Saturday, April 30, 2022

Free video - An Invitation to Rest Your Nervous System

I want to share with you a free video (and accompany .pdf article) entitled, An Invitation to Rest Your Nervous System. 

>>Access the free webinar here 

During the webinar, I speak about slowing down and attuning to our bodies and the earth as we move into the next phase. As part of an integral approach to our practices of transformation and healing, it is an act of kindness to train ourselves to listen to and include the nervous system as part of an embodied spirituality.

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, 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 find the content interesting and helpful. 

Saturday, April 23, 2022

The energetic imprints of the wounded healer

The wounded healer isn’t only a myth to learn about, but a living reality inside you, with its own images, feelings, fragrance, and modes of vision. It is more like a mandala or inner atmosphere that you can enter into.

Or perhaps more accurately, it will at times find you so that it might draw you nearer to itself, through your dreams, unexpected moods, a color, a friend who irritates you, or through unexplainable symptoms in your body. Just as you may be longing for the Beloved, he or she (or it or they) are also looking for you, and will do whatever it takes to find you.

Within the center of the mandala, to speak mythologically, we find Chiron and his merry band of travelers, as well as each and every person who has been initiated into the mysteries by way of the sacred wound.

Perhaps the fact that you are reading this post may indicate that you are somehow part of that lineage, the stream coming down by way of the Asklepian dream temples of ancient Greece, where wayfarers and travelers would go to receive vision.

But this isn’t only an anthropological or historical matter. Chiron and the dream-vision incubation temples are alive inside you right now, infusing your muscles and cells, hidden in the chambers of your heart, and wired into the strands of your DNA.

We might open our imagination and discover that these mythological figures are not trapped back in ancient Greece, but are alive in the collective fields which play out in our personal lives through our relationships, creative work, spiritual practice, and health challenges.

Because the energetic imprints of the wounded healer are alive in the collective, we can be in relationship with these figures, their qualities, and ways of perception that they represent.

Through our practice and prayer and silence and being in nature and in the chaos of relationship and work, we can enter experientially into the center of the mandala, or interior garden. In this sense, the wounded healer is an actual “place” that exists in the landscape of the soul, that we can find our way to in the imaginal world.

You might start to sense or hear it, feel or see it, or know it is there in some unexplainable way.

You won’t be able to “find” this place within your physical anatomy or with a high-powered microscope, but you may very well find it in the anatomy of the soul.

Photo by Peggy Choucair

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Relationship as path

In close personal relationships, it is essential to emphasize our connectedness and the preciousness of secure attachment, leading with our vulnerability, receptivity, and sensitivities. In this, we prioritize the relationship and its value in our lives.

It is equally vital to be on the lookout for unhealthy fusion, honoring the reality that we are not only connected, but separate, with our own interiority, subjectivity, and ways of making sense of our experience.

Any secure attachment must include healthy differentiation, where at times the most skillful activity will be to honor our separateness from the other, differentiate from them and assert our views and needs, establish firm boundaries, and privilege our own autonomy and personal sense of integrity. This activity is active, dynamic, and alive.

To differentiate in this way will require each party to feel and integrate experiences of aloneness, uncertainty, confusion, and shame. Allowing one another the space and safety to metabolize this activation is the activity of love.

Once we take the risk to allow another to matter to us, it’s inevitable that we will disappoint them - and be disappointed by them in return. This will burn and ache and will bring alive our (and their) historic core vulnerabilities.

In the face of this, there can be an urgent impulse to do whatever possible to prevent the shattering of their heart and the achy (non-negotiable) confrontation with their own unlived life. But to allow the other to meet the reality of their own heart is an act of profound mercy and compassion. This will ask so much of us.

While from a transpersonal perspective, we can speak about unity and oneness, within the relative we are also differentiated and wildly unique, each with our own ways of organizing our experience. Each with our own fate and relationship with the divine, and with our own path to travel. To dissolve these differences into some homogenized spiritual middle does not honor the sacredness of form.

If we do not consciously honor the reality of our separateness, it will inevitably express itself in less than conscious ways, leaking out into the relational field as emotional and somatic symptomatology of all kinds. Paradoxically, it will also keep us disconnected with the other at a very core level, for if we have placed the burden upon them to tend to our unlived experience for us, it is simply not safe enough to come closer, for either of us - physically, emotionally, or at a deeper soul level.

In the fire of relationship, the lost orphans of psyche and soma call out from the underworld, from the depths of the soul and from within the pathways of somatic being. They long to be held and integrated and allowed their rightful place in the larger ecology of what we are. Like all work of depth, this art form evolves slowly, as it marinates and cooks in the alchemical vessel of the body.

May we be kind to our partners as we navigate this territory together, honoring the vehicle of intimacy as one of the most transformative, sacred, and challenging that we have in our modern world.

Freud said it was the dream that was the via regia, the royal road, to the unconscious; for Jung, it was the complex. But for many of us, it is relationship that is the royal road, a road that is precious while at the same time tenderizing.

Photo by Manfred Richter


Access free videos from Matt here 

Saturday, April 9, 2022

Free Video: Trauma and the Wounded Healer

In this short webinar, I explore an embodied, contemporary, trauma-sensitive path of spirituality and healing through the archetype of the wounded healer.

>>Access the free video here 

Many of us interested in things like spirituality, yoga, and meditation have been wounded in our lives – physically, emotionally, or at a deeper soul level. How can we come to see our wounding not as an obstacle to our path, but as the very path itself?

The great mystics, poets, and alchemists have suggested that our wounding serves an initiation into the soul, 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?

In the video, we'll look at 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 find the video interesting and helpful. 

Photo by IdaT

Saturday, April 2, 2022

The return of the Friend

In moments of unbearable experience - when we’re unable to access the internal resources or relational support to process what is happening in our lives - pieces of emotion (and soul) are stored outside conscious awareness in our bodies and nervous systems, where they remain available for metabolization at a later time.

There’s a lot of wisdom in locating this material outside awareness so it’s not continually pouring into our experience. Despite how intelligent and adaptive this process is, however, the unintegrated material is subject to being reactivated in a future moment, especially within the field of our close personal relationships (which have a way of illuminating, well, just about everything that remains unilluminated within us).

Early in our lives, we don’t have the developmental capacity to integrate unendurable emotional, psychic, and somatic material. Prior to the ages of 4 or 5, we’re not able to repress that which is potentially fragmenting and have no choice but to experience it directly, or to sequester it deep in the underworld, by way of those more archaic defenses of dissociation and splitting.

Poetically speaking (with correlates from the field of relational neuroscience), the lost ones who carry this material for us long to release this burden and return home. Sometimes we hear or see or sense them around us; they appear in our dreams, fantasies, and unexpected moods and physical symptoms. At times they even appear as a natural phenomenon - the sun, moon, colors, or star - or even as our lovers, friends, and (real-life) children.

Healing then, from this perspective, requires that we travel into the center of that yet-to-be-processed emotion and bodily arousal, by way of the neural network that is holding the material, and infuse it with those qualities that weren’t available at the time it was stored there - empathy, warmth, companionship, and holding.

Where, instead of disintegration, there is re-integration. Instead of dissociation, there is re-association. A relinking of mind and body where they were once (understandably) split.

The most essential of these qualities to bring into the network, the required neural scaffolding we might say, is a felt sense of safety. Safety is the treatment.

So we have these two core components of trauma and any deep relational wounding: emotional and somatic experience that’s overwhelming, on the one hand, and then the felt sense of aloneness on the other.

Not only do we have the emergence of unbearable and unendurable images, feelings, and sensations, but at some very basic level we’re alone with all that. There’s no experience of companionship, the Friend is absent and non-locatable.

For a relational mammal, this absence causes us to ache - emotionally, somatically, and spiritually. It’s the return of the Friend that we long for. The nature of who and what this “Friend” is must be discovered in the fire of our own direct experience.

May you discover and come to know this Friend in its infinite forms and expressions in your life. Though it can seem otherwise, my personal (and clinical) experience has shown me that the Friend is near. It can be painful and it can burn in the body and the heart, but there is hope.

Photo by debowscyfoto

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