Embodied Intimacy, Transformative Inquiry, Creative Emergence

A Safe Place To Fall ~ Taking Refuge in the Soft Spot

Posted by on Apr 24, 2018 in Articles by Shayla, Featured Writing | 2 comments

A Safe Place To Fall ~ Taking Refuge in the Soft Spot

“Trauma is not what happens to us, but what we hold inside in the absence of an empathetic witness”
~Peter Levine~

Recently, during a training that I am part of, I had the privilege of holding a beautiful and brilliant young woman I admire, while she wept her heart out. Two other women also held her, softly, tenderly and with reverence. I could feel the medicine of her deep grief informing me, inviting me, softening me. I was so honoured to offer her a safe place to fall, into this river of tears. Her courage allowed me to open to my own sorrow the following day. As I did so, I experienced a rain of kindness falling on me from everywhere, as I allowed myself to be seen, to be touched, to be known, in this fragile and deeply vulnerable place.

Someone who has wept in my arms belongs to me, as I belong to them. That’s a very different belonging than my mother’s bridge clubs, or my father’s drinking parties. Holding each other in this way, we feel a deep sacredness emerging, a loving presence greater than ourselves. It doesn’t need to be named; it lives and breathes in the space between us.

At one point, when my friend was weeping, she said “I’m hot!” I realized I could feel a fire in her, that these were not cold tears, that something was truly melting. When we hold each other like this, we are creating a container in which alchemy happens. Things get hot, and the energies inside us that have been frozen start to transform into something new.

These passages take their own sweet time. They cannot be rushed, or coerced. We may need to weep again, rage again, tremble with fear again and again. This kind of transformation calls us deep into our fear, into the real terror of change. These new ways of being with each other bring us to our knees. They are not something we can approach with our will, with our intellect. They require the full participation of our body, our heart, and our soul.

We live in a culture that gives very little nourishment to the soul, to the essence of our being. The level of fragmentation and isolation that surrounds us at this time is reaching epidemic proportions. Perhaps we are reaching a tipping point. Perhaps we are opening to a wisdom that many of our ancient cultures held dearly: the courage it takes to fall apart is something we can only discover in the presence of another. The medicine we need will only be found in the space of relation. It’s not the courage of standing tall and strong and on our own. It’s the willingness to stay open to what the spiritual teacher Chogyam Trungpa called ‘the soft spot.’

The soft spot is where we are no longer protecting ourselves, hiding, looking for solid ground. The soft spot is sore, tender and vulnerable. It’s taken me a very long time to understand why Chogyam would say, ‘There will always be a soft spot,’ as if this was the ultimate good news.
Now, after a lifetime of practice and heartbreak, I am just beginning to get it. The soft spot, where we meet our deepest and most intense feelings, is how we connect, how we become truly intimate.

Learning to respect our soft spot is a radical departure from how we have been taught to live. And it is good news. If we can stay with our soft spot, we don’t have to keep bowing down to all of the agreements and practices of a soul-starved culture. We can create a whole new culture, slowly, patiently, step by step.

Imagine living in a place where you could look people right in the eye and say, “I am frightened,” or “I feel rage,” or “I feel terrible sorrow,” and know in that moment, that you deserved their complete respect. To embody this new way of being, we need to practice. Not alone, but with each other. With whatever willingness we have.

Not the high mountain monastery
I had hoped for, the real
face of my spiritual practice
is this:
the sweat that pearls on my cheek
when I tell you the truth, my silent
cry in the night when I think
I’m alone, the trembling
in my own hand as I reach out
through the years of overcoming
to touch what I had hoped
I would never need again.
~Kim Rosen

with love,


photo credit: www.oprisco.com


Join the conversation and post a comment.

  1. Michelle Wilsdon

    Right now
    as I breathe and type
    I feel the sharing tears
    and prayers we offered
    at a retreat
    when we observed and tried to save
    a young man who gave up his life
    in our frozen river.
    This is real, this was 2 days ago
    This pain, with Toronto,with Humboldt, with Diane
    is given to each to hold and share,

  2. Regis

    Oh Shayla–

    My soul smiles in gentle waters, as l receive your words of Love, Light and Truth. Let each of us dare to fall to the Ground of our shared Humanity, thereby allowing space for the Essential aspect of our beings to flower and shine forth in and for the world—

    Namaste dear sister of the Soul


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