Matt Licata presents
Embodying a Trauma-Sensitive Spirituality and Discovering a Felt Sense of Safety
“In my many years on the path, it is very rare to meet someone who is as knowledgeable about the interior journey as Matt. Not just his encyclopedic-like understanding of spiritual and psychological traditions, but the maturity of his heart that comes from someone who has seen the darkness in himself, been broken by it, and slowly rebuilt the pieces. Matt is not like an ordinary teacher or therapist, I’m not sure he even relates to those descriptions all that much, but is a true friend of the spirit, a real human being who was able to help me in ways I didn’t even know that I needed. His is the sort of wisdom and humility that we need in the world right now.“
– A.D., Ann Arbor
The last year has been 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 as a way 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.
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 particular 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.
Thank you for your interest in Resting Your Nervous System. I look forward to seeing you inside the course and in the upcoming sessions.
P.S. Please note that while Resting Your Nervous System is offered with a sensitivity to trauma, it is not designed specifically for trauma survivors or those currently struggling with traumatic or post-traumatic stress. While I will speak about trauma – and the importance of integrating an understanding of trauma into our practices and lives – this is not a course on how to heal trauma, per se, which is something that is unique for each person, the subtleties of which are beyond the scope of this offering. It is my sincere hope and intention, however, that those with a history of trauma may benefit through participating in the course.
“Matt’s understanding of the subtleties and nuances of the healing journey, and how meditation and psychological work fit together were a key for me which unlocked the door to a part of myself that I had forgotten about. The way he held my experience and contained it with such love and kindness allowed me to end the war with myself and to begin to perceive even my most challenging emotions and sensitivities as allies and just how he’s right when he says that the path really is everywhere. Spending time with him was a real fork in the road in my life, a true turning point that opened up a whole new way of being for me.“
What’s Inside the 4 Month Curriculum
LIVE: March 4, 11, and 25
Resting Your Nervous System:
Trauma-Sensitive Spirituality and Discovering a Felt Sense of Safety
In order to transform and heal, we must be able to have our center of gravity within a felt sense of safety, which is the “neural scaffolding” required for deeper discovery. In a way that is experiential, we’ll come to know more about our nervous systems and how to harness its wisdom to promote resilience, connection, intimacy, and play.
Through identifying our “autonomic state” in the moment and how we adaptively move between states, we create new neural pathways that are not limited to defense and survival, but oriented in spontaneity, creativity, and exploration.
We will explore:
- A not-too-technical, experiential understanding of the nervous system and its role in healing
- The importance of resting the nervous system, especially in uncertain and transitional time
- How any integral approach to our spiritual lives must include awareness of and sensitivity to trauma and relational wounding
- How the felt sense of safety is the foundation for psychological growth, emotional healing, and spiritual transformation
- The essential role of the body in healing, especially in times of overwhelm and stress
LIVE: April 1, 8, and 22
Into the Heart of Trauma and the Nature of Relational Wounding:
Going Slow, Staying Safe, and Honoring the Intelligence of the Body
Over the last few decades, there has been greater awareness around trauma and the many ways it affects our lives. In addition to tragic singular events such as war, rape, assault, invasive medical procedures, and natural disasters, we have come to understand more about “relational” trauma, which affects every one of us.
What is trauma? And how can we become more aware of the ways it can affect our perception, our ability to experience and regulate emotion, our capacity to “be in our bodies,” and our ability to feel safe and connected, both inside ourselves and with others?
We will explore:
- A fresh look at what trauma is and how it is more common than we might think
- The relationship between trauma and feeling unsafe, and how “safety” is the ultimate medicine for trauma
- Trauma, the nervous system, and the workings of implicit, bodily memory
- How and why we cannot “think” our way out of trauma and other types of relational wounding
- The meaning of integration and how trauma is a dis-integrating experience
LIVE May 6, 13 and 27
Compassion, Hope, and the Possibility of True Healing:
The Journey of Safety, Coming Home to the Body, and the Reorganization of the Nervous System
If deep emotional wounding arises from overwhelming experience that we do not have the internal resources or external support to metabolize, then healing would involve the infusion of these resources and support into those neural nets which hold the unintegrated material. This journey is one of profound courage and a radical act of openness and warmth, which are the actual, lived qualities of the felt sense of love.
It can feel so hopeless at times, as if we’ve been “trying” to heal or awaken or transform for so long. What do we really mean by these ideas of healing, transformation, and integration? It is essential that we explore this territory in a way that is nuanced and fresh, realizing how little we really know about the mystery of healing, and the mercy, grace, and intelligence that has assembled the body, brain, and nervous system.
We will explore:
- The need for experiential process in healing the emotional brain
- Neuroplasticity, new experience, and the encoding of new neural circuitry
- The role of the “other” in healing – self-regulation and regulating with another
- Neural integration and the importance of linking together the layers of our experience
- The unconscious investment we may have in not healing and honoring the realities and implications of what true healing will always ask of us
LIVE June 3, 10, and 24
Self-Compassion, Embodied Attunement, and What Works for You:
Toning and Tuning Your Unique Nervous System
It’s essential that we have a list of practices or behaviors we can engage in the moment in response to inevitable states of overwhelm, stress, pain, and fear. Whether by way of the “active” or “passive” pathways, to have access to “neural exercises” to restore us to the felt sense of safety and connection.
While aspirations to “be kind to yourself,” “ be in the present,” and “ accept things the way they are” sound and may be “true,” we must discover for ourselves, beyond aphorisms and spiritual one-liners, what it means in the moment to honor the intelligence of the nervous system (and messages from the soul). And attune to what is most skillful, wise, and kind, as we deepen our capacity to take care of ourselves in creative new ways.
We will explore:
- Establishing a list of specific, individualized practices and exercises you can engage in the moment when you notice yourself falling out of your window of tolerance
- The role of contemplative practices such as mindfulness, breathing, and yoga – and discerning when they are being used in healthy vs. less-than-healthy ways
- How meditation and practices oriented in “open awareness” are not always the most wise, skillful, or kind approach to working with trauma and other relational wounding
- The importance of having even one “safe other” in our lives, including the accessing of this “other” by way of imagination
- How spiritual beliefs and practices can overwhelm our nervous systems and can also serve as unconscious pathways of self-abandonment and avoidance