Friday, June 10, 2016

The heart knows

We are wired as little ones to do whatever it takes to maintain the tie to our caregivers, including disconnecting from specific feelings, emotions, and ways of being that threaten the attachment bond. This isn’t because we were neurotic, pathological, not “spiritual” enough, caught in a “low vibration,” or victim of some sort of “personality disorder.” Rather, these were acts of breathtaking creativity, designed to prevent disintegration and overwhelming dysregulation in tender nervous systems and ripening little hearts.

Rather than shame ourselves for our protective strategies, we might see them as a certain kind of grace, descending upon us to keep us alive, hearts beating, and open to the mystery of the human journey. Instead of spinning off into blame and rage, we could honor the activity of even early disembodiment as the reflection of a cosmic sort of intelligence. The path will appear in infinite forms, including in ways the mind will never understand. But the body knows. The heart knows.

From the perspective of wholeness, there is no “wound” from the past that must first be healed in order for you to fully show up here. In one miracle instant you can end the dream of postponement. In each radiant here and now moment, the abandoned material is on vivid display around you, appearing as your feelings, your emotions, the anxiety in your belly, as your lovers, your children, even as a dripping purple sunrise above you. It will never give up. It will search for you forever, yearning for just one moment of your time, your holding, and your warm embrace. It is surging out of the relational matrix seeking metabolization and completion within you.

It is the most radical act of fierce embodied care to send warmth, awareness, and holding into the core of unmet rage, shame, despair, and heartbreak – and to cut the momentum of abandonment and the developmental need to fight or flee. It is a tremendous act of kindness to infuse presence into the center of the raw sensations as they ripple through your torso, arising as expressions of sacred, revelatory data.

No matter how things are going for you, you can start right where you are, for very short periods of time. Surround and contain the intensity, as it surges for integration. Even for one second. Two seconds. And then three seconds. Push yourself a little, with fiery, committed self-love, but not so much that you go into overwhelm. Find a friend, a therapist, a teacher, a lover, a co-worker, a baby, a tree, a deer, an owl, an ocean, a moon, a star to bear witness with you.

It will take everything you have to re-establish the pathways of aliveness, eventually coming to see that they have been on fire inside you all along. You must decide if it is worth the burning, the uncertainty of the unknown, and the non-negotiable requirement to stay embodied to your vulnerability along the way.

I have been honored to accompany many courageous men and women who have decided that it was. And for that I am grateful. Please know that your work is never for yourself alone.


  1. Such incredible words of love and courage. This sums up what I have found in myself as I go through recovery from traumatic events that traumatised me for so many previously unknown reasons. Now that I am coming through to a more peaceful stage, the need for courage and compassion continues, because once you have experienced the full spectrum of human nature within yourself you can't help but see it working in all its forms all around you. I once felt isolation around people and deep connection in nature, now I feel connection with both people and nature and often take the time to really listen to someone else and make time for others, and I really mean make time. I listened to a colleague's woes the other day and with a few simple questions helped them along their way that day. The next day I received a thankyou message that said, Helping one person may not change the world, but it can change the world for one person. It brought me to tears that truly being there for each other can have such a profound impact on another being. Your blogs have certainly been there for me since I discovered them a few months ago and I am so grateful for your courageous and deeply honest words.

  2. There is such shame around mental health illnesses, like you haven't got your sh*t together and this blogpost is like a big warm hug of comfort in a cold wilderness. Thank you.