Thursday, May 13, 2010

Breathing consciousness into the unconscious

Dear Carina,

How does one keep the heart open after a man has been less than honest with her during a break-up, especially after trust has been established? My inclination is to close off to the possibility of romantic relationships and distrust men, although that is not what I want nor what I want to put out in the universe. If a man says I'm fabulous, but he can't be with me because of issues he needs to work through, and then it becomes clear that he just isn't interested in me and it isn't about his "issues" at all, how do I make sense out of all these mixed messages? How does one sift through the stories told to discern what is true and what is being told to hurt someone less, in order to make corrections during the next encounter? Put another way, if I'm so fabulous, then how am I suppose to change what I'm doing wrong in order to attract the right man? Am I attracting the wrong men? Maybe I'm not fabulous? Or am I doing what I'm supposed to be doing, and these "not-quite-right" men are just part of the path to finding a long-term soul mate/romantic life-partner? I'm sad, frustrated and confused and I don't know how to move forward.

With gratitude and love,

* * * * * * *

Dear Michelle,

Thank you so much for writing. I love your letter.

What you're experiencing is so human! I could feel it! Let's go ahead and get some space in here.

What is clear to me upon reading it is the mental and emotional whirlpool you were sitting in in that moment. It's beautiful how clear that is. And all there is to do is to observe that, gently. We can use our churning mind like a bell of mindfulness. When you become alert to a familiar mental story line - freed momentarily from being identified with it - you come awake for a moment.

Any level of observation takes us out of the muck, even if we immediately slip back into it. The practice is in noticing again. And again. And okay, there it is again. And ahhh. And okay. And oh man. Lovingly. Breathingly. Gently noticing.

This is all there is to be done in these moments. The details can swallow us whole. I've been there. Every person has been there. And I'm pretty sure we all will again.

When we simply observe our mental/emotional trying-to-understand churning, when we notice that we're trying to solve or blame or figure out, we are breathing consciousness into the unconscious. And that is our true source.

I could go further into the details of your questions, but for this discussion, let's keep it very simple.

This practice is what will keep your heart open. It is what will allow you to know the perfection in each moment, in every relationship. It will allow you to be in your own heart. Because there's no other way any moment could be. You're not doing anything wrong. There's nothing to do but come into this moment, again and again. All heart arises from here.

Thank you so much for writing. Your generosity in asking benefits all.



If other questions arise from this writing, please email

Friday, May 7, 2010

This is a conversation with you and God.

Dear Carina,

I feel like I am really going through a "Dark Night of the Soul". It seems that I am releasing so much stagnant energy, frustration and rage - all of which I've bottled up for years. Now it feels like it's gushing out of me, and I can no longer suppress it or control it. It's a bit unsettling, but liberating at the same time. Do you have any advice on how to navigate these choppy and unfamiliar waters?


* * * * * * *

Dear MM,

What a beautiful letter. Thank you so much for writing and for your absolute courage and heart.

You ask this question from a place of knowing, or you would not have come to me.

What could be more painful than not being able to access the peace that you've come to know, to feel disconnected from source. Dark Nights of the Soul are experienced by those who know the light.

Gosh, just a few weeks ago, I quoted Rumi on this very topic:

Listen to the story told by the reed,
of being separated.

"Since I was cut from the reedbed,
I have made this crying sound.

Anyone apart from someone he loves
understands what I say.

Anyone pulled from a source
longs to go back."

And I said then, and will repeat now: this is the most basic of human experience. I think it is uniquely troubling when it's experienced by someone who has known her true essence. Who knows her true essence, I should say. Again, if you did not know, you would not have written to me. You would not be seeking ways to breathe through this experience, you courageous journeyer.

Friend, we are so trained to distinguish good and bad feelings. One being desirable, the other most certainly not. This is a mistake of human thinking. But the fact is, most of us have our reactions, thoughts, body sensations and emotions so tightly tangled up, we cannot notice the separate parts, and we cannot sit in neutrality as the experiences arise and pass away. Mostly we just resist the "bad" feelings (and cling onto those good times, a folly in and of itself), and that just plain hurts.

So what can we do to soothe, then, in this universal predicament?

Bump up your self care.

I like to think of going through a depression as sort of like having the flu. You need to rest, listen to your body, eat nurturing foods, perhaps tune inward. In fact, this tuning in is what's demanded in this heavy emotional time. This is a conversation with you and God.

Prayer works.

works. When I can't feel the Beloved's loving arms, especially when I most need them, I lay a blanket down on the floor or the grass outside and I surrender my body to the earth and ask for help. Entreat the good Lord to help me. Because I know that this is really the only place to go.

Love is in the arms of the Divine, not in our thinking, judging, resisting mind. Still, we can turn our love toward that part of the self, too. It can't help it.

Drink lots of water. Get some exercise. See health care practitioners you trust to care for you. Let the Universe care for you. It is not separate from the hard times.

The other side of this is peace, and, in fact, it is there now. It does not matter that you cannot feel it.

You are not separate from the One, and you are supported from the inside.

Please take good care and thank you so much for writing. We are experiencing all of this together now.



P.S. One of the greatest books you can read when going through such hard emotional times is Pema Chodron's masterpiece, When Things Fall Apart. She radically and compassionately guides us first into and then out the other side of our suffering by teaching us what we fear most: to sit with it. Paradoxically it is all love.

If other questions arise from this writing, please email