Wednesday, May 26, 2021

A new sort of self care

No matter how things are going in your life, you can start right where you are. With mercy, grace, and a new sort of self-care.

The restlessness, the shakiness, the raw shattering, the grief; all valid responses to a sensitive, tender nervous system, in a world where it’s not always easy to have our center of gravity within a felt sense of safety.

We cannot tend to a future moment; it’s just not close enough, tactile enough, intimate enough. But we can surround and contain the achy life as it surges in a moment of here and now.

For just one second, shift your awareness out of the claustrophobia and spinning of conditioned thinking and into the soles of your feet as they make contact with the earth. Root there, into the mud and womb.

It’s not so safe in those old patterns of thinking – enactments of intergenerational trauma and trance. Allow your attention to come up out of the earth and infuse your belly, your heart, and your throat, with compassion, holding, and breath. Holy data.

Renew your vow: I will not turn from myself and abandon my embodied vulnerability. No, not this time. I will no longer pathologize my emotional experience, the somatic narrative, the story of my nervous system.

The lion’s roar: Grief is not pathology. Heartbreak is not pathology. Sensitivity is not pathology. Not pathology, but path.

Two seconds. Then rest. Then three. More rest. As we send breath into the broken shards, into the lost pieces of soul, a new groove is laid down, new circuity is encoded. As we turn the light around, a new pathway appears.

Ask the earth to hold you, to share her soothing water, shade, and safe haven, and stay near as you open.

Find a friend, therapist, lover, ocean, moon, star, or holy roaring lion to bear witness as you turn into the raw alive somatic world.

The seen and unseen ones are always here to help us, to reveal the way home. To illuminate the pathways of darkness and of light, each containing a particle of the mystery, a strand of love seeking you as a tender vessel through which it can come alive here.

Art by Krista Marleena – the emerging of the holy lion, as ally and guide, ceramic sculpture

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Receiving Matt's writing via email (update)

Dear friends, 

I hope this note finds you well as we move into the spring. I know that it's been a long winter for many of us. 

I'm writing to let you know that you can have my blog posts emailed to you by signing up here

If you're already signed up to receive my posts via email, please note that I have recently switched to to take care of this as the old feedburner service is being discontinued. The good news is that you have a lot more options with which is a more seamless (and modern) service. To review the options for receiving emails, please go here

I usually send out around 3-4 emails per month and many have shared that they enjoying receiving the writing in their email in-box rather than having to continually come back to the site. 

Thank you for reading my writing and for sharing some of your hearts and lives with me. 



Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Initiation into the soul

The truth is that for many of us, initiation into the soul occurs by way of transition, shattering, loss, and reorganization, where what we were so sure about and the way we thought things were going to turn out begins to fall away and dissolve.

This dissolution is not evidence of error or mistake, but is a core alchemical unfolding, a non-negotiable and holy process, actually, that our world has lost contact with and even pathologized. Not a movement upward, into the light, transcendent, solar, and clear; but one of descent, ground, dust, and lunar, of the earth and the mud.

The experience of dissolution is archetypal and wired into the human psyche and points to how our wounding can serve an initiatory function, revealing that there are pieces of the soul, of the spirit, and of the Divine that are knowable only by way of a falling apart, of a holy crumbling, that aren’t accessible in times of clarity, certainty, and status quo.

And, this is painful. Like I don’t want that. We can honor that part of us that just isn’t interested in that, in participating in that sort of death and rebirth. Well, we want the rebirth part, but not the death, not the restructuring. This longing for certainty, for flow, for transcendence, for upward, for light, for clarity, of course this need not be shamed, made wrong, or dishonored - it’s so very human.

But perhaps the invitation is to somehow hold both, to hold the tension of the opposites and to travel into the very heart of that paradox and contradiction, where the Beloved is alive and seeding out the worlds… to honor and hold the desire for that flow, and to also honor and hold the inevitable reality that the rug will be pulled out from underneath us as part of this path.

And that that too is holy, is also God, is also Life. It, too, is flow, but a reorganizing flow. Not a grace that is sweet, but one that is fierce. But grace nonetheless.

Photo by Jackie Matthews

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

The achy path of close personal relationships

In any close relationship (where we take the risk of allowing another to matter) we open ourselves to the two primordial archetypal energies of abandonment and fusion. Sensing the potential for shattering reorganization, it makes sense that there is some hesitancy in stepping all the way in.

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, vulnerabilities, and weeping wounds? Will I need to be someone different in order to be seen and held? 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 reveal themselves to be secret portals to wholeness.

A healthy relationship is not one where there is never any conflict, but where rupture is repaired, where repair is path, and where we honor our connectedness as well as our autonomy. The invitation is into the unresolvable mystery waters of separation and union, not unconscious merging into some homogenized leaky middle.

Each of us arrives into the emerging we-space with biographical, cultural, and archetypal patterning, schemas, and implicit worlds of meaning. 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-regulation, co-articulation, and making sense of our experience together, the templates reveal their transparency and become ripe for revisioning, open to be re-seeded with empathic circuits of resonance. But in the core of that ripening it is tender and sensitive, and will ask everything of us, dissolving the dream of the way we thought it was all going to turn out. That dissolution is neither error or mistake, but is of the holy.

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

Art credit: Owl, as sol and luna, clay sculpture by Krista Marleena

Monday, May 3, 2021

Trauma, safety, and companionship

Trauma occurs when our capacity to process emotional and somatic experience is overwhelmed.

One of the things we’ve learned about trauma is that it’s not so much what happens that causes an experience to be embodied as trauma, but how it comes to be organized in the nervous system.

What is most impactful is whether there is an empathic other who can help us to hold and metabolize what would otherwise be fragmenting. The nature of this “other” is of the mystery and can take inner and outer forms.

The journey is inside the neural network which is holding the unprocessed soul-material, and to infuse it with qualities and experiences not previously available: trust, courage, companionship, validation, love.

But more than anything, the network is updated by way of an embodied, felt sense of safety.

We might see trauma as involving two core components: overwhelming experience, on the one hand, and the felt experience of aloneness on the other. Not only do we have these very unworkable, terrifying flooding images, feelings, and sensations, but at some very basic level we’re alone with all that.

Perhaps it is the aloneness, in the end, that is so devastating to us as sensitive, relational human beings.

As an act of mercy and compassion, we are asked to take care of that frozen, confused one who has become stuck in the time machine of trauma and implicit memory, to ensure that he or she is not alone.

That we’ll listen to them, be there for them, and hold them so they’re able to feel felt and understood, and more than anything to know that they are safe now, perhaps for the first time ever. To invite the shattered one into a safe field where he or she can be seen and known.

To bear witness to their untold story as it unfolds across verbal, somatic, and autonomic narratives:

“Yes, I hear you, I see you, I want to know you, hold you, care for you, listen to you. I will not forget you. I will not forsake you. You are no longer alone. You are safe now.”

Photo by serenestarts