Tuesday, May 30, 2023

A wild grace


There are times when even our most precious realizations will fall apart and dissolve in front of our eyes. What was so clear only days ago is no longer available, valid, or able to contain and nourish us.

It could be the falling away of a relationship, a shift in our work, the loss of a friend or our health, or the crumbling away of purpose and meaning.

This is a vital time in alchemical work, a psychic rotting of the leaves, where things are yellowed away by the alchemical putrefactio, reorganizing me and my life and the way I was so sure it was supposed to turn out.

“But it wasn’t supposed to happen like that… this person leaving, the loss of my work, my art. I wasn’t supposed to experience anxiety, depression, meaninglessness, and purposelessness. That’s just not me.”

It’s the embodied confrontation and tending to this cycle – and the grief spirals that dance in the core - that plants the seeds of a future reimagining of who we are and what we’re doing here.

It’s not easy to see this reorganization as an ally of wholeness, and we can’t pretend this is the case. Sometimes we just fall to the ground. But it is the invitation of this path, of the emerging lineage of the wounded healer.

It’s tempting in these moments to conclude that something has gone wrong, some great cosmic mistake has occurred, something is wrong with us, we’ve failed, or been forgotten or forsaken.

The soul is always communicating to us. The great Friend is always looking for us, in the hope of drawing us nearer, but often in ways that are bewildering to the part of us that believes it’s in control, that we’re truly steering the ship.

In order to get our attention, the soul must at times upset and dissolve the status quo, turning inside out the dreams and fantasies of me and the life I thought I was living.

Over time, we might start to see this activity of psychic restructuring as the expression of a certain kind of grace. Not the sweet, flowy, expansive grace that is our favorite kind, but one that is fierce and disassembling.

It’s wild and untamed – and can ache and burn – but it is grace nonetheless. The grace of a roaring lioness.


Sculpture by Krista Marleena

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

The weeping of the wound


Healing can’t just be conceptual. It’s not a matter of thinking differently, more “positively,” or even more “spiritually” – orbiting around the wound with our favorite metaphysical beliefs, ideas, and fantasies.

It’s not clear thinking, insight, or even “awareness” that can reach into the wound and reorganize it. These can all supportive, of course, but in the end, healing is experiential, somatic, and embodied.

While the wound is open, while it’s activated and online, there’s a way in that moment that it’s weeping.

That weeping, those tears that emerge from inside the wound, these are emanations of a vital process in alchemy called the solutio. There’s a dissolving that must occur in order for transmutation to unfold.

In that moment of open weeping, the wound presents itself to be reorganized, to receive something which has been missing, something the wound has been longing for.

Not just the wound in some abstract way, but the longing is of the little one, the lost orphan of psyche and soma who has been carrying that burden of trauma, of aloneness, of unbearable emotional pain on our behalf for so long.

That longing, that yearning in the heart is to receive what has been unavailable up until now, and what was missing at the time the trauma became embedded. What that is, is love.

What in the psychoanalytic traditions we call an “emotionally corrective experience.” Or, we could call it a neural reparative experience, or the embodied, felt experience of the missing Friend, the ally, the Beloved.

In this, there’s the discovery - and this is part of the living reality of the wounded healer, an aspect of that archetypal landscape - that we can’t heal a wound that is closed.

Only an open wound can be healed. Otherwise it’s just not tactile enough, sensual enough, and cellular enough for the alchemical tincture, the healing medicine to enter into the wound, to meet and hold those tears and allow them to weep, to grieve, and to purify the heart.



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Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Relationship as path


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 as I am? What about all of my 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 and quantum, and reveal themselves to be hidden 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 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. These intertwine to form the interactional field, along with the companionship, play, and reorganizing nature of the mysterious Other, the third who also appears.

Through co-regulation and making sense together, the templates reveal their transparency and become ripe for revisioning. In the core of that ripening it is achy and sensitive, and will ask everything of us, dissolving the dream of the way we thought it was all going to turn out.

In this way, the role of the Beloved is to take us to dust. But it is within the particles of that dust that the alchemical gold is scattered and longing for us to be a vessel for it to make it into this world.

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.



Monday, May 8, 2023

Into the sacred world


It’s essential to take time each day to slow down, rest our nervous systems, feel our hearts, listen to our bodies, and allow the unconscious a chance to speak to us.

Otherwise, the density of the shadow – ancestral, familiar, cultural, and collective – has a way of pressing down upon us, and can deplete us of vital life energy. It can be like a soul-level sort of exhaustion, as the lost orphans of psyche and soma call out in their longing to be held.

Emotional experience which remains unintegrated - which means it isn’t felt, articulated, and made sense of, will leak out in less-than-conscious ways. We’ll find it being evoked in others, enacted in our relationships, or somatized in the body-vessel.

This is not some sign of error or mistake, that we’re unevolved, unspiritual, or that we’ve failed. It is an organic process where psyche longs to know itself. It will never give up in its attempt to reach us, which is the activity of love.

Making the time and space in our lives to imagine and to feel, to rest a nervous system which is shaken by collective trance, is a devotional act. It allows us to tend to the non-rational parts of the soul, which contain vital data and information essential to a life of richness, meaning, and creativity.

This tending is what parts the veil and takes us inside the Beloved and its world.

The alchemists modeled this to us by way of the love-affair they had with the materials in the vessel. They loved the metals, the minerals, and the mystery of what was happening at the intersection of spirit and matter.

To step out of the matrix for just a moment, into inner and outer nature, into the wisdom of the body and the imagination, into the holiness of emerging, right-brain flow… and to listen, to feel, to sense, as the sacred world begins to reveal itself.


Photo: entering the mandala, Rocky Mountain National Park

Saturday, April 22, 2023

Matt's book - A Healing Space


Dear friends, my most recent book, A Healing Space: Befriending Ourselves in Difficult Times, is available through Sounds True, Amazon, and other online retailers. Please support your local independent bookseller whenever possible!

At some point along the way, each of us will be asked to revision the ideas which have accompanied us to this moment in our lives. While at times the call arrives quietly and slowly, as a whisper guiding us into new territory, for many it comes as an unexpected visitor, erupting in the night as we find ourselves in transition, confused, angry, heartbroken, uncertain, or depressed.

However it arrives, it is a reminder that even our most sacred identities and beliefs tend to become encrusted over time, worn out symbols of a living reality that is no longer so alive. Somehow what was clear only days or even moments ago has lost its meaning and is no longer able to accompany us into the next phase.

The recurring theme we will explore in this book is how we can meet the challenges of life in a new way, one that is imbued with curiosity, wisdom, and compassion. In replacing the old circuitry of shame, self-aggression, and self-abandonment with holding, kindness, and attunement, we discover the sacredness of “ordinary” life which turns out to be not so ordinary after all.

In this unearthing, even our most difficult, confusing, and painful experiences are filled with intelligence and in some unexpected way turn out to be guardians on the path. As we make the journey together, we will uncover and experiment with new perspectives, tend mindfully and with tenderness to our immediate experience, and discover fresh layers of purpose and meaning.

Includes a lovely foreword by my friend Mirabai Starr, author of Wild Mercy: Living the Fierce and Tender Wisdom of the Women Mystics, and many other books.

Chapters include: Reimagining What it Means to Heal; Already Held: Encoding New Circuitry and Opening to the Unknown; Self-Compassion and Caring for Ourselves in a New Way; A Sacred Deflation: Working with the Inevitable Experience of Uncertainty, Disappointment, and Loss; Shifting Our Center of Gravity: Approaching the Idea of “Integration” with Fresh Vision; The Great Dance of Being and Becoming; Toward an Embodied, Emotionally Sensitive Spirituality; Dancing in the Shadows: Sanctuary for the Unwanted to Return Home.


SOME OF THE EDITORIAL REVIEWS:

A Healing Space is a brilliant weave of Jungian and Eastern contemplative wisdom. In this powerful new offering, Matt Licata guides us to a place of sacred refuge, where we can meet even our greatest moments of confusion and suffering with compassion and grace.

–Tara Brach, PhD, author of Radical Compassion

Weaving the wisdom of reflective practices, the insights from Carl Jung and the alchemists, and the relational truths of attachment research and psychotherapy practice, Matt Licata offers us a beautiful tapestry of truths to transform trauma into healing and strength. Adversity can constrain us, but with this wonderful book, we can find the perspectives and courage to embrace the reality of life’s innate uncertainty to guide us on a journey of growth and discovery—moving from post-traumatic imprisonment to liberation.

–Dan Siegel, MD, clinical professor at UCLA School of Medicine, director of Mindsight Institute, and author of Aware: The Science and Practice of Presence and Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation

Matt Licata pinpoints a space within us where healing, awakening, and a vibrant reckoning of who we actually are can be realized. The wisdom hidden deep within our darkest experiences comes from not turning away from these, but by directly tending to them with gentleness, love, and compassion. This book depicts a way of genuine freedom.

–Sharon Salzberg, author of Lovingkindness and Real Happiness

In A Healing Space, Matt Licata serves as a compassionate and insightful guide to the transformative task we all must face: how to forge our pain and sorrow into remedies of Spirit that can illuminate our way. With the soft clarity of a magnifying glass, Matt brings into view the many things that inhabit our nature, though they are seldom easily seen. Stay in conversation with this book and you will be a better friend to yourself, those you travel with, and to life itself.

–Mark Nepo, author of The Book of Soul and Drinking from the River of Light

If you are looking for a book to be a companion to you during this extraordinary time, it’s this one. A Healing Space is a robust guidebook into the inner territory of yourself, assisting you in the exploration of deep and rich personal and life questions that lead, always, to wondrous realizations and growth. What a treasure to find in these times of great change.

–Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit and Intimate Conversations with the Divine

Tender, profound, and deeply useful, this book is gem. Remarkably, Matt Licata weaves together self-compassion, depth psychology, and radical acceptance into a beautiful, passionate, soaring exploration of all that it means to be human.

–Rick Hanson, PhD, New York Times bestselling author of Neurodharma: New Science, Ancient Wisdom and Seven Practices of the Highest Happiness

Matt Licata has become an important and eloquent voice inviting us to go to, rather than avoid, what seem like unbearable emotions buried in our dark depths. From his Jungian perspective, he provides needed reassurance that doing so will achieve alchemical transformations in which what we thought were inner toxins turn out to be our gold. He also offers a cogent critique of the spiritual bypassing and ego bashing that is rampant within many spiritualities.

–Richard C. Schwartz, PhD, developer of the Internal Family Systems (IFS) model, adjunct faculty of the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, and author of more than fifty articles and books

A Healing Space is a beautiful, insightful, and moving contemplation of the journey of healing we all undertake as human beings. It illuminates how self-compassion—holding our own pain with love—transforms our experience in a profound way so that we can learn the lessons life offers us moment by moment.

–Kristin Neff, PhD, associate professor, University of Texas, and author of Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself

A Healing Space invites us to explore and endeavor the alchemist’s way of facing the tough stuff that haunts us. Matt Licata, skilled psychotherapist and spirit-beacon, offers respite for the troubled soul. Along the way, he prepares us with the exercises necessary to face the wounded psyche, question its purpose in our lives, and go through the middle of it in order to free the best parts of ourselves. Healing is a tricky thing, and Matt is just the one to guide us through the psychic fog. He writes with the vulnerability of a poet and the insight of a master alchemist to help us shape what remains a recurrent struggle into a form we can face, question, and—with practice—balance and embrace.

–Stan Tatkin, PsyD, developer of the Psychobiological Approach to Couples Therapy (PACT) and author of We Do and Wired for Love

This is a book about love. The kind of love that embraces all parts of ourselves and others with generosity, tenderness, and strength. Matt is clear that this quality of receptivity does not develop easily or quickly. It is not a decision of the mind so much as an opening of the heart so no part of us is abandoned in the healing process. Challenging our society’s tendency to fix, leave, or devalue states considered negative, he extends welcome to darkness, death, confusion, doubt, and all their companions as instructive friends in their own right, not just as the prelude to light and rebirth. He illuminates the pathway to Rumi’s Guest House where our shame and malice are equally welcome and held in healing compassion. In truth, each of us yearns for sanctuary for these parts, and Matt is a wise and empathic companion along this healing path.

–Bonnie Badenoch, PhD, author of The Heart of Trauma and Being a Brain-Wise Therapist

This inspiring book invites us to trust the intelligence of whatever is unfolding in our lives, especially when it hurts, and to meet it in a deeply compassionate way. Matt Licata is a cartographer of the human heart. He knows the ineffable space where healing occurs and offers us a map for getting there, right up to the threshold. The rest is alchemy. We have been waiting a long time for a book like this.

–Christopher Germer, PhD, clinical psychologist and lecturer at Harvard Medical School, author of The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion, and co-developer of the Mindful Self-Compassion program

A Healing Space elegantly weaves together contemporary approaches in neuroscience and depth psychology with the ancient wisdom of the contemplative traditions, providing a modern, integrated path of deep transformation that fills in what might be missing in each separately. Matt Licata emphasizes radical befriending that reorients our inner critic in a kind way. This book lands in the heart and is ultimately about the power of love to heal trauma and attachment injury. We need this fresh vision and perspective. Matt definitely delivers.

–Diane Poole Heller, PhD, founder of Dynamic Attachment Re-Patterning Experience and author of The Power of Attachment: How to Create Deep and Lasting Intimate Relationships and Crash Course: A Self-Healing Guide to Auto Accident Trauma and Recovery

In this well-written book, Matt Licata challenges us to remember our disavowed parts, our painful emotions and traumas and to treat each as if it were a lost friend needing our attention. In this way, though often difficult at times, we can arrive at a state of wholeness and embrace in a gentle, loving way previously unwanted and unsupported aspects of ourselves and become the person we were meant to be. Matt supports this process with great attention and compelling narrative and offers us a hand-up in this challenging but essential task.

–Jeffrey Raff, PhD, Jungian analyst and author of several books, including Jung and the Alchemical Imagination and The Practice of Ally Work







Monday, April 10, 2023

Spring Renewal, Rebirth, and the Purifying Activity of Grief


Dear friend, 

I hope this note finds you well and that you’re enjoying spring and the re-emergence of the light. I’m writing to you from Finland where the birds are sharing a new song and the forests are coming alive. The pieces of light are starting to appear, as they tend to do, in places where we’d least expect them.

And so it goes on the path of the heart…

As we move from one cycle to another in both inner and outer nature, I have found myself reflecting on how we live in a world that in so many ways has lost contact with the holiness of mourning and its purifying fires, an absence which comes with profound consequences, including loss of energy (soul) and a feeling of being cut off from life and the heart.

In the words of Jungian psychoanalyst Donald Kalsched, “The inability to mourn is the single most telling symptom of a patient’s early trauma.” I have found this to be (achingly) true in my own life and clinical work.

It’s important to remember that in the death-rebirth cycle, there are two essential components: death, which I’m referring to alchemically, or metaphorically, as dissolution (the alchemical solutio) and, on the other hand, rebirth, renewal, and rejuvenation. It’s very understandable that this second aspect is the one we’re most interested in!

The dissolution aspect of the opus isn’t as easy or natural to embrace or see as equally sacred, equally holy, and an equal manifestation of love, of the Beloved as it comes here to seed this world with its qualities. It’s the Kali aspect of love, for those of you familiar with Hindu mythology, or an energy like Vajrakilaya in the Tibetan tradition, or Mercurius in alchemy, the hidden side of God or the Divine.

The darker aspect of the (transpersonal) Self plays an essential role in our individuation and healing, and being in conscious relationship with this dimension of psyche is indispensable on an alchemical path, though it is not easy to engage and stay with.

It can be supportive, if not necessary, to tend to this relationship alongside an empathic other, whether a therapist, mentor, teacher, or wise friend, ideally one with some experience of the inner terrain of the soul and the heart, where through a joined window of tolerance you can hold and process emotions and images that on your own may be overwhelming.

The truth is that we’re wired to rest and explore within a relational field; we just weren’t meant to walk the path alone - that’s not the sort of nervous system we were crafted with. Relationship - and engaging the mystery of the “Other” - is an essential aspect of the path of alchemical transformation and healing, and which we must discover within the fire of our own embodied experience. Just what this “Other” is for us can only be revealed by way of the path of direct revelation.

So there’s the death aspect of the archetypal cycle and also the long-awaited dawning of rebirth, where we’re offered vision and a pathway into a new way of being. It’s where a doorway, or portal begins to open, after being closed for a certain period of time. In my experience (my own pain, wounding, and grief), it is our willingness and capacity to feel and to grieve that bridges death and rebirth.

There is no lasting, embodied, visionary renewal without passing through the portal of grief, which requires us to slow down, come into the earth and the ground, and honor all that we’ve lost. It requires that we provide a home for shattered ones and for the integration of the dying pieces of an old dream.

This is the way we empty the cup so that it can be refilled with new imagination, cleansed perception, and a heart that is polished with beauty, wisdom, and grace. In this sense, grief is the forgotten portal. There’s a powerful and mysterious connection between our capacity to grieve and the emergence of new vision.

In my experience, this connection and subsequent exploration is often left out of many contemporary psychotherapies and spiritualities, which remain riveted to the upward, transcendent, and solar, or else the quick removal of symptoms (which contain important pieces of soul). But we have to go into the mud, the earth, and tend the lunar currents as well, for the new and the creative to take birth in our hearts.

The portal to resurrection and new vision opens through conscious, embodied lamentation, as we gather the shards of the heart and the scattered pieces of the soul, which are emanations of the strands, or scintilla of light, as the alchemists saw and conceived of them.

It’s a process where we collect the shattered pieces into a holy place and place them onto an altar in front of us, where we can enter into relationship with the shards of soul that must move on without us. And we can participate with a whole heart with the death of an old dream, and the way we were so sure that it was all going to turn out.

The nature of this altar and this vase will be different for each of us, with calligraphy, engravings, colors, and in a shape that is crafted for our unique soulprint. We don’t design the vase ourselves, at least not by way of ordinary ego-consciousness. The vase is outside our deepest hopes, fears, desires, and unfolds apart from our personal sense of will.

It is given to us by the transpersonal Self, by the Divine, however we come to conceive of that and is ours and ours alone - no one else can perceive or apprehend it, or design the vase on our behalf. A good friend, therapist, or mentor may be able to hold us and bear witness as we evoke and enter into relationship with it, but in my experience it will always remain out of full sight for them.

The vase, the altar, and any aspect of the soul wanting to come into our conscious experience will present itself in unexpected ways, through our dreams, out in nature, in a moment of intuitive knowing, or even through a disturbance in our mood or emotional activation.

The ally is mysterious - a trickster, mercurial, and always looking for us. But it does so in ways that will surprise us and that we aren’t able to apprehend ahead of time. This is the mystery of the alchemical vessel, which is not only literal, but metaphorical, a container inside each of us where the purifying work of transmutation can occur.

If we’re being honest with ourselves, yes, at times, it can feel like everything is falling apart, like we are falling apart. In these moments, the alchemical invitation is to open to the possibility that this process of “falling apart” is not some great cosmic error or mistake that we need to correct or repair, or to quickly put ourselves back together again.

Perhaps the shattered heart need not be “mended” in these moments and returned to the way it once was, but that in its shattering, the ally is revealed. Perhaps the “falling apart” is a harbinger of integration and emissary of the archetype of wholeness.

This one whispers to us, through a thundering silence, and invites us to fall apart consciously, to allow the alchemical process of dissolution, of yellowing, to unfold, honoring it it as an essential, non-negotiable phase as we open to rebirth and what it is that will emerge from the ashes.

Please take care of yourselves and I’m wishing you all the very best on your own wildly unique journey of transformation and healing - a journey that is never for ourselves alone, but for all of life, including the ancestors and the ones yet to come.

Warmly,

Matt

P.S. Upon request, I hope to be adding new videos to my YouTube channel in the weeks to come; thank you for your emails about this!



Monday, March 13, 2023

Slow and safe



We’ve all been given experience that we’ve been unable to process consciously. This is one of the basic characteristics of trauma, unendurable emotional pain that hasn’t been able to find a relational home in which it can be held.

There are times in my clinical work when I’ll meet with someone who is really suffering, but they can’t actually feel that pain. They’re not able to make contact with the felt quality of the open wound.

Instead, there’s a protective numbing, a dissociative shut down and collapse into the somatic unconscious. From here, the lost orphans of psyche and soma burn, ache, and long for holding.

This response is coherent and makes sense based on what happened earlier in their lives, and was an adaptive response in the face of survival-level anxiety and annihilatory panic, to the very real threat of psychic disintegration.

Trauma is the experience of de-linking – left and right, top and bottom, limbic and cortical, body and mind – and linkage occurs through the felt sense of safety.

Where we find a way, guided by mercy and grace, to touch that experience, hold it in love, make sense of it, and integrate it into a new cohesive narrative.

Slow and safe. I’m with you, and you’re safe. I’m with you and you’re safe. You’re no longer alone. And you’re safe.

While insight and clarity can be supportive, it is right-brain immersion in fields of safety which fosters cellular restructuring.

The psyche will reassemble when it feels safe.

The body will reorganize when it feels safe.


Join the waitlist for Matt's Spirituality & Healing online group and community

Friday, February 24, 2023

Late entry to Matt's 2023 Spirituality & Healing Group and Community


Dear friend, 

I’ve been receiving some questions about whether it’s still possible to join the new 2023 Spirituality & Healing online group and community that started on February 2.

We have decided to re-open enrollment up until the start of the first live session in March (Thursday, March 2nd). At that time, the community will remain closed for the remainder of the year, so that the group can go through the course together in a cohesive, grounded, supportive way.

Enrolling now, you’ll be able to catch up on what you missed in February and review the videos, meditations, and teachings for the month, and join us for our live sessions in March.

While there will be a lot of space and holding of whatever it is the group is guided to explore, there are some basic themes that will be foundational in the journey we’ll be making together. These themes will rotate organically as we come into the relational field together and attune to what it is that wants and needs to emerge to be illuminated, held, and transformed.

The vision for the training is to help support you in whatever way I can to deepen your own path of transformation and healing, sharing with you my personal and clinical experience over the last 30 years in the fields of depth and somatic psychology; relational neuroscience and trauma studies; and the experiential discoveries of the alchemical and meditation traditions.

You can learn more about the course below:

>>Learn more about Matt Licata’s Spirituality & Healing Immersion Group here

Here is a sample of some of the rotating themes we’ll explore together as a community. We’ll meet live three times each month for teachings, meditations, guided practices, and interaction, where I’ll respond to questions about this path of embodied transformation, psychological integration, and a spirituality of the heart.

  • Psychotherapy, Meditation, and the Creation of an Internal Holding Environment
  • Initiation and the Journey of the Wounded Healer in the Contemporary World
  • Trauma and the Sacred: Exploring the Link Between Spirituality and Our Wounding
  • Slowing Down and the Importance of a Daily Attunement and Compassion Practice
  • Relationship as Path: the Interactional Field and How Relationships Serve as the Healing Temple for the Modern Practitioner
  • Encoding New Circuitry, Neuroplasticity, and the Capacity of the Nervous System to Rewire
  • Ending the Trance of Self-Abandonment and Taking Care of Yourself in a New Way
  • The Importance of Shadow Work and Listening to the Unconscious
  • The Essential Role of Psychological Work on the Spiritual Path: the Union of Sun and Moon
  • Your Alchemical Toolkit and the Various Types of Inner Work: Safety, Uncovering, Imaginal, Existential, and Transpersonal
  • The Embodied Practice of Integration: Accessing, Verbalizing, and Making Sense of Your Experience
  • Neural Integration, Attuning to Feeling, and the Wisdom of Your Body
  • Past Wounding (Narcissistic/ Attachment), Historic Core Vulnerabilities, and Working in the Here and Now
  • The Transformative Potential Within the “Blue Shades” of the Spectrum: Grief, Melancholy, and Heartbreak as Guides of the Soul
  • Discovering a Yoga of Your Own: Individuation and the Uniqueness of the Spiritual Life
  • Creating a Temple for the Lost Orphans and Children of Psyche and Soma: Integral Inner Child Work
This is only a sample of the territory we’ll be covering, which will also unfold organically as we begin to create and attune to the holding environment which presents itself as the weeks go by.

I invite you to learn more about the program below.

>> Learn more about the 2023 Spirituality & Healing Immersion Group here

Thank you for taking the time to read through this email and for your interest in this work and in your own transformation and healing. I hope to see you online inside the community in the days to come!

Warmly,

Matt




Tuesday, February 21, 2023

To live once again


Much of our wounding occurs prior to the acquisition of language and is not able to be healed through the questioning and reorganization of patterns of thinking. In other words, we can’t think our way out of trauma, attachment, and narcissistic injury.

When our capacity to process unbearable terror, panic, and shame is overwhelmed, unmetabolized pieces of soul are held subcortically and in our cellular circuitry, unreachable by thinking which is a layer removed from the fires of the alchemical body.

Encouragement to “just get over it, it’s just your ego, just let it be, it isn’t who you really are” is experienced by an inflamed nervous system as the activity of empathic failure, aggression, and psychic violence.

It’s like a neural form of gaslighting and reflects a deep misunderstanding of relational wounding and implicit memory, and only contributes to the intergenerational transmission of trauma.

In addition to shattering and unendurable experience – which is painful and terrifying enough – there is a profound sense of aloneness that goes with this, the disorganizing reality of the missing Friend, and no accompaniment into the dark night. “I am alone in this.”

This is devastating to the soul.

When the lost orphans of psyche and soma come surging to be held, they’re not all that interested in our crystal-clear analysis, detached witnessing and fantasies of “mastery,” or powerful spiritual insights.

They’re longing for something else… for you, for your heart, for your holding. To know that you will stay near, that you will not abandon or shame them, that you will do your best to provide sanctuary and safe passage for them to come Home, to be helped out of that frozen, crystallized state and to live once again.



Photo by Lisa Runnels



Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Human beings having a spiritual experience


Even if our primary interest is in spiritual transformation, we can’t separate out our unresolved relational trauma, attachment wounding, and narcissistic injury we may have experienced. There just isn’t a bright line separating these things. They intertwine in the body and mind and weave in and out of the cells of our nervous systems and hearts.

There isn’t something called spirituality over here, and then over there something called psychological and emotional healing.

I’m sure many of you have heard the saying that goes something like, “We’re not human beings having a spiritual experience, but spiritual beings having a human experience.” And of course, it has that wise-sounding ring to it. But from a more alchemical point of view, or a perspective from the fields of wholeness, it’s pretty dualistic.

A more alchemical approach would be to simultaneously contain both of those statements and the contradictory energies they embody, hold the tension of those opposites and through facilitating a dialogue and relationship between them, allow a new, third thing to emerge which includes the truth of each.

The union of spirit and matter, solar and lunar, oneness and multiplicity, transcendent and descendent currents - each equally holy as an emanation of the Beloved into the world of time and space. Each an equally sacred and valid arrow in her quiver.

If we attend only to that part of us which is Pure Spirit or Pure Awareness, what inevitably happens is that aspects of our embodied humanity, pieces of soul, and the lost ones of psyche and soma are located into the shadow. From there, they color our perception, become evoked in others, enacted in the relational field, and somatized in the body as a variety of unwanted symptoms.

It can feel cleaner and clearer to stay in Spirit, to be sure, as if we’ve risen above the mess of it all and are in some untouchable and invulnerable state. We can use our present-moment awareness practices to come closer to ourselves and our unresolved wounding, or we can use these same beliefs and practices as a way to dissociate and split off from our embodied vulnerability, unfelt feelings, and undigested psychological material - all in the name of “being in the now.”

Because these lenses of perception are unconscious, meaning they’re operating outside of our conscious knowing, we aren’t able to see how they are affecting us. Instead, we just assume we’re perceiving reality “directly,” “as it is,” in some pure and unadulterated form. We stay in the present moment, but that present moment is alive with the ancestors and the ghosts of our unlived lives, the reality of implicit memory networks, and the entirety of our unmetabolized trauma and attachment wounding.

We stay lodged into the matrix of intergenerational trauma and trance, but aren’t aware of it.

If we fail to include in our inquiry the entirety of what we are – the shadow, the sore and hurt places, the betrayals, the unfelt grief, the disavowed rage, and a relationship with the orphans of psyche and soma - we won’t be able to live here fully, in a way that guided by wisdom and compassion.

If we don’t tend to the wounds around love there will always be a dis-integration within us, which will manifest as a dissociative split from our True Nature. And we won’t be able to access that natural joy, aliveness, openness, and warmth that are the qualities of that nature, the capacity to play, to create, and to fully be here, in a way that is deeply meaningful and beneficial, for ourselves and for others.


Photo by Kristendawn

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Matt's Spirituality & Healing group closing enrollment on Thursday


Dear friend, 

Just a quick reminder that my new 2023 Spirituality & Healing group will be starting on Thursday with our first live session if you’d like to join us.

→ Click here to join our group or learn more

I’ve created this community in response to an inner call that I’ve felt as well as many requests that I’ve received over the years to spend a year together where we can commit to our healing and spiritual path in a new and deeper way.

Over the last 30 years (including many years in meditation and my own therapy), I’ve come to see how supportive, loving, and wise it can be to bring together the very essence of psychotherapeutic healing, working with early trauma, the wisdom of the body and nervous system, along with spiritual and meditative realization, in the creation of a path of embodied spirituality.

I know there is a real longing that many of us feel to commit to our inner lives in a deeper way and to step into the mystery of this life, to fully participate in the reality of the sacred world that we sense is very near, yet often can seem out of reach. It is my sincere intention that this group and training offer a powerful, merciful, wise, and effective holding environment in which we can engage the mysteries of the heart together.

I look forward to making this journey with you.

Gratefully,

Matt 

P.S. Please reach out to support@mattlicataphd.com if you have any questions about the new group.




Saturday, January 28, 2023

Psychotherapy, Healing, and an Alchemy of Our Time


Dear friend, 

One of the things I’ve discovered over the last few decades - in my own life and through my clinical practice - is how essential it is to include psychological work, trauma and shadow integration, and sensitivity to the body and nervous system as vital aspects our spiritual paths. 

This is a unique time in human history when for the first time we have access not only to the world’s great meditative and spiritual traditions, but to contemporary psychotherapeutic teachings as well as profound discoveries in the fields of relational and contemplative neuroscience, as well as developmental psychology and trauma studies. 

Despite this vast knowledge, many contemporary approaches to transformation and healing leave out one of the essential ways of knowing, being, inquiry, and practice. 

How do spirituality and psychological inquiry fit together and what do each offer one another? 

What happens if we weave these ways of knowing together into an alchemy of our time, and engage a contemporary path of wholeness, which honors the psychological wounding many of us have experienced and how tending to this is in fact a radical form of spirituality in and of itself?

The path is everywhere and our wounding can serve as a profound form of initiation, though this wisdom is often lost, left out, or misunderstood in our modern world. 

What is the connection between trauma and the sacred? And how does uncovering, illuminating, and transforming our psychological and emotional wounding open us to a new kind of spirituality, one that is earthy, human, whole, and oriented in a deeper level of wisdom and compassion? 

The purpose of my new 2023 spirituality and healing group is to help support you, in an ongoing way, to develop (or deepen) a spirituality of your own, open your heart, heal the wounds of the past, and cultivate a new relationship with the Divine, the soul, and the mystery of this human experience. 

My intention for this yearlong course is, along with you, to create a dynamic and alive holding environment, a real temple, in which we can explore and be in contact with the realities of true Being, in relationship with the creative unknown and the mysteries of the heart. To step out of the matrix, if you will, even if only for a few moments and allow our perception to be cleansed and our heart to be polished. 

I will bring everything I have to the course and the group, the 30+ years I’ve spent on this path, my own spiritual experiences through many years of meditation and inner work, tending to my own pain and trauma, and what I’ve discovered through my clinical and teaching work with thousands around the world. In addition to my many years of study and practice, I also bring  many hundreds of hours of my own in-depth therapy, analysis, and supervision, which remains ongoing. 

There are allies and guides all around and inside us, and it is my hope and aspiration that this new group help to connect us with the intelligence, mercy, and grace of the human heart as it deepens our connection with something vast. Recognizing how tenuous and fragile it is here, we might come to see how every minute here is precious, a radical view and embodied experience that has the potential to reorient our world. 

In this exploration, we come to see that even our deepest wounds, sensitivities, and eccentricities are not pathology, but path. They are portals. They are the ways that the light gets in, reaches and transforms us. 

I look forward to making this journey with you and supporting you in discovering a path that is truly your own, that opens your heart and brings forward the deep transformation, peace, joy, and healing that is a natural part of your own soul’s journey. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Matt's free webinar on Thursday



Dear friend,

A reminder that I'll be offering a free live webinar this Thursday, January 26th, at 9am U.S. Pacific Time/ 5pm in London. The title of the gathering is Remembering the Inner Friend: Opening Your Heart on the Path of the Wounded Healer.

>>Register for Matt's webinar at no cost here

During the webinar, I'll speak briefly about my new, yearlong spirituality and healing online group, which starts in February.

In the times we find ourselves in, it’s so easy to fall out of contact with the sacredness and preciousness of this life.

Before we realize it, we can lose touch with the Inner Friend, that dimension of mystery, meaning, and aliveness that is wired into this human form.

As a result, we may find ourselves longing for something that always seems just out of reach, manifesting as a variety of emotional and somatic symptoms, the felt experience of a deep restlessness or exhaustion, or the sense that our life has lost its purpose.

By taking time each day to open into a new relationship with the wisdom and creativity of embodied, sensual not-knowing, we’re able to reconnect with the mystery and with the flow of inner and outer nature.

It is in this field where the Inner Friend dwells and from where their guidance and love emanate.

In the webinar, I’ll speak about:

--How our difficult emotions and relational wounding can serve an initiatory function

--The link and connection between trauma and the sacred

--Accessing the organic internal guidance system that is unique to you

--Attuning to an internal holding environment that is always, already here

I look forward to connecting with you on Thursday!

Warmly,

Matt



Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Matt's New 2023 Spirituality & Healing Group


Dear friends, 

I’m happy to announce the launch of my new 2023 online spirituality and healing group. 

You can find all the details here: 

>>Matt Licata's New 2023 Online Group and Community 

In hearing from many of you over the last few years - and reflecting on my own journey - I’ve come to realize that it’s not easy to find a spiritually-oriented group or set of teachings and practices that honor the role of psychotherapy, emotional attunement, the shadow, the body, and our relational lives on an integral path of transformation and healing.

Even if our primary interest is in spiritual transformation, we cannot separate out our unresolved relational trauma, attachment wounding, and the narcissistic injury we may have experienced. For these shape the way that we perceive ourselves, our relationships, and also our connection with the mystery and our own spirituality.

If we do not include these essential aspects of our human experience, we’ll be unable to live fully in the world in a way that is guided by wisdom and compassion. We won’t be able to fully access that joy, aliveness, and creativity that is our birthright, participating in our lives with an open heart, attuned to the mysteries, in a way that is deeply meaningful and beneficial, for ourselves and others.

What I’ve discovered in my own life (the hard way) and also in my clinical practice with a lot of dedicated and courageous women and men over the years is that if we fail to tend to our own wounding and trauma, it will inevitably leak out, and color any realization that we might have.

Unprocessed somatic and emotional material has a way of creating a perceptual lens (reality tunnel) through which we come to imagine ourselves, others, and the world; and also how we imagine and relate with nature and with the Divine.

No matter how deep and profound our realizations have been, they will be filtered through whatever unmetabolized trauma and wounding that remains upheld and unhealed within us.

In response to an inner call that I’ve felt and the many requests I’ve received over the last few years, I’ve designed this new online training immersion for those looking to make a real commitment to their inner lives, to meet regularly throughout the year, in a way that is attuned to the majesty of the human person, sensitive to developmental wounding, embodied and relational, while anchored in the deeper layers of spiritual transformation.

It is vital, in my experience, to have a “home” from which we can step into the unknown and engage the mysteries of the heart, a sanctuary which is safe, which holds us and our experience, while at times being provocative and challenging, in a grounded and loving way.

It is my sincere, heartfelt aspiration to discover and create this home with you as we make the journey together.

What is unique about this particular training group is that it will honor both psychotherapy and spirituality, tending to attachment, narcissistic, and traumatic wounding as well as to the further reaches of the spectrum of consciousness. It will honor who we are as embodied, sensitive human beings as well as pure Spirit, and allow us to engage our spiritual lives in a way that is integrated and whole.

It’s essential, in my experience, that we not leave any aspect of our humanity out, including our bodies, our relational nature, our trauma, and all of our wounding, which it turns out are vital pathways to spirit. The connection between trauma and the sacred is mysterious and we will explore the many ways that our wounding can serve as initiation into the spiritual world.

And so whether we’re prioritizing safety and regulation, which is essential with trauma; uncovering, unconscious, and shadow integration; intimacy and relationship as yoga and temple; existential matters such as freedom, purpose, meaning, and aloneness; or the more transpersonal, or spiritual aspects of our experience, we can turn to the wisdom, compassion, and skillful means of the various approaches, traditions, and practices to help us along the way to the felt, lived experience of an embodied wholeness.

As part of this new yearlong training, our work together will integrate the wisdom, teachings, and practices from the fields of depth and somatic psychotherapies; relational and contemplative neuroscience; developmental and trauma studies; the clinical (practical) application of mindfulness, self-compassion, and meditative awareness; and the experiential discoveries of the alchemists, mystics, and yogis. 

One of the primary intentions of the program is to help you discover and live a spirituality of your own, one that is unique to your own being. Spiritual transformation and lasting, embodied healing is a matter of direct revelation and will not always look the same for you as it does for those around you. It is the full embrace of your own path that allows you to fully participate in your life and in this world in a way that is spontaneous, alive, meaningful, and free.

I invite you to explore the course information page to see if this journey might be resonant for you, if you feel drawn to connect with myself and fellow travelers around the world on this path of deep soul-healing and spiritual transformation.

Warmly,

Matt Licata

P.S. If you have any questions about the course and the training, please reach out to us at support@mattlicataphd.com.

P.P.S. I'll be offering a free live webinar next week on Thursday the 26th, at 9am U.S. Pacific Time/ 5pm in London, where I'll speak in part about the new group. You can register for the webinar for free here




Monday, January 16, 2023

Work Online with Matt in 2023

 

Dear friends, 

On Wednesday, I’ll be announcing the opening of my new 2023 (online/ yearlong) group exploring a soulful spirituality and path of embodied healing. Here's a description of one of the modules:

PROVIDING A HOME FOR THE LOST ORPHANS OF PSYCHE AND SOMA: HOLDING THE PIECES OF SOUL WITH ILLUMINATION, PRESENCE, AND COMPASSION

Much of our wounding occurs prior to the acquisition of language and is not able to be healed through the questioning and reorganization of patterns of thinking. In other words, we can’t think our way out of trauma, attachment, and relational wounding

When our capacity to process unbearable terror, panic, shame, and rage is overwhelmed, undigested pieces of experience are held subcortically and in our cellular circuitry, unreachable by thinking which is a layer removed from the fires of the alchemical body.

Encouragement to “just get over it, that’s totally irrational, you can’t really believe that, you know that’s not true” and so forth is experienced by an inflamed nervous system as the activity of violence and aggression.

It’s like an autonomic form of gaslighting and reflects a deep misunderstanding of trauma and the workings of implicit memory, and only contributes to re-traumatization, in personal, cultural, and collective networks.

In addition to shattering and unendurable experience – which is painful and terrifying enough – there is a profound sense of aloneness that goes with this, the sense that no one can understand, that there is no companionship into the dark night. I am alone in this. This is devastating to the soul.

When that raging alive little boy or aching little girl cries out longing to be held, known, felt, and heard, they’re really not all that interested in our clear cognitive analysis, rational inquiry, thoughts on the matter, or even our powerful spiritual insights. 

They’re yearning for something else… for you, your heart, your holding. To know that you will stay near, not abandon or shame them, that you will do your best to provide sanctuary and safe passage for them to return Home, to be allowed to come out of that crystallized, frozen state and live, play, and breathe once again.

In this way they don’t even want or need to be healed, but to be held. And to feel safe.

Together, we’ll open to the reality of the inner family and enter into a new relationship with the richness of our inner world. In this way, we start to discover that things may be a bit more alive, open, spacious, loving, and even magical than we thought.

Please look out for additional information later in the week if you're interested in learning more, and also be sure you're signed up to my mailing list if you're not already. 

Warmly,

Matt

Photo by Bess Hamiti

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Free live webinar with Matt on January 26


Dear friends, 

I'll be offering a free live webinar on Thursday, January 26th, at 9am U.S. Pacific Time/ 5pm in London. 

>>Register at no cost for the live webinar here

In the times we find ourselves in, it’s so easy to fall out of contact with the sacredness and preciousness of this life.

Before we realize it, we can lose touch with the Inner Friend, that dimension of mystery, meaning, and aliveness that is wired into this human form.

As a result, we may find ourselves longing for something that always seems just out of reach, manifesting as a variety of emotional and somatic symptoms, the felt experience of a deep restlessness or exhaustion, or the sense that our life has lost its purpose.

By taking time each day to open into a new relationship with the wisdom and creativity of embodied, sensual not-knowing, we’re able to reconnect with the mystery and with the flow of inner and outer nature.

It is in this field where the Inner Friend dwells and from where their guidance and love emanate.

In the webinar, I’ll speak about:
  • How our difficult emotions and relational wounding can serve an initiatory function
  • The link and connection between trauma and the sacred
  • Accessing the organic internal guidance system that is unique to you
  • Attuning to an internal holding environment that is always, already here
I look forward to connecting with you then. 

Warmly, 

Matt


About Matt Licata

Matt Licata, Ph.D. is a psychotherapist, teacher, and writer based in Boulder, Colorado. Weaving together the wisdom and practices from somatic and depth psychologies, relational neuroscience and trauma studies, and the meditative discoveries of the mystics, yogis, and alchemists, he presents a contemporary path to embodied transformation and healing.

He is author of A Healing Space: Befriending Yourself in Difficult Times (Sounds True, 2020), The Path is Everywhere: Uncovering the Jewels Hidden Within You (Wandering Yogi Press, 2017), and the forthcoming The Path of the Wounded Healer: A Soulful Spirituality and the Alchemy of the Heart.



Thursday, January 5, 2023

Midway through life's journey...


From inside the mandala of the wounded healer, there is a call emerging out from the central courtyard: Your grief, your longing, the uncertainty, the loneliness, and that aching and burning inside your heart is not pathology, but path. It is the very path itself

The wound isn’t in the way of the path, but is the path. Each feeling and image, each strand of sensitivity in your body and nervous system are stones on that path, pieces of light on the forest bed that illuminate the way ahead. These figures who carry these experiences, these ones arise not to harm or take you down, but as emissaries of wholeness and allies of integration.

Each thought, feeling, image, mood, and bodily-felt sensation are manifestations of what the alchemists call the prima materia, the essence-material the soul is providing us to tend, to shepherd, to midwife as psychonauts, explorers, and artists of our own inner lives. 

Not only is this material not an error or a mistake, as it is often conceived, but it is valid, workable, and required; it is gold in hidden form. In fact, we can’t transform or heal without it. 

That’s what’s so radical about an alchemical view and practice. That material is actually needed for light, healing, and transmutation to unfold. In this sense, we could even go so far as to say it’s holy, a forerunner or ambassador of wholeness.

No, it’s not always going to feel natural to turn toward the material in the vessel and illuminate it with our awareness and our devotion, to allow ourselves to touch and be touched by it. At times the path forward is going to be dimly lit and we’ll be asked to walk alone into the forest, unsure of how it will all turn out. 

As Dante reminds us in the Inferno, he says, “Midway through life’s journey I found myself in a dark wood, having lost the way.”

This is an archetypal pattern and experience within the human psyche that each of us who makes this journey will be touched by; it’s not a mistake or error or evidence that we’ve done something wrong or that we’re broken or defective. 

It’s evidence, high voltage evidence, that we’re alive, that we have a heart that’s open and raw and tender and beating, a nervous system that is sensitive and online, and a soul that longs for connection and for union. 

There are lamps hidden in the forest which will reveal themselves in moments of interior illumination, often when we least expect it.


Image by Susanne Jutzeler, Schweiz 

FREE LIVE WEBINAR - I'll be offering a free live webinar on Thursday, January 26, which you can learn about and sign up for here