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.