Thursday, January 21, 2021

A Healing Space


Dear friends,

While writing A Healing Space: Befriending Ourselves in Difficult Times, I had no idea where we were headed and how deeply our lives would be touched over the months to come.

Many of us are experiencing a deep restlessness and uncertainty, not knowing what’s coming next or how to best navigate during this transitional period. But it is precisely in times such as these that unique doorways to deep healing and transformation open, often in unexpected ways.

It’s so important right now to rest our nervous systems, to spend time each day in activities that ground, center, and guide us gently back into the experience of safety and connection.

There are so many ideas about what “healing” is, however many of them are outdated and misattuned to our actual lived experience. In moments of fierce grace, when the rug is pulled out from underneath us, our lenses of perception become ripe for revisioning.

There is an inevitable reorganization that occurs as part of the healing process. While it is so very human to “skip over” this essential phase and get to the promised rebirth, doing so prematurely prevents us from accessing the wisdom within the restructuring itself.

The alchemists, yogis, and mystics knew the importance of dissolution and experienced it as initiatory. It is the crumbling of an old dream – my life and the way I was so sure it was going to turn out – that provides the rich soil for creative, embodied transformation.

In order to be initiated in this way, we must slow down – and with a passionate, alive, and earthy compassion – attune to what is unfolding and being illuminated right now.  To take some time to mourn the reassembling of our world and to grieve all that we will inevitably lose as we heal and awaken.

It is an act of kindness to remember that the transformational process by its very nature is messy, glorious, and full spectrum… not only an act of creation, but one of destruction as well.

I wrote A Healing Space as an invitation into the temple of your own body, as a pathway back into the depths of your own soul, using the images and metaphors from rich and diverse traditions such as neuroscience, alchemy, contemplative practice, and the poetic imagination. It was written to be a loving companion to walk with you into the mysteries of your own heart.

In the end, perhaps it is really only love that matters now. But just what that is must be discovered in the fire of your own immediate experience, where there is unseen wisdom and guidance for the way ahead.

I hope you enjoy the book and find it to be a true friend accompanying you into the majesty that you are.

A Healing Space is now available wherever you purchase books, including eBook and audio editions. To learn more, read editorial reviews, or purchase a copy, please visit Amazon, Sounds True, Barnes & Noble, Bookshop, or Book Depository

Warmly,

Matt


P.S. My next online course -
Resting Your Nervous System: Embodying a Trauma-Sensitive Spirituality and Discovering a Felt Sense of Safety - will start in March. To receive information about the course, a free talk that I'll give about it, and all of the details, please sign up to the mailing list at Befriending Yourself.

 

 


Sunday, January 17, 2021

The spiral of grief


Grief is not something we “get over” by following pre-prescribed stages, but a partner that we dance, play, honor, argue, and weep with as the cycles unfold. Its appearance and the ways it longs to be tended are unique for each person.

The timeline for this voyage is not knowable by the psychiatric community, nor by insurance panels or teachers of spirituality, but is birthed and unfolds within the open pathways of the holy human nervous system. To rush, force, or pathologize the experience of grief is to work against nature.

The grieving process may not have an endpoint or state of completion in which we come to some final resolution, where we “finish” and land in some untouchable place, free from our embodied vulnerability, somatic aliveness, and from falling apart and breaking open yet again. For it is this alchemical rotation of vast cycles of rupture and repair that touch and open the human soul.

While it may be tempting to hold some fantasied end state as a goal which we reach as we “master” life or learn endless new metaphysical theories, the heart is not interested in mastery. But in entering, playing, and unfolding the mystery in more subtle and sensitive ways.

The heart itself is endless, and the visitors of grief may companion us in their various forms for a lifetime. They arrive not to harm, but to reveal a portal into wholeness, mercy, and luminosity. Shifting shapes, circulating, and rotating, as they open and close passageways in the landscape of the interior pathways.

Grief is not so much a process that we “make it through,” but a non-linear, purifying midwife and shepherd of the unknown. It moves not by way of straight line, but by that of circle and spiral.


Photo by Myeongae Lim


Tuesday, January 12, 2021

A holy reunion


When we are hurting, scared, and touched by emotional pain, there is a deep longing wired within us to be companioned, for a safe soothed nervous system to resonate and co-regulate with.

So much of our wounding – our grief, rage, trauma, heartbreak – is relational and is also embodied. That which we’re unable to integrate will drop into our bodies and held in an open, sensitive, holy limbic system… where it remains until conditions are ripe for re-emergence and healing.

While understanding by way of left-brain processing can be helpful and supportive, it is right-brain immersion in safety which fosters reorganization. The body will reorganize when it feels safe.

It is a corrective emotional experience, or we could say a reparative neural experience that brings that sacred soothing, where the orphaned emotions, sensations, and impulses are able to be held within a shared field of resource.

It is as if the little one, left behind at the moment of traumatic impact, is peeking his or her sweet little heart and head out into the interactive field and wondering, “Is it safe yet?” “Can I return home?” “Can I play again?”

They come surging into the relational field, not to harm or take us down, but for reunion, to receive what was needed at the time, but for whatever reason was not available. They will never give up and, like love, are relentless in that way.

While we are wired to co-regulate with another, let us be open to the nature of this “other,” which is oriented in the mystery and may nearer than we have come to imagine – hidden inside the colors, forests, and unexpected pathways.

As the veil parts just a bit, we may discover that it’s more creative, more intelligent, more (bitter)sweet and achy and majestic than we ever expected.


Photo by Sasin Tipchai