Matt Licata: To suffer consciously is an ancient, sacred art that has been lost in our time

To suffer consciously is an ancient, sacred art that has been lost in our time, replaced by a well-intentioned solar self-help industry designed to take us out of the darkness and complexity and into consistent joy, flow, happiness, and bliss.

Matt Licata

I generally agree although I am not sure if it has been lost. Some focus on the light and joy to the exclusion of the rest of what we have in us, and many are also exploring how to be with and get to know these sides of us.

Also, this is not about suffering. It’s more about allowing and feeling what’s here, and perhaps even getting to know it and find what’s more true. We can notice it’s already allowed, which makes it easier to consciously allow it. We can get to know the stories within it. We may see where these are from, and what’s more true for us. And so on.

We can relate to these parts of us as we would a suffering child or animal. We can be there with them. Listen to them. Offer our love and companionship. Allow them to have their experience and go through their own process. Have patience with them. Support them in the healing that wants to happen through them.

It’s less about suffering and more about allowing the suffering that’s here. Parts of us suffer, and we can be with and get to know these parts of us. As a whole, we don’t suffer although it can seem that way to the extent we identify with these parts of us.

Matt Licata: At times, you may be asked to sit with another who has been touched by the darkness

At times, you may be asked to sit with another who has been touched by the darkness. To allow them to fall apart in your arms, to unravel, to be without hope, and to feel lost. You may sense there is some sort of wisdom unfolding, but it is chaotic, groundless, and not easy to stay with.

While it is natural to want to do whatever you can to help them feel better, listen carefully to what it is they are truly asking for. Extend to them a calm, regulated nervous system, where their experience can be validated and held, exactly as it is. Ensure them – with words and with your presence – that they need not ‘get over it,’ ‘accept everything as it is,’ shift into a ‘higher vibration,’ ‘stay in the present,’ be cured, transformed, or ‘healed’ in order for you to stay close, and to love them.

To provide such an environment for another, you must first offer safe passage for the unmetabolized in yourself: the unmet sadness, abandoned shame, discarded grief, disavowed hopelessness, and deserted aloneness. If not, you may find yourself rushing to talk the other out of their experience, urgently spinning to relieve them of their feelings as a way to cut into your own anxiety and discomfort. All the while subtly and unconsciously disavowing the raging intelligence buried within the dark.

Together with them, make the commitment to not pathologize their experience. Pain is not pathology. Hopelessness is not pathology. Grief is not pathology. Shame and rage are not pathology. They are path. Seed this wisdom into the relational field and watch in awe as a new world unfolds.

As you attune to the ‘other’ in front of you – as well as to the alchemical ‘other’ within – feel the creative flow of love as it fills the space between, crafting you both as vessels of sanctuary for the pieces of the broken world, for the shards of confusion, and for the crumbled hopes and dreams that have dissolved in front of your eyes. Honor the holy truth that the forms that love take will always fall apart – for this is their nature – in order that they may come back together in more integrated and cohesive ways.

Within the aliveness of the relational field – despite the pain of the present, the traumas of the past, and the broken dreams of the future – you may see that it was only love after all, taking whatever form it must so that it may unfold itself into this world, in ways the mind will never understand.

Please do whatever you can to help others in whatever way you are able: attune to them, validate their feelings, listen carefully to what they are saying, and how they are making meaning of their lives. Feed them, hold them, speak kindly to them, allow them be what they are. And remind them that love is here and is alive.

– Matt Licata

Matt Licata: 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

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.

Matt Licata: Provide sanctuary for these visitors and their wisdom will be revealed

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

Matt Licata: There was an idea that as you healed, you would feel less

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

Matt Licata: Heartbreak

As an alive, sensitive human being, there will be times when heartbreak will visit – coloring your perception, soaking your emotions, and painting the sensations of the somatic world. As you wake in the morning, look up into the moon, and fall asleep at night… it’s just there waiting for you. This vague sense that something is missing.

Before you send the heartbreak away, turn into it and open. It is bestowing a transmission of pure revelation, but it is not easy to receive. Hold the offering close and see if your heart truly wishes to be mended. This raw, tender, broken openness is your lifeline to intimacy with all things. Offer safe passage for your vulnerability, for this is your gift to a world that has forgotten. 

Long ago, you made a prayer of wholeness. The response to that prayer has come, this time as reorganizing, shaky aliveness. Dare to let in the implications of being here in a star where love is alive. Consider that your heartbreak need not be cured, fixed, transformed, or healed. Encode a new circuitry of empathic resonance, of attunement, of presence, and of compassion. What you are need not be healed. Only held. This is the new way.

No, heartbreak is not easy. As one of the fierce and wrathful emanations of love, it will throw you off at times. It will pull the rug out from under you and remind you of how fragile it really is here. But no matter how difficult or confusing things may be, you can start right now.

Slow way down. Breathe deeply. Attune to the heartbroken one inside you and start a new world.

As you make experiential, embodied, intimate contact with the tender one within, you can finally meet her. You can hold him. And you can renew your vow to never, ever abandon who you are.

Keep this one close, feel the unseen ones all around you, and give your heart to this world.

– Matt Licata


Matt Licata: it is in the creation of a home for our hopelessness that we are finally able to step into a world beyond our wildest imagination

Much is being said these days about spiritual awakening, and the causeless joy, clarity, and peace that are inevitable milestones of the inner journey. Not all that much is mentioned, however, about the disappointment of awakening, or of the ways it can break our hearts, cracking us open to the reality of the crucifixion, the resurrection, *and* the transfiguration we are likely to encounter along the way. In the full embrace of life—right inside the yucky, messy, shadowy nether regions of the heart—we are invited to meet the wholeness of what we are, which includes the dark *and* the light, the movement of separation *and* union, and the entirety of what it means to be an embodied human being.

As Carl Jung so poignantly reminds us, we do not become enlightened by “imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” He went on to say that the integral journey of the dark *and* the light is one that is often “disagreeable” and thus would never be popular. I believe Jung is offering very important guidance for us and the voyage of the heart in contemporary times.

The ancient path of love may never conform to our hopes, fears, dreams, and fantasies, for it is emerging in the here and now as an emissary of the unknown itself. Let us rest in the aching truth that one of the primary roles of the beloved is to seed deflation in the field of separation. Yes, awakening may always be a disappointment, from the perspective of egoic organization. In this sense, the journey is eternally hopeless, but it is in the creation of a home for our hopelessness—and allowing it to be illuminated within us—that we are finally able to step into a world beyond our wildest imagination.

As we journey together as fellow travelers, let us find a way to embrace both the joy *and* the heartbreak of spiritual awakening, and bear witness to the wisdom shining out of our immediate experience, whether it appears as sadness, bliss, despair, or great joy. It is true that grace will appear in both sweet *and* fierce forms, but regardless of its particular manifestation, it is still grace, sent from beyond to open us to the radiant fullness of being.

– Matt Licata, from the Preface to the forthcoming, “It’s Okay to Be Broken: Finding Rest from the Weary Journey”

Matt Licata: The kindest thing we can offer our suffering friend is to sit in the darkness with them

In speaking with a friend this morning, I was reminded of the great bias in our culture toward the light and away from the darkness. When we meet with a friend who is sad, feeling hopeless, shut down, or otherwise not beaming and joyful, we can become convinced, quite quickly, that something has gone wrong, that some mistake has been made which needs fixing. We scramble to put them back together, to remind them of all the gifts in their life, to let them know everything will be better soon, and that it will all turn out okay.
It is so natural to want to help another and to lessen their suffering and their pain. There is nothing wrong with this intention and with using whatever skillful means we have to help. But we can also start to see that much of this fixing activity arises out of the abandonment of our own relationship with the darkness within. Perhaps as little ones it was not safe to embrace sadness, rage, despair, or hopelessness. If our early environment was one in which love, affection, and connection was withdrawn as a result of our confrontation with these and other ‘non-happy’ states of consciousness, we learned (very intelligently) to disavow their messages, truths, and potential gifts.

It is possible the kindest thing we can offer our suffering friend is to sit in the darkness with them, removing the burden that they change, transform, feel better, or heal in order for us to love, accept, or simply be with them. And to hold them closely as we wade into the icky, messy, yucky areas of the body and the psyche, vowing with our sweet friend to not turn away from their precious heart and the reality of their immediate subjective experience, *exactly* as it is. As we turn to embrace own unmet sadness, grief, and despair, we can begin to resist the temptation to project our unlived life upon others and the world.

As we come to rest in the wholeness of our immediate, embodied reality, we can start to see that love is a movement of the totality. It is whole, never partial, and is raging and alive even in the darkness, shining brightly in its own way. And that you will never, ever be satisfied with a partial life, with a partial love, or a partial heart. In the core of the darkness, the sadness, the grief, and the aloneness is something very real, breaking through the dream of partiality. But what this is may never support conventional egoic process or our cultural and spiritual fantasies of a life of invulnerability. To embrace this may always feel groundless as you fall off the cliff of the known and into the mandala of presence.

In the wholeness of what you are, everything is alive in its own way, everything is path, and everything is the integrative activity of the beloved. She is not only the joy and the sweetness, but at times will arrive as the darkness itself to reorder your world. She will shape-shift using both sweet *and* fierce grace, including both peaceful *and* wrathful manifestation, in order to reveal the primordial integration of her movement in the world of time and space.

Let us stay close to our own suffering and the suffering of others, careful not to cut it too quickly. Let us turn toward the darkness before we discard it, and finally see what it has to say. For we may discover a light shining there that is heralding a new world.

– Matt Licata

Matt Licata: Post-Spirituality

An old friend was sharing that finally the personality was gone and she was “no longer there.” After 30+ years of dedicating herself to awakening, liberation, enlightenment, she had “made it.” At last, there was “no more self.”

I wasn’t really sure what to say. It felt as if she was looking for some acknowledgement, some mirroring, some validation. It was sweet, in a way. I turned inward, scanning for any somatic response. I mostly felt raw, just really open, a bit sad, and a bit shaken, wondering how the precious journey of human spirituality ever came to be about not having a personality or a self, or so wrapped up in following the call to be in a “state” other than the one that is here now.

When exactly did spirituality become about the egoic need to prove to others (and yourself) that you are free from the ego? The ego is such a wily and creative character. It has an uncanny way of being able to get its hands into even the most subtle and sacred experiences and make them its own, wrapping its tightly-woven cocoon around the nakedness of our humanity.

After our exchange, I reflected upon the fact that the truly “awakened” people I have been privileged to meet have very strong personalities, are very much “there,” and use the gift of thought and egoic process as skillful means to help others, not to further the dream of separation. They are riveted in the here and now, radically embodied, and profanely human. They are people of the earth, passionately interested in what is happening in the hearts of the others around them, and not terribly interested in moving into some other “higher” state of consciousness.

Rather, they are moved deeply by *this* state of consciousness, whatever it might be, curious about its texture and its color and its unique gifts. For them, there is no longer any reference point of what “state” of consciousness they happen to be in, but rather how can they move so deeply into the unknown that love has no other option but to pour though them, forever touching everyone and everything in its wake.

I was speaking with my dear friend Jeff Foster early this morning about what a new sort of spirituality might be like, or maybe we could call it a “post”-spirituality, that was not organized around the notion of “nobody here.” Rather, it involves a returning to “somebody here,” to being here fully, committed to this very human yummy messy precious muddled yucky painful sweetness of a life. It would involve a true celebration of our uniqueness, and a full engagement with this sacred gift of the state of consciousness that is here right now.

We would be so willing for everything to matter—every person we meet, every feeling that is experienced, every difficult conversation with a friend, every biting piece of feedback we might receive. We would not transcend it, but allow it to utterly matter, to be excruciatingly real and touch us at the very deepest levels. We would be unsatisfied with remaining the “witness” of our experience because we would be called to know it so intimately, not standing apart from it, but falling heart-first into its sweet lap. We would be willing to be so touched, to be moved, to be hurt, to be completely opened all the way through to the other side of our precious pulsating hearts.

This spirituality would be one of love and pain and raw vulnerability, rooted in the unknown. It would be a spirituality of the crucifixion, of the resurrection, and of the transfiguration all rolled into one. Jeff shared, “It’s having a cup of tea with your old dad, your hand brushing against his as you reach for the sugar, and it’s not understanding any of it anymore, but it’s radically being here, present and awake to what is, being in love with it all even when it hurts, being in love with the one in front of you, for this may be the last time you ever meet, father, sister, mother, brother, husband, wife, friend…”

It’s about being so in love with this life, with *this* state of consciousness, feet firmly planted right here on this earth, intertwined with time and space, allowing the movement of transcendence to burn up in the fire of unknowingness, of groundlessness, of uncertainty. Finally, home, always home, never having left home, in the midst of it all—the screaming babies, the unpaid bills, the ever-expanding to-do list, the scariness of intimacy, the grief, the joy, the sadness, the anger, the anxiety, the tenderness, the depression, the unbearable bliss.

Finally, discovering in just one moment of right here, right now, when the heart is so fragile that its falling apart seems imminent; finding that it’s all sacred, that it’s all there is, and that there is not—and never was—a dividing line between the sacred and the profane, between the “Divine” and, what, the non-Divine? What would that be actually?And all of these old concepts and spiritual conditioning obliterate themselves into a yummy pile of grace-honey that you fall into, willingly, getting sticky with the sweet goo that is this life, in all its infinite expressions, in all its wonder and pain and joy, its never-ending and forever incomprehensible grace… and then arising out of all of it, the only response that makes any sense whatsoever… a profound gratitude, for this reality, this body, this state of consciousness, these senses. What a miracle.

– Matt Licata on Facebook

Yes, and although I like the term “post-spirituality” it’s really more ordinary than that. It’s what people have discovered and lived – or rather life has discovered and lived – many times, in many cultures, inside and outside of spiritual traditions. It’s very ordinary. It’s just life living itself.

It’s what’s revealed when we see the deep fear that’s behind holding onto views and ideas, and using them as life rafts. When we meet that fear. When we see it’s innocent and from love. When we find genuine love for that fear, since it’s already so lovable.