The purpose of this blog is to provide a holding, attuned, and provocative space for the mysteries of your heart to unfold. All of you is welcome here, in all of your glory - the painful, the joyous, the heartbroken, and the weary. The invitation is to see your entire life as an expression of high-voltage, creative guidance, and for you to offer yourself to the endless and infinite dimension of love that is emerging within and around you right now.
There is such a deeply rooted belief that we must do
something with intense surges of feeling and emotion as they wash through:
understand them, determine their cause, link them to some life circumstance or
person, change them, transform them, eliminate them, or even “heal” them.
Somehow we lose touch with entering into relationship with them.
This organization was weaved into our sensitive nervous
systems as young children when we did not have the capacity to metabolize the
intensity in an environment of empathic, attuned presence. Out of this we
created our unique strategies of reaction and avoidance, often rooted in
quickly removing ourselves from very intense, dysregulating states of
vulnerability and psychic overwhelm. This was not neurotic, but adaptive. It
was intelligent, and represented the best ways we knew to care for ourselves at
But here you are, no longer a child in your family of
origin, and longing to fully participate here. To feel fully alive. To practice
intimacy with external others as well as the “other” inside you that is surging
to be held and integrated.
What if for just one moment, you did absolutely nothing in
relation to the arising of emotional intensity? If you neither repressed nor
denied it, nor urgently scrambled to seek relief from it? If you did not spin
to apply spiritual teachings to your vulnerability, but moved toward it, with a
fiery commitment to no longer abandon yourself. To curiously explore what is
appearing and its qualities, trusting in the activity of the wisdom-guests and
intelligence they carry.
What would happen if you replaced the demand for relief
with the curiosity of relationship? Even for just a moment. To dare to allow in
the possibility that there is purpose and meaning wired into this relationship
and into the somatic, psychic, and emotional material as it comes into
awareness to be met.
What if the most wise, loving, attuned response was to take
no action? For now. To not rush to mend your broken heart, transform the
sadness into happiness, or seek relief from your rage, hopelessness, or
confusion? To not give into the ancient demand that you fall into the extremes
of denial or seeking relief, abandoning the uninvited ones through the fueling
of a story about what has happened, who is to blame, why they are there, when
they will go away, and what their presence actually means about you as a
person? Or applying techniques to convert the experience into some other that
you have been told you should be experiencing instead?
These feelings and emotions are pure energy flow and
information. They are not enemies or obstacles on your path, but are the very
path itself. They have not come to harm you but only to be allowed back into
the majestic vastness that you are. To remind you of something you may have
forgotten and lost contact with along the tired journey of becoming.
This “doing nothing” is not a cold, passive resignation,
but is an alive, sacred activity, infused with presence and a wild sort of
compassion. It is an expression of embodied intimacy and care. This
open-hearted doing nothing is a radical act of kindness and love, and a holy
gift that you can offer yourself and others.
at the beautiful Sunrise Ranch, Loveland, Colorado
July 26-31, 2017
Information/ registration - we do expect the retreat to sell out (it's currently around 50% booked) and will take registrations in the order they are received. Please note that this will likely be mine and Jeff's only retreat together (and my only public event) in America in 2017.
What would it be like to live a life that is not based around fixing or improving yourself, transforming into someone else, healing all your childhood wounds, or completing some mythical journey of awakening?
What would it be like, to awaken from the trance that you are broken, unworthy, unloveable and far from enlightenment?
Join authors and speakers Matt Licata and Jeff Foster as they share a radical form of mindfulness, which is also an ultimate act of self-compassion: an invitation to be exactly what you are, and awaken from the trance that you are less than Divine in your beautifully imperfect humanness.
On this popular 5 day retreat, we will take time out of our ordinary lives to turn towards the stillness of the heart, and discover the peace, joy, aliveness and, yes, humor, that is always, already here. We will come to realize that freedom is wired into us and is not dependent on whether we first improve ourselves, become worthy, find all the answers, or get “enlightened” by way of some sort of spiritual process.
When it comes to the present moment, we are all beginners, all amateurs. There are no teachers and no experts, here in the aliveness of Now. Matt and Jeff do not have pre-prepared answers for you! They are not here to fix you or make you into something second-hand. They are original human beings, just like you, sharing from the depths of their lived experience, inviting you to come closer to yourself and perhaps find your answers there. On retreat, you become your own guru, your own therapist, your own loving parent. Matt and Jeff simply facilitate this Homecoming, inviting us in their gentle yet direct way to a radical self-love in which even our ‘unlovable’ parts are welcome…
During the retreat, we’ll rest together in silence, share intimate dialogues and guided meditations, all the while tuning into to the power of the field of loving presence that is always around and within us. We will bathe in a radical yet simple truth: that we have already arrived Home, that we never left Home in the first place, that we are perfect exactly as we are, even in our imperfections… and that we can return to this realization in ANY moment of our lives!
We will turn courageously toward our unmet heartbreak, grief, despair, and hopelessness – as well as toward our natural joy, peace, wonder, and bliss – and come into contact with the wisdom, the love, and the wild uniqueness that is always here. As we befriend ourselves and our immediate experience, through curiosity and an uncompromising and unapologetic kindness, we will touch a profound rest that is filled with the revolutionary qualities of love, compassion, and huge creativity.
While not formally a silent retreat, we will be returning time and time again to the silence of the Heart, meditating and contemplating reality together and exploring the a life beyond belief. In addition to regular group meetings – facilitated by Matt and Jeff – there will be plenty of time to explore on your own, both the inner landscape of the heart as well as the natural world in the beautiful Colorado mountains.
It is important to note that while these retreats often result in deep, therapeutic healing, they are not therapy groups. Rather than engaging in our personal narratives of past and future, we will be diving into a field of presence together in which we can rest in the dimension of the heart that has never been unhealed and is not in need of transformation, healing… or even understanding.
Jeff Foster studied Astrophysics at Cambridge University. In his mid-twenties, after a long period of depression and illness, he became addicted to the idea of ‘spiritual enlightenment’ and embarked on an intensive spiritual quest for the ultimate truth of existence.
The spiritual search came crashing down with the clear recognition of the non-dual nature of everything, and the discovery of the extraordinary in the ordinary. In the clarity of this seeing, life became what it always was: intimate, open, loving and spontaneous, and Jeff was left with a deep understanding of the root illusion behind all human suffering, and a love of the present moment.
Jeff was voted #59 on Watkins Review’s 2014 list of the world’s 100 Most Spiritually Influential Living People. Jeff has published five books in over six languages. His latest book Falling in Love With Where You Are is now available from Non-Duality Press. His new book - Way of Rest: Finding the Courage to Hold Everything in Love - was published by Sounds True in 2016.
Matt Licata, PhD is a psychotherapist, author, and teacher, with clients and students worldwide. For 25 years, he has been on the forefront of the dialogue between therapeutic and contemplative approaches to healing and spiritual transformation. He mentors students seeking graduate degrees in psychology and spirituality, and is editor of A Healing Space, a blog dedicated to the exploration of the journey of embodied spirituality in contemporary life.
Matt is author of the The Path is Everywhere: Uncoveringthe Jewels Hidden Within You, which will be published in April of 2017. He is also author of the forthcoming The Only Way Out is Through, a behind-the-scenes look at the ways spiritual beliefs and practices can serve a defensive function in the avoidance of unresolved emotional wounding.
It is possible to discover that the purpose of the journey
is not to solve our problems or make us happy. And by insisting that our
inquiry, our practices, and even our intimate relationships function primarily
in this way we vastly limit what they are truly offering.
As emissaries of wholeness and depth, they have seeded an
invitation within you. To proclaim once and for all with the earth, the sun,
the moon, and the stars as your witness. With the roar of a lion or lioness,
shouting from the rooftop that you will no longer abandon your surging
immediate experience, pathologize your sensitivity, or turn from your raw achy
heart. But only honor and bow to the altar of your tender not-knowing.
As you continue along the way, yes, sometimes your problems
will be solved, sometimes the symptoms will go away, sometimes the feelings you
like will replace the ones you’d prefer be banished into the dark wood. But
your inquiry is no longer oriented around replacement. It is far too wild,
unprecedented, and creative for all that. As a pure expression of your love of
the truth, it is full-spectrum. For your longing will never be satisfied by
that which is partial.
Love has brought you to this very place that you are now,
as it continues its journey to know itself, through you and as you – by way of
your perception, emotions, feelings, and imagination; and by the signs and
symbols that it places along your path. Not so that you can fix something that
is broken, or even “heal” in any conventional sense, but so that you can connect
more deeply with your longing, to more clearly hear the call of the beloved
within you, and become more and more transparent the feast of the offering that
has been laid out before you: To be fully alive to and to fully participate in
the mystery as it makes its way into the world of time and space.
No longer oriented in how to get from “here to there,” but
endlessly fascinated with how it is that love wishes to infuse “here” with its
qualities. The path is endless. You are endless. Your heart is endless. And
love will continue to reveal this endlessness to you, in ways that are at times
peaceful, sweet, and soaked in pure joy. At other times, as wrathful,
disturbing, and awash with the transmutation of the dark.
Both equally grace and appearing now as vehicles of love,
and as infinite doorways into who and what you are. And what is to come.
At times, as a sensitive human being, an image will appear.
A sign. A symbol. A symptom. An emotion. A feeling. A sensation. Ripping
through your body.
While it may appear that this one is working against you,
it comes bearing an invitation. As a harbinger of integration. Asking you to
slow down. To remember what is most important. And to honor the unique journey
you are on.
Before you turn from the fire, enter inside it. With your
breath, your awareness, and with an open and curious heart, descend into the
center. With the earth as your witness, you are here.
See that nothing is happening to you from the outside. An
old, orphaned aspect of yourself is expressing its longing. One of love’s
children is seeking to be readmitted into the inner family. Stay close and
listen carefully, as the request emerges out of a thundering silence:
Please know me. Please hold me. Please care for me. Please
remember. Please provide sanctuary where we can come into relationship again. I
am not here to harm you. Only to remind you of how whole you truly are, and the
revolutionary implications of what it means to be alive. And where we are
Some will tell you that fear is the opposite of love. And
in this teaching the war begins.
But love has no opposite, for it is whole and without
division. Love is the field in which all form comes and goes, including the
temporary, wavelike appearance of fear. It is the vast, tender space in which
all emotions, feelings, and physical sensations arise, play in light and dark,
and then dissolve.
Just like passing clouds could never taint the purity of
the sky, the temporary dance of fear could never stain the majesty of what you
Enter inside fear and practice intimacy with the feelings,
the emotions, and the tender, achy sensations that are arising for integration.
Something very pure is longing to be touched, held, and allowed back into the
vastness. When fully met and sanctuary is provided, fear is able to reveal
itself, like all other form, as none other than love in disguise.
There is raw life coursing through you, taking whatever
form it must to open you into the mystery. Even fear, when no longer feared,
appears as it is, as a portal into the luminous.
If you will take even your fear as a lover, new life will
emerge from this union. You need no longer practice a spirituality of aggression.
Fear is not the opposite of love, for love has no opposite.
Wondering what to give your friend or lover this
Give them the gift of your presence. Take a moment to make
actual contact with the one in front of you: take a risk, allow them to matter
to you, be curious about how they are making meaning of their life: what moves
them, what scares them, what keeps them up at night, what lights their heart on
fire. Meet their longing to feel heard, to feel seen, to feel felt. Flood them
with the warmth of empathy, attunement, and deep listening.
Stay close to the actuality of their lived, embodied
experience. Send your presence into the core of their heart, into the cells of
their nervous system, and into the secret caverns of their body. See that the "other" is not merely an object arising in your awareness, but is an actual
person, a subject in their own right. They are alive, their heart is beating,
they are longing for connection, and trying to make sense of it all. They want
to be seen, held, and loved, just for a moment. Just like you.
In a moment of pure contact, remove the burden that they
change, become someone different, or see things the way you do. And set aside
the secret requirement that they confirm who you think you are in order for you
to love them.
Honor the reality that they will never, ever be able to
meet all of your requirements and needs. They will never be able to take care
of that which remains unresolved in your heart. This is their great gift, to
return this sacred activity to you. Rather than unconsciously shaming or
blaming them for this, honor them for it. Bow down to the altar that is formed in
the space between.
Make contact with the one in front of you, perhaps for the
first time, and let the dream figure go that you have created in your mind –
the one you hoped was there, needed to be there, or feared would not be there.
They were never going to turn out the way you thought they would anyway. For
who and what they are is far too wild and creative for that. Meet the one who
is actually here, for that one is an outrageous miracle.
In addition to contact, you can provide your beloved the
space to be who he or she is. This space is not actually something that you can
give to them, but is what you both always already are. You do not need to spin
around them, ensuring they are okay and that they are continuously confirming
your hopes, fears, and unmet longing. Through the cells of your heart, the
light-strands of your DNA, and the mirror neurons lighting up in your brain,
let them know you are there for them, that you will stay close… but not so
close that you fuse or engulf them with the shadows of your unlived life.
If they need you, you will be there, but not otherwise. You
will not impinge upon the unfolding of their unique journey, even if it
triggers you. You will allow them to live their life, make their own mistakes,
make their own meaning of what is happening inside and outside them, and to
chart their own course. You will allow their heart to break, to touch the
depths of their own pain and vulnerability, and to stand in their existential
aloneness, with you by their side in deep, mutual knowing just how alone the
path can sometimes feel.
Honor your separateness as well as your connection, and
provide space in which they can make the journey in their own way.
Perhaps these are the greatest gifts you can give on this
Valentine's Day, but please don't take my word for it. Look into your heart and
into the eyes of the beloved in front of you and see for yourself. And even if
you find yourself alone on this day, the beloved is waiting for you inside the
mirror of your own being. Look carefully and you will see. Even within this
field of aloneness - which we are all standing in together - you are in the
perfect place to make this same offering, by giving these gifts to yourself.
Be your own Valentine, and watch what emerges from that
radical commitment to self-care and non-abandonment. Watch as this world lights
up with the outrageous activity of love and as the veil separating
"self" and "other" reveals its translucency.
Stay in close, intimate contact to whatever is arising
within you and offer the space for your experience to unfold and illuminate
exactly as it is. For you will never be able to provide to another what you are
unable to give to yourself.
Wishing my friends a Valentine's Day of true intimacy and
wild aliveness, from the holding of the Boulder mountains. From the clear water
in the creek, from the ducks and the geese, and from the deer who have come
near to give the gift of their presence on this new morning. Humbled on the
muddy earth. Totally alone. Unbearably connected. I feel you. And honor you.
And accept the gift of your being.
Art credit: "Valentine's Tree," the inspiring and visionary work of my friend Alice Mason
When speaking with a friend who is feeling down, confused,
hopeless, or lost, we can quickly become convinced that something is wrong
which must urgently be corrected. We feel as if we must do something, anything,
to remove them from their experience and replace it with another. To scramble
to put them back together, to quickly remind them of all the gifts in their
life, how everything will be okay, and to reassure them that things will be
All the while remaining mistattuned to the surging
creativity and integration which may be unfolding in front of our very own
Of course it is natural to want to help a friend who is in
pain. But underneath this genuine wish often lurks our own disavowal of the
darkness within, and the impending confrontation with our own unlived lives. If
we attune to this underlying groundlessness – with curiosity, with holding, and
with a fiery, uncompromising kindness – we may discover a previously abandoned
feeling, emotion, symbol, or vision which is longing to make its way into
conscious awareness. Stay close. This is no ordinary moment. You are at the
While it may appear otherwise, this very disturbing
material is not a mistake, but is sacred. It is not pathology, but path. It is
a long lost friend that we very intelligently split off from at some earlier
point in our lives, to ensure our own psychic survival. But the orphaned pieces
of psyche and soma are gathering around you, longing for reunion and to resume
their place back in the inner family.
Slow down, come back into the center, and remove the burden
from your friend to change. Free them from the requirement to take care of your
unmetabolized emotional world for you. Recommit to staying embodied to your
surging vulnerability, in whatever form it happens to appear. You are in the
intelligent, creative, rich terrain of the jewels which are buried in the dark.
It is possible the kindest thing you can offer your friend
is to sit in the unresolvable complexity and the hopelessness with them, doing
whatever you can so that they know you will not abandon them if they do not
conform to our cultural fantasy that they be happy, grateful, and full of hope
all the time. What they are is vast and contains multitudes.
Trust in the unfolding of their embodied experience and
dare to no longer pathologize the appearance of the dark, for within it is a
light burning with a billion suns. With the entirety of your presence, make it
clear to them that they need not ‘get over it,’ ‘transform,’ ‘heal,’ ‘raise
their vibration,’ be happy, or ‘awaken’ in order for you to love them as they
are. Stay close.
Love is the totality. It is whole. It is raging and alive
in the darkness, shining brightly in ways the mind and the conventional world
may never understand. Within the confusion, the sadness, the despair, and the
aloneness there is often something very real attempting to break through the
dream of partiality, attempting to clarify what is most important and something
you may have forgotten. There is a richness here – something is happening – but
what that is may never support the consumeristic spell of consistent feelings
of happiness, certainty, and a life without vulnerability.
Here, in the very core of your friend’s experience – which
is utterly inseparable from your own – everything is alive, everything is path,
and everything is holy. The divine is not only the joy and sweetness, but comes
at times as Kali to reorder your world. Let us step out of the trance and into
the fire with our precious friend, hold hands with him or her and keep them
near. We can then turn toward Kali together, create a sanctuary for her
wrathful wisdom-essence to unfold in our hearts, and finally see what she has
At times, disappointment will appear as your greatest
teacher, breaking you open as an old dream dissolves. It has completed its work
here and is requesting safe passage. Allow it to return to its source as you
make room for what is to come next. While it is tempting to hold tightly to the
way it has been, it is the nature of all form to reorganize. In this way love
Something new is calling but what that is can never be
known ahead of time by means of the conceptual. Enter into the liminal and
listen. Stay close. There is high-voltage creativity here, though it comes by
way of vision and symbol. While the world may never understand, and those
around you may be activated by the path you have chosen, the unfolding of your
heart is wild and will never be tamed.
No, it was never going to turn out the way you thought –
your relationships, work in the world, your body, what you once were so sure
would provide the meaning, purpose, and security you have longed for. It is all
a bit up in the air now, as you are being re-oriented to wholeness.
This process by nature will be thrilling and disorienting
simultaneously, and inevitably disillusioning as the references points begin to
fall away. This disillusion is not an error or mistake, but is a special ally
of the sacred world.
As you place the deflation on the altar before you – and
move toward it, rather than away – you weave a sanctuary in which the
reorganization can occur. Hold the brokenness near as the new birth circles
around you, and open as the path spirals into the center.
While there are many valid reasons for being in
relationship (romantic or otherwise), it is possible to make use of the alchemy
of intimacy as a profound vehicle of healing and metabolization. As we take the
risk to allow another to matter, we can be sure that the other will illuminate
the “inner other” that we have lost contact with along with way.
Perhaps this sort of confrontation is of interest to us.
And it’s okay if we want something else from our relationships. Or aren’t sure.
As Rumi reminds us, there are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground. To
have contradictory feelings about this is an expression of intelligence.
But if we do choose the crucible of intimacy as one of the
greatest illuminators of our unlived lives, as a true modern-day temple of
revelation, we can count on our partners to continuously reveal that which is
longing for integration within us, inviting it out of the shadows and into the
warmth of conscious awareness. This reminder is often painful… but aches with
From this perspective, the promise of intimacy is freedom
and wholeness, not a life where there is no negativity, conflict, or pain. No
fantasy of a life free of vulnerability, heartbreak, and fiery deflation in all
its forms. We don’t get to stand on the sidelines, safe and protected by our
amazing spiritual realizations and insights. For we come to discover that the
beloved isn’t all that interested.
Within the sacred field where one and two dance, there is
no promise of consistently flowing high vibrations, unending joy, continuous
connection, and feelings of safety and certainty. For this is a full-spectrum
crucible of wholeness, weaved of light and dark, where everything is allowed.
Even the most profound feelings of abandonment, engulfment, jealousy, fear and
rage – even the most primordial of all, the anxiety around death – it is all
welcome here, arising for holding and integration. For this is the gift of
intimacy, all of it.
As we remove the burden from the external other to take
care of that which we have disowned in ourselves, we plant the seeds of a new
heart. For to return this task to us is the wildest, most tender, most
devastating act of love that they could offer.
Be sad. Fully. Not partially, for your longing will never
be satisfied by that which is partial. Love is full-spectrum and will unleash
all of its children here, including sadness, to awaken itself in all form. It
is an act of profound kindness to turn into the open, sore, achy caverns of the
heart and seed them with holding.
Allow yourself to fall apart, just for a moment. You can
put yourself back together soon. But for now… end the war. Call on the seen
and unseen ones to bear witness and hold you as you fall to the ground. Ask the
moon to help you, or a tree, a friend, a lover, a deer, an owl, or the mud of
the earth. There is guidance everywhere. Attune to the vision as it erupts
within and around you.
Waves of hopelessness, despair, and heartbreak… touch them,
give them a home, provide sanctuary and safe passage for the broken pieces to
unfold and illuminate. For they, too, are filled with light.
Dare to see that the presence of sadness is not evidence
that something is wrong with you. It does not mean you’ve “failed” or that you
are lacking in faith, trust, or gratitude. It doesn’t mean you need to meditate
better, become better at staying in the present moment, manifest the opposite
of sadness, or that you are lost or beyond redemption. It means you are alive.
Sadness is not something you need to fix, cure, or
transform. It need not be healed, but held. You need not shift sadness into
some “higher” state or apply teachings so that it will yield into something
else. For it is complete and pure on its own. You need not pathologize your
sadness or fall into the spell of a world that has abandoned the tender gold
buried inside your body.
Stay close to your sadness and surround it with curiosity,
presence, and warmth. With the fire of awareness and with the ally of your
breath, descend underneath the story of the sadness and into the crucible. Go
on a journey into the core of the feeling, the sensations, the images, and the
raw, shaky life that is longing to be held. And listen.
It is by way of this journey that sadness will be revealed
to be what it is, a secret wisdom-guide and bridge into the universal heart,
come to remind us of something we’ve forgotten in a world that has gone a bit
It’s so natural to want to alleviate disturbing feelings,
transform difficult emotions, and heal unexplainable somatic manifestations.
This yearning need not be pathologized, but held in spacious awareness. Honor
the longing for relief, while simultaneously opening into the mystery.
Before you turn from the symptom, enter into relationship
with it. Practice intimate communion with the signs, the symbols, the images,
and the feelings. Travel into the center of the sensations, the emotions,
and the ancient core beliefs. Drop inside the vulnerability, the achiness, the
claustrophobia, and sink into the hot, sticky surging field of the inner world,
illuminating the pathways with the light of awareness.
Remember the vow you once made to no longer abandon what
you are. Surround the fire with the cooling rains of embodied, attuned
resonance, flooding the crucible of your body with the waters of slowness,
curiosity, and kindness.
Hold the symptom close. Set aside the habitual movement to
trace back its origins, or to become lost in conditioned interpretation, which
will only keep you orbiting around the aliveness that is attempting to break
through. The symptom is a portal into wholeness, but this mystery has been lost
in a world that has forgotten. As an archeologist of the heart, you will unlock
the mystery for the benefit of beings everywhere. For this work is never for
Enter inside, slow down, and open: What is the purpose of
this visitor? Why has it come? What guidance is it offering for the way ahead?
Where is it leading me? What is its secret meaning?
Listen carefully. Are you being asked to change something
about your life? To remember what is most important to you? How have you lost
contact with the magic of your own heart, and the erupting reality of the
While it may appear that they symptoms are devoid of
meaning, random, and are working against you, things are not always as they
seem. Your true nature is that of relentless creativity, and love will appear
in infinite forms in order to remind you of what is truly happening here in
this lonely, luminous star.
There is seen and unseen guidance all around you, though it
may never look quite like you imagined. Inside your body is consecrated and
outrageous intelligence. In this sense, healing is not found in the removal of
the symptom, but in the intimate union with it.
The freedom you are longing for
will never be found in the eradication of the unwanted, but only in the
transmuting love and information it carries.
When you are hooked and your emotional world is on fire,
slow way, way down. Touch your heart. Send awareness into the muddy earth. For
just a moment, drop under the vivid storyline into the hot, sticky,
claustrophobic energy surging in your body. Into a sea of information.
An old, orphaned aspect of yourself is expressing its
longing. It is yearning to be allowed back home, so that it may reclaim its
place in the internal family. Open your raw heart. Stay close. And listen.
Please know me. Please hold me. Please care for me. Provide
sanctuary where we can come into relationship once again. I am not here to harm
you, only to remind you of how whole you truly are. I am filled with sacred
data, but it can only be released into a field of kindness.
Love would never turn from one of her children. Likewise,
let us not turn from the guests of the heart, but provide a warm home where
they can rest from a long journey. Once rested, they will illuminate the way