A Healing Space: Befriending Ourselves in Difficult Times (Paperback)

A Healing Space: Befriending Ourselves in Difficult Times By Matt Licata, Mirabai Starr (Introduction by) Cover Image
By Matt Licata, Mirabai Starr (Introduction by)


A gifted teacher explores how both hardship and joy can lead us back to the sacredness of ordinary life.

What does healing mean to you? For many of us, to “heal” is to solve a problem—to remove an illness, put a trauma behind us, or change something we don’t like in our life so we never have to deal with it again. Yet does that idea of healing serve us … or does it cut us off from life’s gifts? “True healing is not a state where we become liberated from feeling, but freer and flexible to experience it more fully,” writes Dr. Matt Licata. “When we experience our suffering consciously, it reveals sacredness and beauty we might not expect. Healing will always surprise us.”

With A Healing Space, Matt extends an invitation to explore the endless richness of your life—without minimizing or turning away from hardship, nor by seeking the shelter of comfort or certainty. “I do not have any answers for you,” he writes. “Rather, I see my role as helping to illuminate the immensity and even magic of the questions themselves.” On this journey, you’ll learn to use new tools and perspectives to find your own sources of guidance, including:

• Slowness—in a speed-obsessed world, rediscover the revolutionary power of slowing down, listening, and letting the fullness of each moment unfold
• Uncertainty—why we often protect ourselves from the unknown at any cost, and how we can gradually learn to open to the gifts of uncertainty
• Alchemy—explore the wisdom of transmutation as an inner process of things falling apart and then coming back together in ways that are more integrated and whole
• Depth Psychology—integrating modern advances in psychotherapy and neuroscience with the timeless power of a soul-based psychology
• Embodied Spirituality—discover the healing potential of an approach to spirituality that honors the body, emotions, relationships, and the shadow
• Love—allow yourself to awaken to the revolutionary call to love and participate in the full-spectrum of life, dissolving the “trance of postponement” with the power of an open heart

A Healing Space is not a book to be absorbed and processed in one sitting—instead, you will find yourself returning again and again, whenever your soul calls you to examine, transform, and renew yourself. “At times,” writes Matt, “we need to crumble to the ground at the magnificence of it all, awestruck at the bounty that has been laid out before us. To fall apart. To fail. To get back up. To be humbled again. To start over. To be a beginner in the ways of love. To make this journey with our fellow travelers, and the sun, moon, and stars.”

About the Author

Matt Licata, PhD, is an independent scholar, psychotherapist, and teacher based in Boulder, Colorado, who has spent the last 30 years immersed in the study of both psychological and contemplative approaches to healing and spiritual transformation. Matt is author of The Path is Everywhere: Uncovering the Jewels Hidden Within You and editor of A Healing Space blog. He offers online courses and in-person retreats to readers, students, and seekers around the world.

To learn more about Matt and his work, please visit mattlicataphd.com.

Praise For…

“Matt Licata pinpoints a space within us where healing, awakening, and a vibrant reckoning of who we actually are can be realized. The wisdom hidden deep within our darkest experiences comes from not turning away from these, but by directly tending to them with gentleness, love, and compassion. This book depicts a way of genuine freedom.” —Sharon Salzberg, author of Lovingkindness and Real Happiness

“Matt Licata’s A Healing Space is a wise, compassionate, and helpful book. While healing is a mystery, we all have to consider, ‘What is life asking of me, and how can I bring my mature self to the task?’ This book is an accessible, kind, insightful, and useful guide to assist any reader in this good work.” —James Hollis, PhD, Jungian analyst and author of Living Between Worlds

“Matt Licata’s book is a true companion for the journey of being here in earth school. It’s as if he takes you by the hand and heart and gentles the way into the descent of the shadow and the ascent into the light and wholeness of true healing. He has a beautiful, firm, loving grasp of the subtleties and difficulties, the joys, and the ultimate wonders of being human.” —Geneen Roth, author of #1 New York Times bestseller Women Food and God and This Messy Magnificent Life

“Tender, profound, and deeply useful, this book is gem. Remarkably, Matt Licata weaves together self-compassion, depth psychology, and radical acceptance into a beautiful, passionate, soaring exploration of all that it means to be human.” —Rick Hanson, PhD, New York Times bestselling author of Neurodharma

A Healing Space is a beautiful, insightful, and moving contemplation of the journey of healing we all undertake as human beings. It illuminates how self-compassion—holding our own pain with love—transforms our experience in a profound way so that we can learn the lessons life offers us moment by moment.” —Kristin Neff, PhD, associate professor at the University of Texas and author of Self-Compassion

“A goldmine of wisdom for difficult times, A Healing Space offers a profound understanding of the healing process and a deep compassion for those who travel there. Here lies a weaving of depth psychology and alchemy, with a fresh view of spiritual truths and fallacies. It shows us that true healing begins only when we stop looking for the quick fixes and fully embrace our wounds. Rich and soulful, it is a must read for anyone on their healing journey, and for all practitioners who guide them. This book is the kind of therapist we all wish we could find.” —Anodea Judith, PhD, founder and director of Sacred Centers and author of Eastern Body, Western Mind and Charge and the Energy Body

“This inspiring book invites us to trust the intelligence of whatever is unfolding in our lives, especially when it hurts, and to meet it in a deeply compassionate way. Matt Licata is a cartographer of the human heart. He knows the ineffable space where healing occurs and offers us a map for getting there, right up to the threshold. The rest is alchemy. We have been waiting a long time for a book like this.” —Christopher Germer, PhD, clinical psychologist and lecturer at Harvard Medical School, author of The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion and co-developer of the Mindful Self-Compassion program

“Matt Licata’s book is a thoughtful and gentle approach to how we might heal ourselves and others. This book leads us on a practical and compassionate healing path without the complexities of much theory. I heartily recommend it to anyone interested in the mysteries of the healing journey.” —Lionel Corbett, MD, psychiatrist, Jungian analyst, professor of depth psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute, and author of The Sacred Cauldron

“In A Healing Space, Matt Licata skillfully and gently introduces the reader into some of the most important and least-discussed work in personal spiritual development—the play of the unconscious and unilluminated parts of self. I applaud him for bringing this to all of us and highly recommend this book for anyone interested in personal healing. This is the ‘secret’ recipe for a transformational journey that must be taken yet requires guidance to achieve. I am thrilled to see Dr. Licata taking the leap to sharing this work with anyone who has the courage to engage it.” —Ann Marie Chiasson, MD, director of the Fellowship in Integrative Medicine, associate professor of clinical medicine at the University of Arizona Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine, and author of Energy Healing and Self-Healing with Energy Medicine (with Dr. Andrew Weil)

A Healing Space is a brilliant weave of Jungian and Eastern contemplative wisdom. In this powerful new offering, Matt Licata guides us to a place of sacred refuge, where we can meet even our greatest moments of confusion and suffering with compassion and grace.” —Tara Brach, PhD, author of Radical Compassion

A Healing Space invites us to explore and endeavor the alchemist’s way of facing the tough stuff that haunts us. Matt Licata, skilled psychotherapist and spirit-beacon, offers respite for the troubled soul. Along the way, he prepares us with the exercises necessary to face the wounded psyche, question its purpose in our lives, and go through the middle of it in order to free the best parts of ourselves. Healing is a tricky thing, and Matt is just the one to guide us through the psychic fog. He writes with the vulnerability of a poet and the insight of a master alchemist to help us shape what remains a recurrent struggle into a form we can face, question, and—with practice—balance and embrace.” —Stan Tatkin, PsyD, MFT, developer of the Psychobiological Approach to Couples Therapy (PACT) and author of We Do and Wired for Love

“If you are looking for a book to be a companion to you during this extraordinary time, it’s this one. A Healing Space is a robust guidebook into the inner territory of yourself, assisting you in the exploration of deep and rich personal and life questions that lead, always, to wondrous realizations and growth. What a treasure to find in these times of great change.” —Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit and Intimate Conversations with the Divine

“I have read, benefited from, and shared Matt Licata’s writing for years, and was overjoyed to discover his new book, A Healing Space. This inspiring book provides an integration of psychological and meditative traditions and is an excellent resource and guide for all of us seeking to learn, grow, and heal.” —Shauna Shapiro, PhD, clinical psychologist and professor at Santa Clara University and author of Good Morning, I Love You

A Healing Space invites you to lean into the mystery of this ordinary life and discover the holiness and healing power of a single instant—a single breath, a bodily sensation, an old feeling that’s been waiting so long to be felt. The ordinary turns out to not be so ordinary at all. This is a book to keep close to your heart! Infused with Matt’s compassion and a deep wisdom forged in the fire of his lived experience, it soothes and encourages as it teaches. Poetically weaving together insights from neuroscience, mythology, depth psychotherapy, contemplative spirituality, and the great alchemical traditions, this book is a companion, a loving friend, and trusted guide to encourage you onwards on your path when you feel down, despondent, and stuck; to validate and befriend you when the world seems a dark and lonely place; and to help you rest, perhaps more deeply than you have ever rested in your life. Deeply profound yet highly accessible, simple yet never simplistic, A Healing Space deconstructs so much misunderstanding and misinformation around spirituality and healing work, and it plunges us into the vast mystery of living, opening our eyes to the wonder and awe of existence itself, and awakening us to the gift of this impossibly beautiful life, in all its joy and sorrow.” —Jeff Foster, author of The Joy of True Meditation and You Were Never Broken

A Healing Space is a beautifully written book exploring how walking through the darkness ultimately brings blessings, wisdom, and beauty to your life, and moves you onto a path of evolution that you simply cannot perceive during difficult times. Matt Licata is a perfect guide, as evidenced through his life experience and work as psychotherapist. This book is so timely and filled with helpful tools to guide you from the darkness into your own divine light.” —Sandra Ingerman, award-winning author of twelve books, including Walking in Light and The Book of Ceremony

“Weaving the wisdom of reflective practices, the insights of Carl Jung and the alchemists, and the relational truths of attachment research and psychotherapy practice, Matt Licata offers us a beautiful tapestry of truths to transform trauma into healing and strength. Adversity can constrain us, but with this wonderful book we can find the perspectives and courage to embrace the reality of life’s innate uncertainty to guide us on a journey of growth and discovery—moving from post-traumatic imprisonment to liberation.” —Daniel J. Siegel, MD, clinical professor at UCLA School of Medicine, director of the Mindsight Institute, and author of Aware and Mindsight

“Matt Licata has become an important and eloquent voice inviting us to go to, rather than avoid, what seem like unbearable emotions buried in our dark depths. From his Jungian perspective, he provides needed reassurance that doing so will achieve alchemical transformations in which what we thought were inner toxins turn out to be our gold. He also offers a cogent critique of the spiritual bypassing and ego bashing that is rampant within many spiritualities.” —Richard C. Schwartz, PhD, developer of the Internal Family Systems (IFS) model, adjunct faculty of the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, and author of more than fifty articles and books

“This is a book about love. The kind of love that embraces all parts of ourselves and others with generosity, tenderness, and strength. Matt is clear that this quality of receptivity does not develop easily or quickly. It is not a decision of the mind so much as an opening of the heart, so no part of us is abandoned in the healing process. Challenging our society’s tendency to fix, leave, or devalue states considered negative, he extends welcome to darkness, death, confusion, doubt, and all their companions as instructive friends in their own right, not just as the prelude to light and rebirth. He illuminates the pathway to Rumi’s ‘Guest House’ where our shame and malice are equally welcome and held in healing compassion. In truth, each of us yearns for sanctuary for these parts, and Matt is a wise and empathic companion along this healing path.” —Bonnie Badenoch, PhD, author of The Heart of Trauma and Being a Brain-Wise Therapist

“In A Healing Space, Matt Licata serves as a compassionate and insightful guide to the transformative task we all must face: how to forge our pain and sorrow into remedies of Spirit that can illuminate our way. With the soft clarity of a magnifying glass, Matt brings into view the many things that inhabit our nature, though they are seldom easily seen. Stay in conversation with this book and you will be a better friend to yourself, those you travel with, and to life itself.” —Mark Nepo, author of The Book of Soul and Drinking from the River of Light

A Healing Space is a beautifully written and masterful handbook, both profound and practical, that reveals the road we all must travel to navigate the inevitable challenges that life brings us throughout our lives, to help us fulfill our potential as fully alive and authentic human beings. I cannot think of a better book to be reading in this moment, or at any time along your journey through life. A must-read!” —Richard Miller, PhD, author of The iRest Program for Healing PTSD, iRest Meditation, and Yoga Nidra

“A deep-diving, beautifully nuanced exploration of cultivating intimacy with all that we are, including whatever in us we are inclined to reject or shun. Matt’s presentation of all this is not only lucidly articulated, but always caring, no matter how edgy the terrain. Highly recommended!” —Robert Augustus Masters, PhD, author of Spiritual Bypassing, Emotional Intimacy, and Bringing Your Shadow Out of the Dark

A Healing Space invites us to discover and create a way of being with our challenging experience that is intimate, loving, and deeply transformative—in Jungian terms, alchemical. Drawing from his years as a depth psychotherapist and contemplative practitioner, Matt Licata brings a mature and nuanced understanding to subtle psychospiritual issues and encourages readers to trust their own unique unfolding. Eloquent and inspiring.” —John J. Prendergast, PhD, author of The Deep Heart and In Touch, retired adjunct professor of psychology, teacher, and psychotherapist

“Matt Licata offers guidance, support, and above all, companionship for the most important journey of all: coming back to yourself. He offers a crucially important lesson—that personal healing and spiritual awakening are not the self-abandonment that some teachings may suggest, but rather a process of becoming more fully alive. He writes clearly and passionately, straight from his heart to yours.” —Judith Blackstone, PhD, founder of the Realization Process and author of Trauma and the Unbound Body

“As we enter an era of radical uncertainty, it is vital that we find the inner tools, both psychological and spiritual, to guide and support us. Rather than retreating into fear and isolation, we need to embrace the difficulties, the insecurity that life is bringing us. Grounded in the ancient tradition of alchemy, Matt Licata gives us access to a space for real healing and transformation, showing us how to grow through the darkness, and discover the true gold of our inner self. We come to experience how we are inwardly held, enabling us to open to a new world and step into unfamiliar experiences. A Healing Space offers essential wisdom to help us to live with compassion and kindness to ourselves and others, discover how our wounds and grief are pathways to a deeper love.” —Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, PhD, Sufi teacher and author of Love is a Fire

“This is a book you will treasure for a lifetime. It’s more than a book, really. It’s a compassionate, nonjudgmental, and wise companion that gently helps you explore what it means to be deeply, courageously, and honestly human.” —Martin L. Rossman, MD, clinical instructor at the University of California Medical Center, San Francisco, and author of The Worry Solution and Fighting Cancer from Within

A Healing Space elegantly weaves together contemporary approaches in neuroscience and depth psychology with the ancient wisdom of the contemplative traditions, providing a modern, integrated path of deep transformation that fills in what might be missing in each separately. Matt Licata emphasizes radical befriending that reorients our inner critic in a kind way. This book lands in the heart and is ultimately about the power of love to heal trauma and attachment injuries. We need this fresh vision and perspective. Matt definitely delivers.” —Diane Poole Heller, PhD, founder of Dynamic Attachment Re-Patterning Experience and author of The Power of Attachment and Crash Course

“In this well-written book, Matt Licata challenges us to remember our disavowed parts, our painful emotions and traumas, and to treat each as if it were a lost friend needing our attention. In this way, though often difficult, we can arrive at a state of wholeness, embrace in a gentle, loving way those previously unwanted and unsupported aspects of ourselves, and become the person we were meant to be. Matt supports this process with great attention and compelling narrative and offers us a hand up in this challenging but essential task.” —Jeffrey Raff, PhD, Jungian analyst and author of several books, including Jung and the Alchemical Imagination and The Practice of Ally Work

“In the opening pages of A Healing Space, Matt Licata draws us into a meditative intimacy with the gift and miracle of our bodies, minds, and hearts. He keeps us there, offering trustworthy guidance in the gentle art of touching the hurting places within ourselves and others with tender-hearted clarity and love.” —James Finley, PhD, clinical psychologist, former monk, spiritual directee of Thomas Merton, and author of Merton’s Palace of Nowhere

A Healing Space is a compelling invitation to embark on a bold personal journey—to dive deeply, consciously into the pain of an unlived life. To radically trust in the process of intuitive inquiry. To be with and befriend, claim, and cherish the deepest, most intimate, sometimes disdained parts of ourselves. To listen to the wisdom and intelligence of their messages. To be held in that process in an inner felt sense of sacred safety and loving presence. To become fully known and to reemerge in a radically new apprehension of the entirety of one’s self, fully alive, fully participating in the life’s vast mysteries and possibilities, in difficult times, in all times. Matt Licata is more than a respected authority or trustworthy guide; he is a compassionate companion on this journey, providing the metaphors and markers needed to navigate the ‘green goo’ of the chrysalis as the humble caterpillar morphs into the beauty and freedom of the butterfly. He illuminates for the reader the nuanced complexities of this paradoxical dance of being and becoming, fully alive, already healed.” —Linda Graham, MFT, psychotherapist and author of Resilience

“Happiness is indeed a unique individual journey. A Healing Space provides a magnificent broad overview and personal spiritual path to inner peace during these current challenges.” —C. Norman Shealy, MD, PhD, founding president of the American Holistic Medical Association

“Despite our desire to live in the moment, most of us live in the past: rehearsing old dramas and applying old solutions to new challenges. In A Healing Space, Matt Licata offers us a way out of the past and into the present. Not an easy way, but an authentic one. This book is not meant to be a page turner, but a life saver. Use it wisely.” —Rabbi Rami Shapiro, author of Holy Rascals

“Matt Licata has written the perfect book for these unprecedented times, exploring the overlapping fields of psychological and emotional development.” —Lama Tsultrim Allione, Buddhist teacher and author of Wisdom Rising

A Healing Space opens up an engaged pathway into the alchemical tradition of depth psychology, where Matt Licata offers powerful and responsible ways to work on oneself. As opposed to popular volumes that feature catchphrases and escapist esoteric fantasies, A Healing Space does not reduce the human journey to simplistic steps, but encourages us ‘to get messy with the stuff of life’ and to have the courage and wherewithal to bear the unbearable. Reminding us that ‘emotion is not pathology’ and that freedom is found in the embrace of all parts of one’s being, this work supports and illumines the journey of conscious awareness.” —Rick Jarow, PhD, associate professor of religious studies at Vassar College and author of Creating the Work You Love, Alchemy of Abundance, and The Ultimate Anti-Career Guide

“You need this book! We all need this book! Though written just before the pandemic hit, this book is a healing balm for the mind, body, and soul as we deal with external and mind-born stressors impacting us right now. Dr. Licata offers his compassionate wisdom, informed by clinical experience and his study of Buddhist traditions and the depth psychology of C. G. Jung and James Hillman, for all of us to benefit from. In our emergency-driven, fast-paced, and frantic attempts to cope, adapt, transform, and survive, Licata reminds us of the importance of slowing down, getting out of the reactive fear-driven mind, and attuning to what our souls’ needs are, including our need to slow down, be present in the moment, and be present with ourselves, compassionately, patiently, and kindly, allowing us to experience our wholeness as well as aspects we need to transform. In many ways, Licata is offering practical means for invoking what Jung called the transcendent function of the psyche, the Self. This may also be looked at as Buddha mind in the Buddhist tradition. This aspect of our consciousness gives us the spaciousness of awareness to allow us to view the challenges of the mind and body with enough distance that we can bring warm-hearted compassion and curiosity into the moment. I highly recommend this book for everyone engaged in self-transformation, whether professionally or just for deepening your own wisdom!” —Lawrence Edwards, PhD, faculty of New York Medical College, author of the The Soul’s Journey and Awakening Kundalini

“In stark contrast to the pressures posed by our always-feel-good culture, A Healing Space offers a timely and welcomed invitation to venture deep, to embrace our fragility and wounding, and to access the tenderness we seek to become more fully human. Matt Licata draws on his unique blend of psychotherapy, meditative practice, and poetic imagination to help us transform the immediacy of our own awareness into a life-affirming crucible of unflinching presence and radical acceptance for all that we are and can be. Anyone with the courage to encounter their humanity in all its glory and failings will benefit from the medicinal balm that even a few pages can offer in our time of need.” —Miles Neale, PsyD, Buddhist psychotherapist, author of Gradual Awakening, and founder of the Contemplative Studies Program

“Because your journey through life, like everyone’s journey, is a unique story that has never before been told and will never be told again, no guidebook really fits the territory. Matt Licata’s beautifully crafted treatise is about as close as I’ve seen! From his premise that ‘you are not a project to be solved, but a mystery coming into form,’ he invites and shows you how to ‘open to the unexpected wisdom, creativity, and beauty in your immediate experience.’ ” —David Feinstein, PhD, coauthor of The Energies of Love and Energy Medicine

“Matt Licata’s new offering, A Healing Space, feels like a love letter to my wild heart—a gift of being witnessed through his poetic and potent words. After spending decades in the realm of dharma teachings that often look through the lens of transcendence, that recommend we overcome being human, this book offers a great exhale. It pierces the veneer and embraces the kaleidoscope that is our messy, raw, vulnerable, and tender being as we attempt to live with more awareness and mend old stories and wounds. It’s healing by embracing all the parts. His blend of psychology, spiritual understanding, and lyrical conversations about the whole of life’s unfolding makes me feel at home in the whole of my being.” —Janet Stone, yoga teacher and founder of the Stone Yoga School

Product Details
ISBN: 9781683643739
ISBN-10: 1683643739
Publisher: Sounds True
Publication Date: November 3rd, 2020
Pages: 240
Language: English