“The situation is hopeless but not serious.”
Paul Watzlawick

Oh, the things I’ve done to secure love and happiness outside myself!  Waking to the folly of it all, I can’t help but to laugh out loud.  And in that laughter, something relaxes.  So let us not take ourselves too seriously, lest we lose the thread of wonder and laughter.  May you find inspiration in these musings on identity, intimacy, love, peace, happiness and the truth the Heart knows, which never fails us if we only pause long enough to listen.

Image: Marc Chagall

Uncoupling With Grace, Part I

Fourteen years ago, my ex-husband and I divorced after a three year separation. No lawyers, no bitterness, no drama. That’s not to say it was easy peasy; it wasn’t.  Nevertheless, we did uncouple with grace.  Our parting was honorable, imbued with deep appreciation, love and unexpected blessings.

That experience engendered the birth of radically new perspectives for me about life, love and relationships that unfold to this day.  I want to share this message because it could relieve a great deal of suffering: the same possibility that was open to me is open to anyone who’s up for the invitation to uncouple with grace, by which I mean parting in love.

Let me be clear: parting in love is not a belief or a feeling, not always sweet, not putting on a happy face.  I didn’t always feel generous or loving in my separation and divorce process.  But I realized to uncouple in defensiveness meant I’d keep schlepping around the same confusion and fears I schlepped around in my marriage.

So this isn’t a bunch of fluff.  Uncoupling is a provocative process.  I reckoned with erroneous beliefs and painful expectations about love and relationship throughout that long, poignant time.  I struggled mightily with the fact that, try as I might, I couldn’t work that stuff out within myself, nor with my ex, while we were married.  But that rough terrain was an incredible impetus for me to open up, touch into deeper truths, and get real with myself.

Not surprisingly, I have an affinity for people who are struggling and want to uncouple with grace. Divorce* is among the more gnarly of life transitions.  The cultural norm to become adversaries is encouraged.  At worst, and not uncommonly, we fortify righteous positions, duke it out (quietly or loudly), stonewall, put kids in the middle, use money as weaponry.  At the least, we carry burdensome resentments into subsequent relationships.

Perhaps we can understand these defensive postures as attempts to avoid vulnerability, fear or shame we’ve carried around for eons.  Or to avoid feeling the tenderness that parting with love evokes.  Or we align the common idea that we need to be angry in order to part ways.  This dangerous message guarantees suffering.

So let’s pause: what if…..uncoupling were seen as a call to emancipate love and dignity from the tangled, unconscious contracts and beliefs that we’ve subscribed to?  Uncoupling with grace entails a dedicated investigation into all notions we assume are true about love and partnership.  It means coming to a genuine understanding that projection, blame and judgment are all symptoms of ancient pain and confusion we’ve never fully turned toward…..and then doing just that.  I’ve witnessed these remarkable moments, when people crossed a threshold into greater transparency, authenticity and integrity.  Imagine the commitment and dedication this takes!

A more demanding route, yet one that’s honorable and rich beyond measure.  Because uncoupling can be an evocation for grace, resilience and clarity.  The commitment to part in love arouses a dignity we can trust to guide us.  Lord knows, we need something stronger than fear to face hard conversations, regrets, sadness, anger or self-recrimination. Certainly, dignity ennobles us to thank our partners, who we can now appreciate as catalytic agents for our maturation and healing.

For most of us, such partings require sustained, holistic inquiries into beliefs we’ve staunchly identified with, enabling us to:

*  Realize relationships and agreements may change, but Love never goes away.
*  Question the nature of our agreements and assumptions about love and relationship.
*  Finally tell the truth of our experience without blame and judgment.
*  Have fidelity to the dignity that orients us through the multifaceted dimensions of uncoupling.

There’s an irony here that’s not lost on my clients; they often express a renewal or feeling of love for one another. It’s not that love is newly present; rather, expectations about roles and relationships that veil love begin dropping away. As one man noted:

“Maybe it’s that she’s not ‘my spouse’ now, but things that used to get to me don’t anymore.  I’ve also been taking a real look at the baggage I brought to marriage.  I don’t know…but if we could have coupled in the way we’re uncoupling…wow.”  Ultimately, though, what happened is the only thing that could have happened.  That’s called Reality.  Best to meet it as the generous teacher it is.

Look for Part II next month.  In the meantime, may you never put anyone out of your heart, least of all yourself.
Avec amour, always, Krayna

* I use the terms “marriage” and “divorce” to refer to any long-term, committed relationship.

By |September 1st, 2017|

Your Birth Name Is Not Your Real Name

Whilst strolling about, I hear something that captivates me, stuns me with its beauty.
Tis not for me only, I realize, but for us all

Listen…amid the daily drama
a luminous singularity
faithfully weaves its way
through every sweet
and sorrowful story

And from that infinite center
hums a blessing-song:

Whoever you are
wherever you may be
whatever your condition
Listen…your real Name is Beloved.

Your beautiful birth name is temporary
while the vibration of your real Name lives
in the silence between each breath
in the vigorous activity of the grand play
in those dark places you’d never think to look.

Your true Name
is Beloved
and you are the singer
and the song.

Krayna Castelbaum

By |August 1st, 2017|

Interrupt Your Sadness

Come home, sweet heart.  Stop scaring yourself and enter this lake of silence.

To mark national independence day in the United States, I’m offering an excerpt of one of my favorite poems, “Keeping Still,” by Pablo Neruda.  No proclamations, firecrackers, loud cymbals or popping corks.  This poem rises from a deeper knowing.  It’s a different kind of anthem in a world gone haywire.

It’s about the presence within us, humming, abiding patiently.  The one we overlook, who owes no one and isn’t owed anything, doesn’t count votes or dollars, isn’t out to impress anyone or fill up all the hours of the day. We cannot know this other life awaiting us unless we stop scaring ourselves and listen carefully.

To start doing nothing is counterintuitive, I know.  Goes against the habitual grain.  I get it.  So what. Listen: the one who doesn’t care about any of that is your lifeline.   Let’s undress, enter the lake of stillness, give rest a chance. So the mind can emerge once again, refreshed of its dreary old projections.  So our giftedness can come alive and a spirit of generosity underlie our activities.   So we can finally meet one another from that vibrant presence that has no egoic schemes.

Nothing matters more in this time of whiplash-rapid change and uncertainty than doing as Neruda says. Enter the “huge silence,” the incorruptible aliveness imbuing all of creation with its dignity and beauty.  That freedom, true and real, is something to celebrate.

From “Keeping Still”

If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.”

Read the full poem here:

The perfect musical accompaniment for reflection – lovely music by Bach.  Enjoy.
10 quiet pieces by Bach:

By |July 1st, 2017|

Lucky’s Lair

Each month,
the Luckster shares
his own deep thoughts.
he goes back to sleep.

“Make of yourself
a light.”

The Buddha’s last words.

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