Saturday, November 28, 2020

Sitting with a friend

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, unravel, be without hope, and feel lost. You may sense there is some sort of wisdom unfolding, but it is chaotic, uncertain, 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.

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 may never understand.

Please do whatever you can to help others in whatever way you are able: attune to their emotional experience such that they feel felt, listen carefully to what they are saying, and how they are making meaning of their lives.

Slow way down, bracket your favorite psychological and spiritual jargon and theories, and allow yourself to be curious about how they are making sense of their experience. Feed them, hold them, speak kindly to them, provide sanctuary and safe passage for soul to disclose its mysteries. And remind them that love is here and is alive.

Photo by Tim Hill 

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Listen to Matt's conversation with Tami Simon of Sounds True on Insights at the Edge

Dear friends,

I recently had a conversation with my dear friend Tami Simon of Sounds True as part of her Insights at the Edge podcast, where we spoke about the alchemy of befriending ourselves in difficult times and my new book, A Healing Space

Also, a reminder that my new teaching module on working with the shadow and the lost pieces of the soul starts on December 3rd. You can learn more about that here

I hope you're well and staying safe. 



Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Listen to Matt's conversation with David Newell on the Inner Truth podcast

Dear friend,

I wanted to share with you a recent conversation I had with David Newell as part of the Inner Truth podcast, where we speak about the mysteries of healing, integration, and the alchemical imagination, and about my new book A Healing Space: Befriending Ourselves in Difficult Times.

>>> Listen to my conversation with David here 

I hope you're all doing well and staying safe. 

With love,

Monday, November 16, 2020

Working with the shadow and the lost pieces of the soul

Dear friends, 

We've just opened enrollment for our new teaching module on working with the shadow and the lost pieces of the soul. Exploring an embodied, trauma-sensitive approach to spirituality and healing. Learn more about this module and our Befriending Yourself online community

As open, sensitive human beings, we’re all going to be met with unwanted and difficult experience at times - things like disappointment, sadness, uncertainty, and grief. These and other related states - melancholy, deflation, heartbreak, and longing - are often dismissed on the spiritual path or seen as evidence that we have failed or done life “wrong.”

We all learned to turn away from parts of ourselves and experiences that didn’t always fit in. In order to protect ourselves and stay safe, we sent these parts away, into the underworld of the psyche, or what is often referred to as “the shadow.” 

The shadow contains not only the so-called “negative” aspects of our experience – that which we want to get rid of – but also “positive” experiences such as joy, intimacy, connection, and a sense of feeling alive. In ways that might seem paradoxical, these too can be disowned and can fall out of reach. 

While it was intelligent, creative, and adaptive to disembody and locate certain experiences outside our conscious awareness, these very human, valid, and essential parts of ourselves continue to look for us, and leak out in our bodies, dreams, relationships, moods, and thoughts. The process of integration or wholeness asks that we turn back toward these ones and provide a home or sanctuary in which they can return to the larger ecology of what we are, warmed at the fire of our own presence, mercy, and kindness. 

There is sacred information contained within the shadow and the lost pieces, and they can in fact be powerful doorways to deeper self-awareness, compassion, connection, and aliveness. But how do we mine the gold in the darkness? 

Through meditation, healing inquiry, and an embodied, trauma-sensitive approach where we “start exactly where we are,” we will navigate this full-spectrum territory together, and open to the healing potential in embracing the shadow. 

There’s a lot of talk out there about what shadow work is and what it isn’t - and what it actually means in our embodied, lived experience. We are offering this module - which will include psychological, existential, neurobiological, poetic, and spiritual perspectives - as a way for all of us to come together to explore this very important - and often neglected - area of spirituality and healing. 

Over the next three months, we’ll explore: 

- The healing potential within difficult experience such as grief, disappointment, heartbreak, and loss 

- The power of our vulnerability and how it can be a portal to a deeper experience of aliveness and connection 

- Unraveling the cultural (and spiritual) trance of “being happy all the time” and the wisdom in our native melancholy and sensitivity 

- The poetic beauty of “not-knowing” and seeing through the fantasy that we’re always supposed to know what to do with our lives 

- The tenderness of a broken heart and its deepest longing not to be “healed,” but to be held 

Especially as we head into the winter months (for most of us, anyway) it seems an appropriate time to gather together, in a way that is both safe and challenging, to explore the beauty and mercy in the darkness, as it unfolds within the natural world as well as within our bodies, hearts, and souls. And to discover, together, the light that is found only there.

We look forward to getting started with our first live session on Thursday, December 3rd and would love to have you join us. 

Image by Yakup Ipek 

My new book - A Healing Space: Befriending Ourselves in Difficult Times - is now available at Amazon, Sounds True, and wherever you buy books. You can read a sample and editorial reviews at Amazon

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Matt Licata's new book - A Healing Space - now available

Dear friends, 

My new book is now available through Amazon, Sounds True, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, and Bookshop. (You can find the audio book via Audible). 

While writing A Healing Space: Befriending Ourselves in Difficult Times, I had no idea where we were headed and how deeply our lives would be touched over the months to come.

Many of us are experiencing a deep restlessness and uncertainty, not knowing what’s coming next or how to best navigate during this transitional period. But it is precisely in times such as these that unique doorways to deep healing and transformation open, often in unexpected ways.

It’s so important right now to rest our nervous systems, to spend time each day in activities that ground, center, and guide us gently back into the experience of safety and connection.

There are so many ideas about what “healing” is, however many of them are outdated and misattuned to our actual lived experience. In moments of fierce grace, when the rug is pulled out from underneath us, our lenses of perception become ripe for revisioning.

There is an inevitable reorganization that occurs as part of the healing process. While it is so very human to “skip over” this essential phase and get to the promised rebirth, doing so prematurely prevents us from accessing the wisdom within the restructuring itself.

The alchemists, yogis, and mystics knew the importance of dissolution and experienced it as initiatory. It is the crumbling of an old dream – my life and the way I was so sure it was going to turn out – that can often provide the rich soil for creative, embodied transformation.

In order to be initiated in this way, we must slow down – and with a passionate, alive, and earthy compassion – attune to what is unfolding and being illuminated right now. To take some time to mourn the reassembling of our world and to grieve all that we will inevitably lose as we heal and awaken.

It is an act of kindness to remember that the transformational process by its very nature is messy, glorious, and full spectrum… not only an act of creation, but one of destruction as well.

I wrote A Healing Space as an invitation into the temple of your own body, as a pathway back into the depths of your own soul, using the images and metaphors from rich and diverse traditions such as neuroscience, alchemy, contemplative practice, and the poetic imagination.
It was written to be a loving companion to walk with you into the mysteries of your own heart. In the end, perhaps it is really only love that matters now. But just what that is must be discovered in the fire of your own immediate experience, where there is unseen wisdom and guidance for the way ahead.

I hope you enjoy the book and find it to be a true friend accompanying you into the majesty that you are.