Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The spaciousness of now

At some point along the way, we may become aware of a call to set aside the practices, teachings, and techniques, for just a moment, and rest. Something else is emerging, a longing to fully participate in the miracle of life that is already here.

A longing to stop doing, to stop trying to become a better person, to understand, accept, transform or heal; to stop trying to be at peace, and open to the completeness of this moment as it is.

It is a bit groundless here and can feel disorienting as we are so used to doing, interpreting, getting somewhere, and resolving something. Attending to our projects. Fixing ourselves. Remedying some fundamental flaw in what we are.

In this new environment, we become more curious about the space in and around our thoughts and emotions, rather than their content. Our center of gravity shifts from the contents of awareness to awareness itself. Awareness becomes foreground and contents become background. The bottom drops out from underneath us, as well as the top and sides. We’ve arrived home, but it is not the home we thought.

Our orientation shifts from healing and transformation – from getting from “here” to “there” – to resting in our true nature, in a compassionate tending to reality as it is, oriented in curiosity and the love of being alive. In some strange way, we sense that we are already healed, already awake in the immediacy of this moment. But how could this be?

We become aware of a primordial sort of trust in ourselves and in life. Nothing need be cultivated or generated, shifted, or transformed. Not for right now.

To stay with this much openness requires a new level of friendliness, kindness, and compassion. Without it, we’re not going to be able to practice intimacy with the vulnerability, explore the unknown, and stay with the groundlessness of having no reference point other that awareness itself.

Inevitably we will notice that we have left the freshness of now and traveled into past or future, images, memories, daydreams, and fantasies; it can feel somewhat like falling down a rabbit hole. But like Alice in her journeys into Wonderland, things are not as they appear.

When you notice that you have fallen, you could get curious, become fascinated with what it is like to become distracted and the gloriousness of even that… to touch the mystery of lost and found, and very gently return into the spaciousness of now.

Poster art by Tom Masse -

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. 

Monday, January 29, 2018

A temple of wholeness

When we’re sitting with someone who is struggling, confused, or in emotional pain, it is important that we listen carefully to what they say. But at times even more important than the words they use is what they are feeling, sensing, or thinking, but not able to access consciously. That which we cannot access we cannot articulate, and that which we cannot articulate we cannot make sense of.

One of the real gifts of our presence – that capacity to attune to the moment-to-moment unfolding of another’s subjectivity – is to help them access emotions, sensations, and aspects of themselves that have either fallen outside conscious awareness or never had a chance to come into it in the first place.

If a certain emotion, way of being, or way of perceiving was not made room for in our families of origin or in our cultures and societies – especially as our brains and nervous systems were developing – it becomes lost in a faraway space; in a liminal, in-between realm that we cannot quite reach.

By providing a home where none was originally available, by making room for breath where no breath was once allowed, with the other we step into a sanctuary where it is safe to feel again. Somehow, together, we craft a new dwelling in which we can remember that innate brilliance that is our true nature.

The verbal dimension of our exchange with another is important. At times the nonverbal is even more alive, more relevant, and more meaningful. To provide an environment where the lost pieces of the soul, the forgotten aspects of the heart, and the unremembered dimensions of the psyche can return home… it is a gift of compassion and mercy that we can impart to one another and to life everywhere.

To weave this sort of temple together, to tend to and care for this alive inner sanctuary where wholeness can be embodied and reimagined, where we can touch the mystery and realize there is no end to its depth.

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. 

Saturday, January 27, 2018

A harbinger of integration

As our inquiry deepens, we may notice our center of gravity beginning to shift. It’s not so much that the limiting beliefs and painful feelings have stopped, or even lessened. But they are coming and going in the context of a vast space.

In this new environment, we are in close, intimate contact with the emotional world, but not so close that we fuse or fall in. We no longer need the feelings to go away, but long to know them more fully, to flood them with curiosity, warmth, and embodied presence.

But more than anything, we are drawn to call off the war. To step off the battlefield, for there are no more enemies left. We are no longer willing to abandon ourselves, to attack our own vulnerability, or to meet the inner world with violence and aggression.

The sense of unworthiness, the panic in the belly, the avalanche-like rage, the thought that there is something wrong with us. The feeling of shame, the ruminations of despair, the constriction in the throat, the pressure in the heart. Saturated with intelligence and information, soaked with some sort of sacred data that yearns to be known.

Underneath the thoughts, feelings, and emotions we might come to discover a raw, tender, shaky core. It’s so alive there, a womb of creativity, but not quite knowable in the ordinary sense.

In a moment of flight-flight reactivity, we are habituated to the extremes: to deny, repress, or dissociate from what has come; to dismiss it and turn away, deeming it as error or evidence that something is wrong with us. Or, to become flooded by it, engulfed in the energy, enmeshed in the chaos, losing ourselves in its appearance.

In the middle of these two impulses is a place of wisdom and creativity. It is not easy in a moment of activation to turn into the center of the unknown as it is dark, unfamiliar, and a bit groundless inside. Our ordinary reference points are not able to provide familiar orientation.

But there is a light there, too, shining out of the very core of the visitor. This one has come not as an enemy from the outside, to harm and throw us off course, but as an emissary of the inner family, longing to be allowed back home, to be reunited in the vastness of what we are. As a harbinger of integration, of a new organization oriented in wholeness.

And then the invitation arrives: to provide sanctuary and safe passage for the visitor to complete a sacred journey, to accompany this one as a fellow traveler along the way of love.

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. 

Thursday, January 25, 2018

On empathy

The word “empathy” is used in a whole variety of ways denoting some sort of positive stance we might take toward another. In large part, it has become synonymous with “being nice.” But empathy is a bit more radical than that. It is not just listening and saying nice things, trying to be positive and sympathizing with another’s confusion. When engaged in a deep way, it takes quite a lot of (sustained) awareness to maintain an empathic stance.

In short, the way I use the term is to refer to the interest in and embodied attending to the immediate subjective experience of another, as it unfolds in a moment to moment interaction. To practice intimate attunement to what another is feeling, the beliefs underlying those feelings, and the meaning that those feelings have in their lives. It also includes how these beliefs, feelings, and meanings emerge in the body.

If a person is clearly articulating their experience, describing their feelings and in touch with the associated beliefs, memories, images, and sensations, that will make the empathic process easier. But this is often not the case. For each of us, there are aspects of our experience we’ve dissociated and disowned, which are as-yet-to-be-formulated, and we are not in conscious touch with. Nonetheless, empathy requires us to somehow attune to these as well, providing sanctuary and safe passage for them to come into the relational field as they are able.

So empathy is that willingness and capacity to stay with the other’s experience as it unfolds moment to moment, to attend to and privilege their subjectivity, to help them to articulate what it is that they are feeling, sensing, and thinking, and to explore together the ways they are making sense of all that.

Rather than interpreting things for them, sharing our powerful wisdom and guidance, giving advice, scrambling to fix them, or even trying to help them to feel better. And certainly not arguing with them, dumping our beliefs on them, or unloading the garbage can of our unconscious and unlived lives upon them. That doesn’t feel all that empathic.

Of course we can practice empathic attunement toward our own subjective experience, as it emerges in a given moment. What am I experiencing right now? Setting aside all interpretation and even all agendas to shift, transform, or heal, in this moment, what is my actual, lived experience?

What is happening in my body, right now? What emotional tone or mood is there? What is the overall felt sense of being me, right now? What beliefs about myself are alive now, or about others or the world?

It is more an art than a science… an art of love, really, that perhaps we humans need now more than ever. Self-empathy, other-empathy, self-attunement, other-attunement. It is up to all of us to bring these capacities into this world.

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. 

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. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

When caught in unhelpful patterns of thinking

The next time you’re hooked into a waterfall of ruminating, unproductive, repetitive thinking, just notice what has happened… and then stop. Commit to caring for yourself in a new way. Shift awareness from the limiting beliefs and back into the open mystery of the here and now.

Replace the self-abandonment with embodied presence. While there are an infinite number of ways to engage in fight/ flight avoidance, none is more efficient than drowning in thinking. While it may feel like moving a mountain, to cut through billions of mind moments of becoming tangled in thought, slowly over time you can chart a new way.

Become fascinated at how quickly you abandon feeling and in detail how this process plays out for you. Which feelings will you do just about anything to not feel? What behaviors do you tend to engage in to protect you from those feelings? What are you believing about yourself in a moment of emotional flooding?

Just this once, cut into the momentum of self-aggression. This time, I am not going to attack my own vulnerability. Stay with the feeling and allow it to unfold, to make its journey through the temple that is your body. As you notice the very compelling temptation to go back into thinking about what you’re feeling, just this time return into the aliveness of your belly, your heart, and your throat. Use your breath to help you to regulate. Feel your feet on the ground. Listen to the sounds around you. Look up into the sky. Engage your senses.

Once the intensity has calmed – once the limbic arousal has come down and you have returned into your window of tolerance – you can then go back and reflect on what happened, see if you can make some sense of it, using your mind and your intuition both to provide needed guidance. You’ll have a much more fruitful inquiry if you first attend to the emotions, feelings, and sensations which are longing to reach you.

You can practice this any time you feel like you are falling down the rabbit hole, you are triggered and hooked, becoming flooded by what feels like unmanageable feelings of rage, shame, unworthiness, or sadness. Even for just a few seconds. There is no urgency on the path of love.

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. 

Monday, January 15, 2018

2018 retreats and intensives

Dear friends, thank you for your notes regarding 2018 retreats. At this time, there are only two programs scheduled:

April 4-9 The Place the Light Enters, with Jeff Foster, at Sunrise Ranch in Loveland, Colorado. Tickets are on sale and we're about 60% booked. To learn more, please visit

June 15-18 The Path is Everywhere, also at Sunrise Ranch in Loveland. Tickets will go on sale February 1st. To learn more, please visit A description is included below. If you would like to be on the mailing list for this program, please write to me via my website as we will likely limit attendance to a smaller group.

Look forward to seeing everyone this spring in the mountains!

The Path is Everywhere weekend intensive: 

During our time together, we'll explore therapeutic, somatic, and meditative approaches to psychological growth, emotional healing, and spiritual transformation. The journey of individuation, becoming who we truly are, is one that by its nature requires that we work at the full-spectrum of what it means to be an open, sensitive, empowered, grounded, kind, emotionally mature human being.

Psychotherapy and shadow work, mindfulness and compassion training, meditation, body awareness, and relational work each offer a unique set of views and tools addressing the nature of a rich life of inner abundance and resources, one that is imbued with purpose and meaning, oriented in our innate longing for wholeness.

Within the holding context of a safe, empathic, yet provocative relational field that we will create (and discover) together, we will explore these approaches as well as the mystery that the path of the heart truly is, the value of not-knowing, and how it is love itself that is the ultimate medicine.

The weekend is open to anyone interested in psychotherapy, spirituality, meditation, yoga, mindfulness, or healing. We'll meditate together (no experience required!), explore what an integral approach to spirituality and healing might look like for those of us in the busy, modern world, and have plenty of time for questions, sharing, and discussion.

We'll begin on Friday evening at 7pm and end Monday morning at 12pm, meeting for a total of eight sessions. You will be well nourished at Sunrise Ranch, with fresh, local, organic food, including plenty of choices for those on special diets.

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

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Attuned to the inner family

Usually when we think about the “others” in our lives, we are referring to those we are in relationship with – our friends, lovers, children, families, and co-workers. We are asked to attune to their unfolding experience, to care about how they are making meaning of it, and to enter consciously with them into the relational field itself, where something unknown and creative is emerging.

But there is another “other” found inside us, weaved of the lost pieces of our hearts, broken dreams, partly digested feelings, and the entirety of our unlived lives. Just like the external others, these inner family members also long to be known, to be held, and to be honored. They appear in infinite forms – as vivid emotions, images, memories – and even as color, music, and poetry as it enters and fills us.

In this way, relational work is not only with an external other but simultaneously with the abandoned children of the psyche, the body, and the personal and collective unconscious. As we deepen our inquiry and our perception becomes cleansed, we start to see that the dividing line between the inner and outer other is quite transparent, luminous, flexible, and non-solid. In some mysterious way, they dance and play together, appearing before us as emissaries of wholeness.

It is to the degree we are able to empathically attune to the arising inner family that we will be able to truly hold another. If we are not able to attend to the inner darkness, chaos, and contradiction, we will never be able to practice intimacy with these qualities as they inevitably and organically emerge in our most intimate relationships.

Photo by Donnchadh Murphy

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. 

Friday, January 12, 2018

Oneness and separation in close personal relationships

In close personal relationships, it is important to emphasize a secure attachment bond and the co-regulation of challenging emotional states. To practice kindness toward our partners, care for their suffering, and hold them during difficult times. To allow them to matter, take a risk in leading with our vulnerability, and prioritize connection and its preciousness in our lives.

It is also important to be on the lookout for unhealthy fusion, honoring the reality that we are not only connected, but also separate. Any secure attachment must include healthy differentiation, where at times the most skillful activity will be to establish firm boundaries, assert our independence, disappoint our partners, allow them to struggle and confront feelings of aloneness, and to remove the burden we may have unconsciously placed on them to tend to the ghosts of our unlived lives.

While the concept of oneness is alluring and safe, true oneness does not exist without multiplicity, without a radical embrace of the chaos, contradiction, and darker revelations of love. The wise navigation of the opposites – staying within the complex and unresolvable tension between them – will reveal a portal into a new way.

Healthy intimacy is not the same as emotional fusion. Those called to relationship as path must make this discernment in the fire of their own direct experience, and stay committed to working with the chaos, contradiction, and aliveness of these energies as they arise.

While from a transpersonal perspective, we can speak about our oneness with all of life, within the relative we are also separate, each with our own unique histories, ways of organizing our experience, and distinctive core vulnerabilities. To dissolve these differences into some homogenized spiritual middle does not honor the sacredness of form.

If we do not consciously explore the reality of our separateness, it will inevitably express itself in less than conscious ways, in tangled and unproductive conflict, unleashing our unmetabolized shadows into the relational field. Like all work of depth, this art form evolves slowly, as it marinates and cooks in the alchemical vessel of the body.

May we be kind to our partners as we navigate this territory together, honoring the vehicle of intimacy as one of the most transformative, sacred, and challenging that we have in our modern world.

Art credit: Valentine Tree by the very gifted Alice Mason -

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. 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

A portal into aliveness

It is not an error
that you have been born
a sensitive human being,
with a tender nervous system
and a heart that is sometimes

Your vulnerability is not a mistake,
but a portal into aliveness.

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. 

Monday, January 8, 2018

A full-spectrum inquiry

It can be helpful to conceive of psychological and meditative aspects of a full-spectrum inquiry. While theoretically we can speak about these as two separate processes, in practice they interpenetrate as our inquiry unfolds, with a full range of influences spanning intrapsychic, intersubjective, neurobiological, and cultural-historic dimensions.

Psychological inquiry is oriented in our capacity to reflect on our experience; to take a perspective on the narratives, feelings, and impulses that organize the ways we see ourselves, others, and the world. It is focused upon the content of our experience, the unfolding of that content and the specific meaning it has for us, and how we make sense of our lives, especially in the context of our interpersonal relationships.

Meditative inquiry is not as oriented in understanding experience, but in exploring and resting in its actual nature. It is a pure, phenomenological inquiry where we infuse warm, spacious, accepting awareness into the core of whatever arises in our immediate experience as it unfolds moment by moment in the here and now.

Here, we discover how much space there truly is around and inside a thought, an emotion, a mood. Our experience is made of space. We are made of space. Not an empty space, but a space that is overflowing with qualities of warmth, kindness, presence, and love.

Learning to access, regulate, and integrate our experience, both on our own and with the shared nervous system of another – making sense and exploring its unfolding meaning - is the heart of psychological inquiry, especially as it relates to experience which has previously been dissociated, disowned, or only partially metabolized. To provide sanctuary and safe passage for the lost and buried members of the inner family is a profound act of self-compassion.

Entering into non-interpretive, intimate attunement with the nature of our experience, as it unfolds in each here and now moment – without any agenda to understand, shift, transform, or heal it – is the essence of meditative inquiry. To begin to discover, in an embodied way, that what arises in consciousness - and consciousness itself - are weaved of the same substance, crafted of the same particles of warm, spacious luminosity. From this perspective, difficult, disturbing, and confusing experience does not arise to be healed, but to be held, to be permeated with and soaked in loving awareness.

The invitation of this inquiry is intimacy, without fusion. To allow ourselves to care deeply, to be willing to get messy, to stay with states of not-knowing, to enter into the body and the heart and take the risk to see what is there. To set aside our fantasies of invulnerability, mastery, and power and lay ourselves at the feet of the mystery. To see that life would never ask us to “master” it, but to become, dance, and play as its humble servant.

And to then rest in unstructured, open being. Explore, and then rest. And then explore, and then rest. Sort of like an ocean or a star.

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. 

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Sink into the womb of now

At times, all our reference points will be taken away, with nothing given to replace them. What we were so clear about just a few days ago is nowhere to be found. The relationship we thought would be there forever, the creativity in our work, our deepest insights and realizations – recycled in the activity of the vast.

The solid ground we once took refuge in has disintegrated underneath us, sending us spiraling through space. We were so sure we were beyond breaking yet again, that we had finished with all that, but the beloved is not interested in maintaining the status quo. It is the nature of all form to disintegrate, so that new forms may emerge.

Between the worlds, burning up, longing for an end to the contradictions. We have found ourselves in the liminal, but how do we rest there? Where is the healing, the transcendence, the resolution? How could we be asked to surrender more? It can seem that we are falling apart, but were we ever together to begin with? Is that even the right lens from which to attempt navigation? Or were we always something more vast, more whole, more majestic that all that?

Slow way down. Breathe deeply from the lower belly. Feel your feet in the mud of the earth. Sink into the womb of now. For just this moment, set aside the need to understand, to figure it all out, or to replace this moment with another. Today may not be the day for answers, but to let your heart break open to the vastness of the question.

Look up into the winter sky. Lay your hands on your heart and attune to what is really happening here: There are blues coming into existence that have never made their way into this dimension. There are oranges, reds, and purples that have been sent to remind you of the rarity and outrageousness of one human heart.

Stay right here. Don’t move from this moment. Listen. Receive. Everything that has ever happened, and everyone you have ever met, has led up to right here, and right now. While it can seem that the dark and the light are two, things are not always as they appear.

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. Tickets went on sale on January 1st, 2018 and registration will be taken in the order it is received.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

An integral realization

Teachings on “no-self” remain some of the most misunderstood and potentially damaging in contemporary spirituality, especially for those struggling with some form of developmental trauma. The actual meaning of these teachings – the revelation of the flexible, relative, constructed nature of the self – are bandied about in catchphrases outside the context of the depth and complexity in which they arose, and in some cases have become a tool for the enactment of early environments of shame, unworthiness, and self-aggression.

For those with histories of denying their own subjectivity – or having it abused, neglected, or dismissed by way of disorganized attachment and narcissistic injury of all kinds – teachings on no-self can feel all too familiar: “Oh, I get it, I really am nobody! I really don’t exist after all. It’s true that I’m not worthy of existing. Even the gurus have confirmed it. I knew it!”

Rather than leading to increasing freedom, compassion, and flexibility, these teachings – if understood and practiced in half-baked and disembodied ways – unconsciously become another vehicle by which to replay templates of early wounding.

Pathologizing subjectivity and narrative – popular in some modern forms of “awakening” and “enlightenment” – have a way of creating and entrenching a profound shadow. But, like any effective shadow, it usually remains hidden outside ordinary awareness, where we have an unconscious investment in not seeing into the depths.

We must bring forward as much discernment as we can, to see the ways we may be caught in transcendent teachings such as “no-self” in ways that enact early environments of empathic failure, narcissism, and trauma. And also, of course, to stay open to how such teachings can be helpful and supportive in loosening our identification with suffering-laden organizations of limiting beliefs, painful emotions, and unhealthy behavior.

Not all teachings are skillful or compassionate for a particular person at a particular time with a particular developmental history. In working with meditators, yogis, and seekers over the years – and in my own inquiry, therapy, and supervision – I have seen the ways that “ultimate” teachings can be used to serve an integrated realization, however in many situations this was not the case. Subtly, certain teachings were being used to further dissociation and unconscious defense against emotional and developmental wounding of all kinds, propping up old circuitry of unworthiness, shame, and self-hatred.

The invitation is to flood our relationship with these teachings with as much nuance, sensitivity, compassion, and insight as we can, so that we may tap into the ways they can truly support an embodied, integral realization, while simultaneously can also be a quick trap door into the unconscious shadow. To compassionately confront and assimilate the contents of the unconscious is an essential aspect of the true hero's journey; if we do not do so, we will inevitably continue to enact the templates of early emotional and psychic wounding.

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. Tickets went on sale on January 1st, 2018 and registration will be taken in the order it is received.

Monday, January 1, 2018

New year update from Matt Licata

Dear friend, I hope this note finds you well in the new year. I know that for many 2017 was one of great transition and transformation, internally as well as in our relationships and work in the world.

I want to thank you for continuing to share your lives and journeys with me. Turning toward our vulnerability - with empathy, curiosity, and compassion - is one of the essences of this path, replacing older pathways of self-abandonment with new circuitry of presence, attunement, and kindness.

How to stay close to the intensity of emotion, feeling, and uncertainty while not becoming overwhelmed by it all? How do we dance and play in that alive middle territory, practicing intimacy with our inner experience without falling down the rabbit hole of rumination, shame, and self-aggression? Intimacy without fusion - this is our invitation into the alchemy of the heart and ongoing discovery of the sacred world.

There is a wisdom and unique light located inside the darkness, wired into our emotions, and hidden in the core of the symptom, but new levels of insight, self-compassion, and clear-seeing are required to mine the jewels that we discover there. This is the call to an emotionally-sensitive, somatically-aware, and cognitively-flexible journey of wholeness, and the foundation of a grounded, mature spiritual realization.

I look forward to seeing many of you in the months to come! Registration is now open for The Place the Light Enters retreat with myself and Jeff Foster in Colorado in April. We will take registration in the order it is received and do expect the program to sell out. Learn more here.

In June 2018, I’ll be offering a weekend intensive (also in Colorado) - The Path is Everywhere - where we’ll spend a few days resting together, and exploring the nature of this emotionally-sensitive, somatically-grounded spirituality and what healing and awakening might look like in the context of our ordinary lives. Registration will open on February 1 and will likely be limited to a smaller group than usual. Learn more here.

At this time, I have no plans to offer any retreats or intensives outside Colorado.

My latest book, The Path Is Everywhere: Uncovering the Jewels Hidden Within You, is available in both paperback and Kindle editions. If you’ve enjoyed my writing over the years – and found it helpful in your life and work – I’d really appreciate if you’d be so kind as to leave a review at the book’s Amazon page. You can read the foreword to the book here.

Finally, while my in-person therapy practice remains closed to new clients, I do offer periodic counseling and consulting via phone, Skype, and FaceTime. To learn more about these sessions - and to access the availability calendar - please visit my website.

Wishing you well in 2018 and sending my love from the sandy Florida beaches (via the deep winter of Finland)!



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.


It is no secret that, for many, intimate relationship is one of the great amplifiers of the unlived life. We can count on our partners to relentlessly illuminate everything that is longing for wholeness within us. Not because they have some agenda to do so, but simply by the nature of the crucible that forms when we allow another to truly matter to us.

We come to our relationships with an already-existing patterning that formed long ago, crafted of both personal and collective material. While this template can be updated and itself longs for reorganization into more integrated forms, until reconfiguration it has a way of looming over us and coloring our perception. It functions in large part by way of a time machine where, when activated, it is as if we have left the “here and now,” crossed the liminal, and found ourselves back in the “there and then.”

There are aspects of ourselves that are aching to come out of the shadows and into the warmth of holding awareness. Not to harm, but as forerunners and emissaries of wholeness. There is nothing like a close relationship to remind us of the orphaned emotions, feelings, and vulnerable parts of ourselves that have lost their way in the tangle of somatic and psychic pathways. They are exhausted from a long voyage to reach us, but have not given up.

The reminder of this truth by way of intimacy can at times be a bit agonizing, as the beloved may seem to have extraordinary powers to open the raw, tender, and naked dimensions of our being. But this achiness is sacred and its embodied exploration is holy. Inside the ache is a jewel. Go there.

Please be kind to your partners in response to the inevitable conflict that will arise as you make this journey together. Learning how to harness the energy of conflict – and to engage it directly, skillfully, and with an open heart – is essential on the path of intimacy, and requires the encoding of new circuitry.

The transformative art of rupture and repair is one that is endlessly profound, revealing that relationships of vast depth and meaning are not those which are free of conflict, but those where working through conflict is embraced as path, as a unique and transmutative vessel of purification, love, and healing.

This is a difficult and alchemical realization to come by, and one that is unfortunately not all that popular in a world that has forgotten the gold that has been buried in the dark. But here we are. It is up to us to bring these fruits into the collective.


The difficult emotions, the confusion, the struggle, and the heartbreak. The fear, the doubt, the ending of the relationship that was supposed to last forever. On any true path, we must confront and integrate the ending of dreams, the dissolution of one world so that another may emerge.

The hopelessness, the struggle, the devastation of the crushed longing. The disappointment that it was never going to turn out the way we thought. The painful wondering if we’ve done something wrong, if somehow we’ve failed.

These are the raw materials we have to work with on the path of the heart. Place them on the altar in front of you and bless them with safe passage. You need not transcend your vulnerability, problems, or neurosis to know this. For inside the broken is a wisdom found only there.

Sadness has something to show you that joy could never provide. Inside aloneness is a secret offering that can never be found in connection. Hopelessness, when entered, reveals meaning that hope is unable to reveal.

It is pure and creative inside the symptom, but remains unseen in the overemphasis on becoming and in the tragic loss of imagination. But the alchemists and tantrikas and the unseen ones and the moon, the sun, and the stars have come to remind us. To re-enchant the imaginal and pull back the curtain to reveal the gold behind the veil.

There is spirt buried inside matter. Multiplicity is just as holy as oneness. The dual and the nondual are not two. There is no separation between the raw tender feelings and the flow of wisdom essence. Each are made of the same substance.

“What about my passion?!” Rumi demands of God.

God says, “Keep it burning.”

“What about my heart?” asks Rumi.

“Tell me what you hold inside it,” says God.

“Pain and sorrow,” says Rumi.

God says, “Stay with it. The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”

While the trance that there is something wrong with you is sticky and seductive, slow down, unplug from the unreal, and listen. Feel. Sense. We are conditioned to find a problem where there is an invitation. Place your hands on your heart. Attune to the aliveness of the inner body. Follow the breath back into essence.


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. Tickets went on sale on January 1st, 2018 and registration will be taken in the order it is received.