The Therapy Booth

resting, doodling and holding love signs

The Enlightenment/Awakening/What-that-other-guy-has-that-I-don’t-have-yet Course

For more on looking for enlightenment,
check out Waiting for the Big Bang.
If you can relate to what you read in that article, this class may be for you.

 DanglingCarrot

Do you recognize some of these?

Waiting to wake up.

Searching for truth.

Glimpsing enlightenment but it doesn’t stay.

My teacher has it.

I don’t have it.

I want it.

I have moments of awareness, but I fall back into being unconscious again.

If I were enlightened, I wouldn’t be experiencing _________________.

I must not be awake because I still _________________.

I’m awake, but you’re not.

I can’t seem to stay in awareness.

We’re supposed to be all one, but I don’t really get it.

I’ve been eating the right food, doing this stretch, chanting these prayers, and trying to control my thoughts, but I’m still failing.

If you really knew what goes on in my head, you’d know that I am so far from enlightenment.

* * * * *

Brass Ring

And what about this one: Enlightenment means _______________ .

Let’s have a look together and see if we can actually pinpoint it. Let’s see if we can find this elusive mysterious state where life is total drooling bliss (my favorite definition of enlightenment), total harmony, wealth, good sex (or no sex, if your image of spiritual awakening includes celibacy), pure happiness, lack of any desire, total love and compassion for everyone and everything, and — don’t forget — no thoughts, or at worst, only loving thoughts. Wow, where is this Emerald City?

Do you ever notice that the road there seems painful? That the sense that I-don’t-have-it-yet — or worse still — I-tasted-it-and-now-it’s-gone-again is as brutal as anything else along the path? What if you could just step right off the path? What if you could see it disintegrate, right before your eyes? Does this sound scary?  We can look there too. I assure you, there is nothing safer.

I’m not here to knock your spiritual devotion. I’m offering to look with you to see if we can find this thing that seems just out of reach but that is also more important than anything else. It is, right? Well, if it is, we ought to be able to find it. Let’s look together and see what we can see.

* * * * *

Here’s how the class will go:

Using the Living Inquiries (Unfindable, Anxiety and Compulsion Inquiries) as developed by Scott Kiloby and our team of senior facilitators, we will look into all aspects of enlightenment (or awakening or whatever you call the thing that other guy has but you don’t have yet — fill in your own blank) including: enlightenment as a concept; deficiency stories about the self as relates to enlightenment; fear around having, getting, losing or keeping enlightenment; and the compulsion to seek enlightenment or awakening or whatever you call that elusive “it.”

Three Group Calls (on-line, video chat)
– these calls will introduce you to the basics of Living Inquires. They are also a rich opportunity to experience others as they are facilitated in the inquiry process, often deepening your own insights.

Four Individual Sessions (on-line or by phone) with Living Inquiries Senior Facilitators, Carin Channing and Samantha Vickery Gray, and 1 – 2 sessions with additional certified facilitators
– these sessions run between 60 and 90 minutes and will be designed BY YOU. That is, we will look at your unique, personal experience with this topic. This is a tremendous opportunity to delve deeply and thoroughly in a gentle and supportive atmosphere.

A Private Facebook Group for members of this course where you can share experiences, ask questions, get and give support and receive reminders and tips in between sessions.

Other Course Details:

Cost: $425 ($400 if you have already taken a Deepening Course with me)

Dates and Times of Group Sessions:

Tuesday, October 8, 6 – 8 pm CST (same time zone as Chicago — please check your local time)

Tuesday, October 15, 6 – 8 pm CST

Tuesday, October 29, 6 – 8 pm CST

It’s recommended that you begin to schedule your individual sessions as soon as you register for the course.

* Class size is limited to 10 participants. Register early to hold a spot. * If these dates and times don’t work for you but you are interested in receiving notifications about other courses, email me.

Ready to register?

Select your payment option from the drop down menu below.


Enlightenment/Awakening/What-that-other-guy-has-that-I-don’t



What else can we explore in this class?

Whatever else seems just out of reach. What is it that you’re always going for but can’t quite grasp? The perfect relationship, weight, career, purpose, accomplishment, success . . . whatever that sneaky something is. Let’s meet it.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Why am I inspired to offer this class?

For many years, awakening or enlightenment was my goal, and it was the only goal. I had a strong belief that there was something called truth, and that some people knew about this and others didn’t. I felt elite in my taste of it, and I also felt lowly in my lack of it. But it was all I wanted. I can remember moments when I had the thought, “I think this might be it. I think this is what they were talking about.” And yes, there was a subtle grasping – hopefulness – and also a sneaky fear. “How do I keep this? What if it goes away?”

With the advent of the Living Inquiries, I had the opportunity to bring “enlightenment” to the Unfindable Inquiry. Interestingly, I forgot that I even did the UI on this subject. It just seemed to me that seeking enlightenment had become a non-issue, just from being around the inquiries a lot. And it really is a non-issue for me anymore. Sure, other things come up, and I continue to join in the looking. But this promise of whatever-I-imagined-it-to-be has completely relaxed for me. And I’ll tell you, it’s a great and worthwhile relief.

Questions? Write to carin_channing@yahoo.com. If you’re ready to join us, click the Buy Now button above.

For more information about Scott Kiloby and the Living Inquiries, please visit www.kiloby.com and www.livinginquirires.com.

* * * * *

Artwork from
– http://splinterinthemindseye.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/DanglingCarrot.gif
– http://adelekenny.blogspot.com/2011/07/poetry-pormpt-63-carousel.html
– http://grr9.deviantart.com/art/Just-Out-of-Reach-207970059

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Beyond Trust

trust

(Image from http://millionaireweb.it/blog/innovazione-programmala-in-5-passi/.)

In the fall of 2011, I lost my job as a social worker in a psychiatric hospital. The day before I found out I was to be fired, I’d made a list of “What I Want from the Airstream Life,” as I felt restless on the job and wanted to contemplate and nurture the qualities of life that resonated with me more than being inside for 9 hours a day in front of a computer, on the phone, counting numbers and debating with insurance company reps. One thing I wrote was that I wanted to be “free of my office at the hospital.” The final two items on the list were:

– complete leap of faith
– peace, peace, peace, peace, peace, peace, peace

I had been carrying this idea that, spiritually, I was not going all the way. That I was not fully giving over to something, and I wasn’t fully trusting. But I wanted that leap of faith, so I thought.

The next day in the HR director’s office, as I realized I had only four days left of my job, I felt stunned and amazed. I felt the free fall I’d asked for the night before. “Wow,” I said. “That was quick.” I felt scared and excited and dreamy.

Over the following months, I went through the extreme ups and downs of a major life shift. I got really sick and ended up in the hospital with appendicitis. Friends took me home with them for a week after that, and my world was rocked by being in need. I had $8.00 in the bank and none in my pocket. Lots of tears, fears and humiliation – along with lots of creative opportunities – came through. I was guided to ask for help. I was inspired to teach my first doodle classes, and The Therapy Booth itself was born the following spring.

Also during that time, a small group of us began training with Scott Kiloby to be his first team of Living Inquiries Facilitators. Had I still had my job at the hospital, I don’t imagine I would have had the energy or motivation to delve deeply into these projects.

Eventually I had to move out of my beloved apartment where I’d retreated for six years (the longest time I’d ever lived in one dwelling). That was a massive ego blow and was scary, but also in my heart, I had been feeling that it was time to leave that particular place. For one thing, I was having rat issues. The first day the guy who eventually took over my lease came round to see the place, a great big rat walked right across the room. Didn’t scare the renter, and now he lives there. I wouldn’t have believed it at the time, but, once I moved out, I didn’t look back.

I moved in with the two friends who’d taken care of me after my surgery and went through many months of adjustment, as I’m sure they did, too. They took really good care of me, and we shared food and laughs and tears and doodles and the intimacy of family. It was a great gift to have a landing place, regardless of my miniscule bank account. I had the time and space to go deeply into Living Inquiries, both in giving and receiving. Even though I was eager to get my own place again, I felt fear come up when the time came for me to move on from there. But it also seemed natural. As if I had the wherewithal or fortitude to meet whatever fear might come and to stay the course. Trust, or beyond trust?

Here I sit, four months after that departure. I feel as contented and peaceful as ever. I have work that I love and feel passionate about — facilitating inquiry, encouraging doodling, relaxing in The Therapy Booth — which leaves me inspired every time I do any of it. I have enough money that I’ve been able to pay forward the amazing financial support I received during the year + after the job loss. I feel such gratitude to everyone who helped me out during that phase, and I’m so happy to share from my heart today.

I don’t have any illusions that anything will stay as it is. And I don’t worry about it. Not too much, anyway. You see, in my estimation, worry and trust go hand in hand.

Friends look at my life and say, “You must really trust,” or “I know I just have to trust that everything will be okay. Things always work out.”

Recently, I used the Unfindable Inquiry (from Kiloby’s Living Inquiries) to look into this thing called “working out.” Along with innocuous images of hula hooping and memories of my former gym, I could sense a bit of stress or tension around this idea that “things always work out.”

Check it out for yourself and see. If you are hanging onto trust, or if you’re holding tightly to the thought “things always work out,” do you notice any tension or perhaps background worry that this might not be true, or that you are responsible either for assuring that “things work out,” or for generating and holding onto this thing called “trust”? That’s how it was for me.

Using the Unfindable Inquiry, I was able to feel into those concerns and meet the energies behind them directly. In doing so, the concept “working out” relaxed for me. I didn’t feel as responsible or attached to it. I see the same with the concept “trust.”

Taking this into inquiry, we can look right now to see if trust is something that exists on its own, that we’re responsible for doing, and that, if we don’t, things . . . well . . . won’t work out.

Look at these letters, on their own: T-R-U-S-T.

Are those letters themselves this thing called trust? Does that T actually trust something?

Do you feel a feeling in your body when you look at those words? Go there. Feel it. Stay with it. Quietly feel around and see, is that trust? Is that sensation, on its own, identifying itself as trust? Rest here a moment and have a look.

 

What about an image of someone or something you trust? Is that image, appearing like a memory, trust? Can that image itself trust something?

How about this thought, “But if I don’t trust, I’ll just be scared”? Are those words, on their own, trust?

And what about the feeling that comes with that thought? What about the scared feeling? Let it rip. Feel scared. Like fully. Meet it right here and rest with it.

Now look into that feeling. Where is trust? Note any thoughts that come with the feeling. Are those sets of words or images, on their own, trust?

Also, look and see if that feeling of “scared”, on its own — just the sensation itself — is a threat. Can that sensation hurt you? Let your mind go quiet and have a look.

 

This is what I do almost every day both with client friends and also either on my own or with other facilitators. Delving deeply into these concepts helps me meet the areas where I’m holding on with fear.

What if both trust and not-trust are equally irrelevant? What if even trust can drop away? Then what?

 

I’ve been experiencing a fluidity that doesn’t need my worried mind to try to soothe it. Trying to feel comfort by worrying is like trying to dry off with a soaking wet towel. Get this, though: I’m not saying to squelch any thoughts or any feelings that come through. In fact, I’m recommending the opposite. Express it all. Whether it be in writing, a doodle, or with a friend or in an inquiry session, give it all room to come through. Notice that nothing sticks. Not the letters T-R-U-S-T. Not the sound “truh-sst”. Not even the feelings that come through the body that I associate with worry or even relaxation. It’s all free to come and go, but I don’t have to bank on any of it.

Speaking of banking, it seems ironic in a way, that not long after the years of humbling that I described above, I’m leading a course about money. I’m thrilled about it and am delighted to share this type of looking with friends. We look deeply into “money” as an object. We look directly at our worries about money. We look for the solid substance in all of it. Where is the actual threat that we need to worry about? Where is the self who needs to manage all of this or has to hold onto the concept of trusting that it will all work out?

Going beyond trust leaves a resting in the natural fluidity of life. I don’t know what will be given. I don’t know what inspiration will come. Or not come. All I aim to do, if anything, is to feel, express and relax. Does this leave me unmotivated? Perhaps in some ways, but certainly not in others. As you see, I’m writing this blog post. Tonight I’m bringing The Therapy Booth to a party and will join with friends there. I have plans for travel to see my family this fall. But, even now, I can’t say for sure that anything will come to pass other than just the clicking of these fingers on this keyboard and the hearing of the plane flying overhead. It’s like the same free fall that I felt when sitting in the HR director’s office. Only there’s no falling, no landing. To me, if trust lies anywhere anymore, that’s it. More accurately but never perfectly described, it’s beyond trust.

With much love,

Carina

P.S. If you are interested in knowing more about the Living Inquiries or would like assistance in looking in this way, email me at thetherapybooth@gmail.com. Also join us on Facebook for a community of folks who are looking together. Trust me when I say, there’s nothing at all that compares with actually joining with a facilitator to look. Intellectual understanding won’t cut it. And yeah, I see that I just typed the words “trust me.” Weee! There’s the delight in this! The word can still appear! Empty and perhaps pointing at the same time . . .

P.P.S. Here is the complete list that I made of What I Want from the Airstream Life. I love that this describes my world right now:

freedom
spontaneity
natural sleep cycle
beautiful places
beautiful new friends
new places & locations
creativity
creative inspiration
rest
physical health & wellness
freedom from an office (ALH) [those are the initials of the hospital where I’d been working]
pay, for what I do naturally
complete leap of faith
peace, peace, peace, peace, peace, peace, peace

Funny, I thought “no bra” was on there, too. Happily that, too, has come true.

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This is Great News

billboard water

This billboard in Lima, Peru is providing drinking water — enough to serve 100s of families a month. The area experiences almost no rainfall and clean water is scarce. But the air is very humid. Watch this little video to see what these creative engineers have come up with. Good news is refreshing! Enjoy!

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The Money Course – Living Inquiries

* This course is SOLD OUT. If you would like to be on a waiting list
for the next MONEY COURSE, write to thetherapybooth@gmail.com. *

puzzled dollar

Have you ever noticed that we tend to have thoughts that fall into two categories:
I’m okay, and here’s why; and I’m not okay, and here’s why.

Take a look at some of these phrases that friends shared when asked to talk about money, and notice how they fall into one of those two categories:

I can’t earn enough.
I don’t deserve the money I have.
I’m going to be old and broke.
I must not look greedy.
My income determines my value as a man.
Money scares me.
Money is the destructive force at the center of our social/economic order and until the advancement of the Human condition replaces it the planet and all it’s species are doomed.
I’ll be happy and can relax once I have enough to retire on.
It’s not noble to charge.
It’s wrong to take charity.
I feel rich.
I am capable and worthwhile!
I focus on receiving not needing.
God’s bounty is mine, I am grateful!
I am open to receiving the abundance that is my right.
I’ll always be broke.

With the I’m not okay thoughts, we hope to high heaven they’re not true, but we’re pretty sure they are; and we can usually find a lot of agreement for them. (There is so much agreement that money is a problem. That’s why this class is such a good idea!) We try to stamp out those thoughts, shove them away and hope to replace them with something friendlier. Then, with the I’m okay thoughts, we hope to high heaven that they’re true, and we work to hold them into place whist trying to hold off the others.

money woes

What if we didn’t have to manipulate either kind of thought? What if there’s a whole new way to look at money that doesn’t have anything to do with creating a new belief, tracking every penny you spend, or scolding, shaming or limiting yourself?

What if your relationship with money could be so refreshing it cannot accurately be described but can only be experienced?

Those words might sound flashy, but they’re not meant to be. I am not trying to seduce you into yet another way-to-solve-your-money-problems-once-and-for-all deal. I’m not here to offer you riches or even the promise of financial stability.

I’m offering you a completely fresh experience.  And not only will this concentrated look at all aspects of your personal relationship with money affect your point of view in this area, this experience will surely influence other areas of your life. You will learn a tool that applies to absolutely everything that you would like to see in a fresh way.

What’s possible with this course:

* A refreshing relationship with money.

* Relaxation from the fear and anxiety around money.

* Experiencing peace around money, directly — not by logic or talking yourself into it.

* Gently uncovering deep rooted beliefs and meeting them with full compassion and generosity.

* Creativity, playfulness and full self-expression as we shift from survival/problem-solving mode and open to other channels.

* The end of your typical money conversation. Yes, this really is possible. Would you like to look with me?

me on money

Course Details:

Using the Living Inquiries (Unfindable, Anxiety and Compulsion Inquiries) as developed by Scott Kiloby and our team of senior facilitators, we will look into all aspects of money including: money as a concept; deficiency stories about the self as relates to money; fear around having, getting, losing or keeping money; money and spirituality; and compulsions to make or worry about money.

Three Group Calls (on-line, video chat)
– these calls will introduce you to the basics of Living Inquires. They will also be rich opportunities to experience others going through the inquiry process, often deepening your own insights.

Four Individual Sessions (on-line or by phone) with me and 1 – 2 sessions with additional certified facilitators
– these sessions run between 60 and 90 minutes and will be designed BY YOU. That is, we will look at your unique, personal experience with money. This is a tremendous opportunity to delve deeply in a gentle and supportive atmosphere.

A Private Facebook Group for members of this course where you can share experiences, ask questions, get and give support and receive reminders and tips in between sessions.

Cost: $425 ($400, if you have already taken a Deepening Course with me) SOLD OUT

Dates and Times of Group Sessions:

Wednesday, July 31, 6 – 8 pm CST
Wednesday, August 14, 6 – 8 pm CST
Wednesday, August 28, 6 – 8 pm CST

It’s recommended that you schedule your individual sessions as soon as you register for the course.

* Class size is limited to 5 participants. Register early to hold a spot. * If these dates and times don’t work for you but you are interested in receiving notifications about other courses, email me.

Other questions? Write to me at thetherapybooth@gmail.com.

Ready to register?

THIS COURSE IS SOLD OUT.

If you would like to be on an alternates list or a list for future courses, email me at carin_channing@yahoo.com. Thanks!


Welcome to The Living Inquiries Money Course



Freedom with money is very Therapy Booth!

For more information about Scott Kiloby and the Living Inquiries, visit www.kiloby.com.

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To say ‘I love you’ right out loud . . .

help

Why do we love to read Rumi so much? Because he knew that the crying out for the lover is the lover itself. The oldest of our cats cries a lot. She is blind and mostly deaf and seems like she’s just unsure of where she is a lot of the time. She cries a certain kind of howl and very much wants to be with a person. We can’t always accommodate with a spot on a lap, and she eventually finds a place to lie down and nap, until she comes wandering again.

When I first moved to Austin I worked as a therapist in a nursing home. We had a client named Helen who would sit in the hallway in her wheel chair and call out “Help me, help me, help me, help me, help me.” I’ve been thinking about Helen and Rumi and myself and the little kitty and a friend’s post on Facebook and Patti Smith and Living Inquiries and about telling the truth for you, however that might occur.

It might occur like prostration and supplication.

It might occur like I love you.

It might occur like help me, help me, help me.

It might occur like screaming at a concert.

It might occur like drawing words with your left hand that you wouldn’t otherwise dare say out loud.

It might occur like a text message typed into a phone or a song penned on the back of a napkin or an outpouring whispered to a face, a cheek, a mouth: save me.

Can we actually be alive without a sense of longing?

Maybe not everyone feels these things. Or they have different ways of channeling them. But I think about Helen in her wheel chair in the hall at the nursing home, and I just think she was so sane. Whether it be calling out for help or anything else, I’m in love with the experience of expression. I keep thinking about different lines from Joni Mitchell songs tonight. No wonder. I deeply admire her full on lyrical expression. I’m mystified by it and mentored by it.

To say ‘I love you’ right out loud . . .

There’s something about song-writing that’s mystifying to me. I love to sing and play, thought I haven’t written much yet.  Sometimes I’ll learn a song that just resonates with me so deeply, I love to sing it. I can feel it, as if I had written those words.  I was playing a Patti Smith song tonight, not having picked up my guitar in weeks, but having seen Patti up close [singing this and many others] a few days ago, the guitar fell into my hands. I have hoped to learn from her. To open my throat and my guts and excrete it all

with heart. Complete heart.

I think I must have gathered some ideas along the way that only certain feelings and subjects are kosher, friendly, spiritual, acceptable, successful, ought to be talked about. Funny to consider this if you look at music. If you look at any art. And I think this is why I’m so in love with art, with writing, with music, with full expression.

The calling out and the one called for, one note.

Rumi writes:

Crying out loud and weeping are great resources.

A nursing mother, all she does

is wait to hear her child.

 

Just a little beginning-whimper,

and she’s there.

 

God created the child, that is , your wanting,

so that it might cry out, so that milk might come.

 

Cry out! Don’t be stolid and silent

with your pain. Lament! And let the milk

of loving flow into you.

1 Comment »

Have you met my friend?

broken record

I feel like a broken record sometimes, posting again and again about experiencing and expressing all sorts of emotions. Here I am today, carrying on the conversation.

I have two parents who have been very focused in their work life. They’ve had careers straight out of graduate school that they’ve been thriving in ever since. They’re both innovators and experts and I admire them both for what they bring to their respective fields. And I’ve also envied them their focus. They’ve known what they wanted to engage in and have been doing it for 40+ years.

In some of our classic father/daughter head butting moments, my dad has told me that I don’t stick with anything. That besides my graduate degree, I don’t finish anything. Okay, Dad, to be fair, it’s been about a year since you’ve said that out loud to me (but I remember). And I’ve wondered about how true it is and also whether or not it’s a problem. I could say that I have a short attention span. I dabble in this and dabble in that. I have an English degree, a few semesters of an Anthropology maters, a social work masters, a certification in nutritional counseling and private chef-ing, and about a billion blogs all over the internet, most of them forgotten by now.

But one thing that’s been consistent over the years is this: freedom in feeling and expressing.

Let me introduce you to an old friend who can help me tell this story.

This is my beloved Sleepy Zombie Monster. He came to me on my birthday, 2007 (funny, it’s the same day another long-term love showed up in my life, but that’s another book in and of itself . . . ). I had been feeling sad that the fella I was into at the time wasn’t contacting me in the way I wanted him to on that day. This was years before the Unfindable and Boomerang Inquiries showed up, so I didn’t really know how to look into what that meant for me without taking on more self-shaming. All I knew was that he wasn’t calling me and I felt bad about that. But what made it so much worse was that I also believed something was wrong with me for having that response. I spent the whole day in this fog, unable to accept the warmth and generosity that my friends were giving and feeling really really fucked up for not being able to.

That afternoon I went home and took a nap and when I woke up, I saw that the fog was clearing. And I thought, “Wow, what a zombie mood I’ve been in.” And then, the image of this big purple furry creature with long eyelashes showed up and the words Sleepy Zombie Monster came, too. I saw, in that moment, that there was something benevolent about this creature. He was not harmful, but he was more a representation of the first line of thoughts and feelings that were naturally coming through but that were being (failingly and awkwardly) repressed by the second line of thoughts and feelings of shame, embarrassment, “what’s wrong with me, even after all these years of therapy?”, etc. Have you been there?

So I developed this relationship (and, following that, a workshop) with this imaginary friend. I learned that there were cues that I could notice that indicated that he was hanging around. The clearest one for me was the sense that there was a veil between me and everything I was looking at. It was almost as if I couldn’t see, even though my eyes were open, because there was so much heaviness hanging over me. I learned to look for the Sleepy Zombie Monster when I recognized the cues, and I’d just turn and ask him what he wanted or needed in that moment. Sometimes he wanted to dance. Sometimes he wanted to leave where we were and wanted to go do something else. Other times he just wanted me to sit down with him and rest, breathe, relax.

He popped up on a 10-day meditation course I was on where there was no talking and nothing particularly fun to do. When I interacted with him there (and, let me tell you, it was a good place to have a friend!), I told him that we were doing this so we could be nicer to each other. He said, “I definitely want you to be nicer to me!” and so I told him we were staying for a few more day, and we held hands and took a walk together. The next time I did a 10-day course, he really wanted to comfort a gal who was in the woods crying, but we aren’t allowed to interact with other people, so we just hoped she had her own Sleepy Zombie Monster and we went on about our way. (The gal ended up leaving the course the next day.)

I’m pretty sure he put in an appearance around here these past few days. I’ve been experiencing some deep feelings, both “good” and “bad” (that distinction, perhaps, lies at the heart of the issue, but that, too, is another post), and realized I was holding off some of both sides. The greatest freedom that came to me in this stretch was in seeing that I thought there was something wrong with feeling and thinking whatever was coming through.

In Living Inquiries, we look to see if we can actually find a separate self who is the generator and experiencer of these comings and goings. It’s a beautiful process. It’s especially great in this context, for one who has thought again and again that hiding out so as not to expose this natural weather of emotion was how life should be. Ugh. How miserable is that! I don’t know if this is true, but it seems like I picked up some ideas in my childhood about how anger and sadness were not okay and that being cheerful and pleasant and kind and successful and smart were the only roads to love and safety and security. But I’ve found that to be bullshit, if you don’t mind my saying so.

Actually, I don’t care if you do mind. I’m saying so anyway. That’s bullshit.

We are creatures with a full range of emotions and innocent thoughts. It’s funny, too, how I don’t analyze a thought like “I love this song,” but I will analyze the heck out of “I love this man.” And if my foot itches, I don’t analyze or blame myself for that, but if I’m experiencing energies in the body that I might label anxiety, I am more likely to follow all sorts of thoughts about what it means about me. It’s pretty classic.

In my experience so far, looking deeply into all of this begins with the allowing of it all. Including the allowing and meeting of the repression or holding-back feelings. I usually find that, once those holding-back feelings and thoughts are met, the underlying thoughts and feelings have more space to come through.

In the end, nothing sticks. I’m a fan of knowing that, too. Which is where this all ties in with expression and creativity, for me. I read something in a Natalie Goldberg book about a poem she’d written that was really sad. She reads it at public readings and she said that people often come up to her with such gloom and doom responses, asking her, “Isn’t it awful to go through this again?” while she reads it. But she said no. She said that once it was written and fully expressed, it lost its charge, its own doom and gloom, and she feels quite good now, thank you very much.

So to use a word from a chat with a friend today, the ephemeral nature of everything is its own paradox. When we express fully, no holds barred, nothing but nothing can stick. It seems like it’s the holding back of expressing that, in some way, keeps stuff around and makes it seem personal.

As always, I could say so much on this topic, I’ll go ahead and wrap up for now. Perhaps one day this will all turn into a book. But what would it be like if I completed a book? Dad and I would have to have a new conversation.

I love you soooo much, and wish you all freedom in feeling, down to the dirtiest, up to the highest, and everything in between. Stay in touch. Love, Carina

xx

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Free Expression, Part 2: The Witness Mudra

witness text

I got a text message from a friend today that said she was “caught in the swirl.” She said, “I need to relax.”

I replied asking if I could help. I said I had a Ph.D. in resting. “Dr. Carina,” I said, tongue in cheek, but anyway . . .

After sending that message, I recalled a few days ago (the day I wrote my last post here, in fact) when I’d messaged the same friend with the words Having kind of a sad and scared morning. I could use a big purging cry. Needed to tell someone other than myself.

My friend’s reply that day?

/m\ <3 x 100

I’ll provide the glossary for that first symbol in a moment (the one followed by the heart x 100), but first, I’ll share what I was present to as my friend’s text came through today. I felt the lack of being caught in a swirl, an emptiness and openness from which I could confidently ask my friend if I could help. I also noticed a little thought along the lines of Wow, I was going through such things a few days ago, and she heard all about it; would she feel I could be of use at all?

It’s as if there’s an idea that going-through-it (whatever that even means, and what I’m sure is unfindable if brought into the light of direct looking) is something that sticks around. That it means something about me or anyone else. That it stays with us, when, as evidenced by this morning’s feelings, it does not, in fact, stay. Nothing does. Hesitant to give lip service, I will say from experience: nothing but nothing sticks. From the most intense to the most gentle, from the deepest delight to the wildest fears, no thought, image or feeling stays. And once it’s gone, it doesn’t leave a trace.

And one thing I’ve found to be so supportive and generous during any and all times is the symbol my friend typed to me (and that I’d love to see go viral): /m\.

I call it the Witness Mudra, taken from the image of the Buddha with one hand folded in his lap and the other across his knee, touching the earth. (Although the other day a friend told me she’s pretty sure that’s also the fist bump icon, but I’ll have to check with President Obama to confirm that. I say it works as both.)

The Witness Mudra, when shared this way, is a powerful and supportive tool. It gives us the chance to listen to our people, to empathize, to witness, without attempting to solve or change or contradict or point out opposites or anything else. It gives us, as the witness, a chance to see that there isn’t a problem in what’s coming across. That it’s life expressing itself and it can be felt and heard and allowed to be. And on its way it will go. Like everything else.

For those of us venting or unloading or outpouring,  a Witness Mudra can be a relief. It’s an acknowledgment of being heard and comforted, exactly as the moment is appearing, alive in its mystery and innocence. At the same time, it’s a beacon of impermanence: all appearances are allowed to be, in that they are all known to be transient. Both as the ones expressing and the ones listening, we can rest.

I’m so passionate about this topic, I could go on and on, but for now I’ll just leave you with this invitation. Join with us in witnessing for one another and in holding that space where everything comes — and goes — and is compassionately and comfortingly seen. We can rest together in all of our states and reactions and keep quiet, trusting that each being is moving through whatever it is beautifully.

This isn’t to say that a word or two of encouragement isn’t appreciated from time to time. But perhaps there’s something to be said for not saying anything, too.

With love and exploration,

Carina

witness mudrea

 

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Things Deep in Your Own Heart

moon_girl38

It’s a pity, a gentleman in refined retirement composing poetry:
He models his work on the classic verse of China.
And his poems are elegant, full of fine phrases.
But if you don’t write of things deep in your own heart,
What’s the use of churning out so many words?

– Ryokan (Japan, 1758–1831)

I came across this beautiful passage today from a Zen poet living nearly two hundred years ago in Japan. I’d first come across a different passage from him that touched on the quiet of this day, the laziness of a rainy morning, the comfort in stillness.

I’d woken with a mixture of restlessness and heaviness. A strange combination. The head, foggy, as if I hadn’t had enough sleep or I’d been trying to unplug my nose with a Benadryl (which I hadn’t). Emotions warm and watery, feeling like I could use a good cry — you know the kind. Talking with my housemates last night and setting a date for me to vacate this place where I’ve been harbored for almost a year now. It can lead the mind to tales of aloneness: words like lonely, scared, on my own can come through. A feeling of heaviness across the forehead. A feeling of fatigue.

And still, at the heart of it all, a stillness, a settled quiet, a sense of resting in the midst of it all.

This phase I’m in — sometimes fondly called my mid-life crisis — is woven with ups and downs, joys and fears, departures and arrivals.

And when the river seems to be dammed up, clogged with swirling thoughts and attempts to manage one feeling or another, few things soothe like the flow of expression. Weaving stories from the heart of woe or fear or love or longing or delight or bliss or any other avenue that feels alive in the moment: what joy, what natural relief, what undivided love of life coming through.

This little post on my other blog came out of that warmth (and those beautiful Ryokan lines) today: http://whatamidoingup.tumblr.com/post/44873964742.

Few things comfort me than the true showing of my heart.

I made a little video recently about a few of the things I love about facilitating and practicing Scott Kiloby‘s Living Inquiries. This seems like a good time to share it, since I talk about relaxing (always a favorite topic) and creative expression. And as I leave you with the video, I also leave you with an invitation to do a little expressing yourself today. Throw a little poem to the wind, giving of your heart and its deepest loves and longings. Free to tell, free to let the river flow, free to relax back into the great movement of life, letting the unique expression of the seven billion fingers on the hand of God come through.

Please feel free to share here or write to thethearpybooth@gmail.com.

P.S. In the evening yesterday, I wrote the following note to a friend. I felt to add it here.

It’s been a sweet evening here. The passing of states never fails to amaze me. This morning was so foggy and rainy in my head and heart. I kept getting these glimpses through it, like a door opened a crack, where there was no trace of the emotion at all. I just looked after myself and did what felt good at the time. Fascinated, later in the day, to find no trace of it at all. I love that. To marry the feelings and cuddle up with them somehow has them go on their way. Quiet continues. Love you xxxxx

I love you. And now, here’s the little video:

 

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Doing Our Best

your best

We hear a lot of platitudes about how we should be seeing and responding to other people: as if they’re you; as if they might be having a bad day; as if they are your beloved incarnate; as if you can’t imagine what they might be experiencing and why; as if they’re doing their best.

While I’m not suggesting closing our hearts to others, I’m suggesting that we live that gentleness right here at home first.

Okay fellas, hang in with me through this part. You’ll relate, even if it doesn’t seem like it at first: Most months, every twenty-ish days or so, I start to notice a physical and emotional buzzing in my body. I relate it with hormones and my good old friend PMS. Oh how we have a love/hate thing going! Mostly hate, yeah, most of the time, but for little treasures like today’s post, sometimes the love peeks through.

Who’d have thought one could have love for something like PMS, where patience is down the drain, where righteousness is at its peak, where fatigue and weeping take the lead and everything seems so-much-more-dismal than on other days? And, listen, this isn’t just for the ladies who go through these hormonal changes. Or only for women who do (yes, there is that rare female who somehow escapes the wild ride of PMS). It’s for everyone because I know everyone has moments! We all do!

So, what if, when our rage-i-ness, our irritability and short temper and judgments flare up, they’re met with a pause and some space? What if we turn toward ourselves, right as that “Fuck you, I can’t stand you!” thought comes up when we see a post on Facebook that annoys us or when fear comes when we don’t know where we’re going to live next and our lease is winding down (I’m living something of the like currently!), and we pause? We rest, just for a few seconds, and let the thoughts rip, let the energy blaze through the body, and we see in them our own innocence.

We have such expectations on ourselves that we be kind, generous, compassionate, friendly and understanding, and sometimes that’s just not the case! So can we be free to relax into exactly what’s coming through, thereby tapping into the heart of true compassion? From where I sit, this is where the heart lies.

It seems for us nicey-nice types, this is an unwinding and allowing that can take some practice. And there’s great, great benefit in practices like Living Inquiries that get us into the direct recognition of the innocence of all of this coming through, however it appears. So, even if you’re experiencing hating yourself, you can still touch this compassion within that. See that you are doing your absolute best, no matter what.

I feel that it’s this generosity toward ourselves in our direct experience that fosters that outward love, that universal generosity. But I warn against mental generosity, whether toward others or toward ourselves, if that’s not what’s truly felt. How often have you said or heard someone else say, “Well, I know that he’s just doing his best,” when inside you’re thinking, “Screw that guy! I hate him!”

Again, please don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to fan the flames of negativity, but I’m trying to give it its day — its honest and authentic day.

Yesterday I was sitting on the couch with my roommate chatting and I took offense at something she said, and out of my mouth came the words, “So fucking what!” And then I felt really awkward because I might have misunderstood where she was coming from or maybe I didn’t, but I wasn’t comfortable with my snarkiness and its accompanying words. Through a mix of my scrambled apologies and continued righteousness, went on with our chat. We were talking about wanting help, in fact, and she said that that’s just what seems to be coming up for everyone right now. And I agreed and said, “Yes, along with my hormones!” With which I know she can relate, and all went on without further incident.

As always, don’t take my word for any of this. Instead, take a moment, no matter what’s coming up, and see for yourself. Is this moment, full as it is, failing at anything? Isn’t it doing its absolute best?

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Looking in a Fresh Way: Individualized Deepening Courses

deer

Deer in a Clearing by Albert Bierstadt

We call these courses Deepening, but we could also call them Clearing. Either way you name it, the Living Inquiries are a fresh way of exploring. For now, let’s drop the words inquiry, deepening and clearing, and let’s talk about the freshness.

Most of the time, when we come to address a problem, we’re thinking of solutions. Or we’ve been trying to think of solutions, but none of the thoughts we’re coming up with are working. I like to imagine that thoughts fall into two categories:

1. I’m okay, and here’s why.

2. I’m not okay, and here’s why.

The former often come with a sense of holding on, a movement of I hope this is right and I’m going to hold it in my mind til it proves out. The latter accompany strong sensations and images (and more thoughts) that seem to give irrefutable proof of their validity. Yes, he does hate me. I’m sure of it. And it’s because I’m disgusting.  

Wow, so much to sort out, so much to believe in, manage and hold onto (or shut off and push away). So much to be done.

Enter the freshness of the Living Inquiries: here, you get to rest. With the assistance of a facilitator, you are liberated of the responsibility of managing all of these thoughts and feelings. You’re given the space to feel and experience them all (nothing at all is negated) without having the added responsibility of making sense, explaining, changing or controlling any of it. You’re given the opportunity to rest and see it all coming and going and find out if there’s something there, in fact, that needs to be managed.

You may be thinking right now, “But if I don’t manage this, something awful will happen.” In a session, that thought is both welcomed and given its space, while also being seen directly as a coming and going of words, sounds, images and feelings. Do those words, inherently, carry truth? Let’s find out.

Even having written lots about the inquires and experiencing hundreds of hours of both facilitating and being facilitated, I find them hard to explain in brief. Letting explanations drop, I’m here to invite you to experience them directly, and, thereby, see more directly into your own experience. I’m offering a fresh approach to whatever you’ve been grappling with. Come meet with me and give yourself over to a new way of seeing (and drop any thought that you have about it now, as that, too, will be seen NOT to be it . . .).

I am now offering individualized deepening courses tailored to whatever’s on your mind. We can look from multiple angles, and, if this is something you’ve been stuck with for a while, I promise we can find something fresh here. A relief, perhaps, that hasn’t been experienced before.

Here are some possible topics for these four-session courses:

– a particular relationship
– work/career
– money
– decision making
– creativity
– your life’s purpose or passion
– physical health
– questions around awakening/enlightenment
– a specific compulsion (anything from substances to people to Facebook)
– fears and anxieties
– “negative” emotions
– women’s health (PMS, menopause, etc.)
– family/parents/children
– procrastination

The topics are endless, as there’s nothing that can’t be brought to inquiry, as you’ll see. If something on this list resonates for you, or if there’s something else that’s been on your mind that you just haven’t been able to sort out with other approaches, consider meeting with me and looking afresh.

Details of the Individual Deepening Courses:

If you’re new to the inquiries, you will receive a thorough introduction and get all of your questions answered. Each participant gets four individual inquiry sessions (held by Skype, phone or in person). I am in Central time zone (CST). Sessions last about an hour (sometimes a little less, sometimes a little more). They can be spread out over a few weeks or a few months, as scheduling and desire permits.

You will receive a copy of Scott Kiloby’s ebook, Living Relationship, that outlines and gives many examples of the inquiries and how they work.

Between sessions, we will stay in touch through email.

Please note that either an individual or group Deepening Course is a required prerequisite to any future facilitator training.

Read up on these inquiries, developed by Scott Kiloby, at http://www.thetherapybooth.com/living-inquiries/.

Contact me at thetherapybooth@gmail.com with questions or to set up a course. Payments can be made through the PayPal button on this site or by check.

For more on Scott Kiloby and Living Inquiries, also see:

www.kiloby.com
www.livingrelationship.org
www.livingrealization.org

I very much look forward to meeting with you and to looking, inquiring, deepening and clearing together.

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