Sunday, July 7, 2024

Pieces of the unlived life


Inside the body the lost ones travel, carrying our dissociated experience and unfelt feeling, taking up temporary residence in our muscles, cell tissue, organs, and breath.

Scattered pieces of soul gather in our eyes, shoulders, and bellies, and in the secret places within our hearts.

They’ve become frozen and crystallized there, and display their longing to come Home by way of our dreams, bodily-felt emotions, and the variety of symptoms we experience.

If we’re unable to access them, to feel what they feel and tend to their tears, they will make their way deeper into the underworld and into the soma, awaiting a future moment when conditions are ripe.

Even if our primary interest is in spiritual transformation, we can’t separate out any unresolved relational trauma, attachment wounding, and narcissistic injury we may have experienced.

This unheld and unmetabolized material shapes our perception and forms a psychic template through which we’re able to imagine ourselves, others, and our world. But this happens outside our conscious awareness, from within the depths of shadow.

As we’re invited to “just be in the present moment,” we have to remember that in the present moment the ancestors are there with us.

They not only take up residence in our bodies, our hearts, and deep in the soul, but they are our bodies, hearts, and souls. Psyche is multiple and polytheistic.

They arrive invited or otherwise, along with the lost, crystallized orphans of psyche and soma, the spinning figures of our unlived lives, and the rich landscape of our implicit memory.

We’re not alone in that “present moment.”

What does the Other have to say about us and our meditation practice? Have we asked them and listened carefully to their response, with devotion and care?

Have we lamented their tears and grieved their pain?

To what degree have we met them, and accepted them with love? And sought their wisdom on the nature of past, present, and future.



Photo: Lappohja Beach, Southern Finland - heartbeat

My next live online course will start in September - The Soul Alchemist: Trusting Your Inner Guidance. To receive information about the course, which will be sent out later in the summer, please sign up for my mailing list below. 

Monday, July 1, 2024

The alchemy of self and other


Usually when we speak about “others” in our lives, we are referring to those on the outside we are in relationship with, that we care about and matter to us.

It’s important to attune to them and how they’re making sense of their experience, what keeps them up at night, brings them alive and touches their hearts.

While we each bring our own unlived life into the in-between space where our subjectivities intersect, there is also a third thing, the field itself. It has its own autonomy and intelligence, and is an equal partner in the relationship.

This is the realm of Hermes, guiding the alchemist in her work, which is one of pure devotion – love of the materials in the vessel, and of the vessel itself.

In addition to the external other, there is also an “other” who is moving inside us, a misplaced piece of soul who has become split off from the totality. Just like external others, these ones also long to be known, held, and loved.

They are shape-shifters and will manifest in an infinite number of forms – as vivid emotions, dream images, somatic tenderness, and an aching for union, as they seek us as a vessel in which they can incarnate and come alive.

Relational alchemy unfolds not only with an external other but simultaneously with the dissociated figures of psyche and soma, who are linked in mysterious ways.

It is to the degree we are able to empathically attune, listen to, feel, and hold the emerging inner Other that we will be able to truly accompany those in our lives.

If we’re unable to attend with devotion to the inner darkness, chaos, and contradiction, we will never be able to practice intimacy with these same qualities as they are inevitably evoked by those we allow to matter to us.

Perhaps this evocation is the true role of the Beloved, to re-introduce us to the vastness, majesty, and the unshakeable wholeness of the tender human heart.



My next live online course will start in September - The Soul Alchemist: Trusting Your Inner Guidance. To receive information about the course, which will be sent out later in the summer, please sign up for my mailing list below. 

Thursday, June 27, 2024

All therapy is grief therapy


After meeting with people for all these years, it seems to me that all therapy is grief therapy when all is said and done. No matter what particular issue or complex that we’re working on, the ally of grief is nearby.

Its primordial home is in the deep soma, and from there emerges as the figures in our dreams, a burning in the heart, an emptiness in the belly, and as certain sort of homesickness and longing for union.

Grief is the ultimate shape-shifter and will appear in infinite forms as it seeks a vessel in which it might incarnate and indwell itself here, which it does by way of our bodies and nervous systems.

Not as an obstacle to our path, but as a radiant manifestation of the path itself.

In providing sanctuary and safe passage for the metabolization of grief, a bridge begins to form piece by piece which connects us with others and with all of life everywhere. We do not create or design this bridge but only bear witness to its qualities.

This bridge – or the open doorway – will look and feel differently for each of us, displaying unique color, fragrance, dimensions, and engraved symbolic expression. It is by way of embodied attunement that we will be able to see and sense the bridge and passage.

When we take the risk of allowing another person and allowing this life to truly matter to us, we open ourselves to be a location, or a vehicle for the purifying ally of grief to find its way into this world.

And to bring with it a firestorm of compassionate activity for the benefit of all beings.



Monday, June 17, 2024

Holding the figures of the unlived life


At times, the ground will fall away from underneath us and we’re unable to find the center. It’s the death of an old dream, of me and my life and how I was so sure it was supposed to turn out.

In these moments, we’re asked to place the entirety of our unlived life on an altar in front of us, and help the shattered soul-pieces to find their way into the next world.

Despite the temptation to prematurely transform, transcend, or rise above the material in the vessel, the invitation is by way of descent – into the body temple, to provide sanctuary and safe passage in which the grief can be alchemized, felt, and integrated.

This grieving unveils a process that the alchemists called the solutio, symbolized by salt and the flowing of tears – physical tears in the eyes and also tears of the subtle body, an aching, burning, and longing deep within the soul, weeping for union.

It’s so easy to conclude in these moments that something has gone wrong, that we’re not okay, and that we’ve been forsaken. This psychic groove is the legacy of familial, cultural, and intergenerational networks of trauma and wounding in attachment, held in in the somatic unconscious.

In moments when the figures of the unlived and unfelt arise within us, the neural network opens, is supple, porous, and becomes translucent and permeable, evidence of its own yearning to be re-encoded.

It is love that is the great re-encoder.

In order to break through the density of habitual consciousness and tangles in the soma, the subtle body, the soul must at times upset and dissolve the psychic status quo.

By turning inside out the dreams and fantasies of me and the life I thought I was living, we are taken into an open field where for just a moment we might be given a glimpse behind the veil, at what’s truly happening here and the intelligence which is orchestrating it.


Photo: catching the light, Southern Finland

My next live online course will start in September - The Soul Alchemist: Trusting Your Inner Guidance. To receive information about the course, which will be sent out later in the summer, please sign up for my mailing list below. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Solar and lunar cycles on the path of embodied transformation


In the cycle of death and rebirth – the archetypal basis of all healing and spiritual transformation – there are two aspects to that sequence, each being an equal portal on the journey of an embodied wholeness.

There’s the aspect of death, where a part of ourselves is no longer able to accompany us and must fall away: the putrefying of an old dream, of me and my life and how it was all supposed to turn out.

At the other pole is rebirth, renewal, and the emergence of new life.

It’s understandable that the rebirth aspect is the one we most welcome and are drawn to: healing, union, the coming back together of what which has fallen apart.

To embrace dissolution as path, as initiation, as a manifestation of the ally will feel contradictory and counter-instinctual. It will ache in the heart.

However, in many alchemical and mystical streams, dissolution and the death of the material (the known) is the very essence of the path and required for our perception (and subtle body) to be cleansed.

Rebirth is not possible without full participation in the process of death. There is no doorway in and through without embodiment to the cycles of grief. There is no union unless and until something has first been separated.

We see this experiential discovery for example in the writings of Rumi, St. John of the Cross, in Teresa of Avila’s vision of the interior castle.

This energetic movement of putrefaction, or of reorganization, is the Kali aspect of love, the body of a figure like Vajrakilaya in Tibet, or Mercurius in alchemy, the shadow side of God and the transpersonal Self.

This activity and specific manifestation of the Divine Ground plays a vital role in our individuation and awakening, but is not easy to be in relationship with. There’s no real reference point for that, including in a lot of our contemporary traditions, which remain oriented exclusively to the upward, clear, and ascending currents.

In addition are the currents of the divine descent, the illuminated black sun, the lunar cycles that unfold within the somatic unconscious as well as the soil in the deep earth, extending down into the shadowlands and underworld, with Persephone and others.



Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Into the holding environment


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

As the matrix of secure attachment, it provides the fertile, creative neural and psychic foundation from which we can explore reality, play within the imaginal world, and rest in unstructured states of being - wonder, awe, and the mysteries of Pure Being.

From within this centering, we’re able to venture out into the unknown, know experientially the full spectrum of the feeling body, and explore relationship with both inner and outer others.

Not having to hold it all together by way of our own effort, we relax into a holding which is always, already here; a holding which is so vast that it naturally contains momentary states of disintegration and “falling apart.” These states are no longer viewed as pathology, but as path.

Intimacy without fusion, closeness without engulfing, healthy attachment without impinging. This is the psychic soil from which a baby’s little brain and heart emerge into being. What a miracle. Real magic.

Holding manifests within psyche and soma, as interior pieces of soul companion one another; interpersonally through relationships where we take the risk to allow another to matter; as also transpersonally through containment by the Totality and Divine Ground.

In this way, the holding environment is wired into who and what we are. At times appearing inside, and at other times outside us, just like the Beloved itself, it will take any form – outrageous, wild, untamed – so that it may embody and incarnate itself through us as its vessel.



Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Matt's Resting Your Nervous System self-guided online course


The current times we are living in are unprecedented in so many ways. In addition to emotional, psychological, and physical stress, many of us are experiencing uncertainty and inner restlessness, an existential or even spiritual exhaustion that we may not be quite able to articulate.

But alongside this, there is also a glimmer of hope and possibility, a sense that something new is emerging, but not yet known. Many of the world’s great mystics, poets, and alchemists have noted that it is precisely during transitional times such as these when a doorway will appear.

This path of direct revelation unfolds by way of the human body. Now, more than ever, it is essential to find ways to rest our nervous systems, not only to manage traumatic stress and core soul-exhaustion, but to deepen our relationship with the earth, our hearts, and to reconnect with the sacredness of what it means to be a human being alive on the planet at this time.

My online course - Resting Your Nervous System: Embodying a Trauma-Sensitive Spirituality and Discovering a Felt Sense of Safety - is available in a self-guided home study format. Around 18 hours in length, it weaves together teachings and practices from the fields of relational neuroscience, depth and somatic psychologies, and the meditative traditions.

In Resting Your Nervous System, we’re not going to talk too much about neuroscience or brain anatomy. Please know that no previous knowledge (or even interest) in these things is necessary. Rather, it is my intention that the course be embodied and experiential – close and relevant to your lived experience.

I want to explore our nervous systems in a more “earthy” sort of way. The truth is that if you close your eyes and shift your awareness inside, you’re not going to find “a nervous system.” In this way, the nervous system is not some “thing” that exists inside you, or some abstract idea or scientific theory, but is actually a friend, a companion, an ally that walks with and accompanies you on your unique journey.

It is right there with you in your relationships, in your work and creative expression, as you wake up melancholic in the morning, meditate, do yoga, go shopping, pay your bills, gaze up at the night sky, come apart in a moment of overwhelm, fall in (or out of) love, or sit with a friend who is struggling.

Your nervous system has its own unique wisdom and ways of perceiving, sensing, and navigating the mystery. Along with your soul, spirit, body, and mind, it is an essential dimension of your inner family, a majestic partner with its rightful place in the larger ecology of what you are.

It is my hope that the course deepens your awareness of what it means for you to be alive at this time, touches what is most meaningful and important to you, opens new pathways of experience and perception, and evokes an embodied, felt sense of compassion and connection to yourself, others, and the world.

We could really use that about right now: embodied, sensitive, open, warm, empathic, kind human beings who can listen deeply to one another and inside themselves, and to open to the possibility that perhaps there is no such thing as “individual” healing or awakening, but only a healing or awakening that includes all sentient life.



Tuesday, May 14, 2024

The crystalline rooms within the center


To unveil the medicine inside the poison requires a shift in our interior center of gravity, into the Earth and the feeling body, with all our sensitivities by our side and available as doorway.

In this, we provide an inner temple where the unlived pieces of soul might arrive from the underworld and into immediate, embodied awareness.

In any moment, the beloved may appear to pull the rug out from underneath us and our most profound realizations, revealing an open, yet luminous center within the heart. An empty cup.

Perhaps this is the core function of the wild, untamed nature of love in our lives, to upset the psychic status quo and take us to the ground, as it’s only from there that our wholeness and non-separateness from life can be known.

To step all the way into this world and know its sacred nature directly requires that we no longer apologize for our doubt, confusion, and tenderness, and that we deeply question the cultural (and spiritual) fantasy that we’re never supposed to feel shaky, anxious, or uncertain.

Or that the emergence of these experiences, visitors from the blue places, is evidence that some cosmic error has occurred that must urgently be corrected, by some conceptual process or quickly scrambling to learn the latest techniques.

Instead, we open to the deepening revelation of the visitor and enter a conscious, embodied, and compassionate relationship with it.

The ally will shift shapes and appear in unexpected ways; in this way it is a trickster – living, moving, and breathing outside our ordinary knowing – arising and passing in the infinite expanse of the not-known.

The (sometimes aching) reality is that the emissaries of wholeness and completeness will enter through our sore places and our wounding, not to harm or take us down, but to reveal the nature of that interior castle that Teresa of Avila described, those crystalline rooms within the very center of our being.

These are the direct portals into our essential nature, whether we conceive of that as a union or oneness with God or the Divine, or direct, nonconceptual realization of the primordially-pure clear-light nature of the heart-mind.



Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Circle and spiral - the cycles of grief


Tending to grief is the essence of the wounded healer. Proving a sanctuary and safe passage for its unfolding – in the body, the psyche, and the nervous system – requires that we fall to the ground, at times, and weep.

Weep for the shattering, for the dying of a dream, for the entirety of the unlived life. For it is these tears that form the substance of the portal to joy.

Grief is not something we “get over,” but a partner we spin with, honor at times, argue with at others, and lament with as the cycles of our lives unfold.

We live in a world that has lost contact with the holy waters of reorganization. But to marginalize the experience of grief to work against nature. Out in the natural world, the earth grieves by way of her seasons. We can feel that grief in a rain drop, if we allow ourselves to be taken apart and put back together.

There is no endpoint to this restructuring, no final state of resolution where we land in some untouchable place, free from our embodied vulnerability, our somatic aliveness, and from more burning.

Rather, we find ourselves in what the alchemists called the rotatio, the holy rotation of vast cycles of rupture and repair that touch and open the human soul.

The soul is endless and the visitors of grief may companion us for a lifetime. But the grieving, orphaned ones of psyche and soma come not to harm, but to reveal. And to open a doorway into wholeness, mercy, and light.

Grief is not so much a process that we “make it through” and come out the other side fully intact, but a non-linear, purifying midwife of the unknown. It moves not by way of straight line, but by that of circle and spiral.



Monday, April 29, 2024

Grace as dissolver of the status quo


There are times in our lives when even our most precious beliefs and realizations fall apart and dissolve in front of our very eyes. What was so clear only days or weeks ago is transformed to dust.

Yellowed away by the alchemical putrefactio, me and my life and the way I was so sure it was supposed to turn out.

It’s tempting to conclude that something has gone wrong, some great cosmic error or mistake has occurred, we have failed, or we’ve been forsaken.

But this reassembling of our world is a sacred process and the path is everywhere. It is there in moments of holding it all together and it is equally there in moments when everything is falling apart.

In the fantasy that we have come to some resolution or “mastery” of the wildness and unending depths of the human heart, the beloved appears to turn the master into dust, which was precisely his or her role all along, a special arrow in her quiver. How tragic. What mercy.

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 unexpected and even bewildering to the part of us that believes it is in control.

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… causing us to see that perhaps we have no idea who and what we are, what a relationship is, what healing is, what the Divine is, and where we will find meaning.

As we deepen in our inquiry, we might start to see this activity of somatic and psychic restructuring as the expression of a certain kind of grace… not the sweet, flowy, and expansive grace that is our favorite kind, but a grace that is fierce and wild and can have a certain disassembling energy to it.

It’s the grace of Kali, or that of the wrathful Tibetan goddesses or the moon, a raging grace, a creative and destructive reorganization of consciousness. But it is grace nonetheless.

#healing #spirituality #psychotherapy #oneness #nonduality #tantra #meditation #yoga #spiritual #spiritualawakening #alchemy #alchemical #alchemist #mystic #mystical



Monday, April 22, 2024

Here in this body are the sacred rivers


The commitment to our immediate embodied experience is the most radical we could ever make. To fully participate in the unfolding of the feeling body – right here, right now, as it is – is the unknown and direct path into the love and freedom that we all so long for.

When sadness comes calling, grief appears, or shame arrives from behind the veil, they do so as ornaments of the heart, revealing a secret doorway into one of the essence-qualities of being, inviting us to come face-to-face with the goddess who guards that gate.

In the words of the great tantric sage Saraha, “Here in this body are the sacred rivers: here are the sun and moon as well as all the pilgrimage places… I have not encountered another temple as blissful as my own body.”

Whatever we are offered in this day – the beautiful, the challenging, the heartbreaking, the painful – may we take the risk to know it fully, inside and out, dual and nondual, and to infuse it with our embodied presence. Even if it takes us to dust…

As we pilgrimage through the cells of the heart, we bear witness to its secrets, its nonconceptual wisdom-essence, and sail down the sacred rivers which reveal the currents and subtle pathways, as they craft this precious human body.

And behold the movement of love as it washes through every organ, reorganizing our entire somatic sensual reality into a vessel of spacious kindness and attuned empathic presence, filled with a profound care for this life and for all beings everywhere.

Each individual human heart is differentiated yet somehow non-separate from the great Heart, a unique vessel through which one of the qualities of love may arrive here and find its way into a world that so badly needs it.



Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Sophia and into the alchemical vessel


I had a dream recently where Sophia (in her form as a Western yidam/ dakini) appeared and showed me a circle. It emerged in the space between she and I, but at the same time was in the center of my heart.

Every aspect of my life – my relationships, my strange body bodily symptoms, creativity, unlived grief, intergenerational trauma grooves, clear light realization, unintegrated shadow – it was all circumambulating around the center and pointing back toward it.

The feeling-sense and imagery was of scattered pieces of soul coming back into linking, revealing their relationship with the center and with one another.

There’s this experience of living in the mandala, where we’re living with the Self as an inner partner, revealing how that orienting principle continues to manifest itself as the phenomenal world.

Whatever image appears – the alchemical vessel, the mandala, Winnicott’s holding environment, the secret chamber within the heart – contains the radiant expressions of wholeness, ornaments of totality.

The hermetically-sealed vessel of the alchemist, signed with the seal of Hermes, the trickster who is ever-revealing the linking and connections within and between the personal and transpersonal Self.

I was drawn toward what Sophia was showing me, as I usually am, but at the same time hesitant, shaky, unsure, a trepidation… because of the implications. Because of the death required.

But even so, to see and feel into that containment, how we’re being held and surrounded as we make the journey, especially in these times when the ground can so easily fall out from underneath us.




Monday, March 18, 2024

The heart knows


The specific forms that love take in our lives arise and pass in time, for this is the way of form. Time is the great dissolver. But love itself is that which never comes and goes.

We never know what form love will choose to take in the future, for there is no love in the future. Love is only now. But it can take a cleansing of perception to see through the veil, behind the scenes where love is always at work… giving birth to one of its forms, one of its children, while recycling and dissolving another.

If we become too fused with a specific form we believe we need love to take—a particular person or way of finding purpose and meaning—our heart will inevitably break when love obliterates that form for something new, which it always will. This shattering is the great gift of form, evidence not of error and mistake, but of wholeness and profound compassion.

This dissolution and reorganization is a special kind of grace that the conventional mind struggles to know. But the heart knows. The body knows.

May we be grateful for the forms of love while they appear, standing in awe at the ways the beloved takes expression within this chaotic, messy, and glorious sanctuary of time and space. While simultaneously allowing the forms to make their own journey, to depart this place and move into another realm.

While we may have a bias for unity, union, and oneness, the Beloved will manifest itself equally as multiplicity and differentiation. Each of these are equal ornaments of its presence as it unfolds and incarnates into the world of time and space, finding its way into the secret chamber within the human heart.

Conscious, embodied, devoted engagement with multiplicity and differentiation is just as holy and sacred as attunement to oneness; each are pieces of the divine body.

Monday, March 11, 2024

VIDEO: Safety on the Spiritual Path, Relational Trauma, and Tending to the Lost Orphans of Psyche and Soma


We can’t ask the spiritual path to always feel safe, at a feeling level, as it is oriented in the archetype of death and rebirth. When it comes to trauma, however, safety is everything.

It’s vital that our relationship with spirituality and healing not remain generalized and abstract, but concrete and embodied; we can’t open our hearts to a concept, to an abstraction.

But we can ask psyche to image itself, to appear as a figure and to enter into relationship with that figure, hold them, and help them to return home.

We can’t stay on the sidelines in a safe position of “witnessing” our deepest unresolved experience; those interior ones carrying that experience have no interest in our clear witnessing, but only in our embodied, ensouled presence.

>>Access a free webinar from Matt - Turning the Light: The Mystery of Presence and Attuning the Creative Unknown 

Saturday, March 9, 2024

An element of the mystery


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 who we find there.

As our personal and collective ancestors, they have something to share with us, that needs to be incarnated, indwelled, and embodied in this time, an element of the mystery that has been forgotten in a world that has grown weary.

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.

The gates inside the mandala, that once used to be visible, are now hidden. They can no longer be see with the eyes, but only with the heart.

These gates cannot be revealed if we already know what is “real” and what is “true,” or if we’ve mistaken the map for the territory.

Inside the 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. Along with the lost joy, wonder, beauty, and awe.

Here, in the center, the wound is opened and no longer bandaged, which is what allows the tincture to enter. The wound need not be cured, transformed, or even healed but allowed to reveal.

The feast is laid out before us, sprinkled throughout the inner and outer oceans, stars, forests, and beams of moonlight; and all through the eyes of the one in front of us. 


Photo by Erik Mclean




Monday, March 4, 2024

2024 Spirituality & Healing group - closing to new members on Wednesday, March 6


Dear friend, 

I’ve been receiving some questions about whether it’s still possible to join the new 2024 Spirituality & Healing online inner work group and community that started a few weeks ago.

We have decided to re-open enrollment up until the start of the first live session in March (Thursday, March 7). At that time, the community will remain closed for the remainder of the year, so that the group can make the journey together in a contained, boundaried, and cohesive way (the sealed vessel in alchemy, the vas hermeticum).

If you do choose to join now, you’ll be able to catch up on what you missed in February by reviewing the videos, meditations, and teachings for the month, and join us for our ongoing live sessions. Remember that you need not participate live to fully enjoy the benefits and support of the group; many are not able to do so due to other life commitments.

I 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 (re)commit to our healing and spiritual path in a new and deeper way, with the support, holding, and containment of a dynamic relational field.

Over the last 30 years (including many years in meditation and my own therapy, analysis, and supervision), I’ve come to see how important it is to bring together the essence of psychological healing, working with early trauma, the wisdom of the body and nervous system, and spiritual and meditative realization together to catalyze a truly integral approach.

We’ll spend the year making a deep dive into the nature of a contemporary, embodied spirituality, in a safe, nurturing, and provocative holding environment, with friends and fellow travelers around the world. I’d love to have you join us.

You can learn more about the new group and community here:

>>Learn more about Matt Licata’s Spirituality & Healing inner work group and community

If you have any questions, please write to support@mattlicataphd.com.

Thank you again for your interest in your own unique path of transformation and healing. I hope to see you online soon or to stay in touch in other ways over the months to come. Please take care of yourself.

With appreciation,

Matt 



Saturday, March 2, 2024

The path is everywhere


There are times when the ground will fall out from underneath us, when an old dream dies… me and my life and the way I was so sure it would turn out. A person we thought would be with us forever, meaning in our work and creativity, even our deepest realizations… shattered into the vast.

An invitation is presented into the landscape of grief, into the purifying waters of lamentation, deep into a well which has been hidden in soul. But this structure can be seen, felt, and sensed, by way of engagement with the imaginal.

Once located, we can sit by that well and grieve the ending of one world so that another may begin.

The well is located in the very center of the mandala, which is paradoxically where we always, already are, but it can be so easy to lose track of our home base, whether imaged as the palace of the soul, the light of the spirit, or the ventral passageways of the holy human nervous system.

The path is everywhere but it can take slowing down and a cleansing of perception for this revelation to ground in our bodies. Our sensitivities, vulnerabilities, and eccentricities are not obstacles to our path, but are the very path itself.

It is natural to long and ache and burn for answers, but at times we’re taken into the vastness of the question and asked to stay there.

In the language of alchemy, transmutation is a process where the lead of habitual consciousness is converted into the emerald, silver, and gold of aliveness, creativity, and new vision.

This unfolding evokes the image of the elusive philosopher’s stone, the ruby red doorway into the mystery and the majesty of inner and outer nature.

The stone is here now but is outside ordinary view, and longs in its own way to come here and share its qualities and fragrances. Hidden in the moon, in the sand, in the stars, and the heart-cells, it wants you as its vessel.



Saturday, February 24, 2024

The ancestors and the unlived life


Deep in the somatic unconscious, the ancestors continue to live within us, emerging-into-now by way of their sensitivities and gifts, as well as through the shards of their unlived lives.

Their lost joy, broken dreams, and unfulfilled creativity have a way of taking up residency in our cell tissue, subtle bodies, and in our bellies and hearts.

As we enter into the mandala of descent – downward into body, mud, roots, and Earth – these ones begin to appear: as symbol, image, feeling, and synchronicity. They have a way of shifting shapes in order to find us, through color, tree, water, and sound.

What is it that we’re carrying on their behalf? What dreams remain undreamed and unmanifested for them? What are their deepest longings? What secrets have they never been able to share?

What keeps them awake at night? What brings them alive and unleashes their creativity and unique essence? What visions are not permitted to take form, of the divine within and of the divine world?

What were they required to disown in order to fit in to a place that had lost its sensitivity and soul? What became buried in the shadows? What story were they unable to tell, what feelings were they unable to feel?

In what way are we being asked to open a portal into re-emergence, re-enchantment, and revisioning?

As we open to receive this offering, an inner sanctuary forms to illuminate and transmute this transgenerational soul-material. Inside that structure, the seemingly solid lines between past, present, and future begin to fall away.

Being “in the present moment,” we share this moment with the ancestral ones and the spirts of the Earth who are with us.

In this way, past, present, and future co-emerge and interpenetrate, opening a diamond-like passageway into the mysteries of self and other, being and becoming, and a new alchemy of separation and union.

The individual self is an emanation, a manifestation, and an ornament of the Totality, a unified expression of the clear-light nature. Unique and differentiated, while at the same time non-separate and one.



Saturday, February 17, 2024

Overwhelm and the inner friend


In moments of overwhelm - when we’re unable to access the internal resources or relational support to process what we’re experiencing – fragmented shards of emotion and pieces of soul are stored outside conscious awareness in soma and shadow holding areas, where they remain available for metabolization at a future time.

Though out of conscious awareness, this material continues to color our perception and polish our heart with its energies and fragrances. In its unilluminated form, it affects our capacity to feel, play, imagine and dream.

Prior to the ages of 4 or 5, we’re not able to repress that which is potentially shattering and have no choice but to experience it directly, or sequester it deep in the underworld, by way of those more archaic defenses of dissociation and splitting.

The lost ones who carry the material for us long to release this burden and return home. Sometimes we hear or sense them around us; they appear in our dreams, fantasies, and unexpected moods and physical symptoms.

At times they even appear as natural phenomena - the sun, moon, wilted flower, or star - even as our lovers, friends, and (real-life) children.

An alchemical, cellular healing would then require that we send our awareness and devotion into the neural-soul network which is holding the shattered one, containing its unlived life, and infuse that network with qualities that weren’t available at the time of the fragmentation - empathy, warmth, centering, and companionship.

Where, instead of disintegration, there is reintegration. Instead of dissociation, re-association. Instead of a necessary dis-embodiment, re-embodiment. A re-imagining where imagination was once foreclosed. A relinking of psyche-soma.

At the root of this wounding is the absence of a companion to make the journey with us, the Friend that we long for to bear witness as the shards disassemble and then come back together.

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, living with it as an inner partner, in its infinite forms and expressions in your life. Though it can seem otherwise, the Friend may be nearer than we think.



Saturday, February 10, 2024

Into the healing temple


The tragedy of relational wounding presents itself as a cellular fragmenting, more primordial than a mere cognitive dissonance, neurally-encoded and rooted in the soma-soul temple.

Here, we simultaneously long for and are terrified of “the Other,” not knowing whether to move toward or turn away. This sort of disorientation runs through the entirety of our psychic and bodily circuitry.

For a young child, the attachment figure is God(dess), magician, and idealized best friend - without them, the end is near. But when this figure is also the very source of terror for the little one – or are traumatized themselves – we find ourselves in uncharted waters.

It takes everything to sit in this field with another who has been touched in this way, an “other” outside us as well as the “other” within. If we really allow that in, the vessel may shatter.

In addition to empathic failure and narcissistic injury which goes to the very core of our sense of self, even more devastating is a deep, cellular knowing that “I’m alone in this.” The absence of companionship, the lost friend, is at the heart of trauma and devastating to a human being wired to rest and play within a relational field.

To provide even a sliver of hope, a moment of safety, where the other can feel felt and understood; just one moment when there can be a relinking, re-association, and re-imagining; to bring into the shared neural network a new experience, can soothe, repair, and open a new way forward.

Never underestimate the power of love and what we can do to help, listening and trying to understand how another is making sense of their experience and the meaning it has for them.

Attuning not only to the verbal narrative, but the story of the body and of the soul, of the shattered spirit. It, too, has a story to tell, but by way of image, dream, feeling, and symbol.

And to provide a sanctuary in which it can all be illuminated and held.

In the inner room of that temple, we may notice that the veil that appears to separate self and other begins to fall away, revealing the beauty and the mystery of this place and the endless depths of the human heart.




Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Starting Soon: Matt's 2024 yearlong Spirituality & Healing group


Dear friends, 

My new 2024 (yearlong) Inner Work Group & Community will be getting started later this week on Thursday. We’ll meet live a few times each month, entering into a holding relational field, and explore together the mysteries of spirituality and healing.


The vision for the group is to spend a year slowing down and attuning to the depths of who and what we are, listening to the wisdom of our bodies and emotions, opening to the imaginal, resting our nervous systems, and attuning to our essential nature.

We’ll explore an embodied, soulful, psychologically- and emotionally-grounded spirituality that includes not only meditative and transpersonal experience, but also the realities of our relational wounding.

And how the entirety of our unlived life, all of the unprocessed and unmetabolized somatic, emotional, neural, and imaginal material is a (required) doorway to the sacred.

And how the real power, mercy, and grace of this work is a felt-discovery that this material is not in the way of our healing and awakening, not obstacles to our path for us to enter into some imaginary battle with, but are the very path itself.

We can’t just accept this as yet another spiritual aphorism or wise sounding saying for us to believe in; it has to come alive in the very fiber of our being, in our muscles and cells, in our nervous systems and in our hearts, in our relationships, in our bellies and in our imagination.

Our live sessions will involve a practice of embodied attunement, to ourselves, one another, to our world, and also to the mystery itself, to the Ally, the Friend, and the Inner Guide, who we may discover is closer than we have ever thought.



Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Free live webinar with Matt next Thursday the 25th


I'll be presenting a free live webinar on January 25 at 9am PT/ 5pm in London, on "Turning the Light: The Mystery of Presence and Attuning to the Creative Unknown."

>> Register for the webinar at no cost here 

It’s so easy to lose contact with the experience of mystery and aliveness, where we’re spending time each day in play with reality, and in those nourishing organic embodied states of imagination, awe, wonder, and the joy of Being itself.

Things have gotten so speedy, shaky, and uncertain in the collective. It’s as if there’s a slow drip of cortisol or adrenaline coming out of the matrix and into our sensitive bodies and nervous systems.

It’s vital that we take time each day to slow down, to shift our awareness out of the collective trance and the urgency of the spin, and into the body, the heart, and the imaginal world, where we can truly listen to the Soul and the guidance it has for us.

During our time together, I’ll speak about:

-- Stepping out of the matrix of the collective and attuning to the wisdom of the body and the imagination

-- Creating an inner holding environment for ourselves and the scattered pieces of soul in times of transition, liminality, and stress

-- The mysterious link between relational trauma, a broken heart, and the sacred; the wounded healer and the path of initiation

-- Trusting in the soul and the ways it relentlessly and wildly pulls us toward wholeness, including by way of our sensitivities and “symptoms”

I look forward to spending some time with everyone on Thursday, January 25!



To learn more about Matt's upcoming 2024 Inner Work Group & Community, please visit the information page here

Friday, January 12, 2024

Matt's 2024 Spirituality and Healing group


My 2024 Inner Work Group & Community is now open for a limited time. 

>>Learn more about the group and community here

The vision and the intention for the group and community is to discover a healing relational field in which, together, we can move into the unknown and explore the mysteries of an embodied, emotionally-alive, imaginal, relational spirituality.

One that includes not only attunement to meditative and transpersonal experience, but also the depths of what it means to be an open, sensitive human being who has been touched by relational wounding, attachment and narcissistic injury, loss, and betrayal.

For the truth is that we've all been given experience in this life which has overwhelmed our capacity to process and metabolize it. As a result, it has come to be held in the body, in the imaginal field, and in subcortical circuitry, awaiting ripe (love) conditions when it can return in the holding of a new consciousness.

To paraphrase Jung, not only a path of imagining figures of light, but one of making the darkness conscious – to go into the body-vessel and to illuminate the pieces of soul and the lost orphans of psyche and soma, and to help them back home, as portals into Being.

In this way, we provide a sanctuary for the entirety of our unlived life and all of the unprocessed and unmetabolized somatic, emotional, neural, and imaginal material to come back into consciousness, into the body, where it can disclose its wisdom, creativity, and essence.

This path of illumination, holding, and making sense of our experience in a new way is an experiential process that must come alive in the very fiber of our being, in our muscles and cells, in our nervous systems and in our hearts, in our bellies and in our imagination. As we dream a new dream, and to be dreamed by the Great Dreamer (herself).

And, together, as relational beings, in a way that isn’t always possible on our own, to perceive and listen to the Self, the Guide, and the Ally, which can reveal itself within the interactive field, and to receive its wisdom and guidance.

From the side of the psychotherapeutic traditions, we will tend to the wounds around love; while from the meditative/ spiritual, to explore our essential being; and also open into the imaginal world, the province of soul, that in-between liminal area where a new kind of healing and self-realization may emerge.



Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Free live video meeting with Matt - Thursday, January 25

 


I'll be presenting a free live webinar on January 25 at 9am PT/ 5pm in London, on "Turning the Light: The Mystery of Presence and Attuning to the Creative Unknown."

It’s so easy to lose contact with the experience of mystery and aliveness, where we’re spending time each day in play with reality, and in those nourishing organic embodied states of imagination, awe, wonder, and the joy of Being itself.

Things have gotten so speedy, shaky, and uncertain in the collective. It’s as if there’s a slow drip of cortisol or adrenaline coming out of the matrix and into our sensitive bodies and nervous systems.

It’s vital that we take time each day to slow down, to shift our awareness out of the collective trance and the urgency of the spin, and into the body, the heart, and the imaginal world, where we can truly listen to the Soul and the guidance it has for us.

During our time together, I’ll speak about:
  • Stepping out of the matrix of the collective and attuning to the wisdom of the body and the imagination
  • Creating an inner holding environment for ourselves and the scattered pieces of soul in times of transition, liminality, and stress
  • The mysterious link between relational trauma, a broken heart, and the sacred; the wounded healer and the path of initiation
  • Trusting in the soul and the ways it relentlessly and wildly pulls us toward wholeness, including by way of our sensitivities and “symptoms”
I look forward to spending some time with everyone on Thursday, January 25. 






Vulnerability, intimacy, and aliveness


It can take a lot of practice, mercy, and an unwavering love of the truth to explore the various strategies we employ to take ourselves out of feelings we don’t want to feel.
To encode new circuitry requires a real devotion – to soul, to the materials arising within the body-vessel, and to the alchemical experiment itself.

At times, it will seem as if we are inside the vessel, fused with the orphans of psyche and soma; at other times, as if we’re watching on the outside. At other times, as if self, soul-piece, and vessel are one.

For each of us, there are certain felt experiences that have come to be associated with unworkable anxiety, triggering a survival-level sort of panic. In response, pathways are put in place to get away from the underlying vulnerability and back to safe ground.

This was once a lifesaving response, an early attempt at self-compassion, and can be respected. In the dissociative split away from the tender, however, we cut ourselves off from the aliveness we so long for.

In a moment of emotional activation, when we notice we’re starting to fall down the rabbit hole, sensing the familiar claustrophobia, the voices are getting louder, we can use this as an invitation into the experiment. The doorway to the laboratory is opened.

In one moment of recognition, we can pause, slow down, feel our feet on the ground. Things are not always what they appear.

Slowly, one moment at a time, with the help of the breath and the Ally, we can return into our embodied vulnerability, find the one there who is longing for us, hold them, listen to them, and ask them to show us what it is they need.

In this, we cut into the habitual momentum and trance of self-abandonment. We begin to see that the intimacy and aliveness can only emerge in our willingness to touch the vulnerability and provide sanctuary for its embodied metabolization.

Vulnerability and aliveness are not-two, and co-emerge together, each a pathway into the other, interpenetrating and balancing each other in union.

Saturday, January 6, 2024

Falling apart and coming back together


Allowing ourselves to fall apart, to deintegrate, to de-fold, and then come back together in more cohesive ways is the very essence of the alchemical unfolding of the soul.

Me and my life and who I’ve come to imagine myself to be… the death of an old dream, how it was all supposed to turn out: what a relationship is, what will bring me meaning, what the substance of this world is.

To participate in this cycle without pathologizing or prematurely transcending it is the activity of love. And will ache and burn as in the body and the heart, and can turn us to dust. But that dust is of the golden.

Death and rebirth are not two separate processes, but one, death-rebirth. They co-arise and co-interpenetrate.

The Divine, or the Beloved is not only present in states of union and oneness, but unfolds itself by way multiplicity and differentiation, incarnating its body in and as ours. It is the at the same time the alchemical vessel and the materials inside that vessel.

Form is equally as holy as the formless. It is in that union that the mystery reveals.

Inevitably, ruptures will occur within the relational field, in that tender intersection between ourselves and another, and between the shadow and light parts within us. These ruptures are natural, creative, and carriers of quantum-potential wholeness.

The invitation is into the aliveness of paradox and contradiction, into intimacy without fusion, not unconscious merging into some homogenized leaky middle.

Embodiment to the cycle of rupture and repair, and containing it in the heart, is what allows the relationship (to Self, Other, and Divine) to unfold, deepen, and disclose its secret essence.




Thursday, January 4, 2024

Into the mandala 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.

Tuesday, January 2, 2024

Matt Licata's new 2024 Inner Work Group & Community


Dear friend,

I wanted to let you know that the new 2024 online Inner Work Group & Community is now open for enrollment for a limited time. We'll be getting started officially on Thursday, February 1.

You can learn more about the group and sign up here:

>>Learn more about Matt's new 2024 online Inner Work Group & Community

We'll meet live three times each month to explore the nature of an embodied, soulful, trauma-sensitive approach to spiritual transformation and healing, integrating the fields of depth and somatic psychotherapies with the wisdom and experiential discoveries of the yogis, mystics, and alchemists.

It is not necessary to attend live in order to participate fully in the teachings, meditations, and holding of the relational field itself. Many are not able to attend live due to other commitments.

To stay up to date on details regarding the group, please be sure to sign up for my mailing list.

I hope to see you inside the course soon.

Warmly,

Matt

P.S. If you're already a member of the group, please stay tuned for details on how to continue (or unsubscribe), or write to the team at support@mattlicataphd.com. You do not need to re-register via this new link.