Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Untangling the pathways

Some are put in the position of emotionally taking care of an adult early in their lives, at a time when they themselves need more than anything to have their own inner experience mirrored back to them. A template is formed which, until compassionately confronted with clear seeing, orients the way they see themselves and engage in close, intimate relationship.

In these early configurations, the little one’s sense of self becomes tangled up in the other’s moods, anxiety, dissatisfaction, and well-being. The job of the little one is shifted from unstructured play and discovery into attending to the unlived life of a caretaker, a task that is not designed for a young nervous system, nor for a tender little heart.

If we look carefully, we might see how this template continues to play out in our lives. In our phobias around having/ expressing needs, in fixation on whether we’ve disappointed someone and what that means about us as a person, in the shakiness around allowing another to matter. In the terror of relationship, on the one hand, and in the painful longing for it on the other. In the existential confusion about where we end and the other begins. In the ancient conclusion that caring for another requires a deeply rooted disavowal of our own psyche, body, and heart.

We come to see our own self-worth through the changing emotional states of those around us, on guard at all times: Have I disappointed someone? What can I do to make them feel better? Should I take more responsibility for the unfulfilled longing in their hearts? They are heartbroken, surely that is somehow traceable back to me, right? I’ve failed somehow, right? As a little one longing for any sort of empathic connection, we’d be willing to do just about anything to receive even a limited amount of holding.

Articulating, illuminating, and untangling the tentacles of this template can go a long way in healing chronic feelings of shame and unworthiness, where we begin to differentiate our worth as a person from the moods, suffering, struggle, and unlived life of others. The invitation is to withdraw the projection of our own worth from others and locate it inside ourselves. This withdrawal is a great act of kindness, both for ourselves and the world. And also for them.

For it is by way of this disentangling that we can love ourselves, and others, and act from the radical force of true compassion, not merely re-enact the old pathways of self-abandonment. 

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

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

Sunday, November 26, 2017

The eruption of a core vulnerability

When caught in the grip of an ancient, limiting belief; when you’ve fallen down the rabbit hole of unworthiness, shame, and blame, convinced that something is wrong with you; or when a core vulnerability has erupted and is coloring perception… the outline of a new path appears.

It starts with the willingness to pause, to slow way down, to cut the momentum, and to allow the visitors safe passage, to provide sanctuary for the allies of wholeness, as they bring light to hidden places.

For just one moment, shift your sacred life force out of the repetitive thinking, for it has lost its freshness, spontaneity, and creativity. It can be re-enchanted at a later time, after you’ve tended to the raw life that has come from beyond.

Rather than trying to understand, transform, or heal the old voices (you’ve tried a million times), just this one time instead descend into the mystery and the non-conceptual aliveness of the body. Drop into the vastness of space. Use your breath to enter into that field of not-knowing and into pure imagination.

Open your senses and meet what has come, what has found you in the inner temple. Listen. See. Touch. Feel. Sense.

Attend to the fire as it blazes. Allow the slow, healing rains of kindness to soak your belly, your throat, and your heart. As awareness begins to drift back up into the old, vivid, compelling story of what has gone wrong, gently return it into the open field.

Attend to the flow of energy as it circulates. Hold yourself in a new way. At a later moment, from the ground of a calm, soothed, spacious nervous system, you can go back in and explore meaning. You can engage thinking from the spirit of play, re-authoring and re-enchanting the words, discovering a new story and new purpose.

In a moment of activation, you need not follow the ancient path of self-abandonment, shame, blame, and self-aggression, especially during times when you need yourself more than ever. Choose something different. Just this time. Even for one or two seconds, that is enough. A new world is born from that.

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

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

Thursday, November 23, 2017


On this new Thanksgiving day, it is so easy to take for granted that tomorrow will come – that another opportunity will be given to witness a sunrise, to spend a moment with those we love, to be astonished at the crystals in the newly fallen snow, to truly behold the majesty of the deer on our morning walk.

But another part of us knows it is so fragile here, so precarious, so outrageously precious and at times so heartbreaking, and that this opening into life will not be here for much longer. Recognizing this, let us give thanks on this new day by no longer postponing our time here, by not waiting any longer. By remembering what's most important to us and what it is that truly matters. By doing whatever we can to help others, by listening to them so that they feel felt, by holding them as we enter into the mystery together.

At the end of this life, it is unlikely we'll be asking if we accomplished all the tasks on our to-do lists, manifested all the things we dreamed we wanted, played it safe, perfected ourselves, spent more time at work, or achieved all our inner and outer goals.

In that moment, there may be only one burning question left: how well did I love?

Did I pause each day to behold the utter miracle of just one unfolding here and now moment? Was I willing to take a risk, to feel more, to care deeply about this life, to allow another to truly matter to me, and to allow myself to feel awe at what is here? 

Did I stay close with the untamed, unresolvable movement of sweet and fierce grace as it took form as the others in my life, and as the wisdom flow of imagination, emotion, and sensation as it surged out of the stars and into my experience? Was I willing to fall in love, to truly fall in love with this life, and equally participate in the breaking of this one wild heart?

Did I spend my time here wisely, wandering with my fellow travelers as a humble servant of the mystery, open to the parting of the veil and the revelation of the temple that this place truly is?

What is it that remains unlived… for you? And what will you give to know this? To break the trance of postponement, to once and for all end the spell of unworthiness, and the dream that there is some love coming tomorrow. To remember what is most important and to organize your life around that.

The bounty and the harvest of thanksgiving is upon you, always already here, the true Kingdom, erupting in the here and now as the cells and the beating of your very own heart.

I hope I make it all the way through this sweetest of ever thanksgiving days, but if for some reason I do not, this would have been enough. I have been given so much more than enough.

Photo by Carl De Souza

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

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

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

When caught in a looping storyline

When you notice yourself caught in a looping storyline, shaming and blaming and attacking yourself and those around you, it can take a tremendous amount of life energy to cut the momentum. Habitual reaction to a waterfall of emotion and core beliefs occurs automatically, if not illuminated by new levels of compassionate awareness.

It can feel so urgent, this habit to spin, this need to find relief, as we disconnect from our senses, abandon our vulnerability, leave the tender fire in the belly, and lose contact with the life force as it longs to be met.

In these moments we are invited to walk a path, to encode new circuitry, and to lay down a new groove in an overstimulated nervous system. In order for the new pathway to take solid form, it must be fueled by action, by making a new choice, by doing something differently in a moment of activation.

To train ourselves to come out of a looping, unhelpful narrative and into the immediacy of our experience is a revolutionary act that upends the status quo of billions of moments of abandonment, dissociation, and self-aggression.

While it often feels impossible in the moment, we must discover for ourselves, to become alchemists of our own bodies, psyches, and hearts, to experiment and bring this new way into the world. Perhaps it is needed now more than ever.

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

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

Sunday, November 19, 2017

When sitting with a friend in pain

At times, you may find yourself with a friend who is upset, falling apart, confused, hopeless, sad, and afraid. Nothing is making sense anymore, they are overwhelmed, and the emotions are unrelenting.

You are unsure how to help.

While their pain may trigger you, and bring alive an avalanche of urgent, anxious, fixing energy – activating the shadows of your own unlived life - an invitation has appeared.

Slow way down. Ground awareness in your body and listen. Not just to the words they are saying, but to the secret request that is emerging out of their heart. Perhaps they are not asking for you to fix, cure, or even heal them. Perhaps their deepest longing is not for advice or teachings or even being reassured that everything is okay. It is not okay, and that is okay.

While you may be burning with the need to talk them out of their experience – overflowing with solutions, techniques, and processes – return into spaciousness. Infuse the environment with pause, rest, and resonance. With the slow circuits of empathy and presence, step into the vessel and seal it with non-urgent loving kindness.

This may not be the moment for you to give your friend an answer, but to hold them as you confront the vastness of the question together.

Offer the gift of a soothed, calm, and regulated nervous system. Turn your heart into a temple and sanctuary where together you can validate their feelings, and provide safe passage for their process to unfold. Do what you can so that they feel felt, that they need not heal in this moment in order for you to stay near.

Never, ever underestimate the power of love. Even one moment of empathic, attuned, contact can change our lives forever. Please don’t forget that for many, they have never actually known this sort of holding – or have had it in only very small amounts.

You have tremendous power to be a vessel in which healing can come into this world, to help another make new meaning and find new breath. To slowly dissolve the trance of unworthiness and know their true nature. Please do whatever you can. And please never, ever give up on love.

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

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

Friday, November 17, 2017

Regulating with another

While one goal may be to regulate very intense feelings and emotions on our own, at times the most skillful and kind approach is to reach out to another for help, for a friend or partner or therapist to share their soothed, relaxed, grounded nervous system such that we may regulate with them.

Where, together, we can return into our window of tolerance and breathe deeply, bringing in new perspective, new levels of meaning, and to reorganize our experience in a new way.

This reaching out to another is not a sign of “codependence” or that we’re doing it wrong or that we’ve failed, but is the reality of a human nervous system, which is a miracle, really.

We are relational beings with open, sensitive, vulnerable hearts and mirror neurons and can offer one another so much. To listen to one another and attune deeply to what our brothers and sisters are feeling and how they are making meaning of their experience.

It can be difficult to truly reach out to another when we are struggling, when we are suffering, confused, or in pain. Many of us did not have a safe place to share our feelings, our fears, our trauma, and our confusion. Stepping into this sort of trust is sure to bring forward so much within us.

It can also be challenging to listen, to feel deeply, and to let ourselves be touched by the pain and the struggle of another, as doing so has a way of constellating any unresolved emotional material deep within us. To set aside any demand that the other change, shift, transform, or heal – just for a moment – so that we can make contact without any agenda except to listen with our hearts open.

Yes, it’s hard. And at times heart-wrenching. But perhaps it is worth it. To take that sort of risk, to push ourselves just a little, to share ourselves with our friends, family, co-workers, lovers, and counselors. To reach out when we need help and to truly be there when that same request is made of us. To explore the realities of self-regulation and also co-regulation, self-love and other-love, to dance in those opposites as we move deeper into the mystery.

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

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

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

To bring light to the symptom

In a moment of activation, when our emotional world is on fire and we've fallen off center, an invitation arrives. An opportunity to choose something different, to encode new circuitry, and to replace the ancient pathway of self-abandonment with that of curiosity, awareness, and holding.

First, to slow way down and reaffirm an old vow to bring light to the symptom, to offer breath where there previously was none, and to care for ourselves in a way that was not possible until this very moment.

To drop into the body and feel our feelings, sense our sensations, and soothe our stimulated nervous system with compassion and presence. To send life into the belly, the heart, and the throat... and any other area which longs for our attention and kindness.

Once we have come back into our window of tolerance, with our feet resting in the earth - perhaps still a bit shaky, vulnerable, and open - from this more grounded aliveness in the here and now, we can begin to illuminate and reorganize the core beliefs that are looping with the emotional and somatic material. Engaging the path of neural integration, we bring together the various layers of our experience, explore their interrelations, and plant the seeds for future freedom.

To begin to unwind and infuse each level with new awareness, with understanding, with compassion, with attention. Untangling the wounds of the heart, the contractions of the body, and the conditioned narratives that have emerged in the attempt to make meaning of our lives. To send new life into the limited beliefs, painful feelings, and unskillful behaviors that have grown out of our response to trauma in all its forms - personal, cultural, intergenerational, and collective. To flood this material with breath, with spirit, and with soul.

To attend to each layer, in turn, bringing light into the darkness, in a way that is full spectrum. While awareness and insight are necessary and non-negotiable, perhaps even more important is the infusion of a new type of kindness and compassion. Mere insight is not enough. Conceptual awareness is not enough. Clarity is not enough. We have seen this. Rather, it is some activity of love that seems to be required, to give birth to a new world. But what this love is must be discovered by each of us, not as a concept, but as a movement of revelation within.

Photo: Colorado autumn glory

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

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

Monday, November 13, 2017

Unconventional allies

As we learn to trust the wisdom contained in our immediate experience as it is, we step inside a larger vision of what we are.

In the core of the fear, the uncertainty, the confusion, and the despair there is something real attempting to break through. Feeling is not pathology but a forerunner to wholeness. While it may appear that we have been forsaken, the wildness and creativity of the heart is always present. There is no off switch.

There is intelligence inside the symptom, but the nature of this light is very rarely in accord with the way we thought it was all going to turn out. At times, we are invited into the realm of the dust, back into not-knowing, a liminal place that is simultaneously disorienting, yet outrageously alive.

We can begin to embrace the very radical possibility that even the confusion, hopelessness, darkness, and doubt are valid and unique portals into our true nature. They are unconventional allies, operate outside the status quo, but are radical emissaries of love, come to remind us of something vast and majestic.

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

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

Saturday, November 11, 2017

The agony of an untold story

"Talk therapy" gets a bad rap these days, from caricatures of analysts and couches in cartoons to the shaming of "one's story" by certain forms of spirituality, quick to label any hint of narrative or subjectivity as evidence that a person has lost their way.

Clearly articulating our story, the way we have come to make meaning of our lives and experience, into a field of empathic, non-judgmental, attuned, right-brain to right-brain connection can be incredibly healing, reorganizing, and transformational.

While the reality of the power of a true I-Thou relationship has been known intuitively for a long time, the field of interpersonal neurobiology has discovered the mechanisms of what is actually happening during moments of empathic attunement, and the neural integration that is fostered within this field. This is not some sort of airy-fairy pseudoscience and positive thinking. Read the research and see. Or just open your heart and feel.

Often when I speak with someone who is deeply invested in their spiritual life, they will preface their communication with, "Well, I mean, not to get into my story or anything..." As if "having a story" was somehow evidence of not being spiritual. Something to be ashamed about. Some obstacle to transcend, "get over," or do away with, some clear manifestation of being "lost in the ego."

This is madness.

I love what Maya Angelou has to say on the matter, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” I find this to be so true.

Of course, it is important that as friends, therapists, counselors, and healers we work at multiple bands of the spectrum, also including the emotional, somatic, and spiritual. That we send breath and life into each level, using whatever skillful means at our disposal to attune to what area might most need attention at any given time.

As many of us know all too well, it is easy to drown in our stories, to fuse with them, and be flooded or engulfed; to forget that no story will ever fully encompass the entire majesty of what we are. But that is not indication that story is impure or an obstacle to our healing and awakening. There is pure wisdom buried in the story if we will take the time to allow its meaning to unfold. It is the fusion that is the issue, not the story. We must make this discernment in the fire of our direct experience.

The appearance and navigation of story is not evidence of some spiritual failure or that you've fallen short. But evidence that you are a human being. Welcome. We human beings are storytellers. It is a very valid, creative, and honorable aspect of our holy brains and nervous systems, of our souls. Rather than shame and attack our storytelling capacity as error, let us embrace it as a gift from the Gods, and engage it with our hearts open.

Get to know in a really clear way the story you are telling about yourself, others, and the world. Get curious. Listen closely. Travel inside the story, with breath, into its very core and secret places. Illuminate it with awareness and with compassion. From this ground, you can then decide if you’d like to update the narrative, re-craft the story of your life, re-envision a new perspective, re-enchant the plot and cast of characters, bringing forth a more integrated view, perhaps one that is more up to date and a reflection of the deepest truths that you've discovered, not just inherited from an earlier time.

The goal is not to "not have a story," but to have a flexible relationship with story, playing and dancing and dreaming with the lens through which you see yourself and engage reality. As a creative, open, and luminous pathway in which you journey as the hero or heroine of your own life. And to use your story as a way to connect with others, to truly meet and touch and be touched by them, to love and be loved. To help them with everything you have within you.

Go ahead. Tell a story. Dream a new dream. Author a new poem of your life. The Gods are listening. Your heart is listening.

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

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

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Updating the template

Painful feelings of shame and unworthiness have their origins in early empathic failure, chronic misattunement, and the reality of an inadequate holding environment. In order to make sense of this pain, we adopt a variety of limiting self-beliefs organized around the conclusion that “there is something wrong with me.” This primordial organization in a little nervous system sets off a template that can be very subtle, and can require tremendous levels of awareness and compassion to unwind.

Especially for those who were required to play the role of caretaker in early environments, where their entire sense of self came from abandoning their emotional world and attending to the other, they must go in as alchemists of the heart and the body and throw light into the dark places, for true compassion cannot arise from the activity of self-abandonment.

The invitation is to illuminate and update these beliefs (and their energetic resonances in the body), which have formed the lens though which we see ourselves and others, and the structure through which we engage in relationship. To begin to discover that these old compensatory beliefs are not true in any objective sense, but merely prior best efforts to make meaning of an earlier time, and carry absolutely no evidence whatsoever of your worth as a person.

To enter into relationship with the beliefs, the feelings, and raw sensations that long to be held. To enter into dialogue with the inner figures who seek just a moment of your attention – the scared little boy, the little girl full of rage, the ashamed and the forgotten, the lost and abandoned children of psyche and soma. To listen to her story, offer sanctuary and safe passage for his painful feelings, to flood him or her with a moment of pure empathy and compassion. To slowly begin to tend to that which could not be metabolized at an earlier time. To unburden the little one from the pain and trauma he or she has been carrying for so long.

When a painful feeling or sensation appears, slow way down and ask: what am I believing right now about myself that may be giving rise to this feeling? Flood the belief, the feeling, and the sensation with awareness, with warmth, with life, with breath. Start in the body and feel what is there, sense what is there, and then begin to uncover the limiting self-beliefs. And once they are out in open awareness, we can then begin our journey of re-authoring them into more integrated forms.

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

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

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Pain is not pathology

At times, you may be asked to sit with another who has been touched by the darkness. To allow them to fall apart in your arms, to unravel, to be without hope, and to feel lost. You may sense there is some sort of wisdom unfolding, but it is chaotic, groundless, and not easy to stay with.

While it is natural to want to do whatever you can to help them feel better, listen carefully to what it is they are truly asking for. Extend to them a calm, regulated nervous system, where their experience can be validated and held, exactly as it is. Ensure them – with words and with your presence – that they need not ‘get over it,’ ‘accept everything as it is,’ shift into a ‘higher vibration,’ ‘stay in the present,’ be cured, transformed, or ‘healed’ in order for you to stay close, and to love them.

To provide such an environment for another, you must first offer safe passage for the unmetabolized in yourself: the unmet sadness, abandoned shame, discarded grief, disavowed hopelessness, and deserted aloneness. If not, you may find yourself rushing to talk the other out of their experience, urgently spinning to relieve them of their feelings as a way to cut into your own anxiety and discomfort. All the while subtly and unconsciously disavowing the raging intelligence buried within the dark.

Together with them, make the commitment to not pathologize their experience. Pain is not pathology. Hopelessness is not pathology. Grief is not pathology. Shame and rage are not pathology. They are path. Seed this wisdom into the relational field and watch in awe as a new world unfolds.

As you attune to the ‘other’ in front of you – as well as to the alchemical ‘other’ within – feel the creative flow of love as it fills the space between, crafting you both as vessels of sanctuary for the pieces of the broken world, for the shards of confusion, and for the crumbled hopes and dreams that have dissolved in front of your eyes. Honor the holy truth that the forms that love take will always fall apart – for this is their nature – in order that they may come back together in more integrated and cohesive ways.

Within the aliveness of the relational field – despite the pain of the present, the traumas of the past, and the broken dreams of the future – you may see that it was only love after all, taking whatever form it must so that it may unfold itself into this world, in ways the mind will never understand.

Please do whatever you can to help others in whatever way you are able: attune to them, validate their feelings, listen carefully to what they are saying, and how they are making meaning of their lives. Feed them, hold them, speak kindly to them, allow them be what they are. And remind them that love is here and is alive.

Photographer unknown

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

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

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Vulnerability and aliveness are not two

While awakening carries with it a seed of rest and open flow, it will often break our hearts and shatter old dreams. This heartbreak is not evidence of error, but of wholeness, and just how full-spectrum the activity of love truly is. Not only does it introduce us to transfiguration, but to the chaotic glory of the crucifixion and resurrection as well.

Yes, the Kingdom is here, now, but in order to know this in the body we must be willing to fully participate in the opposites.

While it is natural to have a bias for resurrection, inside the crucible dark and light are one. Here, crucifixion is holy and disappointment is sacred, for they are forerunners of integration. Death and life are not two. Confusion and clarity are not two. Vulnerability and aliveness are not two.

While unresolvable to a mind longing for the reference point of what has come before, the contradictions are in union in the body, providing warmth in the tender core of your very own heart. 

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

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

Monday, November 6, 2017

The uniqueness of inner work for each person

In order to engage certain therapeutic and meditative practices, a certain degree of ego strength seems to be required, otherwise the practice can unconsciously be used in service of a more dissociative function. Where it may seem we are dissolving everything into open awareness, we must carefully discern whether we are actually engaging in splitting and repression.

We must use a lot of discernment and be careful not to confuse development of the self with “being lost in the ego” and all of the attending shame and attack that comes through that confusion. Doing so can generate a tremendous amount of additional suffering and struggle, as we become lost in disembodied spiritual jargon and half-baked ideas that developmental needs, emotional maturity, and the reality of relational trauma are “all in the mind,” “only a function of the ego” and all the rest of it.

Ironically, especially with methodologies that emphasize “no-self” or ego transcendence, it is easy to believe we are engaging these practices consciously while behind the scenes they are being used to unconsciously sidestep important developmental deficiencies and longings.

There seems to be a one-sized-fits-all mentality in the contemporary spiritual and self-help scene, but inner work is unique to the individual and may not always conform to collective norms. If a certain teaching or practice is not working for you, before you are led to conclude it is because you do not have enough “faith,” “discipline,” or “commitment,” or you are “stuck in a low vibration” or should be able to “just get over it,” you could pause in an act of kindness to consider deeply whether this practice or teacher or teaching is truly in service of your unique situation. Perhaps you are not “lost in your ego” but in touch with your heart, with your body, and with your innate intuition. Just perhaps.

In my experience, forcing a methodology or practice upon someone because we think it is the “best” or “most spiritual” one (and then subtly or not so subtly shaming them when they cannot “follow” it) - when they do not possess the actual developmental capacity (or individual resonance) to engage that practice - is tremendously unkind, needlessly aggressive, and even violent in certain situations.

It is one thing to honor the other’s innate higher capacities in our relationship with them - and to never forget the brilliance of their true nature - especially in the face of profound suffering. But it is another to force this realization upon a person in a way that does not in fact honor their inner intelligence, relative functioning, and current situation.

Let us truly love the others that we speak with and counsel, and push them a bit, if this is our agreement with them, but always remain aware of the tendency to send them spiraling outside their window of tolerance, into overwhelm, re-traumatization, and dissociation as a result of our own unresolved relationship with these energies.

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

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

Friday, November 3, 2017

Untangling the unworthy one

One of the most important aspects of inner work is to illuminate the unconscious beliefs that shape the way we see ourselves, others, and the world. We carry these beliefs in a narrative that originated as our brain and nervous system were developing, in our attempt to make meaning of early relational experiences and how they affected our emerging sense of self.

If our early environment did not provide adequate holding as well as sufficient space for us to rest in unstructured states of being - if our unique subjectivity, emotional experience, and basic goodness was not effectively mirrored back to us - we found ourselves in a very precarious place. Because it is just too psychically unsafe to see this lack of mirroring as resulting from a lack of capacity in those around us, we place the blame inside ourselves. We come to believe, in our attempt to make sense of our experience, that we're just not worthy of that sort of attention, affection, love, and attunement. As painful as this realization is, it provides a temporary refuge from overwhelming anxiety.

The chronic sense of shame that so many experience seems in large part to have its origins in environments lacking in empathic attunement, where there was no adequate holding environment in which the sacred little nervous system could unfold, rest, and explore in a way that would foster true self-love.

The narrative of the unworthy one is deeply embedded and spans multiple levels: cognitive, emotional, neurobiological, somatic, and behavioral. We must send breath, awareness, and love into each of these areas in order to transform the compensatory identity structure and to untangle the wounds of the body and the heart.

While it may feel to be too much, this narrative can be re-authored. It can be re-written. It can be updated. A more cohesive, real-time, accurate, integrated story can be told. A new dream can be dreamed. New cloth can be woven. It is possible. I have been honored to witness this re-authoring in the lives of many courageous men and woman over the years. It is not easy work and asks everything of us.

It's important for all of us who have witnessed this as well as participated in it ourselves to remind those who are suffering that it is possible, that there is hope. That while this narrative of shame and unworthiness can feel so entrenched - and the corresponding feelings can be overwhelming as they are potent reminders of the dark night – the traumatic narrative can be re-crafted, new meaning can be discovered. New life can be found. New breath can be breathed. We can come to discover that even in the core of the most profound hopelessness, a small light of hope is buried there, the flame is still alive.

This is not some pollyanna or overly romantic, positivistic fantasy. Of course it is above my paygrade to know if everyone can heal, transform, and find a new way. The truth is I do not know. All I can do is report my own experience, which is that of the outrageous intelligence and bravery of the broken human heart. It is a force greater than exploding stars.

Together, we can continue to share our own journeys with our brothers and sisters, listening carefully to them, holding their experience as utterly valid, honorable, and intelligent, exactly as it is. Setting aside the need to fix and cure even as our own unlived lives are constellated in our interaction with them. And in some way – while fully honoring the pain and the devastation of the dark night – to also never forget the very unique light that is found only there.

Photo: another autumn morning is given, nearby at Maroon Bells, Colorado, by Jeremy Swanson

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

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

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The Place the Light Enters - spring retreat with Matt Licata and Jeff Foster

Dear friends, I’ve included information here regarding my next retreat - The Place the Light Enters: A Five-Day Journey of Deep Rest, Radical Self-Compassion, and Returning Home - with Jeff Foster, April 4-9, 2018, at Sunrise Ranch in Loveland, Colorado.

Learn more about the retreat here.

Registration will open January 1 and be taken in the order it is received. Looking forward to seeing everyone in the spring in the mountains!

These days, it’s clear that a full-spectrum path of spirituality and healing must address multiple dimensions of what it means to be an open, awake, and compassionate human being. Meditation, emotional healing, psychological work, relational maturity, and being grounded in the body are all required to live lives of freedom, connectedness, and presence. Even if we have a profound spiritual realization, but the fruits of that realization do not infuse the relative world of our body, emotions, relationships, and work in the world, we sense something is missing.

From April 4-9, we will gather in beautiful Loveland, Colorado,where we will engage an in-depth journey of nondual spirituality and meditation; guidance and support in shadow work, emotional healing, and discovering the tantra of everyday life; plus gentle movement and embodied mindfulness practices, all in the context of a grounded awareness which does not seek to "fix" us, but celebrates the mystery and sacredness that we already are. Together we will exlore the mysteries of both being and becoming, acceptance and change, deep rest and a full embrace of life.

During the course of the retreat, each morning you will rest in nondual spaciousness and presence with international author and spiritual teacher Jeff Foster; in the afternoon you will explore the alchemy of psychological and emotional integrationwith psychotherapist and author Matt Licata, PhD; and prior to the evening session, you will enjoy somatic-based mindfulness practices with author and mindfuless trainer to the United Nations and Google, Kelly Boys.

At the conclusion of each day, in the evening there will be a dialogue between Matt and Jeff, where they will explore the ground of a loving, embodied, nondual presence – the place where spirituality and therapy meet, the Home we never leave - and how the divine expresses itself in the chaotic, sweet, glorious mess of our ordinary lives.

With humour, playfulness, insight, and compassion, Jeff and Matt will make spirituality simple, reachable, and human again, questioning and exposing outdated myths of enlightenment and healing along the way!

Through the provocative and compassionate guidance of three experienced authors and teachers, you will be invited to a place of deep inner stillness and a full-spectrum embrace of your humanness. In the space between meetings, you can walk and rest in the holding field of the Rocky Mountains, and enjoy delicious and nourishing food prepared by expert chefs, using ingredients grown locally using sustainable methods, served with love.

With over five hours of teaching, support, and guidance each day, this retreat is open to anyone who is ready to discover their true nature and explore how this realization might infuse their daily life. From beginners to advanced meditators, from therapists to artists, businesspeople, healers and everyone in-between, if you have an interest in spirituality and healing, mindfulness, meditation, self-compassion, or you just long to live a life of rest, presence, grace, and creativity, we would love to meet you, here in the Heart.