Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Matt Licata's new online course - Embracing the Shadow and the Path of Light


Dear friends, 

My new self-guided online course – Embracing the Shadow and the Path of Light – is now available. 

This is my most recent home study course, and one I recommend for those interested in a contemporary, embodied, trauma-sensitive approach to transformation and healing, weaving together therapeutic, meditative, and neuroscientific streams of insight and practice.

The course is over 13 hours in length and includes guided exercises, talks and lectures on important themes related to the shadow and depth psychological work, as well as responses to many of the most commonly asked questions that I receive. The course draws extensively on my personal and clinical experience over the last 30 years.

While embracing, integrating, and working with the shadow is emphasized in some circles, the truth is that it is left out of many of our spiritual, self-help, personal growth, and healing traditions.

As Jung noted, shadow work is “disagreeable” and therefore unlikely to ever be that popular. Yet here we are, the misfits, along with the mystics, alchemists, and wild women and men who came before us.

In my experience, we’re never going to be able to meet that longing we each have to feel fully alive, intimate, and connected with ourselves, others, the natural world, and the divine, if we are not in conscious, embodied, and compassionate relationship with the unfelt and unlived dimensions of our experience.

In this sense, embracing and working with the shadow is the foundation of all spirituality and healing, and is ultimately a path of love, a gift we give to ourselves and to all of life.

I hope you enjoy the course and find it interesting and meaningful.



Saturday, April 17, 2021

Free video on "Trauma and the Wounded Healer"


Dear friend, 

I wanted to share with you free access to a short webinar I recorded recently where I spoke about an embodied, trauma-sensitive path of spirituality and healing through the archetype of the wounded healer. 

>>Free access to the "Trauma and the Wounded Healer" video 

Many of us interested in things like spirituality, yoga, mindfulness, meditation, psychotherapy, and plant medicine have been wounded in our lives – physically, emotionally, or at a deeper soul level.

What is the relationship between our wounding and our healing? In what way might our wounding – whether it manifests as relational trauma, attachment insecurity, depression, a sense of meaninglessness, or a profound restlessness or exhaustion – not be an obstacle to our path, but the very path itself?

The great mystics, poets, and alchemists have suggested that our wounding serves an initiatory function in the psyche, but what does this mean and how does all of this fit into our modern understanding of trauma and its profound effects on our bodies and nervous systems?

On the webinar, I speak a bit about the nature of trauma, how trauma is healed through an “updating” of the neural networks which hold unprocessed material, and how a new relationship with our vulnerabilities, sensitivities, and eccentricities can be a portal into psychological growth, emotional healing, and spiritual transformation.

I hope you enjoy the video and find it interesting and helpful. 

Warmly,

Matt 




My online course - Embracing the Shadow and the Path of Light - is now available in a self-guided home study version

Thursday, April 15, 2021

A sliver of hope


The tragedy of relational trauma and disorganized attachment presents itself as a synaptic or cellular sort of fragmenting, which is much more primordial than a mere cognitive dissonance, as it is one that is both neural and rooted in the soul.

Where we simultaneously long for and are terrified of “the Other.” We don’t know whether to step toward or step away. That sort of essence-level confusion and shattering runs through the entire psychic system.

For a young child, the attachment figure is God or Goddess, magician, sage, and seer, and without this person the end is near. But when this figure is also the very source of terror for the little one – or where the other is terrified and traumatized him or herself – we find ourselves in uncharted waters.

It takes everything to sit in this field with a brother or sister who has been touched in this way, who has come to organize their experience around this sort of rupture and betrayal. But it’s important to remember that this response was coherent, adaptive, and creative at the time. In ways that may seem paradoxical, that it was lifesaving and prevented full scale fragmentation.

To provide even a sliver of hope, a moment of safety, where they can feel felt and understood, just one moment where they can re-link, re-associate, re-embody, and know that a new world is possible.

To look up at you and see and feel and sense that you are there with them. That you honor who and what they are and the validity of their experience. That you will not demand they quickly change or transform or heal or be different in order for you to stay near.

Never underestimate the power of love and what we can do to help. Just some kind words, listening to another and their story, holding them, offering shelter and refuge, helping them to feel safe, even if for only a few seconds.


Photo by Alexas_Fotos


Monday, April 12, 2021

The journey of the wounded healer


Many of us interested in spirituality and healing have been wounded in our lives – physically, emotionally, or at a soul level. Whether this wounding takes form by way of relational or attachment trauma, or through personal and archetypal betrayal, 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 experience such as grief, melancholy, anger, and uncertainty, giving rise to a psychiatric and self-help community determined to “cure” or “transcend” dimensions of the psyche that contain important (and even holy) data for our unique paths of individuation, creativity, and meaning.

For some, initiation occurs only by way of transition, dissolution, and loss, through an embodied confrontation with the unconscious and the unlived life. 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 will require that the wound disclose itself in more subtle ways within the psyche and the body, where it can seem like things are getting worse. Tending to this organic unfolding of the healing process requires newfound levels of courage, patience, and trust.

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

It requires that we walk in this world against the grain and remain open to further wounding and revelation of shadow, and to dare to consider that radical possibility that the ally will appear in infinite ways. Not to harm, but to reveal.

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. But at times will take forms that are not always immediately recognizable.


Art by Enrique Lopez Garre


Tuesday, April 6, 2021

The portal to new life


We’ve been through so much over the last year, full-spectrum reorganization and the loss of our familiar reference points. A wearing away of the axis around which we’ve been spinning and orienting - personally, culturally, and collectively.

Not only external, but internal quarantine, where so much of what we thought we knew about ourselves, who we are and what matters most to us, what we’re doing here, and where we’re headed… has been called into question, dismantled, and fallen apart.

Who I am and the way things were supposed to unfold: the person who was supposed to be by my side, the work I was supposed to do, the body that was supposed to be healthy, a psyche where there was never going to be any restlessness, depression, loneliness, or anxiety.

It’s important to slow down, fall to the earth and the mud and the womb, to hold the broken pieces near, and to grieve. To mourn not only the loss of health and life, but also the dream of the way we thought it was all going to turn out.

The rebirth part of the death-rebirth cycle is embodied by way of our willingness and capacity to grieve. The portal to new life opens through conscious, embodied lamentation, to gather the shards of the heart and collect them in a holy vase.

And open to the possibility that this process of “falling apart” is not some great cosmic error or mistake we need to correct or repair, but an emissary of the archetype of wholeness, as we open to rebirth and what it is that will emerge from the ashes of dissolution.

It is love, of course, that will guide the reorganization and its unfolding. But it is love, too, that is the substance of the ashes, and also of the tears, the tears of grief and the tears of joy… the tears of the earth herself.


Photo of Yosemite Tunnel, Tuolumne Meadows by James Donovan


Friday, April 2, 2021

Free video from Matt Licata - Spiritual Bypassing, Shadow, and the Figures of Light


Dear friend, 

I’m writing to share with you a recent free video I recorded entitled, "Spiritual Bypassing, Shadow, and the Figures of Light,” which you can sign up to view at no cost. 

In this short webinar, I explore the phenomenon of spiritual bypassing and how through greater awareness, understanding, and kindness, we can engage our spiritual lives in a deeper, more heartfelt, and more embodied way.

We are wired as relational beings to attach and connect with others, and as little ones with open and sensitive hearts, brains, and nervous systems, we'll do whatever it takes to feel safe, seen, held, and included.

In order to be received and to feel that we truly belong, we inevitably disconnect from parts of ourselves, aspects of our personalities, and vulnerable pieces of our souls. These split off dimensions of what we are end up being "relocated" in what is referred to as "the shadow," where they remain, awaiting a time when it is safe to return.

"Spiritual bypassing" is one of many protective and avoidant strategies that we employ to keep us out of too much pain, fear, panic, overwhelm, and shame, from a direct confrontation with our own shadow, trauma and attachment wounding, and from the terror of rejection, blame, and abandonment.

By bringing curiosity and discernment to how this phenomenon may be expressing itself in our lives, we can discover the light and the gold that have been sent into the shadow, and what it would mean to allow and help it to return home, back into embodied, conscious awareness.

Also, there is now a self-guided, home study version of my online course, Embracing the Shadow and the Path of Light. This course was originally presented live online between December 2020 and February 2021. It is a 9-session course that you can take at your own pace and which explores an embodied, contemporary, trauma-sensitive approach to shadow work and healing. 

Please take care of yourself and I hope you enjoy the free video!



Monday, March 29, 2021

The wise activity of boundary


At times, the most wise, skillful, and soulful action is to establish a boundary with another. To stand up and assert what it is that we need and deserve. To move in an empowered and swift way to protect our own integrity.

To privilege our own autonomy. To meet narcissism, abuse, misattunement, and neglect with a fierce, embodied response.

This is not only the case with “external” others, but also with the multitude of “internal” others as they emerge as voices, figures, and images of the interior landscape.

As we wake in the morning, wander through the day, in liminal states and at the entryway to sleep and dream… we may notice their presence, arriving quietly in one moment and as firestorm in the next.

“There is something wrong with you. You have failed again. You have done life wrong. You are unworthy of mercy, of grace. You are beyond redemption. You are unlovable and unwanted. You do not belong here.”

The images and the voices of the past, shadow emanations of authorities, cultures, and lineages of intergenerational trauma and trance. The voices of a realm that has forgotten the holy, the sensitive, the eccentric, and raging uniqueness of one human heart.

But in a moment when perception is cleansed and a glimpse is given from behind the veil, it is seen that the visitors come not to harm, but to reveal.

But they, too, must be met with boundaries of clear seeing. To not accept what they say at face value, but to enter relationship, into dialogue and to find the way into what is most true.

To not merely accept their conclusions, proposed tunnels of reality, and the psychic lenses through which they have come to see and organize.

But to step into what you are. To live in and from that as your poetic offering to a weary world.

To take the risk of telling a new story, dreaming a new dream, and weaving new cloth. And to allow yourself to be toned and tuned by the great Weaver herself… breathing and sensing and listening as new vision is unearthed.


Photo by Jacub Gomez


Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Feel your feet on the earth


The next time you notice you’ve turned against yourself, tangled in a looping storyline about how you’ve failed, how you’re not enough, how there is something wrong with you…
Slow way down. Allow your center of gravity to drop, directing your energy and awareness toward the ground. Feel your feet on the earth.

Before you abandon yourself and your embodied vulnerability – parachuting into the unstable waters of rumination, shame, and blame – sense the roots extending out of the bottom of your feet and into the mud and the womb and the holding field underneath you.

In just this one micro moment, you are being asked to care for yourself in a new way, to see behind the veil, to cleanse your perception, and with compassion, to encode a new pathway. To provide a home, a sanctuary for the emotional and somatic world to unfold and be held.

With the ally of the breath, shift your precious life energy out of the overwhelming narrative, for it is no longer safe there. It is neither nuanced, nor subtle, not majestic enough to honor what you are and the intelligence of the ally and Friend as it courses through you.

Open into your belly, your heart, your throat, and the holiness of your nervous system. Place your hand onto the rippling life and listen.

Taking a few deep breaths, ask: what is wanting to be met now? To be known? To be birthed and touched in this moment? What is the wisdom of the soul, in its creative unfolding, longing for me to feel and metabolize?

In what way am I being asked to care for the vulnerable, the tender, and the shaky within me?

With curiosity, patience, and mercy, see the ways you leave the embodied world of pure feeling, bailing on your vulnerability as you escape back into the conditioned, old, unsafe 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 safety where it was unsafe. Companionship where you were lonely. Reassurance where you were afraid.

For you need yourself now more than ever. This world needs you now more than ever.


Photo by Ervin Gjata

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Weeping and the secret tears


As I was preparing for a talk yesterday, a line from Rumi came to me - “There is a secret medicine given only to those who hurt so hard they can't hope. The hopers would feel slighted if they knew.”

So much of this work of the heart involves the unearthing of this “secret medicine” – the mystery of befriending and of the Friend. But the nature of what that substance is can only be revealed to us in that high-voltage laboratory of the body, by way of direct revelation.

Often hidden just outside conscious awareness, just beyond the veil, tucked away in our cell tissue and neural pathways – and in the images and moods and dreams and colors of the soul – it awaits discovery.

The alchemists had a vision of this “secret medicine,” the ruby red philosopher’s stone, that elusive jewel buried in the human heart and simultaneously in the womb of the earth.

It’s a tincture or restorative solution flowing within the psychic landscape, but also out in the natural world. It’s seeded in both locations simultaneously by way of a mysterious and invisible connection, unveiled at the intersection of spirit and matter.

This secret substance cannot be found in a wound that is already healed, but only in one that is weeping.

I know many are in touch with this “weeping” now, not only by way of personal tears, but in attunement with the tears of the culture, those of the collective, and those of the earth herself.

Even the stars and the galaxies have tears which we can sense in certain moments.

May we know this weeping in deeper and more intimate ways and may those tears wash and cleanse and open us, together, into the next phase. Tears of grief and tears of joy and secret tears which reorganize and reveal.


Image by Miriam Espacio

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

The water of life


It’s compassionate and also merciful to step back and acknowledge how much we’ve been through this year. Just to be alive as a human being on the planet right now carries with it a certain tone of activation in the body and nervous system.

It’s like there’s been a continuous drip of a soul-level cortisol or adrenaline, on the one hand, and a collapse into hopelessness/helplessness on the other – an alternation between hypervigilance and a numbing or shutting down.

Each of these responses and the bodily felt arousal that accompanies them are coherent and make sense. In addition to our verbal narratives and stories, there are the stories of the body (somatic narrative) and also those of the nervous system (autonomic narrative) that weave together worlds of meaning.

Underneath it all, a deep longing to rest and to feel safe again in our bodies, to re-tune and enter consciously into the next phase. Something has fallen away that we will never be able to return to, but the exact nature of what’s coming next has yet to be given.

This not-knowing where we’re headed can generate that deep, even cosmic sort of restlessness that many are experiencing. We are in that period of liminality and transitional space, in between the way things used to be and the birth that is yet to come.

The temptation is to get out of the in-between and into the rebirth as quickly as possible. But if we bypass the reorganization prematurely, we will not be able to receive the gold that is found only within the core of that which is falling apart. This is the invitation into the rich, alchemical yellowing.

This is a difficult realm to navigate as it is not held as valid and honorable in our conventional world. But it is one of potential and creativity, a doorway to experience that is not always available in times of certainty and flow.

In the very center of the paradox and contradictory energies is the water of life. It is a courageous journey into that territory and one that will surprise us.

It may grind us into dust, but it is the particles that survive that initiation that form the golden neural and soul-scaffolding of a new world.

Thursday, March 4, 2021

In a moment of liminality and transitional space


It’s compassionate and also merciful to step back and acknowledge how much we’ve been through this year. Just to be alive as a human being on the planet right now carries with it a certain tone of activation in the body and nervous system.

It’s like there’s been a continuous drip of a soul-level cortisol or adrenaline, on the one hand, and a collapse into hopelessness/helplessness on the other – an alternation between hypervigilance and a numbing or shutting down.

Each of these responses and the bodily felt arousal that accompanies them are coherent and make sense. In addition to our verbal narratives and stories, there are the stories of the body (somatic narrative) and also those of the nervous system (autonomic narrative) that weave together worlds of meaning.

Underneath it all, a deep longing to rest and to feel safe again in our bodies, to re-tune and enter consciously into the next phase. Something has fallen away that we will never be able to return to, but the exact nature of what’s coming next has yet to be given.

This not-knowing where we’re headed can generate that deep, even cosmic sort of restlessness that many are experiencing. We are in that period of liminality and transitional space, in between the way things used to be and the birth that is yet to come.

The temptation is to get out of the in-between and into the rebirth as quickly as possible. But if we bypass the reorganization prematurely, we will not be able to receive the gold that is found only within the core of that which is falling apart. This is the invitation into the rich, alchemical yellowing.

This is a difficult realm to navigate as it is not held as valid and honorable in our conventional world. But it is one of potential and creativity, a doorway to experience that is not always available in times of certainty and flow.

In the very center of the paradox and contradictory energies is the water of life. It is a courageous journey into that territory and one that will surprise us.

It may grind us into dust, but it is the particles that survive that initiation that form the golden neural and soul-scaffolding of a new world.


Photo by Kym MacKinnon


My upcoming online course on Resting Your Nervous System: Embodying a Trauma-Sensitive Spirituality and Discovering a Felt Sense of Safety, starting March 1st, 20202 - Befriending Yourself: Finding Safety and Rest in Difficult Times


Listen to two recent podcasts where I was interviewed:





Monday, March 1, 2021

Matt Licata's new Resting Your Nervous System online course starting this week


A quick note to let you know that my new online course - Resting Your Nervous System: Embodying a Trauma-Sensitive Spirituality and Discovering a Felt Sense of Safety - will start with our first live session this Thursday, March 4th.

>>Learn more about Resting Your Nervous System here

I look forward to making this journey over four months with you, as we move into the spring, a time of rebirth and renewal.

Please note that you do not need to attend the sessions live in order to fully participate in the course, as many are not able due to work and family commitments. After each session, you'll be able to re-watch the video as well as download audio MP3s as well as written transcripts. 

If we don't connect as part of the course, I hope to find other ways to stay in touch through the spring and into the summer and will keep you posted as to any free webinars or other announcements. Please take care of yourself.

With love,
Matt

P.S. Watch the replay of the recent webinar I offered on "An Invitation to Rest Your Nervous System"



Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Stay right here


At times, our reference points will fall away, revealing a shimmering, pregnant, endarkened void. What we were so clear about just days ago is nowhere to be found. The relationship we thought would be there forever, the creativity in our work, inspiration in our spiritual lives, our deepest insights and realizations – recycled in the activity of the vast.

The solid ground we once took refuge in has disintegrated underneath us, sending us into unknown territory. We were so sure we were beyond breaking yet again, but the activity of love is not oriented in the maintenance of the status quo. It is the nature of all form to dissolve, by way of the alchemical yellowing, so that new forms may emerge.

It can seem that we are falling apart, but were we ever together to begin with? Is that even the right lens from which to approach the mystery? Or were we always something more majestic than all that, so whole that even “brokenness” can be held inside?

The invitation as always is to slow way down. Breathe deeply from your lower belly. Feel your feet in the mud of the earth. Allow her to hold you.

For just this moment, set aside the need to understand, to figure it all out, or to replace this moment with another. Today may not be the day for answers, but to let your heart break open to the vastness of the question.

Look up into the new winter sky.

Something is longing to emerge, in you, as you, as the poetry of your life and as the gifts you will share with others. Lay your hands on your heart. Listen. Receive.

There are blues coming into existence that have never made their way into this dimension. Oranges, reds, yellows, and not-yet-known colors that have been sent to remind you of the rarity and outrageousness of one human heart.

Stay right here.

Don’t move from this moment. Open your senses. Step into the mystery. See through the veil. Everything that has ever happened and everyone you have ever met, has led up to right here and right now.

Trust in the fires of disintegration and renewal, and in the sacred timeline that is written within you.


Photo by Mitch Kesler


My upcoming online course on Resting Your Nervous System: Embodying a Trauma-Sensitive Spirituality and Discovering a Felt Sense of Safety, starting March 1st, 20202 - Befriending Yourself: Finding Safety and Rest in Difficult Times


Listen to two recent podcasts where I was interviewed:


Sunday, February 21, 2021

Free webinar with Matt Licata on Tuesday


Dear friends, 

I'll be offering a free webinar this Tuesday, February 23rd at 11am PT/ 7pm in London. 


When you register you'll also receive instant access to a free mini eBook on the same topic. 

The webinar will also serve as an introduction to my new online course which starts in March - Resting Your Nervous System: Embodying a Trauma-Sensitive Spirituality and Discovering a Felt Sense of Safety.

As part of the webinar and eBook, I'll speak about:
  • The importance of resting the nervous system, especially in times of transition, uncertainty, and stress
  • How the experience of trauma is wired in to being an open, sensitive human being on the planet at this time
  • 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, emotional healing, and spiritual transformation
  • The essential role of the body in healing, especially in times of overwhelm and stress
  • How the path of direct revelation unfolds by way of the human body.
I look forward to seeing you on Tuesday if you're able to make it live. If you register, you'll receive a link to watch a replay of the video as well, and also the free mini eBook. 

Please take care of yourselves. 

Warmly,
Matt



Wednesday, February 17, 2021

The temple of relationship


In any close relationship (where we take the risk of allowing another to matter) we open ourselves to the two primary archetypal energies of abandonment and fusion. At a 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 a living template of past relational experiences – will I be safe? Can I be fully as I am? What about all of my eccentricities, sensitivities, and essence-vulnerabilities? Will I need to become different in order to be held and known? 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 these ruptures are natural, organic, and quantum, and portals of wholeness and integration.

A healthy relationship is not one in which there is never any conflict, but one in which rupture is repaired. Through our shared, holy resonance circuitry and by way of right-brain attunement, we honor our connectedness as well as our own autonomy and integrity which, too, is sacred. The invitation is into the aliveness of paradox and contradiction, not unconscious merging into some homogenized leaky middle.

Embodiment to the cycle of rupture and repair is what allows the relationship to unfold, deepen, and disclose its secret essence.

Each of us arrives in the emerging we-space with biographical, cultural, and archetypal patterning, schemas, and implicit worlds of meaning and imagination. These intertwine to weave the interactional field, along with the companionship, play, and shepherding of the mysterious Other, the third who also appears.

Through co-illumination, co-articulation, and making sense of our experience together the templates reveal their transparency and become ripe for revisioning. But in the core of that ripening it is tender and sensitive, and will ask everything of us.

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


Photo by Valiphotos


My upcoming online course on Resting Your Nervous System: Embodying a Trauma-Sensitive Spirituality and Discovering a Felt Sense of Safety, starting March 1st, 20202 - Befriending Yourself: Finding Safety and Rest in Difficult Times


Listen to two recent podcasts where I was interviewed:


Saturday, February 13, 2021

Matt Licata's new online course - Resting Your Nervous System: Embodying a Trauma Sensitive Spirituality


Dear friend, 

I want to let you know that registration is now open for my new online course, which begins with our first live session on Thursday, March 4th.

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

The course will take place over four months and include 12 live sessions, on the first, second, and fourth Thursdays of each month, at 11am PT/ 7pm in London. It is not required that you attend live and you'll receive a video replay, audio MP3s, and a written transcript shortly after each session.

As part of the course, I'll be sharing the teachings, practices, and perspectives that I offer in my writing and in my clinical work, which explore the role of the body and the nervous system in transformation and healing, and the nature of an embodied, contemporary, trauma-sensitive approach to spirituality.

Some of the topics we're likely to cover 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, emotional healing, and spiritual transformation
  • 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 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 for trauma
  • Trauma, the nervous system, and the workings of implicit, 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, new experience, 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 falling out of your window of tolerance
  • 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 meditation and practices oriented in “open awareness” are not always the most wise, skillful, or kind approach to working with trauma and other relational wounding
  • The importance of having even one “safe other” in our lives, including the accessing of this “other” by way of imagination
  • How spiritual beliefs and practices can overwhelm our nervous systems and can also serve as unconscious pathways of self-abandonment and avoidance
You can learn a lot more about the course and how to register via the course homepage here

I hope to see you online starting in March and look forward to making this journey with you into the spring, into a time of rejuvenation and renewal.

Warmly,

Matt



Thursday, February 11, 2021

Into the blue shades


It's okay to be sad, to feel a bit shaky and uncertain, melancholic, to lament, and to grieve.

Despite a collective disembodiment to the blue shades of the spectrum, these states are not evidence that something is wrong with you, that you have failed, that you need to meditate more or pray harder. Or that you need to become better at staying in the present moment, manifest the opposite of sadness, or transcend it by way of some process.

It is high-voltage evidence that you are alive, with a tender beating heart, subtle and perceptive mirror neurons, and senses that are open to the full-spectrum, chaotic glory of being a human being who is alive at this time.

Just in this one moment, be sad. Fully. Not partially. Go inside the sadness. Find the sad one there. Speak with her, listen to him, feel what she is feeling, see what he is seeing. Turn your body into a vessel, a temple where the lost orphans of psyche and soma can come to share their art, and rest.

Get close to the sad one, but not so close that you become flooded. Intimacy without fusion. Relationship without merging, honoring your own integrity, interiority, and perspective. Offer sanctuary and safe passage for the shattered pieces to unfold, illuminate, and reorganize.

Sadness and melancholy are not things you need to fix, cure, or transcend. They are arising at this moment not to be healed, but to be held. You need not shift sadness into some “higher” state or apply teachings so that it will yield into something else. For it is complete and pure on its own, as a unique messenger of the personal, cultural, and archetypal soul.

With the fire of awareness and the ally of your breath, descend into your belly, travel inside your heart, open a portal into your throat, your imagination, and the life force which is reverberating within you. Tend to the raw, shaky life that is longing to be held. And listen.

It is by way of this journey that sadness will be revealed to be what it is, a secret wisdom-guide and bridge into the universal heart, a messenger of power, mercy, and fierce compassion that wants you as its midwife.


Photo by Ricco Stange


My upcoming online course on Resting Your Nervous System: Embodying a Trauma-Sensitive Spirituality and Discovering a Felt Sense of Safety, starting March 1st, 20202 - Befriending Yourself: Finding Safety and Rest in Difficult Times


Listen to two recent podcasts where I was interviewed:


Friday, February 5, 2021

Trust in the wisdom of your process


On a conscious level of course we very genuinely want to heal and fully step into a life of deep intimacy, creativity, and aliveness. This authentic human longing is precious and can be honored and held close.

It’s also wise and compassionate to realize that we may simultaneously have an unconscious investment in not healing, which is adaptive and intelligent, because we know the implications of doing so are world-shattering.

On a very deep level we sense that things will never be the same, that to truly heal we will be left with no familiar lens through which to imagine ourselves, others, and the world. While something about this is exhilarating and exciting, it is also profoundly disorienting.

In the context of early relational experiences, we learned how to fit in, survive, and stay out of unworkable bodily states of fear, pain, loss, and grief. Our perceptual, somatic, and autonomic lenses helped us to stay safe.

As these lenses are removed or recalibrated, we lose the protective and adaptive functions they provided, and we may find ourselves in a very direct, unfiltered relationship with life. As if our heart was no longer inside our rib cage but fully exposed on the outside, raw and tenderized.

We may wonder why we’re “not healing fast enough” or in a way that conforms with others’ paths or with the fantasies of a culture that is addicted to positivity at all costs. Rather than attributing this to our own weakness, failure, or inherent badness, we might remember, with mercy, that our adaptive ways have been put in place with incredible creativity and intelligence, to keep us safe and alive; that they are, in their own ways, manifestations of an outrageous sort of grace.

And in those moments where you feel that familiar self-attack, shame, self-aggression, and critical self-judgment boiling to the surface, to slow down and bring a bit of loving, spacious kindness to yourself. Trust in the wisdom of your process.

And to realize what true healing requires: the unraveling and rebirth of a new world… including the middle liminal period which, too, is essential and holy, and is crafted of a timeline written in the stars.


Photo by Petra Boekhoff


My upcoming online course on Resting Your Nervous System: Embodying a Trauma-Sensitive Spirituality and Discovering a Felt Sense of Safety, starting March 1st, 20202 - Befriending Yourself: Finding Safety and Rest in Difficult Times


Listen to two recent podcasts where I was interviewed:


Tuesday, February 2, 2021

The friend appears


Just because we “have” an experience does not mean it is “integrated” and metabolized. Just as the belly can experience leaky gut, undigested emotional and somatic experience can leak from embodied awareness making it difficult to assimilate its essential nutrients.

At times, we will have the internal resources (enzymes of spaciousness and safety) to digest intense experience, while at other times we need the presence of another. This presence does not involve more insight or advice, but right-brain immersion in embodied we-space where we feel felt and understood.

When an experience is “integrated,” it becomes part of a cohesive, retrievable narrative and memory – a whole neural net of bodily sensations and impulses, smells, sounds, thoughts, emotions, and images, all wired up together in a coherent way. We are then able to make use of the experience to support resilience, aliveness, creativity, intimacy, and play, with others and with the phenomenal world.

If the enzymes are not present, the experience is stored outside awareness, limbically and in the body, where it remains available for re-presentation, re-imagination, and re-organization.

Colloquially we refer to this re-presentation as a “trigger,” which is a bit aggressive, however that is often the way it feels. Jung speaks of a complex being “constellated,” which evokes imagery of space and the stars.

In these moments, the little one appears, peeking their head around the corner, longing, “How about now?” “Am I safe to come yet?” “I’m not here to harm you, I just want to return home. I’m tired, scared, and so alone.”

It can be so difficult in the moment to hold that little one that is enraged, anxious, or frightened, to provide just a moment of that true nourishment they have been aching for, for so long. The enzyme of holding, of love, in which they can rest in safety from an exhausting journey.

The shakiness in the belly, constriction in the throat, that deep sense of annihilatory panic... yet somehow the resources, the help, the ally, the friend appears. It may seem that we are alone, but things are not always as they appear.


Photo by Lisa Runnels


My upcoming online course on Resting Your Nervous System: Embodying a Trauma-Sensitive Spirituality and Discovering a Felt Sense of Safety, starting March 1st, 20202Befriending Yourself: Finding Safety and Rest in Difficult Times


Listen to two recent podcasts where I was interviewed:


Thursday, January 28, 2021

Matt Licata's new book - A Healing Space


While I was writing A Healing Space: Befriending Ourselves in Difficult Times, I had no idea where we were headed and how much transition was to come, not only in the outer world but also in our own bodies and nervous systems.

We’ve been through so much over the last year, a full-spectrum reorganization, including the loss of so many of our familiar reference points - personally, culturally, and collectively.

Where what we thought we knew about ourselves, what matters most to us, what we’re doing here, where we’re headed… so much of this has been called into question and in many ways has fallen apart.

The way things were supposed to unfold in my life: the person who was supposed to be by my side, the work I was supposed to do and find meaning in, the body that was supposed to always be healthy and strong, a psyche where there was never going to be any exhaustion, depression, loneliness, or anxiety.

It’s important to slow down now, to connect with the earth and the ground, to hold the broken pieces near, and to grieve. To mourn not only the loss of health and life, but also the dream of the way we thought it was all going to turn out.

The rebirth part of the death-rebirth cycle is realized by way of our willingness and capacity to grieve. The portal to resurrection and new life opens through conscious, embodied lamentation, as we gather the shards of the heart and collect them in a holy vase.

And open to the possibility that this process of “falling apart” is not some great cosmic error that we need to correct, but a harbinger of integration, an emissary of wholeness. To fall apart consciously, to allow the alchemical process of dissolution as an essential and sacred phase as we open to what it is that will emerge from the ashes.

It is love, of course, that guides the reorganization and its unfolding. But it is also love that is the substance of the ashes, and also of the tears, the tears of grief and the tears of joy… tears emanating out of the longing of the earth herself.

If the tears could speak, perhaps they would remind us that there is no medicine in a wound that is already healed, but only in one that is weeping.



My next online course - Resting Your Nervous System: Embodying a Trauma-Sensitive Spirituality and Discovering a Felt Sense of Safety - will start in March. Please visit the Befriending Yourself home page to add your name to the wait list or to receive detailed information. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Helping another to feel safe


So many of us feel shame about our trauma and wounding, as if it is evidence that we’ve failed, it’s our fault, and that we should be able to “get over” it and heal on our own.

Even if we “know” that these conclusions are not accurate, these schemas live implicitly in our sensitive bodies and nervous systems, where they remain open for neural revisioning when (relational) conditions are ripe.

These heartbreaking lenses of perception are reflected back to us by an increasingly disembodied and left-brain dominant culture, giving rise to the contemporary fantasy that I “should” be able to do it all on my own.

The tribe has broken down, replaced by the device and the slow cortisol drip of a sympathetically aroused collective. And we wonder why it’s all falling apart.

The emotional pain is tragic in and of itself, but underneath it is the underlying shame and deep sense of being alone, which is really at the root of trauma.

At times, it can be overwhelming to hold and metabolize fear and anxiety on our own. But with another nervous system, our windows of tolerance expand as they come together. This alchemical blending allows us to integrate experience that outside the relational field would otherwise send us into unworkable states of fight, flight, or collapse.

As relational mammals, we are wired to co-regulate. We are not meant to “do it all on our own” and it is not an indication that something is “wrong” with us if we cannot always contain our own wounding.

Rather, it is evidence we are alive, with an open, sensitive, majestic, and sometimes achy human nervous system.

We can do so much for one another, to help hold and transmute both transgenerational, biographical, and collective trauma. To slow down, with our presence and miracle mirror neurons, listen deeply, and be with another in a way that they feel felt and understood. Our world so desperately this needs right now.

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

Instead of “I am alone” with this fear, pain, and grief, “We are here together, and healing is possible.”

And then transmit this embodied realization into the neural circuitry of the world.


Photo by Annie Spratt

Thursday, January 21, 2021

A Healing Space


Dear friends,

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 provides 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.

A Healing Space is now available wherever you purchase books, including eBook and audio editions. To learn more, read editorial reviews, or purchase a copy, please visit Amazon, Sounds True, Barnes & Noble, Bookshop, or Book Depository

Warmly,

Matt


P.S. My next online course -
Resting Your Nervous System: Embodying a Trauma-Sensitive Spirituality and Discovering a Felt Sense of Safety - will start in March. To receive information about the course, a free talk that I'll give about it, and all of the details, please sign up to the mailing list at Befriending Yourself.