Tuesday, July 25, 2023

When sitting with a friend...

When we meet with someone who is feeling melancholic, empty, restless, or down, we can quickly become convinced that something is wrong, and that our role is to act urgently to fix them. And to engage in techniques, theories, and ideas to help them replace the actuality of their experience with what we believe they should be having instead.

It’s totally natural to want relief for those we care about and we want to do whatever we can to help; we don’t need to pretend this isn’t the case. We can hold that larger intention that they feel better, while simultaneously staying open to a call emerging in the field between us into deeper territory.

Perhaps it is something more subtle, more nuanced, more meaningful than relief that they are most longing for. For the Friend, for a companion who will go with them into the dimly lit, endarkened landscape of the soul.

From an alchemical perspective, there is wisdom and guidance in the images, emotions, and somatic data arising into the relational field between you, vital communication from the soul serving an initiatory function beyond what we can perceive. We don’t want to short-circuit that, especially as a result of our own anxiety and discomfort.

If we slow down and reflect, we might discover how much of our “fixing” activity, the movement toward relief, arises not from true compassion but from an unresolved relationship with our own darkness, with our own historic core vulnerabilities and untended complexes, and from the spinning and twirling of the ghosts of our own unlived lives.

It is possible that the most skillful and kind thing we can offer our friend is to sit in the charged energy with them, bearing witness to pure feeling together, in that claustrophobic or restless space, and stay near; to remove the burden that they come out of their experience, “feel better,” or heal in order for us to stay close.

Perhaps they don’t need to be healed, but to be held, to be heard, and to feel felt and understood, for someone to companion them as the hidden wisdom unfolds. Where, together, we weave a safe home, a sanctuary, a wholeness-temple where the shards of a broken world can reassemble.

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Wednesday, July 19, 2023

The wisdom in not-knowing

There’s a fantasy that we’re supposed to know what to do with our lives. And if we do not then this is clear evidence that something is wrong with us, that some cosmic error has occurred which must urgently be remedied by figuring it all out.

Especially if accompanied by waves of uncertainty, hopelessness, and confusion… more evidence that we have failed or fallen short, fueled by further imagination that psychic states such as contradiction, doubt, and deflation are not very “spiritual.”

What about the endless stream of “high” vibrations? The manifesting of more and more cool things for myself, that I’ve dreamed will make me happy? And the accompanying inflations of a happy-happy solar-based self-help industry which has pathologized the wisdom of the darker, lunar shades of the spectrum.

At times it will appear that nothing is happening, which can lead to a framing that we are “stuck,” “not doing it right,” or “lost in some sort of ‘low vibration.’” The mind has a nearly unlimited capacity to fantasize, especially in ways that enact early patterning of shame, self-abandonment, and misattuned empathic failure.

But before we turn from the non-conventional allies of confusion and doubt, let us slow down and reimagine. In a world that is fixated with doing, with answers, and with resolving the contradictions and wildness of the human being, we must remember that death is required for new forms of love and creativity to emerge.

As an experiment, you could say out loud, with the earth as your witness, “I don’t know.” And give yourself permission to not-know, for now, without any shame, judgment, or pressure to resolve the mysteries of the heart.

There is profound wisdom and creativity in the core of not-knowing, in slowness, in patience, and in rest, but we must retrain ourselves to receive that level of revelation. In this reception, we see that not-knowing is a perfectly valid, honorable, and authentic place to be, and not in need of transformation. It is a pure expression of life, in and of itself, exactly as it is. Its value is not in its transcendence, but in its embodied embrace.

Art by Anja Osenberg

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Sensual, tactile, and attuned to the imaginal

We don't live in a world that honors the purity and wisdom of grief, and the ways that love will take us apart, dissolving the dream of the way we thought it was all going to turn out.

As we hold the broken pieces near, we bear witness to the liquefying of even our most sacred realizations, ideas, hopes, and beliefs.

Somehow, the soul is weeping from the inside, which allows the salt in our tears to wash us out, cleansing our perception and polishing our hearts, so that we may become a transparent vehicle for love to find its way here.

The invitation is into an embodied lamentation – sensual, tactile, and attuned to the imaginal – to the allies and figures that come to show us something we’ve forgotten about the preciousness of this place and the beauty in the broken.

In this way, we gather the split-off pieces into a holy vase and place them on an altar in front of us. Through speaking to them and metabolizing feeling in the body, we allow the decaying material to move on without us, with dignity, mercy, and compassion.

The falling apart of the known is not some great cosmic error to correct or repair, but an emissary of the archetype of the Friend, who calls out and finds us by way of the shattered places, in the depths and in the valleys, near the wet moss and the rotting logs.

Coming into oneness, unity, and having everything together is not more spiritual, more sacred, or more complete than being dissolved, falling apart, and attuned with multiplicity.

Within the vessel of the Heart, separation and union are equally holy stages, states, and processes, unique and differentiated arrows in the quiver of the beloved, ways that she longs and yearns to draw us nearer to Her.

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