deeper into the mystery.

My new book – The Path Is Everywhere: Uncovering the Jewels Hidden Within You – is now available 

My next event will be a five-day retreat, The Place the Light Enters, with Jeff Foster, April 4-9 at Sunrise Ranch in Loveland, CO. 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

To bring light to the symptom

In a moment of activation, when our emotional world is on fire and we've fallen off center, an invitation arrives. An opportunity to choose something different, to encode new circuitry, and to replace the ancient pathway of self-abandonment with that of curiosity, awareness, and holding.

First, to slow way down and reaffirm an old vow to bring light to the symptom, to offer breath where there previously was none, and to care for ourselves in a way that was not possible until this very moment.

To drop into the body and feel our feelings, sense our sensations, and soothe our stimulated nervous system with compassion and presence. To send life into the belly, the heart, and the throat... and any other area which longs for our attention and kindness.

Once we have come back into our window of tolerance, with our feet resting in the earth - perhaps still a bit shaky, vulnerable, and open - from this more grounded aliveness in the here and now, we can begin to illuminate and reorganize the core beliefs that are looping with the emotional and somatic material. Engaging the path of neural integration, we bring together the various layers of our experience, explore their interrelations, and plant the seeds for future freedom.

To begin to unwind and infuse each level with new awareness, with understanding, with compassion, with attention. Untangling the wounds of the heart, the contractions of the body, and the conditioned narratives that have emerged in the attempt to make meaning of our lives. To send new life into the limited beliefs, painful feelings, and unskillful behaviors that have grown out of our response to trauma in all its forms - personal, cultural, intergenerational, and collective. To flood this material with breath, with spirit, and with soul.

To attend to each layer, in turn, bringing light into the darkness, in a way that is full spectrum. While awareness and insight are necessary and non-negotiable, perhaps even more important is the infusion of a new type of kindness and compassion. Mere insight is not enough. Conceptual awareness is not enough. Clarity is not enough. We have seen this. Rather, it is some activity of love that seems to be required, to give birth to a new world. But what this love is must be discovered by each of us, not as a concept, but as a movement of revelation within.

Photo: Colorado autumn glory

My new book – The Path Is Everywhere: Uncovering the Jewels Hidden Within You – is now available 

My next event will be a five-day retreat, The Place the Light Enters, with Jeff Foster, April 4-9 at Sunrise Ranch in Loveland, CO.