Sunday, January 19, 2020

A parting of the veil


Falling apart, holding it all together. Then falling apart, then coming back together. Cycles of clarity and confusion. Hopelessness and hope. Heartbreak and bliss. Knowing who we are and why we are here in one moment, deflated in the next as the way we thought it would all turn out is dissolved into the vast.

Inside the opposites it is alive and creative, but there is no solid ground from which to orient. No familiar reference point to look back to or rest in. Only tenderness. Open. Pregnant. Potential. Shaky. But what will be reborn from the ashes has not yet been given.

The tendency in these moments is to rush to rebirth in an urgent attempt to reassemble the known, where it is believed safety and aliveness is to be found. We can honor the adaptive function this belief has provided, while discovering for ourselves if this perceptual organization is able to meet the longing wired within the cells of this heart.

If we remain too identified with “falling apart,” we lose contact with that which was never unhealed, untransformed, and was never “together” to begin with. That innate radiance, the holiness of the breath, and the miracle of having an open sensitive nervous system. We disconnect with the magic of embodied presence, the wisdom of the mud and the earth, and the unshakable confidence in our true nature.

But if we remain too identified with “holding it all together,” we split off from our organic spontaneity, imaginative vulnerability, and the truth that love will take whatever form it must to reveal its qualities within us. Raw, achy, illuminating heartbreak may approach at any time, requesting safe passage inside. But it is through this broken aliveness that the poetry of our lives will flow.

Right in the middle of “falling apart” and “holding it together” is the secret place. Go there. It is here where light and dark are at play. For just a moment the veil parts. We peer behind the curtain and are astonished.



Photo by Sandro Porto



Falling in Love with Where You Are: Embracing the Joy and Heartbreak of Spiritual Awakening - our annual spring, five-day retreat - will take place April 22-27, 2020 at Sunrise Ranch in Loveland, Colorado, with myself and Jeff Foster. More information here

My online community, co-facilitated with Jeff Foster - Befriending Yourself: Discovering the Beauty in the Wounded and Broken Places - will be opening to new members later this month. Learn more here


My most recent book – The Path Is Everywhere: Uncovering the Jewels Hidden Within You – is available in both paperback and Kindle editions. 

My next book, A Healing Space: Befriending Ourselves in Difficult Times, will be published by Sounds True in 2020. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Spring retreat with Matt Licata & Jeff Foster


Dear friend,

I wanted to invite you to our annual spring retreat which will be held at Sunrise Ranch in Loveland, Colorado.

Falling in Love with Where You Are: Embracing the Joy and Heartbreak of Spiritual Awakening will take place from April 22-27 and will be facilitated by myself and my friend Jeff Foster.

Over these five days, we'll rest, meditate, open, laugh, cry, and turn together toward the Mystery.

Each day, Jeff and I will teach an individual session and then in the evenings we'll be together. There is the opportunity on the retreat to connect with like-minded friends and fellow travelers, in community, or to take the retreat more in silence, inwardly, quiet time with yourself (or a combination of both).

To learn more about the retreat or to register please visit the retreat page here. Seating is limited as well as space at the Ranch.

I hope to see you in April. But if you're not able to make it, I look forward to staying connected with you in ways seen and unseen.

With love,

Matt

Sunday, January 12, 2020

The work of grief


Sometimes I wonder if all therapy isn’t grief therapy when all is said and done.

The original Greek therapeia referred to attending, caring for, sending breath into. Not “curing,” “fixing” or even “healing,” not these heavy clinical words. But by way of our own tenderness, to infuse with life. To surround with warmth, to take the risk that this holding will always ask of us.

To be a midwife for psychic and somatic reorganization, to bear witness to the birth of a new heart, one which will inevitably ache and long and break and shatter and open and crumble in the face of it all. For that is the nature of this human form, which is crafted of particles of mystery, of mercy, of grace.

Things tend to not turn out the way we thought they would, for they are too alive, too magical, too majestic. This “not turning out the way we thought” is not evidence of mistake or that we’ve failed or done life wrong, but of the beloved and her activity here. And her outrageous care for form.

To fall to the ground, to stand back up again, to fail well, to be lost, to be found, realizing that love will assume any of these forms, shifting shapes as it spirals out of the stars and makes its way into this miracle world of time and space.

To grieve the crumbling and ending of one world, the death of a dream that has finished its time here. To allow that dissolution and provide sanctuary and safe passage for these forms to continue their journey into the other world.

The grief of knowing on some deep level that all form must reorganize, for it is its nature to do so: The people in our lives, what we have come to think we are, what has previously provided meaning, our bodies, our own worlds of experience, with even our greatest revelations ground into dust and sent back into the galaxies from which they came.

To turn toward the broken and grieve consciously, to honor the uncertainty, collecting the shards and the ashes and shepherding them. To dare to see the dissolution not as error but as holy, painfully and preciously whole, and to stand in awe as the pieces reassemble.



Photo of Rampart Lakes by Sergei Akulich near Cle Elum, Washington



Falling in Love with Where You Are: Embracing the Joy and Heartbreak of Spiritual Awakening - our annual spring, five-day retreat - will take place April 22-27, 2020 at Sunrise Ranch in Loveland, Colorado, with myself and Jeff Foster. More information here

My online community, co-facilitated with Jeff Foster - Befriending Yourself: Discovering the Beauty in the Wounded and Broken Places - will be opening to new members later this month. Learn more here


My most recent book – The Path Is Everywhere: Uncovering the Jewels Hidden Within You – is available in both paperback and Kindle editions. 

My next book, A Healing Space: Befriending Ourselves in Difficult Times, will be published by Sounds True in 2020. 

Thursday, January 2, 2020

How well did I love?


It is so easy to take for granted that tomorrow will come, that another opportunity will be given to bear witness to a sunset, take a walk in the forest, listen in awe to the birds, or share a moment of connection with the one in front of us. But another part knows how fragile it truly is here, how tenuous, and the reality that this opening into life will not be here for much longer.

Before we realize it, we can so easily fall into the trance of postponement. The spell of tomorrow looms large in the personal and collective psyche.

At the end of this life – which is sure to come much sooner than we think – it is unlikely we'll be caught up in whether we accomplished all the tasks on our to-do lists, played it safe, healed all the wounds from our past, wrapped up our self-improvement project, or completed some mythical spiritual journey.

Inside these hearts there may be only one burning question: how well did I love?

There are soul-pieces and lost parts orbiting in and around us, the ghosts of our unlived lives; those aspects of ourselves that have not been allowed safe passage. To attend to that which remains unlived – to listen to its poetry and provide sanctuary for its emergence – is a radical act of compassion.

One day we will no longer be able to look at, touch, or share a simple moment with those we love. When we turn to them, they will be gone. One moment will be our last to encounter the immensity of one more breath, experience awe at a color or a fragrance or the blooming of a violet, or to enter into union with the vastness of the sea.

It will be our last chance to see a universe in a drop of rain, to have a moment of communion with a friend, or to weep as the light yields to the night sky.

One last moment to have a thought, feel an emotion, fall in love, or listen to a piece of music. To know heartbreak, joy, sorrow, and peace – to behold the outrageous mystery of what it truly means to be a sensitive, alive, connected human being.

What if today is that last day? Or tomorrow? Or later this week?

Knowing that death will come, how will we respond to the sacred and brief appearance of life?

Perhaps our “life's purpose” has nothing to do with what job we will find, what new thing we will manifest or attract for ourselves, or what mythical awakening journey we will complete. Perhaps the purpose of our life is to fully live, finally, to touch each here and now moment with our presence and with the gift of our one, wild heart.

And to do whatever we can to help others, to hold them when they are hurting, to listen carefully to their stories and the ways they are attempting to make sense of a world that has gone a bit mad. To speak kind words and not forget the erupting miracle of the other as it appears in front of us. Perhaps this is the most radical gift we can give.



Photo by Peggy Choucair



Falling in Love with Where You Are: Embracing the Joy and Heartbreak of Spiritual Awakening - our annual spring, five-day retreat - will take place April 22-27, 2020 at Sunrise Ranch in Loveland, Colorado, with myself and Jeff Foster. Tickets will go on sale on January 1. More information here

My online community, co-facilitated with Jeff Foster - Befriending Yourself: Meditative, Nondual, and Depth Psychological Perspectives - is currently closed to new members. To learn about the program and put your name on the mailing list for future re-opens, please visit the site here


My most recent book – The Path Is Everywhere: Uncovering the Jewels Hidden Within You – is available in both paperback and Kindle editions. 

My next book, A Healing Space: Befriending Ourselves in Difficult Times, will be published by Sounds True in 2020.