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  • Writer's pictureAnnelisa MacBean

What's the Matter?

When I am sitting with a friend or client who is struggling, or even with myself when I am having a hard time, it’s very natural to ask, “What’s the matter?” It turns out, this is an interesting, rather deep alchemical question. What matters to the person I am with? What matters to me? What is the “matter?” In an intentionally relational field, when we are oriented to curiosity, warmth, empathic attunement, and not-knowing – thoughts, images, feelings, memories, sensations, emotions, and impulses – energy that has been buried in the body – or lost in matter – might become accessible – visible and alive in the psyche.

To make use of, to metabolize, integrate and transmute experiences, we must first be able to access the feelings and sensations – the touch, the feel, the sensory textures, the thoughts related to that experience – we enter into the experience with our consciousness and attention, and allow ourselves to be entered by it. We allow the sometimes hard, prickly, hot, achy, tiredness that has been obscured or masked since the very earliest days of this life when we determined for one reason or another that our experience “didn’t matter.” Awakening these hibernating experiences buried in matter, we are then able to begin articulating the experience, breathing life back into those parts of our lives that have been waiting to exhale, waiting to resolve and complete. Images, words, and metaphors – paint, clay, dance, or drawing – breath – are all tools for collecting, assembling, and organizing these scattered shards of self and soul back into matter. Creating space in the body, focusing attention, consciousness, and genuine interest, the repressed, ignored and forgotten experiences begin to “matter” again. In the presence of embodied attunement, true integration and completion – and ultimately transmutation and transcendence can occur. Invited to matter, accepted in matter . . . the differentiated can become linked, the separate can become synthesized . . . the frozen is thawed, the forgotten is recovered, and the orphaned is reclaimed, resolved and transformed.

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