Thursday, November 30, 2023

Tending to the Soul: A Self-Guided Online Course

My self-guided, home study course on Tending to the Soul: A Journey of Being and Belonging, and a Spirituality of the Heart is currently available: 

>>Learn more or register for Tending to the Soul 

There are times in each of our lives when a chapter comes to an end, when we find ourselves on the precipice of rebirth and renewal.

Something has dissolved – the dream of me and my life and the way it was all supposed to turn out – but it’s not yet clear what’s going to arise from the ashes to take its place.

As disorienting as these times of transition can be, they are evidence of a sacred process occurring deep in the personal and collective soul. For it is only from a shattering that the phoenix is able to emerge.

The question now for so many of us is: what is it that the soul wants? Not what I thought I wanted, what I should want, or what others want for me, but what is calling to me from the depths of who and what I am, into a life of new vision, purpose, and meaning?

As we engage in this holy reassembling, it can be so easy to lose track of our home base, whether we imagine this center as the palace of the soul, the light of the spirit, or the ventral vagal safety-pathways of the holy human nervous system.

The great poets, alchemists, wayfarers, and mystics have declared that the path is everywhere but it can take a slowing down and a cleansing of our perception for this to become a living reality.

Learn more about the course here or you can write to with any questions.

Monday, November 27, 2023

The path is everywhere

The path of the heart is not only one of transcendence – ascending and rising above – but also one of descent: Into underworld, earth, and shadow, and into relationship with the figures of the somatic unconscious.

The lunar way isn’t as clear as its heroic or solar counterpart. It is unclothed: of fixed concept, a precise map, and knowing how it’s all going to turn out. It has a way not of confirming but of dismantling the spiritual persona.

No promises, no guarantees, no mythical tales of some “permanent” state of enlightenment or unending transcendent experience, where we can remain safe and free from the reorganizing fires of love, which burn through the known to reveal essence.

In the mandala of the lunar, we make room for Kali to come and dissolve even our most “powerful” realizations, evidencing her lack of interest in our fantasies of resolution.

We cannot travel inside her body, her being, if we already know what’s “real” and what’s “true;” or if we’ve mistaken the map for the territory, which is always wild and untamed. Our “mastery” is of very little interest to her.

Held in her temple are the holy images of our broken dreams, disappointments, hopes, and fears – the entirety of our unlived life; the grief of the ancestors, the lamentation of the earth, and the sensitivities of the soma.

Here, in the center, the wound is opened and no longer bandaged, which is what allows the tincture to enter.

The feast is laid out before us, sprinkled throughout the oceans, stars, forests, and green light; and all through the eyes of the one in front of us. The path is everywhere.

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Thanksgiving: How well did I love?

On this new Thanksgiving Day, it is so easy to take for granted that tomorrow will come – that another opportunity will be given to witness a sunrise, spend a moment with someone we love, or be astonished at the crystals in the newly fallen snow.

But another part knows it is so fragile here, precarious, shaky, outrageously precious and at times so shattering, that this opening into life will not be here for much longer. One moment, we will turn toward it and it will be gone.

Recognizing this, let us give thanks on this new day by no longer postponing our time here, by not waiting any longer.

By remembering what's most important and what truly matters. By doing whatever we can to help others, listening to them so that they feel felt, holding them in moments when they need a companion.

At the end of this life, it is unlikely we'll be caught up in whether we accomplished all the tasks on our to-do lists, manifested all the things we dreamed we wanted, played it safe, or completed some endless self-improvement project.

At that moment, there may be only one question that remains: how well did I love?

Did I pause each day to slow down and truly behold the beauty of the sensual world? Was I willing to take a risk, feel more, allow this life to matter, and to really experience what is already here and what has already been given?

Ending the trance of postponement and dissolving the dream that there is some breath, some beauty, some love coming tomorrow. Tomorrow is a dream that may not arrive. Love is now.

The bounty and harvest of thanksgiving is upon us, awaiting to be seen, felt, tasted, and heard, in the trees and the snow, in the imagination and in the heart. In the very center of our holy mirror neurons as they light up when we attune to one another.

I hope I make it all the way through this Thanksgiving Day, but if for some reason I do not, this would have been enough. I have been given so much more than enough.

Thursday, November 9, 2023

Honoring ego and its role in our inner ecology

There’s a lot of talk in contemporary spirituality equating “true” spiritual realization with “getting rid of,” “transcending,” “killing,” or “annihilating” the ego.

These archaic, patriarchal, war-images and metaphors are violent and feel very tired.

A more dynamic, systems-based, holistic, and compassionate alchemy is, instead, to respect and relativize the ego, and help it to find its place in the larger ecology of what we are.

The ego is simply our self-image, how I’ve come to imagine myself. We each imagine in this way, even if we fantasize that we don’t. We human beings are storytellers, mythmakers, and need not apologize for this, but engage it with depth, subtlety, and soul.

The rush to deny ego and declare its illusory status often arises from a fragmented, dissociated split in the self, where there’s been a history of early relational trauma which has not been repaired. This is understandable.

Not surprisingly, it’s safer to fantasize that this self is “illusion” than it is to enter into its world, collect and hold the broken pieces, and grieve what until now has been ungrievable.

The ego is one voice among many, one figure sitting at the table of Being, a unique and essential mode of perception and activity.

At that same table, there are also other non-ego voices and persons, representing the ancestors, mythological beings, and figures of the archetypal field; personifications of our dreams, fantasies, symptoms, and complexes.

These ones dwell in the shadow, the somatic unconscious, and the subcortical places. They long for our presence, embodiment, devotion, and care. They are not obstacles on our path, but are the very path itself.

To facilitate dialogue and relationship between ego and the Others in psyche and soma, to help the dissociated to re-associate, the unlinked to link once again, is an act of wisdom and also great love. Not only for ourselves, but for all of life.

Image: Gerd Altmann

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

The portal to new life

It’s afternoon in the forest and the light is yielding to the darkness, just as the stars yield each morning at dawn.

One moment they’re here; so close, luminous, that beauty, and then they’re not. It’s like this also in inner nature, where in one moment things can be so clear: who I am and what I’m doing here.

Only for it all to be dissolved in the next; my life and the way it was all supposed to turn out.

The capacity to grieve the death of an old dream is the portal to new life: To go into the broken and feel, to meet the shattered pieces with presence and with love.

The soul is always speaking to us, the Friend is always nearby and offering its essence, its body, its being. At times, by way of beauty, joy, connection, and peace; gratitude, flow, wonder, and awe. We can give thanks for the sweet forms of grace as they nurture and hold us.

At other times, the dispatch from the Beloved will emerge out of the underworld, an eruption of the dark, and can be deflating, fierce and untamed. It is ego-dystonic, and cannot confirm who and what we think we are.

This particular emanation of the Beloved can ache in the pathways and burn in the heart.

And will unlikely feel all that nurturing: a surge of activation in one of our relationships, an out-of-the-blue experience of anxiety or depression, an unexplainable symptom in our body, the loss of meaning in our work, a dark night, the collapse of the known.

To perceive this activity also as grace, as one of the many arrows in the quiver of the Friend is not easy, and will often take us to the ground.

But it is on the ground, in the earth, in the mud and in the colors of the forest that we may be crafted as a vessel in which love can come alive here, incarnating through each of us, in a world that so badly needs it.

Friday, November 3, 2023

Emissaries of the path

The next time you find yourself caught in a repetitive loop of thinking, spiraling, and falling down the rabbit hole… slow the situation down.

Feel your feet on the earth. Sense the aliveness in your hands. Breathe deeply from your lower belly.

Shift of the rabbit hole and into the vessel, where things are not quite as they seem. A more sensual, imaginal place where wisdom figures stand by to show you something behind the veil.

With your presence, interrupt the momentum. Stay close. Stay in your body. Feel. Sense. Listen.

Something important may be emerging, longing for contact, to be illuminated and held, just underneath the threshold of consciousness, surging out from the intelligence of the somatic field.

Inside the very core of the emotions, the images, the pure feeling, the felt sense, the Ally incarnates and embodies itself, with a secret hope that conditions ripen for it to be known.

The invitation is to provide sanctuary and safe passage for the unlived, the unfelt, and the ungrieved to be touched and to be held.

What is it that I need right now? What is it that I have not been wanting to feel? How can I meet this moment and take care of myself in a new way? One that is spacious, loving, and even wild.

The emptiness in my heart, shakiness in my belly, constriction in my throat… the sadness, the shame, the rage, the lost joy, the lost capacity to play and to imagine, to dream a new dream… these are the emissaries of the path and allies of wholeness and integration.

I will not abandon myself. I will not turn from my embodied vulnerability. For just this moment, I will step into the unknown, and listen.

As the alchemist in the depth and containment of the vessel, I will allow spirit to matter and for matter to reveal its nature as spirit itself. And in the mystery of that union, I will go.