The Therapy Booth

resting, doodling and holding love signs

The Most Common Words Heard in The Therapy Booth

Whenever I’ve set up The Therapy Booth and folks have come to sit with me, universally, they utter the words, “I feel better” before they get up to leave. They sort of look around, take inventory, and nod. Yeah, I feel better. I actually intend to make some stickers with these words and our website on them . . . on the someday list! Would love for everyone who joins with me there to get a sticker, just like at Wall Drug in Wall, South Dakota. Have you been to Wall Drug? Have you seen the stickers on the road?

Tonight I got an email in response to a post I have on Craigslist sharing that I’m looking for housing and a place to let my mind and doodle tools spread out. I’m feeling pretty excited tonight, as I can really just feel the flow of life, as I’m clear in my asking and am more and more staying directly true to my heart. However that looks in each moment. I want to share with you the contents of the email I received that inspired me to write to you tonight:

I just randomly came across your post looking for my own place to call home.  Your aesthetic is pretty mushy I won’t lie, but that aesthetic takes a tremendous amount of balls and I inexplicably felt better after reading your post.  Thank you for your unabashed loving.

I don’t know about you, but this makes me sprout little tears of gratitude and joy. Simply sharing from the heart, asking for what feels good in the moment, not knowing what ripples will flow, but simply sharing . . . and someone feels better. What joy! And I can relate to the sender. Seeing others follow their hearts and being directly true to that is always inspiring for me. It’s like the water that keeps the wheels spinning. I’m so grateful for all of the heart followers!

Tonight I’m reminded of this cool song I heard on the local radio here in Austin some time ago, and it always stuck with me. Here’s my favorite lyric from it:

And I wanted you to see them all I wished that you were there
I looked across the room and saw you standing on the stair
And when I caught your eye I saw you break into a grin
It feels so good feelin good again

I love this one, too:

I wished I had some money with which to buy a round
I wished I cashed my paycheck before I came to town
But I reached into my pocket and found three twenties and a ten
It feels so good feelin good again

And here’s the song for you to enjoy!

All in all, it’s been a happy day in so many ways, I don’t think I could list them all here. It’s the birthday of a dear friend (so glad you were born, Meowmee!!!). I found out today that my heroine – indeed, my queen and inspiration – Patti Smith, is coming back to Austin in April. Oh, and I found this in my library book:

library book

And I do!

Thanks for reading, be well, and stay in touch!

Love,

Carina

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Waiting for the Big Bang

This morning I was listening to a recording of a spiritual seeker talking with a teacher, saying that he still hadn’t gotten it. He shared that he was waiting for a great and magnificent unveiling of the eyes, a Big Bang of an experience, proving that he had – at last – reached the final goal.

This final goal is fondly called by many names: enlightenment, awakening, merging with the Beloved, infinite awareness, peace, bliss, love, light . . .

The imagined experiences of it also wear many titles and costumes: rolling on the floor laughing, the earth and sky cracking open and light pouring from the body, or – my favorite – total drooling bliss.

And then there are the imagined “after” pictures: never experiencing pain, no sadness or anger or jealousy, beauty, affection, riches, never being bothered ever again by anything, ultimate kindness and compassion, the living embodiment of beatification.

So, what does all this say about you, me, or anyone who experiences pain or judgmental thoughts, who feels desire or longing or weariness, who is certain this can’t be it?

What we often miss is turning and looking right at what this it is, the one that this isn’t. What is it that we have or haven’t achieved? Is a moment of sitting in front of our teacher laughing and laughing and laughing it? Is a day when language doesn’t come and silence is all that’s needed or desired it? Is having people come to you as a teacher it? If material abundance is appearing as if miraculously, is that it? How about talking in non-dual buzzwords or commenting or a posting on Facebook? How about a YouTube video?

In a way, this is like watching lots of romantic comedy movies and holding out for the perfect Hollywood romance. And, not only holding out for that, but also being convinced that there’s something very wrong if that’s not how our relationships look. So now we have the added not-it of stewing in our wrongness about not having or being it.

Wow, no wonder we’re seeking something different.

For many years on the spiritual path, I had a vague idea of this thing called enlightenment (see total drooling bliss, above). I wanted to go off to India and meet a guru who would bop me on the head and all would be love and rainbows and fireworks and sunshine and . . . well, actually, even that may be more fully formed than what I’d actually imagined I wanted. But I wanted it (whatever it was), and I thought I was supposed to have it — or, at least, I was supposed to be going for it. Eventually I concluded this was never going to happen for me in this lifetime, even though there was still a longing. I thought that it would take twenty years of meditating in a cave, like a glowing baba I met once, to have the shift happen — yonder Big Bang. And so, I sat in longing, still looking at others who seemed to have it, and still thinking there was something wrong with these little comings and goings that signified I hadn’t made it.

big bang

Some years ago,  I came across Eckhart Tolle. I was greatly influenced by reading A New Earth and listening to Eckhart reading The Power of Now on my mp3 player. I could definitely feel something shifting and a recognition of what he seemed to be pointing seemed to happen sometimes, but I still had this sense of I got it/I lost it, or as Scott Kiloby aptly calls it, oscillation. And, I couldn’t call Eckhart on the phone to get pointers when I was going through this and that. I wanted to be like him, and didn’t believe I could, but I got these glimpses . . .

Then I met Scott, and that meeting was a game changer. Not the event of physically coming in contact with Scott but what was being pointed. Scott pointed me directly into seeing that any idea I had of how something was supposed to be was nothing but that, an idea. More specifically: words, images and sensations in the body. And sometimes tucked away thoughts – again, just words – that assign meaning to the moment, like that it means something about me that I’m experiencing X, Y, or Z. Whatever you think is being pointed in non-dual or spiritual awakening conversation is not what you think it is. It can’t be. Trust me, but don’t take my word for it. Look for yourself.

What is it that you don’t have yet? What is it you haven’t done or felt or seen? What is it about this moment right now that indicates awake or asleep? And what is awake and what is asleep?

These are all things we look into in the Living Inquiries, developed by Scott Kiloby, out of his direct experience with the clearing and falling away of ideas about achieving a spiritual goal. We aren’t fighting our ideas, we’re simply turning and looking directly into what we think is going on — usually the thing that seems to be fueling suffering. There is a good amount of suffering from the I got it/I lost it thing. I’ve experienced it and I meet with people all the time who also suffer under the weight of what they think they should be but they aren’t. Of not yet having that Big Bang experience. Or, God forbid, having had it and it didn’t stay.

What if the thing you’re waiting for is already happening, right now, no matter what?

Don’t think about that question. Let the mind rest, and let’s look.

 

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For questions and to schedule an individual session, write to thetherapybooth@gmail.com.
Click here for more on the Living Inquiries. Click here to join a Facebook group supporting the Living Inquiries.

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Messy Morning Bed Hair

It’s important to me to write honestly. As you know, one of my greatest passions is creative freedom and freedom of expression. Starting with the Morning Pages, coloring through the doodles, and all of the areas I haven’t yet touched on in the Free Expression series . . . for me, life is all-inclusive. And that really means all. Nothing can be left out in this sort of freedom.

After I posted a few days ago from my fever bed, my mind churning with upheaval and concern, I worried that I shouldn’t have shared that openly, that I shouldn’t have left my post to be read. What would people think of me? How would my words be interpreted? Would I be seen as a poor representative of the Living Inquiries?

I saw, though, that these fearful thoughts were also just part of life and they didn’t need to be followed or believed, any more than anything else. And, what is The Therapy Booth, if not a place for everyone to have all freedom of expression? What kind of Therapy Booth host would I be if I pretended that I’m only feeling well, happy and inspired? And, what if bearing my heart – however it looks – is inspired?

As a creative person – and I assert we all are – this is something I’ve watched and admired in other artists. It’s what gives me such awe for Joni Mitchell and her song writing. Her utter honesty and clarity of description is what has others relate so deeply with her, and it’s what has me wonder, how can she be knowing my experience so directly that she’s singing about it? It is in the details that we find the universals. We are not as alone as we may think we are with our tender hearts, moving minds and oceanic passions.

I find with all of these courses of expression that unencumbered articulation and declaration leaves me feeling more alert, clear and relaxed. To be able to pour it out on the page or on a phone call with a trusted friend or in my doodle notebook or during an inquiry session is to take the chains off of life and let it run free. And then, the direct experience of anicca (a Pali word meaning impermanence) is known. I’m as awe struck by this as I am by Joni Mitchell’s honest lyrics: that something that feels heavy, true and deep – once expressed – goes on about its way as each wave goes back into the ocean and disappears without a trace.

In the Living Inquiries, we look closely and gently at this movement and find out if any of these comings and goings actually equal “us”. Are any of those words I typed during my flu “me”? Are any of the words your friend says to you on the phone “her”? This is done from a restful position, as opposed to a mental one, and it leaves us in a space where all of the comings and goings are totally free to come and go. Life is going to happen. Happiness, delight, fear, anger, sadness, frustration, love, lust, apathy . . . all of them are so welcome to come and go here in The Therapy Booth. Express yourself! I’m gonna.

Recovering! Writing with messy morning bed hair.

Recovering! Writing with messy morning bed hair.

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Fever Cheeks

I’m writing to you today while lying in bed at a friend’s house in Oceanside, California. I came by here a few days ago with high hopes of getting to know the area, seeing the beaches, running around with my friend. But plans don’t always go as we say they’ll go, and I find myself down and out with a cough and a runny nose and I’m pretty sure I have a fever. So much for plans.

It’s been a rough one, I don’t mind saying. As you all know who have been following this blog, I’ve been through lots of ups and downs lately — as we all go through. Sometimes I feel I oughtn’t share so much glumnity (yeah, I just made up that word), but this is my current experience, so what else am I gonna write about?

This last year plus has been one of lots of transition. I can’t really point to any one thing that’s been working, not working, leading me to change, etc. It’s just been a lot of change.

I’m a real home body these days, and about six months ago I moved out of my apartment where I’d been living for the past six years and moved in with two of my closest friends. As I type that, I really feel for them, because I have it that I’m hard to live with. A nice family atmosphere has developed there, but I’ve always known it was going to be temporary, which made it hard (at least in my mind/emotional body/whatever) to really, really settle in. Though – in true Therapy Booth fashion – I got as cozy and comfy as I could.

Then, a few weeks ago, I came to California to dog sit and visit with a friend. As the two weeks I was originally scheduled to be here wound down, I started to feel that maybe it wasn’t time to go back home to Austin just yet. My mom was about to have surgery, and I was thinking about going to Ohio to help her out once she was out of rehab, but those plans weren’t clear to me either. It just became clear – albeit scary – to cancel my return flight and see what unfolded from there.

Right after making that move, my friend in Oceanside invited me to come stay with her for a bit, meet her daughter, cruise around, all the stuff I mentioned. So I rented a car and came down to visit.

A fun little rental car tidbit: On my gentle budget, somehow I ended up with a red Mustang. The beautiful woman at the Avis at LAX enjoyed visiting with me and playing with my hula hoop, and she gave me the upgrade, “On me,” she said.

Beautiful Heather

Beautiful Heather

So anyway, here I am, feverish, lying down, typing out a message. I know there was a point here somewhere. Oh yeah, well, this is what I wanted to talk about.

You know how I facilitate Living Inquiries, right? Well, it’s been an amazing experience, both to inquire a lot myself (and to be facilitated) and also to take people through the inquiries. It’s a beautiful and gentle process, and it’s been great to be part of it. I’ve wanted to work closely with my teacher Scott since I first met him, so getting to do this work together with him and an intimate team of facilitators has been a dream come true.

And, I’m realizing something. Okay, this may seem obvious, but, you know these things make themselves known at the pace that they make themselves known.

I’m realizing that I’m not Scott. Nor am I any of the other LI facilitators. Nor am I Joni or Patti or Dylan or any of the artists I admire. I’m none of my friends nor my roommates nor my Facebook connections. If I want to be all non-dual about it, I can say I’m no one at all, but that’s not my point right now. My point is: I’m just this. A chick going through a big upheaval overhaul who doesn’t really know which end is up and who seems to have the flu right now. I’m someone who is soothed by making art and writing and by doing the occasional inquiry to clear the cobwebs and let all the thoughts, images, emotions and feelings fly.

I’m someone who, as I said to my friend Zach today, is

just hopeful to find a place to live for a while where I can unwind, get my head clear, do some art, write some writing, get a good sleep, get looked after for a while.

And then I asked, Is that so much to ask? to which he replied,

No that is not too much to ask:)

 

Sounds reasonable. And very grounded

which was very comforting to me.

I’m up against voices in the head (aren’t we all, from time to time?) doing all sorts of name calling. I’m up against fears and humility and comparisons to people around me. I’m watching for those voices that resonate and support and give encouragement. This massive mystery called life no longer seems to be happening in any sort of linear way for me anymore, if it ever did. And that both scares me and seems quite natural. And, part of it must be, too, the breaking down. The tripping out and longing for a home and not wanting to feel heartbroken and wanting to get a good sleep and then another good sleep.

A few months ago I started writing daily in a file on my computer called My Book. I was going through some heartbreak and didn’t know what to do with myself, so, in addition to the doodling and the Morning Pages, I was inspired to start writing. One thing that had held me back was this idea that I had to have come to some conclusion or insight before I could write, that I had to tell the tale backwards, once the healing and happiness had shown up in its celebratory and comforting glory. But that’s not where I am right now.

I have fondly called this stretch my mid-life crisis, though today, I might have called it rotting in hell (see earlier post on that topic!). Everything is part of this: the creative inspiration (I’ve started drawing self-portraits!), the feelings of guilt and confusion around relationships with my besties and my family, the anticipation of something fresh, the worry that this phase will just go on and on and on, and, as I mentioned above, the comparisons to others I know.

Watching for those who have gone through such spells is helpful. Watching for resonance is helpful, too. Being kind to myself and to my people helps, if I can do it, and also seeing that I don’t know a gosh darned thing is just where it’s at.

So I’m here in my borrowed bed, typing away, feverish and sniffly and not even sure if this post is legible, but it feels good to share it. I’m just right here. Even in The Therapy Booth, sometimes the body still aches.

A big thanks to all of the friends who have been putting me up, both in Austin and in California, and for looking after me, y’all. My intentions are this: home/s and being taken care of. However that shows up, and I’m grateful for that.

Feel free to let me know if you’re going through or have gone through these types of times and share as you feel.

Much love and great hopes to be feeling much better the next time I write to you.

Love,

Carin

Fever cheeks

Fever cheeks

P.S. Just had a sweet chat with my roomie who is also feeling poorly, back in Texas. I felt such home-ness coming from her. Just goes to show, one conclusion is as unsolid as the next. Hope you get to feelin’ better soon, G. Thanks for the chat. xx

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