The following is an excerpt from ORIGIN Magazine.
Interviewer: Maranda Pleasant
Maranda Pleasant: What are the things that make you feel most alive?
Caroline Myss: Teaching. My research. Writing. I love hanging out with my friends and family. I really, really, really love articulating original thought. That’s probably my core, my biggest buzz. Because then it makes me feel like I know why I was born. Reaching original thought, where I know that I’m perceiving something that only I have seen, and I need to incarnate that. That’s it right there.
MP: What is it that makes you feel deeply vulnerable?
CM: Through the years of my life, the older I’ve gotten, the more sensitive I’ve become to the suffering of people and to my inability to really fix that. I wish that proportion was different. I wish I could help more. Unfortunately, that’s not how the equation is working out here. I can sense and feel this wretched compassion that I don’t want. But it’s there. It’s a very painful kind of compassion. It’s not one you look for. You don’t want this kind of compassion; it just happens. The amount of suffering you actually can feel, you want to be able to do something about it. You want to be able to attend to it, to change the system that is making this happen. Because you are so aware of how unnecessary it is, and therein lies the deeper pain.
To feel the suffering and then to know the pain of the unnecessariness of it. That right there has me in its grip. The only way through that is serious prayer. I can’t get through it any other way. I’ve got to believe that that’s making a difference somehow. I can’t see the difference, but I’ve got to believe it does, because in some way it lets me sleep at night. My only other alternative is to become angry, and I can’t go that direction. I have to trust that there is a force greater than me that also knows and sees this, and breathes with it and knows that it’s part of a grander plan, and all the good things people do matter.
MP: You mentioned prayer. Do you have any practices that help you maintain that center in the middle of chaos?
CM: I do a lot of reflection. I do. I spend a lot of time in reflection and contemplation. I guess the way the old mystics used to do. I don’t do meditation. That’s not for me. It’s not my thing.
CM: I have no use for that. Sorry, but I don’t. Get out of here. I don’t think most people know how to meditate -- they fall asleep and they call it meditation. I prefer a kind of sweet, deep, rich prayer in which a person goes in and says, Take me down deep into the reason you gave me life. Take me down deep. It silences the chaos in me. Take me away from my sense. I need to go away now, because I’m in chaos -- take me down deep. Hover over me, because I need grace. I say that a lot, many times a day. So that’s my practice.
CM: I hold myself accountable for my contradictions. I deeply, deeply believe in the mystical laws. I know that every thought sends an eternity in motion. I mean, I know what I am capable of as a teacher; I know what I’m capable of because of my intelligence. But I also know that that’s useless if -- I have been humiliated so often, when I think that I can combat the terrors of life with intelligence. Because you can’t. It’ll bring you to your knees.
I grew to understand or really grasp a sense of what the power of being humble is -- that becomes a practice. Otherwise you’ll be crushed by your fear of being humiliated. It’ll control you the rest of your life. I really understood that. I haven’t mastered it, I haven’t come close to it. Someone asks me what’s my practice? I don’t want the fear of being humiliated to have authority over me. I don’t want it to come near me. I don’t want it to have a voice in my decisions. I don’t want it to be anywhere near me. What’s my practice? That one. I don’t ever want to humiliate a human being, and I don’t want the fear of being humiliated to participate in my thoughts.
CM: I don’t want to ever, ever give that kind of pain to one living mortal. And I will not give that thought power in my life. That’s my practice.
MP: If you could say something to every woman on the planet and they could hear you, what would you want to say? What is the message that you think we most need right now?
CM: Oh my god! I mean, wow! If I could say something to somebody, to humanity? Ah. Let me see.
I would remind them that this day of your life will never come again. Do not use one day of your life carelessly. It will never come again. You’ll never see the person you’re sitting across from in that light or in that way. You will never see the sunset twice. This day will never come again. Knowing that every single day is so filled with potential—you cannot wait for life to give you anything. You have no right to feel entitled. You are not entitled to anything. If you really get that, if you actually get that you’re not entitled to be loved, not by one person, not by anybody, and if you get that and then you look at people who love you -- who love you -- who think, my life is better because you, you are in it -- that they get up and think, my whole world is better because you’re in it, that for some reason they love you, and that they walk this world when you’re not around thinking, but you’re in it, and they come home and they want to call you, they want to come home and see you, your face -- you can never make a person love you but somehow they do. They do. That you are not entitled to. That you have it should be your first clue that there is a God taking care of you. You cannot make a miracle like love happen. That is what I’d tell. You want proof of God? That’s it.
MP: Wow. [laughing] Thank you so much.
CM: Which you also should appreciate -- never, ever mistreat someone who loves you. Because you’re not entitled to that love.
I put my classes online because there are so many people around the world who wanted to study sacred contracts, but they couldn’t make it to the United States six times while I was teaching it. All my material took three years to convert to an online course. It took all my lectures and all the lectures of all my faculty members, everything -- we converted it to an online class, because so many people from around the world wanted to study this, want to study this.
If you know your archetypes -- and not just yours, if you know how to perceive the world in archetypes, through archetypes -- everything changes. Everything. Because you have two things: you can see through one eye which is impersonal, and through the other, which is personal. That’s the way the game is written down here. It’s two things: it’s totally impersonal and it’s totally personal, simultaneously. That’s the nature of the mystical experience of life. Everything about life is impersonal, but you have a personal experience. And the bridge between the personal and the impersonal is called prayer.
MP: Wow, I’m just taking you in. Let’s talk about your experience with Oprah and “Super Soul Sunday.”
CM: First of all, I really enjoyed that interview, because I felt so relaxed. Which is a different experience than being on the Oprah show. She has a gift to make you feel comfortable. I think that that’s just part of her charisma, part of her natural grace. She has the gift of making the person she’s talking to feel like you’re an old friend of hers. That’s a real gift.
She also has the gift of always making you feel that she respects you in your work. You feel very comfortable opening up to her. In “Super Soul Sunday,” she has created an atmosphere where you can have a type of conversation that’s a bit more intimate or open than I think you would on her former television show. I think that was her intention in creating SSS. Because Oprah is one of the rare human beings whose creative intentions truly are motivated by goodness. There aren’t a lot of people you can say that about. There really aren’t.
MP: Now I’m looking at my own intentions, making sure they all come from goodness.
CM: I think they really are motivated by goodness, and I think she works with a lot of grace behind her, and I think that’s why she’s flourished and why people have flourished as a result of her being on the earth. People have benefited from her; they have healed, they have grown, they have found their lives changed. In the privacy of their living rooms, by reading books she’s recommended -- she has changed the lives of millions and millions and millions of people whom she’ll never meet. I know from conversations, people will say, “Oh, I love the Oprah show, I just love Oprah” -- she’s generated fields and fields of love. I know that that kind of love, though it doesn’t necessarily go to Oprah, it goes somewhere, and it goes into the collective pool of creation. It gets distributed into matter, into physical matter. It creates consequences.
That kind of love has physical consequences. Maybe in some way it offsets bad decisions people are making somewhere. Somewhere, somehow. It goes into a collective pool because all energy creates matter, and it’s subject to the law of creation. Maybe it offsets all the psychic free radicals people generate with their dark thoughts. She’s like this big spinner of grace, of good thought and positive grace. She makes people feel good about themselves; she makes people believe they can heal; she makes people believe they can do better in life. That’s a lot to shoulder. That’s her role. And so when I think about her, I think she’s one of the great souls of our time. That’s how I see her.
MP: Wonderful! Is there a current project now? A book?
CM: Yeah, I have a new book out on archetypes.
MP: Well, we cannot wait to read it. Beautiful as always. Thanks for joining us.
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The Goal Is Space, Not Silence
The late Swami Satchidananda, renowned for opening the Woodstock festival with his chanting, directed meditators to aim "see what is happening within you. "Become a witness ... be still and watch what is happening in your mind and in your body." Note that he didn't say, "shut your crazy mind up"-- because that's impossible. Meditation is about observing your thoughts, not about making them stop (although it's possible to slow them). When you can view those thoughts as separate from yourself (in your sitting meditation and, ultimately, throughout your day), you will inevitably be less storm-tossed by them.
Adore Sounds That Aren't Silent
After floundering during the start of that wobbly meditation, I finally got grounded by focusing on the noise and smells around me. Meditation teachers typically suggest finding a quiet place to sit, but the reality is even an-out-of-the-way corner is a whirlwind of ticking clocks, purring refrigerators, noisy neighbors, and yes, honking cars. Rather than try to fight them, I find it better to use these sounds to focus. The key is to hone in on the tones and vibrations -- in other words, to experience listening -- rather than to mentally ponder their source or meaning.
Showing Up Is Half The Victory
A meditation teacher once told me never to stop before my pre-determined schedule. "If you were planning to meditate 20 minutes, don't get up after 10," she admonished. You're trying to teach your mind that it doesn't always run the show. Letting it run your meditation time-clock is not a good way to impart this lesson. Nonetheless, if those 20 minutes prove agonizing, it's okay to plan for 10 the next time around.
You Won't Always Linger In The 'Gap'
Deepak Chopra uses this term to describe the space of bliss and stillness that we think of as meditation. But you can have a wonderful session without staying there. Consider your practice a success if you notice even once that there is space between your thoughts or mantra; this is the place where pure consciousness resides, and just seeing that it's there is sufficient.
Treasure Your Effort
If you judge yourself because your meditation isn't going the way you had planned, you are separating yourself from the higher, spiritual self that adores you. This is ironic, since connecting with that essence is the reason you're meditating in the first place. In its description of meditation, the University of Rochester Counseling Center recommends bringing "as much patience into the process as possible." Your higher self agrees, no doubt.
Watch For Spillover Into Your Life
Ultimately, the goal of a successful practice is not what happens on the cushion (or chair -- no law says that just because the ancient Hindus sat on the floor, you have to). The real purpose of meditation is to influence that other parts of our life, allowing -- through the increasing ability to separate ourselves from our rambling thoughts -- a flow of serenity and connection. If you notice that peace filtering into any part of your day, consider your meditation a triumph.