Wednesday, October 20, 2021

The great friend


There are times in our lives when even our most precious beliefs and realizations fall apart and dissolve in front of our very eyes. What was so clear only days or weeks ago is transformed to dust.

Yellowed away by the alchemical putrefactio, me and my life and the way I was so sure it was supposed to turn out.

It’s tempting to conclude that something has gone wrong, some great cosmic error or mistake has occurred, we have failed, or we’ve been forsaken.

But this reassembling of our world is a sacred process and the path is everywhere. It is there in moments of holding it all together and it is equally there in moments when everything is falling apart.

In the fantasy that we have come to some resolution or “mastery” of the wildness and unending depths of the human heart, the beloved appears to turn the master into dust, which was precisely his or her role all along, a special arrow in her quiver. How tragic. What mercy.

The soul is always communicating to us. The great Friend is always looking for us, in the hope of drawing us nearer, but often in ways that are unexpected and even bewildering to the part of us that believes it is in control.

In order to get our attention, the soul must at times upset and dissolve the status quo, turning inside out the dreams and fantasies of me and the life I thought I was living… causing us to see that perhaps we have no idea who and what we are, what a relationship is, what healing is, what the Divine is, and where we will find meaning.

As we deepen in our inquiry, we might start to see this activity of somatic and psychic restructuring as the expression of a certain kind of grace… not the sweet, flowy, and expansive grace that is our favorite kind, but a grace that is fierce and wild and can have a certain disassembling energy to it.

It’s the grace of Kali, or that of the wrathful Tibetan goddesses or the moon, a raging grace, a creative and destructive reorganization of consciousness. But it is grace nonetheless.

Image by David Mark 



Saturday, October 16, 2021

Matt's New Online Course: Soul-Tending in Times of Transition


Dear friend, 

Even though it may seem as if we are alone – and in part we must walk this path by ourselves – we are never truly alone, as unseen helpers, friends, and companions are always nearby. We can help one another in so many ways and it is in this spirit that I have put together the upcoming online course - Tending to the Soul

>>Learn more about the Tending to the Soul online course


Over five weeks, we’ll make a journey together of being and belonging, into the heart of embodied spirituality, relational neuroscience, and a psychotherapy of the soul. Starting Thursday, October 21st, we’ll meet within a healing relational field and immerse ourselves in the teachings and practices which are such an essential part of my writing and clinical work, including:


  • Slowing down and replacing habitual consciousness and perception with that of curious, compassionate, empathic attunement

  • How the spiritual path will inevitably ask us to step into the unknown and how that isn’t always going to feel certain, clear, and safe

  • Simple, yet effective self-attunement and soul-tending practices you can engage daily, even if you don’t have hours of free time

  • The discovery of a natural trust and confidence in our immediate, embodied experience, even in difficult times

  • The organic process of things “falling apart” and coming back together again and how cycles of rupture and repair are the essence of deep soul work 

  • The relevance of alchemy in a contemporary, embodied, imaginative approach to transformation and healing

  • Becoming an alchemist of your own life and working the the minerals and materials of your own heart  

  • The alchemical yellowing, the sacredness of dissolution, and the holy invitation when things fall apart 

  • Unearthing the alchemical tincture and medicine hidden inside the wound

  • How difficult and challenging emotional experience - especially in relationship - is the prima materia for the alchemist to work with in the laboratory of the soul

  • How any integral path of spiritual transformation can benefit from psychological, emotional, somatic, and relational sensitivity

  • The metaphor of light and the importance of “making the darkness conscious” on the path of wholeness

  • How we can use our relationship with spirituality to avoid a direct confrontation with “the shadow,” unresolved relational trauma, and “the unlived life”

  • The importance of radical honesty with ourselves on the healing and spiritual paths and the capacity to practice kindness toward the unwanted parts and pieces of the psyche

  • Becoming an alchemist of the inner landscape and working consciously with the “metals” and “minerals” of our immediate, embodied experience 

  • The transformative potential of the “blue” range of the spectrum of consciousness

  • How grief is a portal and temple in which we can enter into with greater awareness and compassion

  • Opening to “the unlived life” and what remains unfelt and unintegrated within us 

  • Meeting and dialoguing with the lost orphans of psyche and soma 

  • What it means to experience our feelings all the way through without falling into the extremes of denial or fusion 

  • The courage to walk alone at times, leading with our eccentricities, vulnerabilities, and sensitivities, which requires going against the psychic status quo

  • How the cycles of reorganization and the alchemical putrefactio are the soil from which the phoenix of the heart can emerge 

  • The inherent messiness of the spiritual journey, and the chaos and glory of what it means to be fully here and to participate in the unfolding of the soul

  • Unshaming and depathologizing intense, unwanted, and uncomfortable emotional experience, and honoring times of unknowing and liminality 

  • Updating neural and soul-circuitry with empathic attunement and embodied kindness 



It’s not easy to do this sort of work and exploration on our own as the path can become blurry, hazy, and even a bit lonely. Anytime we open to the shadow, the lunar, and the descendent current, it can be so helpful to have one another to shine a lamp in the darkness. For it is within these more dimly lit dimensions of the spectrum of the heart that a luminosity appears, what the alchemists refer to as the scintilla, or the sparks of light. 

In gathering together over these five weeks, we’ll participate consciously in the power and poetic beauty of the relational field to support us in cleansing our perception, opening our hearts, and remembering what’s most important. 

>>Learn more about the Tending to the Soul online course here 

As a reminder, we’ll meet live for five consecutive Thursdays, starting October 21st, at 11am Pacific/ 7pm in London. The live sessions will last around 75-90 minutes and include experiential exercises, talks and curriculum, sharing personal experience, and live interaction where you can ask questions. 

Remember, it is not necessary to attend live in order to fully participate. Many are unable due to other commitments.  After each session, you’ll receive a link to the video replay as well as be able to download the audio and a written transcript, and work through the material from the comfort of your own home on a timeline that works for you. 

I’d love to have you join me this fall - as well as friends and fellow travelers from around the world - where together we can create a safe, warm, yet provocative and creative relational field - and explore some of the mysteries of the healing journey. 


Wishing you many blessings on your journey and I look forward to connecting with you this fall, or later at some point down the path in whatever way we’re brought together. 


With love and appreciation, 


Matt







Friday, October 15, 2021

REPLAY of Matt's free live webinar

 

Dear friends, 

Here is the link to the replay of the free live webinar I held yesterday on Being and Belonging: Keeping Your Heart Open When Things Fall Apart. We plan to leave this up for a few weeks if you were unable to attend and you'd like to watch it (at no cost). 

A quick reminder that my new live online course starts next week – Tending to the Soul: A 5-Week Journey of Being and Belonging, and a Spirituality of the Heart. You can find all the details here

Inside the course we’ll be meditating together and exploring the nature of an embodied, alchemical, trauma-informed approach to transformation and healing, diving deep into many of the themes I speak about in my writing and apply in my own life and clinical practice.

I look forward to making this journey with you where, together, we can step into a holding environment and into the mysteries of the body, the heart, and the sacred world.

If you're unable to join us inside the course, we'll be sure to find other ways to stay in touch over the weeks and months to come, including writing here at the blog and future free videos and webinars

Please take care of yourself! 

Sending love,

Matt 





Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Matt Licata's new live online course - Tending to the Soul


Dear friend,

I wanted to let you know that my new online course, Tending to the Soul: A 5-Week Journey of Being and Belonging, and a Spirituality of the Heart, is now open for registration for a limited time.

We live in an era of unprecedented change and transition, which we can see happening all around us. Simultaneously, the same process is occurring within the vessel of the human body.

At times, the sacred world can seem so near. But at other times it remains hidden behind the veil of conditioned perception.

We hear that “the path is everywhere,” but what does that mean in our embodied, lived experience? How do we see and unearth the silver, emerald, and gold that are sparkling and alive as an organic aspect of inner and outer nature?

Over the five weeks we’ll be together, we’ll dive deep into many of the topics and areas of inquiry which I discuss in my teaching, writing, and psychotherapeutic work, to help support you on your own unique path of individuation and healing.

You can get all the details about the course here:

[Now Open] Tending to the Soul: A 5-Week Journey with Matt Licata

I look forward to spending this time with you where we can come together in the exploration of an embodied, shadow-inclusive, trauma-sensitive approach to our paths of psychological growth, emotional attunement, and spiritual transformation.

Take care and I hope to see you inside the course later this month. 

Warmly, 

Matt



P.S. I'm going to be offering a free webinar on keeping your heart open when things fall apart this Thursday (the 14th), which will serve as an introduction to the course. You can register at no cost here

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Free live webinar with Matt Licata on Thursday


Dear friend, 

I want to invite you to a free live webinar on Thursday, October 14 at 11am Pacific Time/ 7pm in London, entitled Being and Becoming: Keeping Your Heart Open When Things Fall Apart.


>>Register for the webinar at no cost here


During the call, I'll speak about tending to the soul in times of transition, the journey of the wounded healer, and the nature of an embodied, shadow-sensitive, trauma-informed approach to psychological inquiry, emotional healing, and spiritual transformation. 





I look forward to connecting with you on the 14th! 


Warmly.


Matt 






Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Trauma and the sacred wound


Excerpted from my free video on “Trauma and the Wounded Healer” 

Many of us interested in things like spirituality, yoga, meditation have been wounded in our lives – whether that be physically, emotionally, or at a deeper soul level.

Whether this wounding manifests as trauma, disorganized attachment, depression, or through any manner of personal or archetypal betrayals, it has a way of coloring our perception and affecting our capacity to feel safe.

Our increasingly speedy and fragmented culture has come to pathologize valid human experiences such as grief, melancholy, restlessness, and anger, giving rise to psychiatric and self-help communities determined to “cure” or “transcend” dimensions of our experience that contain essential data and information for our unique journeys.

The truth is that for some of us, initiation occurs by way of transition, dissolution, and loss. These experiences are not signs of error or mistake, but calls to depth and evidence of how our wounding can serve an initiatory function.

At times, deeper healing requires that the wound disclose itself in more subtle ways, that it open and reveal, where it can seem like things are getting worse.

This is really hard to let in: why is it taking so long to feel better, to heal? What am I doing wrong? I’ve failed, yet again. To really start to trust this process and the timeline that is guiding it asks so much of us, as we don’t really live in a world that supports this idea of the wound as initiation.

It’s not an easy life, that of the wounded healer – and certainly not one that we choose consciously. But is the honorable and noble inheritance of many who are called to the path.

To really embrace this invitation requires us to walk in this world against the grain - with our own sensitivities and eccentricities by our side - and remain open to deepening revelation of shadow, and to dare to consider the radical possibility that the ally will appear in infinite ways. Not to harm, but to reveal.

… I go more deeply into this in the free video and then more extensively in the 5-part self-guided online home study course, “The Path of the Wounded Healer


Image by Enrique Lopez Garre

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

The mandala of the wounded healer


The wounded healer isn’t only a myth or historical figure we can learn about, but a living reality and atmosphere of the heart, with its own unique fragrance, signature, and color. A never-before-seen blue, an unknown red, an unexpected yellow.

The Asklepion healing dream temple isn’t only a literal structure in which pilgrims would enter seeking vision, but an interior place and landscape found within this miracle earthy body.

Inside the mandala, love is behind the scenes and spinning out the worlds – the messy, chaotic, and glorious dimensions of what it means to be a relational, sensitive, sometimes tenderized, sometimes shattered human being.

At times, we will ache and feel alone, crafted as we are to rest and explore in the arms of another, to dance with the Other within the strands of the scintilla of light.

But the nature of this “Other” is of the mystery and will shift shapes, taking infinite and unexpected forms to remind us of what is truly happening here, hidden just behind the veil of habitual networks and matrices of intergenerational trauma and trance.

The invitation from within the garden is to twirl, spin, and dance within the bounty that has been given, which requires that we peer behind the covering and see, and allow ourselves to be astonished.


Photo by Tabitha Turner

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Can I play again?


At times, the wound will open and weep. This is its way to invite us inside, into intimacy with the shattering, and into the infinite open nature of the human heart.

We’re not always going to be able to provide a home for the lost pieces of psyche and soma to be held on our own. This is not evidence of error, mistake, or failure, but of the sacred nature of being an open, sensitive relational mammal.

While understanding and insight can be supportive, it is right-brain immersion in fields of attunement which foster cellular restructuring. The body will reorganize when it feels safe.

It is a reparative neural experience that unveils that sacred soothing, whereby the images, feelings, and orphans of the unlived life are able to be metabolized, taken into the sanctuary, and can release their psychic nutrients.

It is as if the little one, left behind at the moment of traumatic impact, emerges into the royal here and now space, alive longing and burning and pleading, “Is it safe yet? Can I return home? “Can I play again?” Or will I be shamed, abandoned, rejected, and shattered as before?

While we’re wired to co-regulate with another, the nature of this “other” is oriented in the mystery and may be nearer than we’ve come to believe.

Just behind the veil, there are colors, fragrances, symbols, and other unforeseen emanations of the Friend and the Beloved as it presents as shepherd into soul.

As the veil parts just a bit, we may discover that it’s a lot more creative, merciful, and majestic than we expected.


Photo by Niklas Priddat

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Holding the lost one


Usually when we speak about the shadow, we're referring to less desirable experience such as disowned jealousy, rage, selfishness, and shame. Most often, the shadowy underworld is seen as the dark repository for “negative” aspects of ourselves, i.e., our phobia around intimacy, unacknowledged narcissism, and the full retinue of the ghosts of our unlived lives.

But it is not only negative aspects of the personality that we disavow, split from, and project. Many of us have lost the capacity to access and embody more “positive” experiences such as contentment, pleasure, creativity, sexuality, spontaneity, and awe.

Even the very organic, life-giving capacity to rest, to play, and to explore within the formless, less known areas of consciousness can come to be associated as risky and perilous in the psyche and nervous system, and therefore sequestered into the darkness of the psychic and somatic forests.

Especially tragic (and heartbreaking) is the reality that some of us have become disconnected from the simple experience of joy, cut off from a natural sense of elation at being alive.

I was once working with a man who was suffering from depression. Over time, we discovered together how unsafe it was for him to feel and express joy, how the experience of simple delight, spontaneity, and pleasure had become tangled in his nervous system with danger and threat, and the likelihood of unbearable, painful rupture with critical attachment figures in his life.

During our sessions, there would be times we would become aware of a very authentic, childlike, causeless joy coming to the surface, and how simultaneously some anxiety or even an annihilatory sense of panic would co-arise with the aliveness and the quantum, pregnant nature of what he was touching into.

In response, he would quickly change the subject, generate some sort of conflict between us, “leave” the room and go back into a prior conversation or nervously ask a question, or even just close his eyes and start to meditate. It had become urgent for him to disembody from that level of openness, spontaneity, and simple, playful elation at being alive, especially if he knew that I was witnessing that within him.

After this happened a few times, as the trust deepened between us, we were able to slow way down and become curious together and explore what was happening in those charged moments. Slowly and safely. With any judgment or shame, or some heavy agenda that he be fixed or cured or healed or any of that. There’s no safety in that sort of dense psychic agenda.

What was most essential was that in those moments he have the experience of being felt and understood, repairing those broken circuitries of love, empathy, presence, and warmth, so that he could feel again and express himself in a space of holding and trust.

In this field where he felt safe-enough, he was able access previously unmetabolized images, perceptions, emotions, and bodily sensations, as well as early memories of how his father reacted to the boy’s joy and excitement, responding with aggression and rage, dismissing and rejecting him, demanding that he “grow up” and stop embarrassing the family. And how in response to that, his mother shut down and turned away from him to avoid the conflict.

He felt so lost, alone, unseen, and disallowed to be who and what he is, a man who longs to know joy and to play and dance and explore his body and emotions and relationships – and even the Divine - from this open place.

He came to see how he had equated feeling full of life and natural states of delight, interest, play, and spontaneity with being judged and rejected. Over some time, he began to unwind this organization and was able to slowly re-awaken to this spectrum of experience and touch the natural joy he had disconnected from at an earlier time in his life (for very understandable reasons).

While the “shadow” is often associated with darkness and the unwanted, it is not only “negative” experience that finds its way into the shadow, but any psychic, emotional, or somatic material that has not found an attuned home within the relational field.

To retrieve the lost joyous little boy and girl is an act of love, really, not only for one’s self but for all of life.


Image by Shlomaster

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Resting your nervous system


I’m often asked about the role of the nervous system in healing, and how things like trauma and relational wounding affect our capacity to feel safe, intimate, and connected with life. As well as about the relationship between spiritual transformation, unintegrated emotional-somatic experience, and things like our attachment organization and the effects of early (mis)attunement on the developing brain (and little heart).

I’ve recently created an 18-hour self-guided home study course - Resting Your Nervous System - to explore all this, weaving together teachings and practices from the fields of depth and somatic psychologies, trauma studies, relational neuroscience, and the meditative traditions.

You can work through the course at a pace that is right for you, from the comfort of your own home. The course consists of 12, 90-minute video sessions, each of which include guided practices and exercises, talks and presentations, and responses to commonly asked questions. The material is also offered on audio as well as through written transcripts, which you can download.

Some of the topics covered in the course include:

• The importance of resting the nervous system, especially in uncertain and transitional times
• How any integral approach to our spiritual lives must include awareness of and sensitivity to trauma and relational wounding
• How the felt sense of safety is the foundation for psychological growth and emotional healing
• The essential role of the body in healing, especially in times of overwhelm and stress
• A not-too-technical, experiential understanding of the nervous system and its role in paths of transformation and healing
• A fresh look at what trauma is and how it is more common than we might think
• The relationship between trauma and feeling unsafe, and how “safety” is the ultimate medicine when it comes to trauma recovery
• Trauma, the nervous system, and the workings of implicit, emotional, and bodily memory
• How and why we cannot “think” our way out of trauma and other types of relational wounding
• The meaning of integration and how trauma is a dis-integrating experience, and the need for experiential process in healing the emotional brain
• Neuroplasticity, caring for ourselves in a new way, and the encoding of new neural circuitry
• The role of the “other” in healing - self-regulation and regulating with another
• Neural integration and the importance of linking together the layers of our experience
• The unconscious investment we may have in not healing and honoring the realities and implications of what true healing will always ask of us
• Establishing a list of specific, individualized practices and exercises you can engage in the moment when you notice yourself activated and overwhelmed
• The importance of understanding our own “window of tolerance” and learning to navigate and widen our window over time
• The role of contemplative practices such as mindfulness, breathing, and yoga - and discerning when they are being used in healthy vs. less-than-healthy ways
• How mindfulness- or meditation-based practice is not always the most wise, skillful, or compassionate approach to working with trauma and other relational wounding
• How spiritual beliefs and practices can overwhelm our nervous systems and can also serve as unconscious pathways of self-abandonment and even retraumatization

I find this material to be rich and multi-layered and essential for those of us interested in an embodied, contemporary, emotionally-attuned, trauma-sensitive approach to spirituality and healing, a spirituality that will really filter down into our bodies, relationships, and out into the neural circuitry of the world.

I hope you find the course beneficial, if you do end up joining, and I look forward to staying in touch over the months to come.



Learn more about the course here 

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

The body knows, the heart knows


So many of us feel shame related to our trauma, wounding, and sensitivities, as if they’re evidence that we’ve failed, it’s our fault, that something’s wrong with us, and that we’re broken and beyond repair.

Even if we “know” this isn’t accurate, that cortical knowing is no match for the subcortical fires in our limbic and bodily circuitry, where unmetabolized grief, sadness, and rage dwell as the shattered children of our unlived lives.

The emotional pain is tragic in and of itself, but underneath is a psychic homelessness and deep sense that we’re alone, which is really at the root of trauma. Here, we long and burn for the missing companion.

As human beings, we are wired to co-regulate - to rest, explore, and play within a relational field. We were not crafted to “do it all on our own” - the nervous system that goes with this particular star is one designed to flower in a relational vessel.

We can do so much for one another, to transmute personal, collective, and transgenerational trauma and trance: The words we use, the softness in our eyes, our presence when we listen, taking the time and the care to ensure that the other feels felt and understood.

So many of us are living in a way that has been toned toward a felt sense where it’s just not safe to be who and what we are.

If you want to help someone in your life, start by helping them to feel safe.

While the mind may conclude that a moment of safety is inconsequential, the body knows, the heart knows. If we look carefully, we may see just how that one moment ripples out into the neural circuitry of the world.


Photo by RitaE

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

How well did I love?


It’s so easy to take for granted that tomorrow will come, that another opportunity will be given to bear witness to a sunset, take a walk in the forest, listen in awe to the birds, or share a moment of connection with the one in front of us.

But another part knows how fragile it truly is here, how tenuous, and how this opening will not be here forever.

It’s so easy to fall under the trance of postponement and the spell of tomorrow.

At the end of this life, it is unlikely we'll be too concerned with whether we accomplished all the tasks on our to-do lists, played it safe, or resolved our unending self-improvement project.

Inside these hearts there may be only one burning question: how well did I love?

One day we will no longer be able to look at, touch, or share a simple moment with those we love. When we turn to them, they will be gone.

One moment will be our last to experience awe at a color or a fragrance or the blooming of a violet, or to enter into union with the vastness of the sea.

It will be our last chance to see a universe in a drop of rain, to have a moment of communion with a friend, or to weep as the light yields to the night sky.

One last moment to have a thought, feel an emotion, fall in love, or listen to a piece of music. To know heartbreak, joy, sorrow, and peace—to behold the outrageous mystery of what it truly means to be a sensitive human being.

What if today is that last day? Or tomorrow? Or later this week?

Knowing that death will come, how will we respond to the sacred and brief appearance of life?

Perhaps our “life’s purpose” has nothing to do with what we’ve fantasied it to be about, but simply to fully live, to touch each moment with our presence and our one, wild heart.

And do whatever we can to help others, to hold them when they are hurting, to speak kind words, to listen carefully to the ways they are attempting to make sense of a world that has gone a bit mad.

To slow down and bear witness to the erupting miracle of the other as it appears in front of us.

Perhaps this is the most radical gift we can give, to offer ourselves as a true healing space in which love can find its way and come alive here.


Attuning to he heartbeat of the earth, Lappohja Beach, Southern Finland 

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Following the sparks of light


There was an old, collective dream that opening the heart was always going to feel safe, that somehow love promised that.

That allowing another to matter was going to be easy, that providing a temple for the grief, the tender, and the broken was somehow not going to feel raw and at times unbearable.

That in the end, somehow love wouldn’t shatter the known.

That to transform 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 healing and transformation are not only solar and transcendent, but of the descending current and the moon, of the earth and the mud and the soil, and at times will take us to dust.

It would seem love has very little interest in our fantasies of invulnerability, trances of mastery and control, or wiggling into some sustained transcendent state. It is just too wild for all that, too creative, too pregnant, too quantum.

Love seeks a vessel in which to come alive here and we are that vessel. It finds us by way of our quivering, our tender not-knowing, and by that willingness to fall to the ground and start all over again.

Sometimes broken, sometimes whole, sometimes a mess, but always alive. In all of our chaotic glory.

When we’re 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.


following the scintilla of light in the forests of Southern Finland 

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Turning into the not-knowing


There is a certain death that occurs as part of the healing process, a part of us unable to survive illumination. As we turn the light around, according to one Daoist alchemical text, a piece of soul will fall away.

While it is tempting to spin out of the uncertainty and quickly into rebirth, there is wisdom and purity within the reorganization which we cannot bring into embodied knowing if we patch it all up prematurely.

The dissolution itself is initiation as it offers vision and feeling not available in the put-back-together state. 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. This prior soul-companion can be another person or it can be a member of the inner family.

Somehow, we’re asked to bear witness to the crumbling of an old dream – my life and the way I was so sure it was going to turn out. This is the holy alchemical operation of putrefactio, a sacred process that is evidence of high-voltage, though fierce grace.

In order to be initiated, we must slow down, return into the earth, the mud, and the womb, and turn into the not-knowing. 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 tend to the pieces of soul, the shards of the heart, and the fragments of the psyche that are being rearranged, to honor the role they have played, for standing by us for so long, and providing refuge during difficult times.

To lament the loss of their companionship and allow them to continue into whatever realm is next for them, permission to travel and experience new things. Even if we are unable to “accept” this, we can touch the ground where they once were, and bow.

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.



Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Shakiness as the portal


Much is said these days about healing and spiritual transformation, and the deep joy, clarity, and peace that are the promised fruits of the inner journey. Not much is mentioned, however, about the disappointment involved in waking up, and the immense deflation wired into the transformative process. It doesn’t really sell that well.

“Making the darkness conscious,” as Jung noted, “is disagreeable and therefore not popular.”

Healing can break our hearts and shatter old dreams. It is oriented in birth *and death, creativity *and destruction, transcendent *and descendent currents, and must by its nature dance in the full spectrum.

Not only does it involve resurrection, but the chaotic glory of the crucifixion as well.

While it is natural to have a bias for renewal and rebirth, it would appear the beloved does not share this bias as he or she (or it or they) will make equal use of the alchemical processes of dissolution and putrefactio to open us into her world – each holy arrows in her quiver.

We want to heal but we don’t want to have to feel too much. We want to feel fully alive, but not too vulnerable and tenderized. This is so understandable and so human, and need not be shamed. But it doesn’t seem to always work like that, not in this star anyway, where shakiness is the portal.

At times, “getting what I want” is no longer a majestic or sensitive-enough reference point around which to organize our experience. Love is the new organizer and may have a different idea.

Relationships ending, dreams collapsing, careers recycling, the dissolving of the way it was all supposed to turn out: these yellowings of soul are not evidence of error, failure, or defeat, but of the relentlessly creative nature of love as it emerges here. One form dying so that another may come into being.

Yes, at times the burning can seem unbearable. Such is the nature of the human heart. We may burn until we are translucent, but it is by way of this burning that wholeness is revealed.


Image by Sara Richter

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

At times the blue one will appear


Sadness is not something you need to shift, cure, or transform.

At times the blue one will appear, the melancholy figure of the soul, not to be healed or subjected to some process of transcendence, but held and given space to reveal.

It comes with an offering and benediction that is unique to its place in the spectrum, the blue-place, which carries a unique fragrance and essence, a frequency of the wounded healer.

Sadness need not be operated upon so that it will yield or transform into something else, for it is complete and pure on its own.

There may be an important communication in the core of the sorrow – a special blessing not able to be transmitted in moments of peace and joy. A reminder of something lost, a region of your heart that misses and longs for you, a dispatch from the beloved that can only be decoded in the slow silence of aloneness.

Yes, it can burn there and can take us to dust. But the particles of that dust are made of the scintilla of light.

When turned toward and entered into, sadness reveals a blue-portal through which we can more deeply connect with ourselves, with others, and with nature… and with a world that has forgotten something holy about the wisdom of a broken heart.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

The path is everywhere


There are times when the ground will fall out from underneath us, when an old dream dies… me and my life and the way I was so sure it would turn out. A person we thought would be with us forever, meaning in our work and art, even our deepest realizations… shattered into the vast.

The invitation is into the landscape of grief, into the purifying waters of lamentation, deep into a well which has become hidden in the caves of the soul. But this structure can be seen, if we look behind the veil. Once located, we can sit by that well and grieve the ending of one world so that another may begin.

The well is located in the very center of the mandala, which is paradoxically where we always, already are, but it can be so easy to lose track of our home base, whether imaged as the palace of the soul, the light of the spirit, or the ventral passageways of the holy human nervous system.

The path is everywhere but it can take slowing down and a cleansing of perception for this revelation to ground in our bodies. Our sensitivities, vulnerabilities, and eccentricities are not obstacles to our path, but are the very path itself.

Today may not be the day where we will find answers but to be taken into the vastness of the question.

In the language of alchemy, transmutation is a process where the lead of habitual consciousness is converted into the emerald, silver, and gold of aliveness, creativity, and new vision.

This unfolding evokes the image of the elusive philosopher’s stone, the ruby red doorway into the mystery and the majesty of inner and outer nature.

The stone is here now but is outside ordinary view, and longs in its own way to come here and share its qualities and fragrances. Hidden in the moon, in the sand, in the stars, and the heart-cells, it wants you as its vessel.


Photo by John Fowler

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

The lost ones of psyche and soma


When we’re hurting, scared, and the wound is open and weeping, there is a deep longing to be companioned, for a safe soothed nervous system to resonate and co-regulate with.

The grief, the rage, the heartbreak, the panic… emerge not to harm, but to be felt and integrated, and allowed their rightful place in the larger ecology of being.

If we’re unable to process and provide a home for the lost ones of psyche and soma, they are held in limbic and bodily circuitry until conditions are ripe for metabolization.

While understanding and insight can be supportive, it is right-brain immersion in safety-fields which fosters cellular restructuring. The body will reorganize when it feels safe.

It is a reparative neural experience that unveils that sacred soothing, where the images, feelings, and orphans of the unlived life are able to be digested, taken into the sanctuary, and release their psychic nutrients.

It is as if the little one, left behind at the moment of traumatic impact, emerges into the here and now space, alive longing and burning and pleading, “Is it safe yet? Can I return home? “Can I play again?” Or will I be shamed, abandoned, rejected, and shattered as before?

While we’re wired to co-regulate with another, the nature of this “other” is oriented in the mystery and may be nearer than we’ve come to believe.

Just behind the veil, there are colors, fragrances, symbols, and visions, emanations of the Friend as it appears as shepherd into soul.

As the covering parts just a bit, we may discover that it’s more creative, merciful, and majestic than we expected.


Photo by Niklas Priddat



Monday, July 19, 2021

Free videos and new self-guided home study online courses


Dear friends, 

A few of you have asked where to find the free videos, "Trauma and the Wounded Healer," "Spirituality, Shadow, and the Figures of Light," and "An Invitation to Rest Your Nervous System." I have provided the links here.

And here are the links for the corresponding self-guided, online home study courses:

Resting Your Nervous System: Embodying a Trauma-Sensitive Spirituality and Discovering a Felt Sense of Safety

Embracing the Shadow and the Path of Light

The Path of the Wounded Healer

The next online course, The Path is Everywhere: A Five-Week Journey of Being and Belonging, into the Heart of Embodied Spirituality, Relational Neuroscience, and a Psychotherapy of the Soul, will start in October.

If you'd like to stay updated on all of my new free videos, courses, and new writing, you can sign up for my mailing list below.

>>Sign up for Matt's mailing list

I hope you're enjoying the summer (winter for my friends down under) and I look forward to being in touch over the weeks and months to come. 

Warmly, 
Matt


Image by Federico Bottos

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

The body knows, the heart knows


So many of us feel shame related to our trauma, wounding, and sensitivities, as if they’re evidence that we’ve failed, it’s our fault, that something’s wrong with us, and that we’re broken and beyond repair.

Even if we “know” this isn’t accurate, that cortical knowing is no match for the subcortical fires in our limbic and bodily circuitry, where unmetabolized grief, sadness, and rage dwell as the shattered children of our unlived lives.

The emotional pain is tragic in and of itself, but underneath is a psychic homelessness and deep sense that we’re alone, which is really at the root of trauma. Here, we long and burn for the missing companion.

As human beings, we are wired to co-regulate - to rest, explore, and play within a relational field. We were not crafted to “do it all on our own” - the nervous system that goes with this particular star is one designed to flower in a relational vessel.

We can do so much for one another, to transmute personal, collective, and transgenerational trauma and trance: The words we use, the softness in our eyes, our presence when we listen, taking the time and the care to ensure that the other feels felt and understood.

So many of us are living in a way that has been toned toward a felt sense where it’s just not safe to be who and what we are.

If you want to help someone in your life, start by helping them to feel safe.

While the mind may conclude that a moment of safety is inconsequential, the body knows, the heart knows. If we look carefully, we may see just how that one moment ripples out into the neural circuitry of the world.


Photo by RitaE


Saturday, July 10, 2021

The Resting Your Nervous System self-guided home study course





Dear friend,

As a psychotherapist, mentor, and teacher, I’m often asked about the role of the nervous system in transformation and healing, and how things like trauma and relational wounding can affect our capacity to feel safe, intimate, and connected with life.

I’ve recently created an 18-hour self-guided home study course to explore all this, weaving together teachings and practices from the fields of depth and somatic psychologies, trauma studies, relational neuroscience, and the meditative traditions. You can learn about the course and how to register below.

>>Learn more about the Resting Your Nervous System self-guided home study course

You can work through the course at a pace that is right for you, from the comfort of your own home. The course consists of 12, 90-minute video sessions, each of which include guided practices and exercises, talks and presentations, and responses to commonly asked questions. The material is also offered on audio as well as through written transcripts, which you can download.

Some of the topics covered in the course include:

  • The importance of resting the nervous system, especially in uncertain and transitional times
  • How any integral approach to our spiritual lives must include awareness of and sensitivity to trauma and relational wounding
  • How the felt sense of safety is the foundation for psychological growth and emotional healing
  • The essential role of the body in healing, especially in times of overwhelm and stress
  • A not-too-technical, experiential understanding of the nervous system and its role in paths of transformation and healing
  • A fresh look at what trauma is and how it is more common than we might think
  • The relationship between trauma and feeling unsafe, and how “safety” is the ultimate medicine when it comes to trauma recovery
  • Trauma, the nervous system, and the workings of implicit, emotional, and bodily memory
  • How and why we cannot “think” our way out of trauma and other types of relational wounding
  • The meaning of integration and how trauma is a dis-integrating experience, and the need for experiential process in healing the emotional brain
  • Neuroplasticity, caring for ourselves in a new way, and the encoding of new neural circuitry
  • The role of the “other” in healing - self-regulation and regulating with another
  • Neural integration and the importance of linking together the layers of our experience
  • The unconscious investment we may have in not healing and honoring the realities and implications of what true healing will always ask of us
  • Establishing a list of specific, individualized practices and exercises you can engage in the moment when you notice yourself activated and overwhelmed
  • The importance of understanding our own “window of tolerance” and learning to navigate and widen our window over time
  • The role of contemplative practices such as mindfulness, breathing, and yoga - and discerning when they are being used in healthy vs. less-than-healthy ways
  • How mindfulness- or meditation-based practice is not always the most wise, skillful, or compassion approach to working with trauma and other relational wounding
  • How spiritual beliefs and practices can overwhelm our nervous systems and can also serve as unconscious pathways of self-abandonment and even retraumatization
I find this material to be rich and multi-layered and essential for those of us interested in an embodied, contemporary, emotionally-attuned, trauma-sensitive approach to spirituality and healing, a spirituality that will really filter down into our bodies, relationships, and out into the neural circuitry of the world.

>>Learn more about the Resting Your Nervous System online course

I hope you find the course beneficial, if you do end up joining, and I look forward to staying in touch over the months to come.

Warmly,

Matt Licata

P.S. If you’ve not yet had a chance to watch the free video, An Invitation to Rest Your Nervous System, you can do so here.  

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

A child appears


Bring your attention to your feet as they touch the floor, your energy and awareness dropping downward, toward the ground, into the earth, into the womb.

Imagine sitting in a living room on a comfortable couch, at sunset with a warm fire in the fireplace, the smells and sounds of an early evening in the mountains, as you hear a soft knock at the door.

Hesitatingly you walk over to the door and open it… a child is there, a little one – shaky, frightened, alone, and tired from a long journey.

There is something familiar about them but you can’t quite place it… just see them now, receive them, sense them, open to them. Things are never quite as they appear.

At times they seem anxious, heartbroken, scared, and confused, unsure of why they have come, where God is, if they belong, if it’s safe enough to be here with all of their feeling, vulnerability, and sensitivity.

In the face of this anxiety, worry, panic, and shame, would you refuse entry to the little one? Would you first demand that his fear dissolve, her anxiety be healed, his confusion clarify, or her heart be mended?

In your most authoritative spiritual voice, would you urge the little one to first "get over it,” accept everything the way it is, urgently forgive those who have harmed them, or quickly “raise their vibration?”

Or would you provide sanctuary and safe passage for them to rest as they are? A safe, contained temple in which the stories, the feelings, and the images can emerge, unfold, and be held?

Inside the heart of this little one, the beloved is at work, spinning out worlds of experience which are soaked with intelligence, sacred data, and saturated with both sweet and fierce grace. Somehow, love is making its way here through the shattering, through the mercy of this one.

With your presence and your warmth, help them to feel felt and understood and that they are safe now, that you will be a companion through the dark night, and that they are no longer alone.

Look carefully at them and see who and what they are. If you want to help a little one – whether they are on the inside or outside – help them to feel safe.


Photo by Alexas_Photos


Friday, July 2, 2021

Free Video from Matt Licata - An Invitation to Rest Your Nervous System



Dear friend,

I hope this note finds you well as we move into the summer (winter for my friends down under). It’s been such an unprecedented year (or two) and I know many of us are just now starting to sense into the real possibility of rebirth and renewal. Some sort of new guidance or new way of being is beginning to emerge, but in some ways we’re still in that middle, liminal period.

I want to share a free video with you, a mini-webinar that I recorded entitled, An Invitation to Rest Your Nervous System, where I speak about slowing down and attuning to inner and outer nature as we move into the next phase. Along with the video, there is also a free pdf which explores the importance of listening to the nervous system as part of an embodied spirituality.

>>Access the free video and pdf on An Invitation to Rest Your Nervous System

The reality is that many of us have been shaken, thrown off, or even shattered by all of the transition over the last year or so, where our nervous systems have been or toned or cued away from an embodied, felt sense of safety, and have shifted into subtle - or not so subtle! - states of restlessness, fear, loneliness, and stress of all kinds.

Perhaps now, more than ever, it is essential to find ways to rest our nervous systems, a journey that will be unique for each of us, not only to manage traumatic stress and this core soul-level exhaustion and disorientation that many of us are experiencing, but to deepen our relationship with the earth and the natural world, with our hearts, and to reconnect with the sacredness of what it means to be a human being alive on the planet at this time.

In order to experience the deep healing, joy, and aliveness that so many of us are longing for, it’s essential to be able to have our baseline or our psychic center of gravity within a felt sense of safety, where safety is the “neural scaffolding” you could say, or the experiential foundation from which we’re able to open, explore, play, connect, and create with one another. To really live.

I hope you enjoy the free video (and pdf) and find it interesting, helpful, and maybe even a bit provocative.

>>Access the free video and pdf An Invitation to Rest Your Nervous System

For those of you who are interested in deepening in this journey and exploration with me, I’ve recently released an 18-hour self-guided home study course entitled, “Resting Your Nervous System: Embodying a Trauma-Sensitive Spirituality and Discovering a Felt Sense of Safety.” You can learn more about the online training here.

Thank you, as always, for your interest in an embodied, shadow-sensitive, emotionally-attuned, and trauma-informed approach to psychological growth, emotional healing, and spiritual transformation, and I look forward to staying in touch over the weeks and months to come.

Warmly,

Matt Licata