Tuesday, January 23, 2018

To cry new tears

I was speaking with a very courageous woman today* who was sharing a bit of her inner world with me. She has been through a lot, including the death of her son, and is stepping into a new world.

During our conversation, I was stopped dead in my tracks at something she said and, even more so, by the experiential world that we were taken into together. It struck me so deeply I lost the ability to think, nearly the ability to breathe.

She was describing a recent experience where she became overwhelmed with the beauty and fullness of a moment, and noticed herself weeping. But these were no ordinary tears. They were neither tears of joy nor grief nor of any previously known state.

She was crying new tears.

Tears of a future not yet known, tears that emerged from the very core of her true nature, tears that formed from her very essence. Tears of the oceans and the stars and the sun and the moon.

We both felt the immensity and majesty of that invitation, the capacity and the willingness to cry new tears. The mercy held in that.

We were reflecting upon what it was that the world most wanted and needed from her right now. Together, we realized it wasn’t that she accomplish this or that, or complete any particular item on her to do list, or provide any sort of specific offering or service. But only that she be willing to cry new tears. That this was way more than enough.

May we each in our own way discover the capacity and the willingness to cry new tears, to fully participate in this life, to follow our own path, knowing that our hearts are sure to break along the way. So that they may somehow be made whole again.

*Shared with permission

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

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

Sunday, January 21, 2018

The ultimate holding environment

Many are familiar with the term “holding environment” as elucidated by Winnicott, a warm and poetic description of a relational configuration rooted in empathic attunement, resonance, warmth, and presence.

It is from such a matrix of experience that we can explore ourselves and the world around us, resting and playing in unstructured states of being. From this ground of safety, we are able to take a risk, lead with our vulnerability, and stay embodied to the full range of human feeling.

Any effective holding environment is weaved of qualities of adequate contact and space – where we feel felt, seen, validated, and understood – while at the same time not engulfed by the other, where our unique psychic landscape is honored, and not impinged upon.

An effective holding environment is the soil from which a little baby’s brain and heart and nervous system can grow. What a miracle. Real magic.

While honoring the interpersonal aspect of holding, there is a transpersonal dimension as well. From this perspective, open awareness itself is the ultimate holding environment. Training ourselves to access, become familiar with, and relax into our true nature reveals the deeper dimensions of contact and space.

While as an infant we depended upon another to provide this environment for us, in which we could explore primordial beingness, it is actually here at all times. Every thought, feeling, emotion, image, and sense perception are made of space – pure, luminous, warm, and undifferentiated from awareness itself. They are held in the womb of Now, overflowing with the qualities of warmth, transparency, compassion, and light.

From this perspective, our true nature is the quintessential holding environment, weaved of the essence and substances of space, contact, and warmth. Those substances which cause a little nervous system to develop are the same that keep the stars from falling out of the sky.

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

My next event is a five-day retreat, The Place the Light Enters, with Jeff Foster, April 4-9 at Sunrise Ranch in Loveland, CO. As of today, we're about 60% sold out. 

Friday, January 19, 2018

A full-spectrum approach

Approaches that focus exclusively on working with patterns of thinking are not always able to get at important material which emerged prior to the acquisition of language. In my experience, it is overly reductive to assume that thought-based inquiry is subtle enough to adequately attend to the mystery that is the human person.

In working with practitioners skilled at conceptually-based inquiry, we sometimes discover quite a lot of undigested feeling that remained untouched by thought-based practice. There is something else longing to be attended to, something more nuanced and subtle, that thought-based inquiry was unable to reach.

For material that organized prior to the acquisition of language – encoded implicitly outside conscious awareness – other methods seem to be required. It’s not that one approach is “better” or more “spiritual,” but more a question of what is most skillful for a particular person at a particular time struggling in a particular way.

As the Buddha noted, there are an infinite number of medicines for an infinite number of sentient beings suffering in an infinite number of ways. There is no one-sized-fits-all for the human heart. We are vast. We are mysterious. No one method has a monopoly on approaching the beauty, tenderness, pain, and glory of the human experience.

Often, this unknown material is best accessed via the body, emotion, image, fantasy, dream, and in other nonverbal ways within the relational field, not by way of further inquiry into thinking. What we are not able to access and articulate has a way of being evoked in others, enacted in our relationships, and requires a certain alchemical vessel in order to emerge into awareness so that we may attend to it.

This is not to critique the importance of working at the cognitive level, which is critical to how we’ve come to organize and make sense of our experience. I’m a fan. But there is a lot more going on. It is an act of wise, skillful, compassionate activity to open to the full-spectrum and not get caught in only one way of attending to the depth of the soul, the mystery of the heart, and the magic of what it means to be human.

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

My next event is a five-day retreat, The Place the Light Enters, with Jeff Foster, April 4-9 at Sunrise Ranch in Loveland, CO. Tickets went on sale on January 1st, 2018 and registration will be taken in the order it is received.