Thursday, December 24, 2020

Holiday invocation

Wishing you all a joyous, safe, and reflective holiday time. Thank you for sharing your hearts and journeys with me this year – your suffering, your chaos, your courage, and your love. 

This time of the year can be difficult for many, opening a portal into feelings and memories of deep loneliness, shame, sadness, and rage, activating wounds held in our families of origin as well touching into the intergenerational transmission of trauma and pain. 

We may also have some positive associations with the holidays – joy, connection, play, and belonging – a childlike innocence as to what the holidays symbolize to us. 

And, for many of us, it can be a complicated, unresolvable mix. 

Let us take a moment to tend it all with one another, including the joy and the grief, the loneliness and the connection, the sweetness and the ache. 

And open together into the archetypal mysteries of birth and death, crucifixion and resurrection, transfiguration and transmutation, each an essential portal into the depths of the soul. 

We’ve been through so much this year and lost many of our familiar reference points, unsure where to look for refuge and meaning, with the rug pulled out from underneath us. Not only external, but internal quarantine, asked to turn toward the shattered and the unlived within us.

To take a moment to touch and to shepherd this – not only the loss of health and life, but of the dream of the way we thought it was all going to turn out. 

Rebirth is tied intimately to our willingness and capacity to grieve, a holy activity not always honored in our world. But here we are, the misfits of despair, ecstasy, sorrow, and wonder, knowing the aliveness we long for will only be found in embodied attunement to the full spectrum. 

The process of “falling apart” is not some great cosmic error or mistake we need to correct or repair, but an emissary of wholeness, a way shower of what will emerge from the ashes of reorganization.

It is love, of course, that will guide the reorganization. But it is love, too, that is the substance of the ashes, and also the tears… 

See you all in 2021  

Photo: Lapland light c/o Andreas

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

The mystery of relationship, part 2

In any close relationship (where we take the risk of allowing another to matter) we open ourselves to the two archetypal energies of abandonment and fusion. At some deep level there may always be some hesitancy in stepping all the way in, which is valid and worthy of our exploration.

We come into relationship with an activated template of past relational experiences – will it be safe? Can I be fully as I am? What about all of my eccentricities, sensitivities, and historic core vulnerabilities? Can I truly trust them? Will they turn from me? Will I lose myself? Is this all going to be worth it?

Inevitably, ruptures will occur within the relational field, in that tender intersection between ourselves and another. But that rupture is natural, organic, and quantum.

A healthy relationship is not one in which there is never any conflict, but one in which rupture is repaired, by way of empathic linkage, shared resonance, and a simultaneous honoring of our own separateness and integrity. Embodiment to the cycle of rupture and repair allows the relationship to unfold, deepen, and disclose its secret essence.

Each of us arrives into the space between ourselves and the other with biographical, cultural, and archetypal patterning, scripts, and worlds of imagination. Our images and fantasies intermingle and interpenetrate to weave the relational field, along with the mysterious Other, the third who also appears… the Great Weaver of the in-between places.

It is through this intersubjective dance of illuminating, articulating, and making sense of our experience with the other that the templates become ripe for revisioning. But in the core of that ripening it is tender, sensitive, and at times will burn with mysteries of separation and union.

This is why, in part, close personal relationships can be so achingly painful, on the one hand… while being the most unique and transmutative temple on the other.

Photo by Mandy Naleli

Sunday, December 20, 2020

The mystery of relationship

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 lovers and friends, listen to the way they are making sense of their experience, attune to what they are feeling, and hold them during difficult times.

It is also essential 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, privilege our own personal integrity, and allow the other to struggle with feelings of aloneness, uncertainty, and confusion.

At times we will disappoint those we love, and this will activate our historic core vulnerabilities… and theirs. For many of us, disappointing another is just not safe, and we will do whatever possible to ensure they do not come face to face with the surging material of their unlived life. But allowing them to meet the reality of their own heart is an act of profound mercy and compassion.

While transpersonally we can speak about unity and oneness, within the relative we are also distinct, with our own histories and ways of organizing our experience. Each with our own fate and relationship with the divine, our own paths to travel; our own unique ways entering the mystery. 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 manifest in less than conscious ways, unleashing unmetabolized shadow into the relational field. Like all work of depth, this art form evolves slowly, as it marinates in the alchemical vessel of the body.

May we be kind to our partners as we navigate this territory – especially during these challenging times – honoring the vehicle of intimacy as one of the most provocative, sacred, and holy that we have in our modern world.

Photo by Yousef Espanioly

Friday, December 11, 2020

On therapy

I’ve been asked recently how I work with a person in therapy. Of course, each situation is unique and in large part a matter of (al)chemical interaction and our intersecting worlds of emotional, somatic, and imaginal experience.

If someone is struggling with trauma, drowning or flooded by unbearable feeling, together we discover and craft resource in the nervous system, bottom-up by way of metabolizing sensation in the body. Tracking micro-moments of moving outside window of tolerance, together we come back into safety and connection.

Slow. I’m here with you. So that you feel felt and understood. The timeline for this unfolding is written inside you and we will listen and attune to that, together.

With borderline or narcissistic organization, we build structure in the sense of self, where there has been consistent empathic failure, a seemingly infinite number of relational ruptures with little or no repair. The patchy self is mended by the substances of empathy, presence, and a mercy that enters into that space between.

In these situations, we would not lead with transpersonal work such as active imagination, uncovering shadow, or resting in and exploring open awareness, but first build the requisite safety or structure, and repair the pathways of relational misattunement.

Safety first, exploration second, in a dance and dialogue and dialectic that will be unique for each of us. Safe, but not too safe. Exploration, but from a secure base. Crafting a save haven from which to enter into the tender places.

Where there is enough safety, ego-strength, and capacity for containment, we would explore the existential and transpersonal bands, opening into relationship with the lost pieces and figures of the psyche and the soul. To discover experientially the necessity for certain symptoms, their coherence, and the schemas and complexes which give rise to unwanted behavior, moods, thoughts, and somatics.

And then into meditative experience, if that is of interest and curiosity and passion... shifting one's psychic center of gravity into the embodied experience of open awareness… touching and bearing witness to the luminosity of form, its radiance and warmth.

But underneath it all, it’s clear I know little about the soul, how it heals and unfolds. The person in front of me is vast and majestic and I can only stand in awe at the power and beauty of one human heart as it longs to return home. To attune to and be a companion within that level of benevolence and grace.

In the end, in my experience, it’s not techniques that heal. It’s love that heals. Techniques are fine, but it is the relationship between two nervous systems and the love that infuses that middle territory between which allows the techniques to come alive, if and when they do. Love first, techniques second.

The nature of what this love is must be discovered moment to moment as it emerges in that vessel where we dwell together and is the neural and spiritual scaffolding that opens a light into the darkness.

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Free giveaway and upcoming book club with Matt Licata

Dear friend,

I wanted to let you know that my new book, A Healing Space: Befriending Ourselves in Difficult Times, has been selected as the Sounds True Book Club pick for January.

We are kicking things off with a chance to win a free copy of the book—you can enter to win here. I believe 25 copies will be given away and I hope one of them goes to you. In order to participate, you’ll need to enter by Monday, December 14th.

From there, I'll be joining the Sounds True Book Club Facebook Group for an exclusive Facebook Live on Thursday, January 21st, at 11am Pacific/ 7pm in London, with the Book Club community.

There is no cost to participate in the Book Club or to attend the live event.

I hope to see you there online next month, and that you have a safe, joyful, and blessed holiday time.