Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Held, not healed

There are times when you become activated, hooked, and triggered, and the walls feel as if they are closing in. Thoughts that something is wrong with you, that you are unworthy, unlovable. Feelings of shame, rage, fear, and despair.

Before you conclude that all is lost, slow way down. Cut into the trance with your breath, soothe it with your senses, and dissolve it with the allies of the natural world around you. Feel your feet on the ground. A child has appeared. An orphan. One who has been on a long, tumultuous journey. She is lost and disoriented, he is longing for rest.

As the knock on the door becomes louder, you must decide if you will let this one in, or turn her away. Even though for thousands of moments the knock has fallen upon deaf ears, she has not given up. She cannot give up.

If you do not care for the lost ones, who will? You have asked your partners, your children, your family members, your friends. As much as they love you, they cannot open the door for you. You are the only one with the key.

No matter what is going on in your life, or how convinced you have become that you have failed, you can turn toward the door, now. Start exactly where you are with an intention to no longer abandon yourself.

The abandoned ones are in constant movement, spinning and shifting shapes in their longing to be seen and allowed back home. Appearing as thoughts, feelings, sensations, and memories. As fantasies, symptoms, hopes, and dreams. Even as the colors and the mountains, the trees, and the stars.

With the intention for communion as your guide, the next time you are met by the burning, the restlessness, the claustrophobia, and the shaky, survival-level vulnerability, remember your aspiration. Weave together a sanctuary where the visitors can rest from a long journey. Provide safe passage such that their richness and meaning may be revealed.

Inside the heart, you will see that the lost ones do not need to be transformed. They do not need to be shifted. They do not even need to be healed. Only held. Go slowly. One second at a time, then rest. They are not in a hurry. They have been looking for you since beginningless time, and will never give up.

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

The Way of Rest summer retreat – registration open now (we're about 85% sold out as of June 1)

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Meeting Dad in the mystery

May we hold all Fathers in our hearts today, in recognition of the gift of life they have given. Some of us are close with Dad, some are not. Some have very fond memories of him and some do not. Some of us never really got to know that person we call(ed) “Dad,” what moved and inspired him, what triggered fear in him or what brought him joy, what was really going on in his heart, or what he truly wanted from this life.

But the one thing we do know is that, just like us, Dad only ever wanted to be happy, to be free from suffering, and in his own way longed to enter into the mystery, to live a meaningful life, to respond skillfully to suffering and heartbreak, to know for even a moment the truth that love is alive here.

Also, just like us, Dad is/ was only able to use the tools he had been given to take the journey that was his. It is not likely Dad was raised by enlightened parents, learned about mindfulness, empathic attunement, or practiced yoga. Or grew up in an environment which fully held and mirrored the unfolding majesty that he was at the deepest levels. Just like us, Dad has acted out of his own pain, in ways that have caused suffering for him, for us, and for those around us. Just like we have.

We may never understand the nature of Dad’s journey, why he acts as he does, what scares him, touches his heart, or how he is making meaning of a crazy world; what his deepest fears and longings are (or were), what keeps him up at night, or what causes him to fall to the ground in awe. We may never be able to make sense of it. But perhaps today is not a day of answers or understanding, or even of healing, forgiving, or accepting. Perhaps today is a day of just one moment of sacred pause, heart-connection, shared presence, and remembrance. And meeting Dad in the core of the mystery.

Whether Dad is still on this earth or love has sent him elsewhere, it is possible to connect with him right here and right now, for he is alive inside every cell. For some unknown reason, love has placed him into the strands of your DNA, and in many (but not all) cases he has done his best to love you, given his own limited abilities and influences, developmental and karmic. Perhaps he has succeeded, perhaps he has failed. Or perhaps it has been mixed, as our love has been for him.

No matter what has happened in the past, or the nature of your relationship with this one we call “Dad,” he has provided the gift of life, a precious human body, and the opportunity to take this rare human journey, to explore the mysteries of love in form. While some of us may not be able to meet and connect with Dad in this way, if our time with him was just too painful or too destructive (we can honor this truth and need not shame or attack ourselves for it), we can hold this aspiration in our hearts, if (and only if) we are so called, and allow the seeds of love and healing to flower in their own way, in their own time.

May we honor Father on this day in all of his emanations and in all of his forms – personal, collective, transpersonal, and beyond – and may we be guided by the wisdom qualities that have come down through Father everywhere, since beginningless time.

May we embody these qualities and make use of these blessings to help others, to do what we can to reduce suffering in this world, and to never forget the inherent goodness in the erupting human heart.

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

The Way of Rest summer retreat – registration open now (we're about 85% sold out as of June 1)

Friday, June 16, 2017

New book available - The Path Is Everywhere

Dear friends, my new book - The Path Is Everywhere: Uncovering the Jewels Hidden Within You - is now available here

Drawing on my personal journey as well as my work with others as a psychotherapist and guide, I wrote the book with the intention that it serve as a provocative, alive, and compassionate invitation to re-enchant our ideas about healing and spiritual awakening in the modern world.

Weaving together the wisdom streams of contemplative spirituality, relational and somatic psychotherapy, and the poetic imagination, The Path Is Everywhere reminds us that the depth and magic of the sacred world is always already here, buried in our emotions, bodies, relationships, and in the natural world itself.

You can order the book on Amazon here.  

Many have grown weary from a long search, exhausted from an endless quest to improve, hold it all together, heal all their wounds, and complete some mythical spiritual journey. But you are not a project to be solved. You are a mystery coming into form, and have the raw materials that you need, right now, to live a life of profound depth, meaning, and purpose.

I hope you enjoy the book and find it helpful on your journey. If you have found my writing interesting or useful over the years, I'd be grateful if you'd write a review at Amazon; thank you so much.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Nothing safer than that

While the path of the heart may not always feel safe, you are the vast, majestic space in which all feelings come and go. Not a space that is cold, distant, and detached, but one that is overflowing with warmth and pregnant with the creativity of the unknown.

To turn from yourself in the face of activation, to get tangled up in the forest of shame, blame, resentment, and complaint, is unkind, and merely enforces the ancient, worn out circuitry of self-aggression. There is nothing less safe than attacking your own vulnerability.

But to stay with yourself in times of activation, to practice intimacy with the contradictions, and to renew your vow to never abandon the visitors as they appear. The invitation is to turn back toward yourself and breathe new life into the sensitive, the tender, the shaky, and the raw. Bear witness to the new circuitry as it forms.

When the old strategies of abandonment begin to fall away, all that remains is your burning heart. There is nothing more alive than that. To truly hold and care for yourself in radically new ways. There is nothing safer than that.

Photo by Martin Sojka – golden sunrise over Lamayuru, where I once found myself wandering, dreaming, lost, and found…

The Way of Rest summer retreat – registration open now (we're about 80% sold out as of 27 May)

New book – The Path is Everywhere: Uncovering the Jewels Hidden Within You – to be released in June

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

A devastating ally on the path

The next time you feel abandoned, feel it fully. Let it all the way in this time. Not the story of abandonment, but the raw sensations that have been longing for your holding.

Embrace the shakiness, the brokenness, and the raw life that is moving through you. Don’t turn away, not this time. For your need yourself now more than ever.

There is a portal inside the abandoned one, buried in her heart, her body, and in the core of the emptiness. There is gold there, but it is hidden and requires new perception to unearth.

In the willingness to bring breath and to flood the feelings with the warmth of your presence, you will discover that which has never been abandoned. Take this one as your lover.

In the commitment to never turn from him or her again, everything will break open, revealing the erupting, tender aliveness at the core.

Even abandonment, when met, allowed, contained, and held, will reveal its purity, and clarify its role as a sacred, though devastating ally on the path.

The Way of Rest summer retreat – registration open now (we're about 80% sold out as of 27 May)

New book – The Path is Everywhere: Uncovering the Jewels Hidden Within You – to be released in June

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Spirit buried inside matter

All the form in your life—the conflicts, the struggle, the shit, the emotions, the symptoms, the heartbreak, the crushed longing, the dying dreams… the falling apart of hope, the despair, the sense that something is wrong with you… this is the rich material you have to work with. While it may seem that the freedom and aliveness you long for will be found in the eradication of the dark, it is filled with spirit, magic, and meaning.

It is this prima materia, as the alchemists called it, that is your connection with the sacred. You need not transcend your life, your problems, your symptoms, or your neurosis to know this. For inside the core of form is an intelligence that is found only there:

Sadness has something to show you that joy could never teach. Inside aloneness is a secret offering that can never be found in connection. Hopelessness, when held and entered into relationship with, holds meaning that hope is unable to reveal. Multiplicity is just as holy as oneness, matter just as consecrated as spirit.

It is pure and creative inside the symptom, but this is something our conventional world has lost contact with, in the overemphasis on becoming and loss of imagination. But the alchemists and tantrikas and the unseen ones and the moon, the sun, and the stars have come into form to remind us…

There is spirt buried inside matter, and matter is ragingly alive with spirit. Your feelings, emotions, your senses; the colors, the fragrances, the trees, the mud, and the water… there is no separation between inner and outer nature, they are drenched equally in spirit.

“What about my passion,” Rumi asks God. God says, “Keep it burning.” “What about my heart?” says Rumi. “Tell me what you hold inside it,” says God. “Pain and sorrow,” says Rumi. God says, “Stay with it. The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”

Before you conclude that there is something wrong and that life has failed you, slow down. We are conditioned to find a problem where there is an invitation. Use your imagination and dream a new dream. Touch the earth. Place your hands on your heart. Attune to the aliveness of the inner body and listen.

The Way of Rest summer retreat – registration open now (we're about 80% sold out as of 27 May)

New book – The Path is Everywhere: Uncovering the Jewels Hidden Within You – to be released in June

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Like a rainbow

With your heart open, look carefully at the ways you habitually place others’ needs over your own… not out of genuine compassion for them, but as a re-enactment of an early environment of shame and unworthiness.

Just one moment of clear seeing. Pure curiosity. No judgment, no self-attack, no more violence. End the war. Now.

It is in this seeing that seeds are planted for a new way, one encoded with wisdom, attunement, and a wild sort of kindness. This encoding is not passive, but one that shatters the status quo as a forerunner of revolution.

Out of these qualities, which are not added to you, but revealed to be the always already substance of your very cell tissue, the seemingly solid distinction between self and other will reveal itself to be quite translucent.

Like a rainbow.

The Way of Rest summer retreat – registration open now (we're about 80% sold out as of 27 May)

New book – The Path is Everywhere: Uncovering the Jewels Hidden Within You – to be released in June

Thursday, June 8, 2017

A sacred conundrum

From the perspective of exhaustion and confusion, it is intelligent to seek relief from the uncertainty and replace the groundlessness with something more stable. Honor the call to safe passage and something to hold onto. You need not pathologize the longing for solid ground from which to orient and take your next step. It is an act of kindness to practice self-care, to slow down, to weave a new story, and to soothe an overstimulated nervous system.

From the perspective of raw, reorganizing love, groundlessness and aliveness are one, for there is no life without embodiment to the flow of vulnerability in all its forms. Here, there is nothing to hold onto, no solid reference points to take refuge in, nothing to heal, and nothing to transform. There is no possibility of an “incomplete” moment and your experience is the expression of wisdom: naked, open, and pure as it is.

While the mind may spin in the attempt to resolve this mystery, this conundrum is sacred and has been placed inside you not to be solved with an answer but to be lived as a question. The relief and rest you are longing for may never be found within the field of conceptual resolution but only by way of intimacy with the contradictions as they dance in and around you.

Though the activity of love is infinitely tender and holding, in its essence it is everything. It is devastating as it is the end of one world, glorious as the dawn of another.

The Way of Rest summer retreat – registration open now (we're about 80% sold out as of 27 May)

New book – The Path is Everywhere: Uncovering the Jewels Hidden Within You – to be released in June

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The magic of emotion

As open, sensitive human beings, we may never be able to avoid the experience of emotional pain. This fact is not evidence that there is something wrong with us, but that we are alive.

Welcome. You are alive. Thank god you have a body and a heart and a mind which allow you to feel, and to make meaning of your feelings, and use them skillfully as a bridge to connect with others. Let us end the pathologizing of emotion once and for all, instead proclaiming together the holiness of feeling.

Sometimes it is as if our hearts are on the outside of our skin, rather than safely protected by the rib cage, hidden away in some fantasy of invincibility. Even the wind blowing, as it makes contact with the raw, tender, exposed flesh is enough to take us to the ground.

As we somehow take the risk of opening more, we might see that emotional vulnerability is in fact the only response that makes any sort of sense in a world that has gone a bit mad. In this way, we can re-contextualize and re-enchant our emotional experience, breathe new life into it and behold its sacredness. It is magic to be an emotional being, and we need no longer apologize for this.

Emotional pain has been pathologized in our world, along with vulnerability, heartbreak, grief, and any sort of state of feeling a bit down. We doubt ourselves and question our very being, afraid to trust in the purity and integrity of our experience exactly as it is.

But emotional pain is not pathology. Grief is not a condition to be diagnosed and treated. Feeling down and blue and a bit hopeless is not a disease which need be cured by consumption, whether that consumption is of material goods or new inner states. A broken heart is pure and is complete on its own, filled with intelligence, life, and seeds of creativity and expression. It need not be mended or transformed into something else. It is the vehicle by which the poetry of your life may flow and your unique individuality may come alive here.

To stay embodied with waves of grief, confusion, rage, fear, despondency, exhaustion, hopelessness, and doubt … to provide sanctuary and safe passage for the pieces of a broken world … to dissolve once and for all the trance of self-abandonment … this invitation is one that is radical and nonconventional by its nature, appearing now for your consideration.

To infuse the entire spectrum with breath, with life, with awareness, and with holding will liberate an eruption of skillful energy, and help us to make meaning, to bear the unbearable, and truly be there for others when they are suffering. And to be warriors in the world at those times we are needed most.

The Way of Rest summer retreat – registration open now (we're about 80% sold out as of 27 May)

New book – The Path is Everywhere: Uncovering the Jewels Hidden Within You – to be released in June

Friday, June 2, 2017

The raw materials of resurrection

There was an idea that as you healed, you would feel less. That as you awakened, the emotional spectrum would narrow, into some safe, consistent, happy, resolved calm. But you are seeing that love continues to ask you to feel more, to hold and metabolize the full-spectrum of a broken open world.

There was an old hope that as your heart opened, the vulnerability would diminish, the shakiness would fall away, the tenderness would yield… but you are more raw now than ever before.

There was an old belief that as you deepened on the path that you'd be more detached, untouchable, not care so much about others and the world, resting as the great “witness” beyond it all, in some safe, constructed place of observation. But somehow, everything and everyone matter now more than ever, in spontaneous, unexpected ways.

Something new is being born inside you, but something else is dying. Rather than prematurely forcing rebirth to emerge, turn into the uncertainty, the contradictions, and the purity of the death of an old dream. For it is here that the womb of new life is to be found, where the raw materials of resurrection are woven into being by the Great Weaver herself.

While this level of trust may be disorienting to a mind longing for resolution, the body knows… the heart knows. Trust in the fires of disintegration. And the birth that can arise only from the ashes of that level of grace.

The Way of Rest summer retreat – registration open now (we're about 80% sold out as of 27 May)

New book – The Path is Everywhere: Uncovering the Jewels Hidden Within You – to be released in June