I am now taking private clients. If you would like a Skype session, please contact me. I am experienced in working with clients in a professional setting, and I usually use a combination of Living Inquiries, Vortex Healing, and sometimes Tension and Trauma Release Exercises (TRE). I am certified in these and have a graduate degree in psychology. See testimonials from clients.
Welcome to Mystery of Existence.
These writings are a record of my own explorations, and will perhaps be of interest to you too.
Feel free to share your insights and comments, or ask questions.
June 2015 update: I am working on an eBook with a selection of posts from this blog. To help my selection, I have added a rating system. Feel free to rate. Thanks!
November 2015 update: I have the book idea(s) on the back burner for the time due to health and other life circumstances.
There is a simple secret to be happy. Just let go of your demands on this moment.
To me, this is an invitation to see what in me is scared of letting go of demands on this moment. Where in my body do I feel it? How is it to include that in what’s noticed, allowed, and rested with? What are the stories (images, words) connected with it?
Where in my body do I feel it? How is it to include that in what’s noticed, allowed, and rested with?
And then…. What are the stories (images, words) connected with it? What am I most scared would happen? What is my earliest memory of feeling this fear?
As long as we remain tangled in the trance of unworthiness, we will inevitably postpone fully being here, and continue to place the burden on others to take care of our unlived lives for us. Which they cannot do.
Look carefully and you will see how the unmet material of your body, your heart, and your nervous system continue to appear as your lovers, your friends, and your family. As your perception is cleansed, you may see how it takes form even as the colors in an erupting summer sunset.
While the trance once served an important adaptive function, the dream has remained alive within you and is longing for the light of your awareness. Like all harbingers of integration, the dream is aching to be unwound and integrated back into the majestic vastness that you are.
The aliveness you are longing for – the intimacy, the connection, the full-spectrum participation – is always, already here, and available now. You need no longer wait until you first “heal your past,” feel safe all the time, manifest your fantasy partner or career, replace the hopelessness with hope, find the answers to all your questions, or wiggle into some spiritual state you heard about. It is here now.
Honor the role that the dream characters have played in your life up to this point – the unlovable one, the unworthy one, the “broken” one, and the “unhealed” one. You need not struggle with them any longer. You can call off the war. You need not send them away, practice aggression toward them, “heal” them, or “let them go.” For they will let go of you when they are no longer needed to protect you from the surging, achy, tender aliveness of your very own vulnerable heart.
To let in the implications of this is utterly exhilarating. And completely terrifying simultaneously. One world is ending so that the true world may appear from behind the clouds of separation.
– Matt Licata
Very beautiful and a valuable pointer.
When I got the strong chronic fatigue a few years ago, I had a fear of never being able to work again. I saw myself alone, homeless, shunned, pitiful, suffering.
For a long time, I pushed away those images, thoughts, and feelings. I was aware of them but didn’t want to see them or go into them. That’s normal and understandable. And if it means avoiding conscious obsessing, it’s even healthy.
At some point, I realized I had to face these scary thoughts and feelings. I couldn’t avoid them anymore. So I played out the scenario. I saw myself in that situation, played it out to what I feared the most, and was present with the images and feelings. And it didn’t seem so scary anymore. I had already lived it in my imagination. It became more familiar and known. I didn’t need to spend so much energy resisting it since I had already met it and played it out.
When I was five or six years old, I was in London on vacation with my parents. At the end of a long day of walking in parks, in museums, and along streets, I was completely exhausted. The one thing I was looking forward to was having a can of coke. (We didn’t have cans of coke in Norway at the time.) We went to a street vendor, he only had bottles, and I had a complete meltdown.
I did an inquiry session on this, and a lot came up. Deep despair. Grief. Sadness. Hopelessness. Anger. Frustration. A feeling of not being seen. (They didn’t take into account how exhausted I was.) Even a deep survival fear from being completely exhausted, not feeling seen, and not getting the one thing I felt I needed and had looked forward to.
There was also a wish to punish them for making me so exhausted and not seeing how exhausted I was. This comes from a mix of hurt and anger, and it’s really a wish for communication. For them to understand and take it seriously.
I see how this deep disappointment and all the other emotions and identities have come up in situations in my life since, especially around relationships.
Our beliefs and identities tend to be self-fulfilling. We perceive through the filter of these beliefs and identities. We act as if they are true. And, to some extent, we get the consequences as if they are true.
For instance, one of my core beliefs is of missing out. I am missing out.
If I get caught up in that belief and the feelings that come with it – sadness, grief, hopelessness – then I’ll be less engaged. I’ll be less active in seeking out what I want. And that means I’ll miss out. I believe I miss out, so I miss out.
Sometimes, an inquiry client is aware of a charged story but not where they feel it.
In that case, some pointers can be helpful.
Does the client feel it all over the body? (They may look for it in a more limited area.)
Do they feel it in the face or head? (They may look for it in the torso.)
Do they feel it somewhere, but dismiss it as something else? (Stomach ache, headache, itching, pressure that they think is due to something else.)
If they were to point to where they feel it, where would they point? (Without thinking about it in advance.) Do they notice feeling it there?
From my late teens, I have known that I have dampness in my system according to Chinese medicine.
I assume it’s connected to some of my health challenges, including the fatigue and brain fog.
Adam S. has given me Vortex Healing sessions to strengthen and optimize my system, and he has started working on the dampness more directly. After that, we’ll work on the emotional issues behind it which he says seems to be a sense of deep aloneness and feeling sorry for myself. (“I am totally alone, nobody is here for me, it’s all just horrible”.)
I see that these are also connected to beliefs and identities about missing out and being unloved.
About the dampness, I have noticed since my teens that dry and warm climates work much better for me than cold and damp, fireplaces are helpful when it’s cold or damp, and it’s also much better for me to avoid foods like dairy, sugar, and bananas.
Through inquiry, the charge in what we explore often lessens or goes away.
And that makes it easier to relate to it in a more intentional and sane way. We are less caught by the charge, and less caught in a struggle with the charge.
That is a very practical and sensible reason for doing inquiry, for exploring how my mind creates its experience of something charged – whether it’s an emotion, craving, threat, identity, discomfort, or something else.
And if you have the sickening feeling this is only the beginning, you’re not alone. Trump, I’ve often said, is a manifestation of Loki, the god of misrule. Misrule breeds chaos. Chaos breeds violence. A political party that chooses Loki for its leader is a political party with a rank-and-file choosing chaos.
– from Trump is Loki in Commentary Magazine
This is from a few weeks ago, and it’s only one facet, but it’s still a good point.
Trump seems to delight in creating chaos, and he is more than willing to say untruths in order to create chaos. It gets people riled up, whether they latch onto what he says out of their own anger, or whether they react to it in disbelief and anger.
We are on the same team, the unpleasant experience and me.
It makes a big difference when I get to see this, and to the extent I recognize it.
We both want freedom from the suffering. And, really, what we want is to be free to experience what’s here.
It comes from a wish to protect this human self. It comes from a deep caring. It comes from love.
We are both presence. Consciousness. Love. We happen within and as presence.
The unpleasant experience can be an emotion, a body contraction, scary thoughts, emotional pain, physical pain, cravings, discomfort, uneasiness, and more. And although it may help to (think we) know this, what really helps is exploring it and see what we find. Is it true that we are on the same team? What do I find when I take a closer look? When I explore it through dialogue, heart explorations, inquiry? When I gently rest with it?
If you have come here to help me you are wasting your time, but if you have come because your liberation is tied up with mine, then let us work together.
– Lila Watson, Aboriginal Activist, 1970s
As we deepen into inquiry, questions sometimes spontaneously arise to meet our experience. A couple of days ago, I was inquiring into ‘wrongness’, both within me and beyond me, and the words, ‘I’m not supposed to be this’ came up, accompanied by a huge feeling of failure. Everything I was supposed to have, everything I was supposed to be, all of it failed. After feeling it all, this question came: ‘what if it were okay to be this?’
Even the question itself was a little shocking, as if I’d never entertained the possibility that being this could ever be okay. Then came the answers: well, it it were okay to be this, I’d be content. I’d relax. I’d have more fun. If it is okay to be this, then that’s been a whole song and dance about nothing.
The question has stayed with me. Yesterday, on my way to the dentist, I felt anxious. What if it were okay to be anxious? Oh….well, that kind of takes the wind out of the sails of the self and all it is supposed to do or not do in order to be or not be what it’s supposed to be. Or not.
Oh, the tangles we tie ourselves up in. And the relief and simplicity that dawns when we ask a disentangling question. We can’t know ahead of time which question will resonate most in any given moment, so keep looking and experimenting. It’s the willingness to keep looking, more than anything else, that is key.
– Fiona Robertson on FaceBook
Here is one way to explore what in my experience appears as an enemy, whether it’s an emotion, a state, emotional or physical pain, or something else.
Thank you for protecting me.
Thank you for your care for me.
Thank you for your love for me.
I repeat each sentence long enough so I start to feel it and then deepen into it. I may also get some insights into how the emotion, state, or pain is there to protect me, or comes from a deep caring for me, or a love for me, whichever one it is. Then move on to the next sentence.
It helps me shift my relationship from seeing it as an enemy to befriending it, and seeing how it’s genuinely there to protect me, and comes from a deep caring for me, and love for me.
It’s helpful to stay with each sentence for a while before moving on to the next one. If I do it too quickly, or try to skip a step, then the jump from where I am to recognizing it as coming from a wish to protect, and especially that it’s coming from caring and love, may be too big. When I stay with each one for a while, I can ease into it and start to feel and see it.
When I say the sentences, it’s while resting with the emotion, state, or pain. Within presence, noticing, allowing.
Military over-extension marks the decline of many empires. Currently, the US is a good example.
At the beginning of the Iraq war, Johan Galtung said the war would shorten the life of the US empire with a decade or more, and that may well be true if it’s not an under-estimate. Of course, the decline is and will probably be gradual and somewhat slow with no one obvious ending point.
It’s interesting how many in the US seem to be in denial that the US is an empire, which also means they are in denial of the current decline and inevitable fall of the US empire.
Just to be clear, this is about the US losing its international significance, not the immediate breakdown of the US as a nation. Although given enough time, that too is inevitable, as it is for everything and everyone.
I also wrote about this in my “rants” blog around the time of the GW Bush version of the Iraq war.
Sometimes I look forward to something and it doesn’t happen.
I feel disappointed. Sometimes, I even feel heartbroken.
I know and sense it’s old and not really about the current situation, and it feels a bit childish to get so disappointed. That may be a reason I haven’t thoroughly looked at this yet. The embarrassment and the thought “it’s childish” serve as gatekeepers for entering and exploring the wound behind it.
I recently had this disappointment triggered again.
The situation triggering disappointment, what does it say about me? What do I tell myself about me in that situation?
I am missing out.
I am unloved. I am uncared for.
I am alone.
These thoughts are familiar to me and came easily. I want to see what more is here.
Others have more fun than me. They are enjoying life more than me. They are getting something I am missing out of.
My life is not worth living. It’s hopeless. It will be like this forever. I am unloved by God. I am unloved by life.
This second set of thoughts are also familiar to me, but I hadn’t seen that they were behind this disappointment and the emotions and states that came with it.
What’s my earliest memory of feeling so disappointed?
I am 6-8 years old and in London on vacation with my parents. I am exhausted from a long day walking around in parks and galleries, and I want and am looking forward to my favorite thing which is coca cola in a can. (We didn’t have coke cans in Norway.) The street vendor doesn’t have it, and I am grief-stricken and angry. My parents buy me a souvenir knife (a small folding knife with ivory on it and a picture of a beef eater). I throw it hard at the ground.
If I bring myself back to that situation, what does it say about me?
Life is over. My life has no meaning. I am unloved. I am uncared for. Life is against me.
Seeing these thoughts, I also see that it makes sense I felt the way I did. The sadness, grief, hopelessness, frustration, and anger didn’t make sense in the context of the current triggering situation, but they do in the context of this early situation where I was worn out and had looked forward to one thing that I didn’t get.
These thoughts spun around in my mind, and although I was not consciously aware of them I certainly experienced their effects in terms of emotions, moods, and states. As I identified these thoughts and wrote them down, I got to see what created these feelings and states, and I got to see that it all makes sense and that it has to do with early experiences in my life. I got to see the innocence of it all. And there is some relaxing of these dynamics just from identifying the thoughts and seeing the innocence of it.
Some inquiry clients report a knowing but no words or images. They know that a feeling is X (a threat, the one who isn’t good enough, a craving for sugar), but are not aware of any images or words connected with it.
There are words or images there, otherwise, there wouldn’t be a knowing. Without a story, a feeling would just be sensations.
One way to help the client explore this is to ask them to translate the knowing into words.
If the feeling could speak, what would it say?
What words fit the feeling?
What does the feeling mean?
This gives the client something to work on. He or she can look at or listen to the words, and in that way begin to separate the story from the sensations.
The reverse of this is when a client is aware of the story, but say they don’t feel it anywhere. In that case, some other pointers can be helpful. For instance, does the client feel it all over the body? (They may look for it in a more limited area.) Do they feel it in the face or head? (They may look for it in the torso.) Do they feel it somewhere, but dismiss it as something else? (Stomach ache, headache, itching, pressure that they think is due to something else.) If they were to point to where they feel it, where would they point? (Without thinking about it in advance.)
Some say love hurts.
In my experience, love is love. It’s kindness to my own experience, others, and life.
What hurts is the very human parts of us that sometimes get caught up in it. The beliefs, wounds, identifications, expectations, insecurities, longing, and so on. Anything in us with a charge on it.
The two – the love and the human parts – are often intertwined in our life and experience, but they are actually distinct from each other. And we can unwind these two.
Eventually, we can more and more often allow love to be love, and our human hurts and hangups to be just that and be met in that love.
If you want to improve the world, start by making people feel safer.
– Stephen Porges
This is so simple and so essential.
Since I am from Scandinavia, I feel that good social safety nets are crucial for helping people feel safer and through that reduce a lot of other individual, social, and even ecological problems. When we feel safer, we are able to broaden our circle of concern, keep the larger picture in mind, and act in a more sane and sensible way.
When you find yourself triggered. When your emotional world is on fire and you are hooked into shame, blame, and rage. When you notice you are practicing self-aggression, spiraling into addictive behavior, or complaining about your life… slow way down. Return into the aliveness of your body and listen. For your need yourself now more than ever.
Something is attempting to break through, out of the murky darkness and into conscious awareness. Some unmet feeling, some abandoned aspect of yourself, some underlying state of vulnerability. What is it? What is knocking on the door of your heart, longing to be reorganized and integrated back into the wholeness?
As a little one, it was intelligent to split off from overwhelming experience and aspects of yourself that you could not metabolize at the time. But these pieces are looking for you. They come as emissaries of revelation and carriers of an untamed intelligence and creativity. As ambassadors of the somatic world, they serve as gatekeepers of portals into aliveness, connection, and intimacy with all things.
Whether you choose to provide a home for these ones – or you do not – they will never relinquish their search, and will continue to appear as your friends, your children, your emotions, your lovers, and your life circumstances. They will even come in disguise as the mountains, the ocean, the blue, and the purple, to remind you of something you may have forgotten.
Look carefully as your unlived life is always appearing before you. Provide sanctuary for these visitors and their wisdom will be revealed.
– Matt Licata
Some say we are love, and I would say that too.
Sometimes, love is felt. And always, love is what we are.
Say we are this presence that all experience happens within and as. Then acting from love is inherent in us. It’s as natural as one hand pulling out a splinter from the other.
The feeling of love comes and goes, as any experience does. And what we are doesn’t come and go. It just is unnoticed at times, when the mind is temporarily lost in its own self-created drama.
I have found that I never know what’s left in terms of healing and awakening.
There always seems to be deeper layers asking for healing at a human level. Sometimes, it’s familiar and asking for a deeper healing, sometimes it’s more new and surprising.
And there is always an invitation for further clarification and deepening of the awakening. Sometimes, it’s familiar. Sometimes, it’s surprising and something I couldn’t have predicted.
Both are ongoing. And that’s how I would want it since it keeps things fresh and surprising.
Buber’s main proposition is that we may address existence in two ways:
- The attitude of the “I” towards an “It”, towards an object that is separate in itself, which we either use or experience.
- The attitude of the “I” towards “Thou”, in a relationship in which the other is not separated by discrete bounds.
One of the major themes of the book is that human life finds its meaningfulness in relationships. In Buber’s view, all of our relationships bring us ultimately into relationship with God, who is the Eternal Thou.
I haven’t made many connections between traditional philosophy and inquiry here, but I thought I would mention a few (pretty obvious) things. For instance, Martin Buber’s I and Thou and how it relates to inquiry.
As I mentioned in the post about the client and her dog, inquiry can soften any sense of boundaries which in turn opens for a natural sense of intimacy. This intimacy can be with ourselves, our immediate experience, others, the wider world, life in general, and presence (aka God, Spirit).
As we explore how our mind creates its experience of objects, beings, separation, boundaries, and any fears or compulsions created from this sense of separation and boundaries, our experience of these changes. It becomes much lighter, less invested with emotional energy. And that opens for a sense of intimacy.
There was an idea that as you healed, you would feel less. That as you awakened, the emotional spectrum would narrow, into to some safe, consistent, happy, resolved calm. But you are seeing that love continues to ask you to feel more.
An old hope that as your heart opened, your vulnerability would diminish, the shakiness would fall away, the tenderness would yield… but you are more raw now than ever before.
As the veil parts around you and your vision purifies, you wondered if you would be more detached, not care quite so much, and rest as the “witness” beyond it all, in some safe place of observation. But everything and everyone matter now more than ever. Love is everywhere, longing to take form through you as its vessel.
Something new is being born inside you, but something else is dying. The invitation is to stay present to the uncertainty, the chaos, and the groundless reorganization. To open into it and to mine the jewels buried in the darkness.
There is an aliveness in the death that is immensely creative, but cannot be known by ordinary means. While it may be terrifying and disorienting to the mind longing for resolution, the body knows… the heart knows. Trust in the fires of disintegration.
While there has been a longing for this level of openness – and for the exhilaration that can accompany it – you may also be aware of a certain fragrance of sadness within and all around you. This is not the conventional sadness of the mind, where something is perceived to be missing, but is the sadness of pure love, pouring out of your exposed heart.
You are willing to give your heart to others and to this world, for you are seeing that this is why you have come here.
This sadness is your true home. Rest there.
– Matt Licata
This came up in a conversation with a client today.
When we welcome shunned parts of our experience, it’s a welcome home.
We can support this welcome through ho’oponopono, I am sorry, please forgive me, I love you, thank you. Or saying things like thank you for protecting me, thank you for your love for me. (We ask for forgiveness for how we have treated these shunned parts of our experience, we love them since they are us, and we thank them for still being around and for showing us these dynamics. Also, these parts are here to protect us, and they come from love in a very real sense.)
What I was reminded of with this client today is another phrase: Welcome home. And even, welcome to the family. We welcome the shunned part home. We welcome it to our internal family.
Inquiry can easily be used in an ecopsychology context.
Specifically how depends on the person and his or her situation.
For people concerned about our current ecological situation, we can look at fear, stress, a sense of inadequacy etc.
For people worried they are not doing enough, we can look at guilt, shame, fear, and commands to do more (or less!).
For people caught up in us vs them thinking, we can look at identities and perceived boundaries creating this sense of division and separation.
For people who want to experience a deeper connection with nature, we can look at identities with a charge that creates a sense of separation.
There is no end to possibilities. It would be fun to do a workshop on this one day. It could perhaps be combined with Practices to Reconnect developed by Joanna Macy.
A fellow inquiry facilitator said she had done inquiry to see how her mind created its experience of her dog. It led to a reduced charge on the different images and words she has about her dog. I asked if her relationship to the dog changed, and after some consideration, she said yes, it’s more intimate.
When we explore anything that seems real and solid in this way, there is often a greater sense of intimacy. And we can explore any of our ideas such as me and you, dogs and human, and whatever else creates a sense of solidity and separation.
Wanting to feel better is natural and healthy. It’s built into us through the generations, and it’s a form of self-care and kindness to ourselves and those around us.
Compulsively wanting to feel better is a bit different. That’s a way to avoid something. It’s a way to avoid our current experience. To avoid feeling certain uncomfortable feelings and looking at the scary thoughts connected to them.
When we compulsively seek healing and awakening in order to avoid our current experience, it adds another layer of suffering. Compulsively seeking to escape is inherently uncomfortable.
So we can welcome this compulsion and explore it with gentle curiosity. We can meet it with kindness and see how our mind creates this compulsion to avoid our current experience. And that allows the compulsion and the charge in it to relax.
What’s left is still a natural wish for healing and feeling better. And we know that a component of that is to welcome and rest with our current experience as it is. And that includes welcoming and resting with any wish for our current experience to be different.
When we have an opening, an experience of overwhelming love or bliss, a very clear recognition of all as Spirit, a deep sense of peace, or something similar, it’s not meant to last. Experiences come to pass, not to last.
What they do instead is inviting or creating a shift. A facet of reality may have been revealed clearly in the experience, so the shift can be to notice this facet here and now and through shifting experiences and states. It can also be a shift in how our human self is organized, aligned, and functions in the world.
If we expect the experience to last, we disappoint ourselves. But if we see it as an invitation for noticing or realignment, then the experience can be very valuable and it’s value may last far longer than the experience itself.