Sunday, December 22, 2019

The courage of the human heart


Early relational experiences are encoded in neural circuitry in the first 18 months of life. Stored as implicit memory, they are inaccessible by ordinary awareness, forming templates through which we engage the world. In a moment of activation, the templates come surging online. Before we realize it, previously sequestered material has flooded our perception.

Our expectations in relationship – whether we can count on others, are worthy of love, will allow another to matter or whether we can take the risk to lead with our vulnerability – are organized in a fragile little nervous system that yearns for connection. The neural pathways are tender and responsive, as we seek attuned, right-brain to right-brain resonance with those around us. We want to feel felt, have our experience held and mirrored, and for pure space in which we can explore unstructured states of being.

While this encoding is deeply embedded, it can be rewired. While it may feel entrenched, it is not as solid as it appears. Even if your early environment was one of empathic failure, developmental trauma, and insecure attachment, it is never too late. The wild realities of neuroplasticity and the courage of the human heart is unstoppable and an erupting force of creativity.

Through new relational experiences – with a lover, a friend, a therapist, a baby; a star, a mountain, the moon, an animal-guide from the other world – love is hidden inside the caverns of neural circuitry. It is the substance which forms the neurons and their synapses, lighting up heart-cells in a moment of connection. Each time you attune to another – or to the unmet inner “other” within you – a new world is born.

As long as breath is present, you can update the narrative, recraft your perception and re-envision a new story. You can make new meaning of your life, re-imagine your purpose, and renew your commitment to being here. Slowly, you can revise your circuitry with pathways of holding awareness, flooding it with empathic attunement, presence, and warmth.

No matter what is happening in your life, you can start right now, in this moment. The opportunity for reorganization is always here and wired deep within you. Don’t give up. Love will never give up on you.



Art credit: Moose as guide and portal by Krista Marleena



Falling in Love with Where You Are: Embracing the Joy and Heartbreak of Spiritual Awakening - our annual spring, five-day retreat - will take place April 22-27, 2020 at Sunrise Ranch in Loveland, Colorado, with myself and Jeff Foster. Tickets will go on sale on January 1. More information here

My online community, co-facilitated with Jeff Foster - Befriending Yourself: Meditative, Nondual, and Depth Psychological Perspectives - is currently closed to new members. To learn about the program and put your name on the mailing list for future re-opens, please visit the site here


My most recent book – The Path Is Everywhere: Uncovering the Jewels Hidden Within You – is available in both paperback and Kindle editions. 

My next book, A Healing Space: Befriending Ourselves in Difficult Times, will be published by Sounds True in 2020. 

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Initiation


There is a certain death that occurs as part of the healing process, in the deepening of self-awareness, something that does not survive illumination. While it is tempting to spin out of the uncertainty and into rebirth, there is wisdom and a purity within the reorganization itself, which we cannot know if we abandon it prematurely.

The dissolution itself is initiation as it offers vision not available in the scramble to put things back together. An old part of ourselves that has accompanied us for so long, a fellow traveler is no longer permitted to continue the journey by our side. The crumbling of an old dream – my life and the way I was so sure it was going to turn out.

This prior soul-companion can be another person or it can be a member of the inner family - an image, a feeling, a lens through which we’d been seeing ourselves and others; a part of our world that has come to the end of its meaning, the end of its life.

In order to be initiated in this way, we must slow down, return into the earth and the mud and the ground, and somehow cut into the urgency to enter into the next phase while the current one is still being illuminated. To take some time to mourn the reassembling of our world, to grieve all that we will inevitably lose as we heal and awaken. To set aside what we will get, what is coming next, and attune to now.

To tend to the pieces of soul, the shards of the heart, and the fragments of the psyche that are being dissolved, to honor the role they have played, for standing by us for so long, and providing refuge during difficult and transitional times. To grieve the loss of their companionship and allow them to continue into whatever realm is next for them, permission to travel and experience new things.

To stand in awe at this process, despite the profound pain and grief, to care for all of it as we allow the mystery to reveal itself in deeper and deeper ways. To know that healing and awakening is messy, glorious, and full-spectrum… and is not only an act of creation, but one of destruction as well.



Image from Jung's Liber Novus


Falling in Love with Where You Are: Embracing the Joy and Heartbreak of Spiritual Awakening - our annual spring, five-day retreat - will take place April 22-27, 2020 at Sunrise Ranch in Loveland, Colorado, with myself and Jeff Foster. Tickets will go on sale on January 1. More information here

My online community, co-facilitated with Jeff Foster - Befriending Yourself: Meditative, Nondual, and Depth Psychological Perspectives - is currently closed to new members. To learn about the program and put your name on the mailing list for future re-opens, please visit the site here


My most recent book – The Path Is Everywhere: Uncovering the Jewels Hidden Within You – is available in both paperback and Kindle editions. 

My next book, A Healing Space: Befriending Ourselves in Difficult Times, will be published by Sounds True in 2020. 

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Oriented in the mystery


There was an old dream that opening our hearts was always going to feel safe, that somehow love promised that.

That allowing another to matter was going to be easy, that staying close to our vulnerability was somehow not going to feel raw and at times unbearable.

That to heal meant we’d be in some protected, resolved, untouchable state where we had transcended the sensitivity of being an open, naked, alive human being. That somehow healing meant we’d only have to live in one narrow band of the spectrum.

But love has no interest in our fantasies of invulnerability, trances of mastery and control, or sure knowing as to what is coming next. It is just too wild for all that, too creative, and oriented in the mystery.

Love seeks a vessel in which to come alive here and you are that vessel. It finds you by way of that quivering, that tender not-knowing, that willingness to start all over again. Sometimes broken, sometimes whole, sometimes a mess, but always alive. In all of your chaotic glory.

When we are totally unclothed, love will show us what we are. When the known crumbles away, all that remains is this burning heart. There is nothing more alive than that. There is nothing more sacred than that. There is nothing safer than that.



Photo by Alexandru Zdrob─âu



Falling in Love with Where You Are: Embracing the Joy and Heartbreak of Spiritual Awakening - our annual spring, five-day retreat - will take place April 22-27, 2020 at Sunrise Ranch in Loveland, Colorado, with myself and Jeff Foster. Tickets will go on sale on January 1. More information here

My online community, co-facilitated with Jeff Foster - Befriending Yourself: Meditative, Nondual, and Depth Psychological Perspectives - is currently closed to new members. To learn about the program and put your name on the mailing list for future re-opens, please visit the site here


My most recent book – The Path Is Everywhere: Uncovering the Jewels Hidden Within You – is available in both paperback and Kindle editions. 

My next book, A Healing Space: Befriending Ourselves in Difficult Times, will be published by Sounds True in 2020. 

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Slow way down


The next time you notice that you’re attacking yourself, caught in a looping storyline about how you’ve failed, how you’ll never get it right, how there is something just fundamentally wrong with you …

When you’ve become lost in a repetitive narrative about how someone has misunderstood you, how you are not being seen in the way you’d like, or when find yourself complaining about your life or another person …

When you find yourself under a waterfall, sinking into quicksand, in a cascading of claustrophobia, urgent, hot, sticky, out of control emotions...

Slow way down.

Before you abandon yourself and leave your immediate experience, parachuting into the unstable waters of rumination, shame, and blame, just slow way down. For this is no ordinary moment. You are being asked to care for yourself in a new way, to cleanse your perception with space, with kindness, with compassion – to pause and to encode a new pathway.

With the ally of the breath, shift your awareness out of the overwhelming narrative, for it is no longer safe there. It is not serving you to travel down the conditioned rabbit hole of unworthiness and self-abandonment any longer. These are the leftover grooves of an earlier time, and ache to be reorganized by way of empathy, attunement, and embodied presence.

Conserve your precious life energy, remove it from that which is no longer working in your best interest, and direct it into your belly, your heart, your throat. And ask: what feeling is wanting to be met now? In what way am I being asked to care for the vulnerable, the tender, and the shaky within me, to no longer project it outward in the movement of self-abandonment and self-aggression? How am I being asked to tend to myself in a new way? To touch the erupting, raw, achy life that is surging now for holding.

Look carefully, with curiosity, patience, kindness, and compassion and see the ways you leave the embodied world of pure feeling, bailing on your vulnerability as you escape back into the conditioned narrative of complaint, resentment, shame, blame, and self-attack. Return home.

While it may seem you are longing for something outside you, in these moments you are only longing for your own presence. For you need yourself now more than ever. This world needs you now more than ever.




Photo by Ester Marie Doysabas



Our annual spring retreat will take place April 22-27, 2020 at Sunrise Ranch in Loveland, Colorado, with myself and Jeff Foster. Please stay tuned to our websites, Facebook pages, and this blog for additional information. Tickets will go on sale on January 1. 

My online community, co-facilitated with Jeff Foster - Befriending Yourself: Meditative, Nondual, and Depth Psychological Perspectives - is currently closed to new members. To learn about the program and put your name on the mailing list for future re-opens, please visit the site here



My most recent book – The Path Is Everywhere: Uncovering the Jewels Hidden Within You – is available in both paperback and Kindle editions. 

My next book, A Healing Space: Befriending Ourselves in Difficult Times, will be published by Sounds True in 2020.