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My spiritual journey began in the psychotherapist’s office.
Not in talk-based therapy—that was helpful but not energized enough to transform my consciousness—but in body-centered psychotherapy.
After more than a decade of talking about my issues, I was finally ready to feel them. I began my quest with Alexander Lowen, the co-founder of Bioenergetics. During our intense sessions, I came to understand something quite simple. That it is the body, not the mind, that is the source of our emotional and mental turbulences. And that it is within the body where true spirituality lives. Not in the transcending of it, but in the embracing, enlivening, and enrealing of the emotional and physical body.
The more deeply we embody our felt experience, the more truly spirited we become. Bottom line: if you want to live a more spiritual life, live a more human life. Be more truly, fiercely, heartfully human.
As my journey unfolded, I reached a stage where I was ready to share my realizations with others.
Here are some excerpts from my book, Grounded Spirituality:
“The primary cause of our unhappiness is not our thoughts. The monkey mind is not the source of our anxiety. It’s a symptom of it. Forget the monkey mind. The mind is not the enemy—unhealed pain is. Men have been blaming the mind for their neuroses for centuries, while deftly avoiding that which sources its maladies—somatic constrictions, and unprocessed emotions stored in the body itself. It’s like losing your keys somewhere in the house, and looking for them in the car. Useless, useless, useless. Until they stop blaming the mind—and recognize that its neuroses stem from the unresolved emotional body—there will be no liberation. Shifting out of unhappiness is not a cerebral process—that’s just another ineffective band-aid. It is a visceral full-body experience. It’s the ‘monkey heart’ that’s the issue: the state of inner turbulence and agitation that emanates from an unclear heart. The more repressed your emotional body, the more repetitive your thoughts. Flooded with unhealed emotions and unexpressed truths, the monkey heart jumps from tree-top to tree-top, emoting without grounding, dancing in its confusion. Often misinterpreted as a monkey mind, the monkey heart is reflected in repetitive thinking, perpetual anxiety, and negative imaginings. All of which are emanating from the emotional body.”
“Most historical and popular modern spiritual teachers are bypassing the very material that must be deeply owned and worked through before sustainable transformation can happen. That’s the great irony of their teachings. They call themselves spiritual teachers, but they turn us away from our selfhood, from our stories, from our encoded, embodied wisdom, so that we can only know reality in a limited way. They are the furthest thing from spiritual teachers. In the work of many body-centered psychotherapists, there is a deep understanding of the fact that one cannot be truly present for reality, if their physical and emotional bodies are tied up in knots. It takes the same courage and sturdiness to show up for your individual shadow as it does to show up for all elements of reality. And if you don’t have the discipline to see your feelings through, you simply won’t have the discipline required to be with all of what this is. In this way, I view somatic psychotherapists as our truest spiritual teachers, because they actually provide a more inclusive blueprint for awakening and integration.”
“Bottom line is that you cannot heal and resolve your emotional material with your mind. Knowing our issues is not the same as healing our issues. Your emotional material does not evaporate because you watch it. I have known many who could watch and name their patterns and issues—as if they were scientists, researching their own consciousness—but nothing fundamentally changed, because they refused to come back down into their bodies and move their feelings through to transformation. It’s safe up there, above the fray, witnessing the heartache without actually engaging it. Yes, you may be able to get so skilled at a witnessing consciousness that you can overpower your triggers. But that’s not presence. Real presence comes through the open heart. The key to the transformation of challenging patterns and wounds is to heal them from the inside out. Not to analyze them, not to watch them like an astronomer staring at a faraway planet through a telescope, but to jump right into the heart of them, encouraging their expression and release, stitching them into new possibilities with the thread of love. You want to live a holy life? Heal your heart. That’s the best meditation of all.”
“Look, it’s up to you—it’s always up to you. You can deny, repress, distort, and bury your unresolved wounds all you want. You can re-frame them, pseudo-positivity them, detach from them, bypass them. You can re-name yourself, hide away in a monastery, turn your story around. And you can spend all your money on superficial healing practices and hocus-pocus practitioners. But it won’t mean a damn thing, if you don’t do the deeper work to excavate and heal your primary wounds. The material is still there, right where you left it, subconsciously ruling your life and controlling your choices. This is the nature of unhealed material—it is alive, and one way or the other, it will manifest itself in your lived experience. It will language your inner narrative. It will obstruct your path and limit your possibilities. It lives everywhere that you live. And so you have to decide—excavate it and bring it into consciousness where it can be worked through and integrated; or repress it and watch it rule your life. It’s one of the hardest truths we have to face: If we don’t deal with our stuff, it deals with us. There is no way around this. Choose.”
“You can’t be in your vulnerability if you can’t express your anger. Both because it clears the debris so you can open your heart again, and because we cannot touch into the deepest parts of our vulnerability without it. Until our inner child knows that we have the capacity to protect his tenderness with ferocity, he will not fully reveal it. She will only open so much, until she knows that we can hold her safe. This is one of the reasons why those who grew up unprotected as children will often keep their hearts closed. They weren’t given a healthy template for self-protection. Sometimes we have to forge that template ourselves, in the fires of our own empowerment. The more sturdily we can touch into and express our rightful anger, the more comfortable we will feel embodying and expressing our vulnerability. The more powerful our roar, the more open our core.”
“It’s time we raised healthy anger back to the rafters of acceptability, and work together to clarify a way of expressing it that both holds everyone safe AND allows us to honor its inherent wisdom. There is needless, regressive conflict, and there is healthy, necessary, forward-moving conflict. The distinction lies in our intentions. Anger is a sacred force when it is honored authentically, without needless destruction. In fact, I am certain that we will not create the world of divine possibility that many spiritual beings long for, unless we get angry about the injustices that many of us face. The world actually improves when people express legitimate anger, because it communicates a message that certain acts and occurrences are not acceptable. As we move toward a healthier collective vibration, appropriate anger shows us injustices that would not have even been noticed at earlier times. If we fully condemn healthy anger, we condemn ourselves to endure realities that don’t serve us. There is a place for healthy anger in an evolving world.”