Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A special ally

There is a momentous shift in your center of gravity when you fully allow in the reality that there is nothing wrong with you. And that the mere presence of very intense feelings, emotions and narratives is not evidence that something is wrong or that you have failed. Rather, it is evidence of how alive you are.

The implications of this will change your world forever, and it is important to be honest as to whether this is really what you want.

While there is a part of us that genuinely longs to heal and to awaken, there are unconscious parts that know what is required. The unworthy one, the unseen one, the unlovable one, and the flawed one… they have been your trusted emissaries on a long journey, and have served to protect you from the surging immediacy of your raw, naked, vulnerability.

Without them you will be left with nothing, with everything, and with the relentless creativity and openness of the human heart. But this realm is that of the unknown and will never, ever conform to how you thought it was going to be.

The forms that love take will always fall apart, for this is their nature. But love itself is that which never comes and goes. If we become too fused with a specific form we believe we need love to take, our heart will always break when love recycles that form for something new, which it always will. Honor the forms while they are here and then allow them to reorganize.

Before you spin to heal your broken heart, ask first if it wishes to be mended. Heartbreak is a special ally and is unlike any other, for it is out of this brokenness that love will find safe passage here.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

The path is everywhere

Never, ever underestimate the power of love. Even one moment of empathic, attuned contact can change a person forever. Please don’t forget that for many, they have never actually known the erupting power of unconditional holding.

While you may be burning with the need to talk a struggling friend out of their experience – overflowing with solutions, techniques, and secret spiritual processes – stay attuned… for this may not be what they are longing for. Listen carefully, not just to the words, but to what is emanating out of the center of their heart.

Through your presence, your eyes, your touch, and your language, hold them so that they are reminded that surging vulnerability, heartbreak, confusion, and uncertainty is not evidence that something is wrong with them. But is a reminder of how alive they are, and the realities of being a sensitive, open, naked human being on a star where love is present.

One of the greatest gifts you can give to another is that of a regulated, calm, soothing nervous system. Provide a permission field where they can come to rest, exactly as they are, without needing to be something different in order for you to stay close.

Together, you will be midwives of integration, weaving a holding space for the unfolding of what is longing to be met within them. The path is everywhere.

Photo of the holding field of the Carina Nebula

Saturday, May 28, 2016

In the middle is the secret place

Falling apart, then holding it all together. Then falling apart, then coming back together again. Cycles of integration and disintegration. Chaos and cohesion. Stillness and rest. Clarity and confusion. As flows the natural world, the unfolding of the heart is alive and relentlessly creative. It is unlikely to turn out the way you thought it would. This is not evidence that something has gone wrong, but of how open it really is here.

If you remain too identified with “falling apart,” you lose contact with the radiance within, and become misattuned to the flow of somatic experience, exactly as it is. You disconnect with the intelligence of embodied presence, with the wisdom of the earth, and with the realization that nothing has ever been wrong with you. You forget that the darkness, when provided sanctuary, is brighter than a thousand suns.

But if you remain too identified with “holding it all together,” you disconnect from your natural vulnerability and the spontaneous mystery as it appears, turning from the surging reality that your heart could break at any moment. It is true that raw, tender heartbreak could approach at any time, requesting safe passage inside you. But it is through this broken aliveness that the poetry of your life will flow.

Right in the middle of “falling apart” and “holding it together” is the secret place. Stay there. Explore there. It is here where you will find the rest you are longing for, the remedy to the exhaustion of becoming. It is here where the light and the dark are in union, where integration and disintegration emerge as one in love, and where lunar and solar weave together particles of the sacred world.

Artist unknown

Thursday, May 26, 2016

The gift of integration

In a moment of activation, your inner family has assembled, including both invited and uninvited guests. While it is tempting to describe what is happening - “I’m angry,” “I’m sad,” “I’m depressed,” “I’m lonely,” or “I’m scared,” go further… these labels will never, ever touch the majesty that you are.

Gathering in the here and now are perceptions, emotions, and raw sensations, your fellow journeyers on the path ahead. Slow way down and offer sanctuary for the visitors, for they each have something important to share. Feel the earth supporting you – the sun, the moon, the trees, and the stars – as you renew your vow to never abandon yourself and the truth of your surging, immediate experience.

If you are triggered, it might help to work bottom-up and start with the raw sensations. Set aside the story for just a moment – you will come back to it from a place of presence soon. Shift your awareness out of the dysregulating narrative of what is happening and into your body. What is appearing for holding and integration? What are you feeling in your belly, in your heart, and in your throat? No interpretation, for now… just raw feeling.

Then turn toward the emotional tone, the felt sense of what it is like to be you, right now. Still staying underneath the level of interpretation, meet your raw experience. Enter into communion with the aliveness of you, and of the emotional and somatic landscape. It is filled with intelligence, though it is a wisdom that is not always knowable by the mind. Touch the earth, breathe deeply, and bring your senses back online into the here and now. Rest for a moment in embodied presence.

Then, when you are back online and the fire has calmed a bit, return to the very vivid narrative, and with the slowness of presence inquire into the story you are telling about yourself, others, and the world. Look carefully and see if it is the story of a little one yearning for empathic holding and to be seen, or if it is the story of an adult, longing to participate fully and consciously in the unresolvable mysteries of love. And see if you are ready to update the narrative, to tell a more integrated, nuanced, and spacious story about your life. This re-authoring is a great gift of love that you can offer to yourself and the world.

Provide yourself with the gift of integration, of weaving together the story, the emotions, the felt sense, and the raw sensations. Nothing is wrong with you. You are not “the angry one,” “the scared one,” “the unhealed one,” or “the unworthy one.” These ones come and go in the vastness that you are. These waves of emotion, feeling, and sensation are not evidence that something is wrong with you and that you have failed, but that you are sensitive, open, and alive. Each moment is unprecedented, and a portal back into your true nature.

Photo by Sterling Salman

Monday, May 23, 2016

A cure through love

It was Freud, in a letter to Carl Jung, who said: “psychoanalysis in essence is a cure through love.” It hurts so much when those around us are suffering, but what can we do? How can we help? What is the most effective way to respond to their sadness, their anxiety, their grief, and their flatness? We hear that to truly love another is the most powerful form of healing, but what does this actually mean?

Listen carefully not only to the words they are saying, but to the secretlanguage that is emerging from their hearts, from their bodies, from their entire being. Make contact with the primordial longing in them to be met, to feel felt, to be heard, to be received, exactly as they are.

As you set aside your requirement that their experience shift, change, or transform according to the unmet ‘other’ within you, a field of permission opens, where their inner world can unfold and illuminate, without any pressure that they be someone other than they are in that moment. Join them in a raging sort of trust in the utter validity of their experience, no longer pathologizing the uninvited guests of grief, despair, hopelessness, and confusion.

When we are held in this way, our nervous systems down-regulate, our minds soften, our hearts open, and we come into an ancient sort of rest. While our true nature as pure, open awareness is the ultimate holding environment, as relational beings we are wired to rest within a relational matrix. To enter into this field with another – weaved and constructed by the alchemical substances of presence and of space – is one of the great secrets of the embodied world.

When we allow ourselves to become the vast space in which the other's experience can be exactly what it is – without any agenda that they see the world as we do or have only those feelings which we are comfortable with – we find ourselves in a crucible outside ordinary time and space. It is here where the wounds of the heart are metabolized and where previously unresolved psychic, emotional, and somatic tangles are unwound, illuminated, and reorganized by the fiery activity of love.

While we'll never know exactly what Freud meant in his letter to Jung, I like to think (fantasize?) that it was something along these lines.

Photo by James Estrin/ New York Times