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. 


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.


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.


Matt Licata