An excerpt from my forthcoming book, “The Unfolding Heart: Spirituality, Healing, and Embracing the Mystery.”
While we can engage the process of integration on our own - through mindful and imaginative tending to the various layers of our unfolding experience - it can be helpful to experiment within a relational context. In the alchemical tradition, the alchemist at times worked on his or her own, however often had an “assistant” with them, a soror mystica who accompanied them on an exploration of the material and its transmutation.
A theme I’ll touch on frequently in this book is the uniqueness of the relational field in its ability to catalyze healing and transformation, which the neurobiologists and well as the alchemists are aware of by way of their work in the mystery. Whether within the container of the alchemical vas or that of the miracle nervous system, love is alive, opening and closing emotions and synapses in revealing the majesty of the human heart.
There are times when we’re called to do psychological, spiritual, and shadow work on our own, accessing aspects of ourselves that we may only be able to reach by way of aloneness. Practicing alone can be a powerful vessel in and of itself and provide glimpses into the inner world which cannot happen when we are with others. At other times, another person or persons, or community provide the energy and the fire we need to deepen in our work, to see other things that we cannot see on our own, shadows that are revealed only within a relational matrix.
In this way, we come to see that "the other" is everywhere, shapeshifting and taking form as lover, friend, and the one who exposes our most tender vulnerabilities. And also as the "inner other" emerging as message, sign, symbol, and guide, by way of the natural world and the flow of pure feeling. Whether the other manifests in its internal or external forms, the invitation is into relationship, into the unresolvable realms of separation and union, lover and beloved, and to be touched all the way through.
Container of sun and moon - clay by Krista Marleena
My next two events:
The Great Befriending: A Five-Day Journey of Self-Love, Deep Rest, and Coming Alive (with Jeff Foster), September 21-26 in Loveland, Colorado