Thursday, August 25, 2022

To care in a new way

In a moment of activation, the emissaries arrive. Spinning, twirling, visitors from another time and place. Not come to harm but to reveal, for reunion.

A great meeting is being assembled. Invited guests and uninvited, weary travelers, exhausted from a lifetime of seeking light, those inner figures representing heartbreak, joy, grief, and aliveness.

When you find yourself overwhelmed by habitual, ruminative thinking, in the cascading and looping, the grooved-in pathways of disembodiment and self-abandonment appear, whispering, “come this way. It is safe here.”

With the power and presence of the warrior’s sword of compassion, stand on the rooftop and proclaim, “No, not this time. This time I choose differently.”

Slow down and feel your feet on the ground. Breathe deeply into your lower belly. Shift out of the spinning and into the aliveness of the body. While it may appear otherwise, safety is found inside the visitor, in her core, in his essence, and is revealed by way of empathic attunement.

It is an act of kindness to not fuel the dysregulating narrative, a radical act which takes practice, courage, and the willingness to fail. Something is erupting under the surface, longing to be integrated and allowed back home, but it is uncertain, raw, and unknown.

The invitation is into the shaky interior, with the breath as guide into the darkened landscape. Dare to care for yourself in a new way. With a fierce kindness, drop underneath the conditioned history and into the hot, claustrophobic, pregnant life that is surging to be held. Bear witness to the wisdom unfolding there.

At times, we must set aside our agenda to understand, change, even to heal… for a moment. We can return to transformation later once we have come back online and into the safety and regulation of now, when the self-abandonment has been reorganized with newer circuitry of empathic holding.

In doing this we call off the war. We dare to practice peace. To step off the battlefield and into the mystery. Here we bear witness to the opposites as they co-emerge, spin, and swirl, revealing a third presence that is majestic and alive.

Photo by Bilderwelt68

Thursday, August 18, 2022

The full-spectrum nature of healing

There is a certain death that occurs as part of the healing process, in the deepening of self-awareness, something that does not survive illumination. While it is tempting to spin out of the uncertainty and into rebirth, there is wisdom and a purity within the reorganization itself, which we cannot know if we abandon it prematurely.

The dissolution itself is initiation as it offers vision not available in the scramble to put things back together. 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. The crumbling of an old dream – my life and the way I was so sure it was going to turn out.

This prior soul-companion can be another person or it can be a member of the inner family - an image, a feeling, a lens through which we’d been seeing ourselves and others; a part of our world that has come to the end of its meaning, the end of its life.

In order to be initiated in this way, we must slow down, return into the earth and the mud and the ground, and somehow cut into the urgency to enter into the next phase while the current one is still being illuminated. 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 set aside what we will get, what is coming next, and attune to now.

To tend to the pieces of soul, the shards of the heart, and the fragments of the psyche that are being dissolved, to honor the role they have played, for standing by us for so long, and providing refuge during difficult and transitional times. To grieve the loss of their companionship and allow them to continue into whatever realm is next for them, permission to travel and experience new things.

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.

Image from Liber Novus, Jung’s Red Book

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Already held

Many are familiar with the term “holding environment” as elucidated by Winnicott, a warm and poetic description of a relational configuration rooted in empathic attunement and right-brain to right-brain resonance.

As the matrix of secure attachment, it provides the rich, creative terrain from which we can explore reality, resting and playing in unstructured states of being. From this ground of safety and creativity, we journey out of the familiar, experiment with our vulnerability, and stay embodied to the full range of human feeling.

Any effective holding environment is weaved of qualities of contact and space, dancing in the holy middle where there is intimacy without fusion, closeness without engulfing, tenderness without impinging. This is the soil from a little baby’s brain and heart and nervous system grow. What a miracle. Real magic.

While honoring the interpersonal aspect of holding, there is a transpersonal dimension as well. From this perspective, open awareness itself is the ultimate holding environment. Training ourselves to access, become familiar with, and relax into our true nature reveals the deeper dimensions of contact and space, where we come to the embodied realization that we are always, already being held, by something infinite and vast.

While as an infant we depended upon another to provide this environment for us, it is wired into the human heart. Every inner experience is made of this space, luminous, and undifferentiated from awareness itself. From this perspective, what we are is the quintessential holding environment. Those substances which cause a little nervous system to grow, unfold, and differentiate are the same that keep the stars from falling out of the sky.

While it is unlikely we will ever resolve the mysteries of self and other, intrapsychic and intersubjective, personal and transpersonal, or sun and moon, we can apprehend the miracle together with awe, remembering that we will always be beginners on the path of love and humble messengers of its outrageous, relentless activity.