10 Ways to Heal (and deal with) a Broken Heart

Right Relationship

D

ear Miracles:

Being brokenhearted sucks.

Even with a broken heart, most of us know intuitively that we are better off, we’ll learn a powerful lesson, and we’ll know better next time. But in the deep night when our chest feels like it has a huge, gaping wound and our guts are tied in knots–all of that knowledge is a sorry source of comfort. Much of my work deals with love and romance and I have seen my share of broken hearts personally and professionally.

One of the worst things about being brokenhearted is feeling like there is NOTHING you can do to help yourself. But there is!

I offer you a hand-picked list of ten ideas to help light your way through that darkness:

 

1.) Sit with it and feel it.

Breneé Brown has two terrific TED talks on vulnerability and shame. Go listen to them. I’ll wait. One of the biggest mistakes I see people make and I’ve made it myself is to run away from feelings and thoughts that are not pleasant; feelings that might be a little scary or even a lot painful. Don’t run. Heartbreak will only follow you. Before you heal, you’ve got to deal.

 

2.) Stop the blame train.

If I hadn’t done that; if he had said this.” On a superficial level, does it matter who has the lion’s share of blame? Maybe.

On a soul level, does it matter?  No.

If you start hopping on the blame train try rephrasing it this way, “The next time I am going to focus more on,__________” or, “Right now I want to feel_________.” These are petitions that can actually help you.

 

3.) You are not an island.

Heartbreak is an underworld adventure for your soul.  In our times of heartbreak it may look on the surface like everything is fine while inside we feel dead like a zombie, checked out, departed, and alone. Your journey is yours but you are not an island. Our lives are constantly touching and rubbing against each other. Call on your friends and family for support.  Do not make every conversation with them an opportunity to figure out what went wrong or slam your ex.  They have lives, too.  Ask about them and what they’re dealing with.

 

4.) Invest in kindness to yourself and others.

Book a massage, get a heart-healing anointing oil, volunteer at a soup kitchen, help a kid learn to read. Heartbreak rides on the fear that you have nothing left to give. Oh yes, you do.

 

5.) Embrace Beauty

Read good poetry and/or make a space for something beautiful. Fresh flowers, the art museum, your local Waldorf School’s Gift shop. Beauty heals.

 

6.) Get pissed.

Feeling wronged? Swallowing anger makes us sick. Wallowing in anger is the basis for many Greek tragedies. The trick is to focus your anger. Make it a ritual.

Think: prescribed time, place, opening and closing and then create an activity to help you purge. Burning all your pictures of him, kick-boxing a bag with her face on it, putting an entire garden bed in, just letting yourself yell for half an hour. Let it out so you can let it go.

 

7.) Admit that it is not all OK

Understand that everything will not be all right for awhile. This is not a failing. This means that you are a living, thinking, breathing creature who gives a damn. Never feel bad for giving a damn.

 

8.) Revenge = no bueno.

Revenge is motivated by a desire for justice and fairness. The problem is that revenge also blocks out justice and fairness. You are better than that. Do something crafty, like making a salt jar instead.

 

9.) Treat it like trauma (because it is).

If you had a head injury you would be careful with yourself.  You would learn about what might heal and help you.  You would not expect too much too soon.  Heartbreak is a trauma. Treat it as such.  Learn about healing emotional trauma and also about spiritual cleansing.

 

10.) Accept help.

One time I went hunting with my uncle. It was right after Christmas, about 4:00 in the morning, very dark and very cold. My uncle does not hunt from a blind. He picks a spot and beds down with his dogs. As anyone who has seriously hunted for meat knows, most of hunting is waiting and watching. I saw lots of things in that cold, dark morning. Some were real and some were imagined.

This terrain is similar to what we travel when we experience heartbreak. Dark, a bit alien, unfamiliar but presences make themselves known to us sometimes because we are open in a unique way. Pay attention to what appears. If you need assistance in thinking about that contact a spiritual worker.

Heartbreak is hard, but in a broken heart there is room…for grace.

 

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magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Power & Grace-The Difference is in the heart

Right Relationship

D

ear Miracles: I would like to tell you about Anima Sola and her sometimes twin spirit the Intranquil Spirit. When I sit down to write and when I stand up to pray Anima Sola is often the image that comes to my mind. You have probably seen this vision of her too.

To me Anima Sola, whose name literally means the Lonely Soul, is an image that we are all somewhat familiar with, one that we carry with us. She is in bondage, alone, imprisoned, but nevertheless holding out hope, nevertheless keeping her eye on her ultimate goal, refusing to allow immediate circumstance to define every aspect of her experience. This is an aspect of experience that the alchemists of old called the nigredo — the dark period that occurs between two days, the period of dying back, cutting out, and ultimately making space for grace. When I write it is with the hope that my writing will in some way ease the Anima Sola we all possess. When I pray it is with the expectation that my prayers will offer a little bit of healing balm to the lonely soul, a little bit of water to those who have been in a desert for far too long.

Whenever we experience hardships of any kind there are two basic approaches we can cultivate. One approach is to look for the ways in which we may gain power over the hardship. So finances have you down, simply make more money. Love not working out the way you want it to, find a new lover, someone betrayed you, take vengeance on them (and make it good). The path of power is a tempting path to walk for many reasons, but one of the most prominent is that power is effective. Wielding power can get you what you want (or what you think you want) in double time. The second approach we can take to hardship though is grace. Grace is defined in many ways but when we look at the word’s Latin root we see gratus which is a cognate of our modern word “grateful.” This gives us a clue about meeting hardship with grace — we come to our experiences with a sense of gratefulness. To be clear, I am not advocating a martyr complex or a need to go looking for difficulties — they will find us, I promise! But to meet what hardships do come with a cheerful optimism, to be grateful for what is present and to be grateful for the opportunity to learn — even in and especially in the most fire hardened moments, this seems to me to be a path of wisdom. Anima Sola and her sometimes sister the Intranquil Spirit illustrate the point beautifully.

The Intranquil Spirit is a figure petitioned in several different systems of folk magic — including African-American based Conjure as well as Mexican folk magic and Catholic Folk traditions. The presence of the Intranquil Spirit is requested, usually by a woman, after a love relationship has ended. She is a coercive spirit and the intention in calling her forth is to torture one’s ex partner to the point that they become so miserable that they are forced to return to their old lover. Although the Intranquil Spirit is usually conceived of as female, some practitioners have observed that there are actually several different kinds of Intranquil Spirits that will show up for a job, some female, some male. Not every spirit worker will work with Intranquil Spirit because the energy invoked is so harsh. Though it’s understandable to anyone who has been through an especially painful break up how one might be in the position of wanting the return of their lover NO MATTER WHAT — magical workers often find that working with the Intranquil Spirit creates more complications than it solves and that the reconciliations this spirit brings about are often still emotionally fraught. Though the spirit is conceived of as feminine, the main traditional image associated with the spirit shows a white bearded man sitting in judgement over the world.

intranquil spirit One of the traditional images associated with the Intranquil Spirit. Although the spirit is usually conceived of as female in this image the spirit resembles a male God in a position of judgement.
The Intranquil Spirit’s name gives away the story-it is a spirit who has departed from the physical world — perhaps in a violent or unjust manner — and as a result it continues to cling to the earthly plane looking for peace, closure, and a final resting place but never finding them — thus the Intranquility. The motivation of calling forth such an energy in magic is to make the target of the Intranquil Spirit equally unhappy, restless, and confused until they commit a certain set of specific actions (usually having to do with returning to their lovers). Putting aside the moral issues of compelling someone to do anything by wishing misery and unhappiness upon them, it is obvious that the Intranquil Spirit works through power — specifically overpowering someone so that they act in such a manner that goes against their stated will. The spirit (and magician) who calls upon her expects to win the situation by overpowering the opponent. But there is another way…in magic, in life, and certainly in matters of the heart — and that is the way of Grace.

The image of Anima Sola is a well known image, especially where I live in the Southwest. We see a lovely dark haired and dark eyed beauty whose wrists are chained and who is being licked at by some vicious looking flames. For a non Catholic the assumption would be that the poor girl has landed herself in hell, but she is actually understood to be in Purgatory — the intermediary realm between heaven and hell that a soul achieves when it dies with sins left uncleansed but in a state of grace nonetheless. This state of grace that Anima Sola possessed upon her death is the first clue that she works through grace as opposed to power. In both Catholic and folk magic practices framed by Catholicism, Anima Sola is petitioned by people on behalf of their beloved and departed ones whose souls are believed to be in Purgatory — she is petitioned for deliverance, aid and succor to those who have passed beyond the veil. Her veneration is especially strong in Mexico, South and Central America, and Italy — especially in Naples and Florence. Because her veneration in Italy is well documented and seems to have started around the same time that Dante Aligheri published the Divine Comedy and the concept of Purgatory became widely accepted by the Catholic church I have a personal pet theory that Anima Sola may be based on one of the characters that Dante placed either in Purgatory or in the lowest (least painful) level of the Inferno.

Anima Sola is not simply a spirit prayed to on behalf of those caught in the in-between realm of Purgatory — she is believed to have landed in Purgatory herself due to misplaced romantic affections — she fell in love with the wrong man. How human! How familiar! We are not sure if he was the wrong man because he did not reciprocate, was already married, or did reciprocate and the relationship was inappropriate — but illicit romance is often given as the reason why she is in Purgatory. For this reason she is petitioned and worked with in some magical traditions such as Voudo and Santeria and Lukumi in the same manner that the Intranquil Spirit is. However, what I have found in working with Anima Sola is that she does not work at like the Intranquil Spirit at all — Anima Sola’s transformative magic lies in her state of grace — even as she carries sin upon her, even as she suffers, she is open to grace and her eyes are fixed on transcendence. For those of us who are not Catholic or have a hard time identifying with concepts like sin, heaven, and hell, Anima Sola can still be a wonderful spiritual helper.

Her presence reminds us to be open to grace at all times — and it also reminds us that opening to grace is really all we can do — we cannot make someone love us, bend to our will, or go our way-we can only open ourselves to the grace that lies in all things all around us at all times. In cases unrequited love and/or painful break ups Anima Sola can be a great helper because she understands loneliness — the way it is all consuming much like the flames she is immersed in. Because she understands loneliness, pain, suffering and redemption she also knows (and reminds us) that there is always tomorrow — that even though we may feel in the lowest pit of hell today, tomorrow offers new light, new life, and new hope. In cases where a loving relationship has ended due to a lack of understanding, courage, or care Anima Sola can be petitioned to bring loneliness to the forefront of someone’s mind-not to punish but to remind that the whole is greater than the parts and that turning our back on true love is perhaps the greatest error of all.

How to work with Anima Sola

If the themes around Anima Sola resonate with you on any level you will of course want to know how you can best go about working with her. My experience with Anima Sola is that she likes her image to be placed on your working space — and if you can create a shrine around her all the better. She loves red sequins, flowers, a glass of water, and cinnamon. I burn cinnamon chips on charcoal disks when I am working with her and I also offer her hard cinnamon candies. She is a spirit who works on our hearts and heart-based knowing (as well as heart-based fears) so incorporating herbs and roots that altar the heart’s rhythms and physiology can be appropriate — mandrake and belladonna are two plants that I use for this — external only of course, do not ingest either plant and in fact be careful when handling them as they really do alter your heart’s physiology! Petitioning her on a Saturday is a good way to begin and as I recommend for most spirit work — simply speak or pray from your heart and pay attention to the ways in which she might answer you.

There is the way of power and there is the way of grace. One relies on our own strength of will while the other relies on strength of trust and the knowledge that we are enough-blessed, whole, and holy already just as we are.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Love and Prayer

Prayer and Blessing

D

ear Miracles,
We have all experienced them. Those days. Those crappy days where almost as soon as you wake up you know, you just know, that it’s going to be a rough one. You stub your toe on the way to the bathroom. The bowl of cheerios tips over — after you had added in the milk of course. You open your inbox to a cruel client complaint. The bank account is not where it should be, coffee scorches your freshly pressed white shirt, your cell phone is low on batteries, you are low on batteries, and your supervisor springs a last minute mandatory after work meeting and so you have to call your mom and ask her to pick up the kids from school…again.

Yup. Those days where nothing goes right and the only law that seems to hold is Murphy’s. Or maybe it is more subtle. Maybe sales this month haven’t been where they should be and you are feeling…pinched, pale, listless, desperate, and cheap all at the same time And you catch yourself in the mirror, stepping into the shower, walking in the front door thinking…why me? Why now? Why can’t it be easier? Why the crappy luck/day/week/year/life?

There is a magic formula to make moments like this disappear in the proverbial poof! I am going to give it to you…are you ready?

Stand In Love and Start with Prayer.

Make this your priority.  When we stand in love we stop the blame game. When we stand in love we press pause on the inner conflict of the hour. When we stand in love we stop asking what can I GET and we start considering what we can GIVE. Standing in love allows us to possess, for a moment, the aerial bird’s eye view. In this way of seeing our problems are not insignificant but they are put into their proper context — and they almost always appear much smaller than what we initially thought.

And then there is prayer. Five minutes. Thirty minutes. Om Shanti Om. The Shema. Lord hear our prayer. We all come from the Goddess. Silence. Or one of my personal faves — told to me by a doctor whose good friend was diagnosed with terminal cancer…Dear God, what the hell? Don’t wait until it is the right time/vibe/moment because if you do you will wait forever. Most mornings at my house involve a cup of coffee on the swing, keeping one eye on the kiddo and one eye on the sky as I sing out my prayers and praise — it doesn’t look “spiritual” but that does not matter. I can tell you with 100% assurance that the days I pray are better, brighter, and flow with more grace than the days I don’t. Is everything perfect on those days? Hardly. Does it make a difference? Oh yes.

Prayer is an offering. You lay yourself out, warts and all, before your understanding/vision of the divine. You step into time out of time, into a numinous space where wholeness and holiness become one.

Prayer is a habit. You have to do it repeatedly, just like a sitting meditation. Some days you will feel it move through you enlightening and enlivening your being and other days it will feel like rote words falling from your lips. Get up the next day and do it again. Praying gives you a discreet opportunity to whisper or heap blessings onto those you love, those you are related to, your friends, and yes, even perfect strangers. Blessings sent equal blessings received. Prayer inspires generosity. It takes us out of our ego selves for a moment and reminds us that we are connected, dependent, divine, so very small, and so very full of life. It re-acquaints us with all that we do have, possess, can do and points out that others would give anything to walk in our shoes. It encourages us to be generous with others, and you know what happens then? We are generous with ourselves and those around us, those we love. Art helps! There are many beautiful images that you can focus on to help yourself get into a prayerful state of mind. The orthodox understanding of an icon is a sacred image which can create a window or a doorway to the divine — so allow yourself to consider what images do that for you.

Don’t know how to start? Sit quietly. Sway to your own heart beat, or stand and dance before the Lord like King David. Circle with three friends or let your cat sleep on your lap while you stroke her head. Pray out loud, quietly, or sit in silence. There is no wrong way to pray.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Scars are Sacred

Foundations

D

dore_donkey4
This is an illustration by Gustave Dore for the fairy tale Donkeyskin — a wonderful tale about the sacredness of scars.

ear Miracles: I was talking with a dear one this weekend about issues — you know, mom issues, dad issues, high school issues, personality issues — all of the difficulties that the self-help industry encourages us to address, all of the problems we carry around while promising ourselves that we are going to deal with them and heal at some vague point in the future.

And then a thought occurred to me, as it would anyone who cares to look into it. What if we are really okay, just as we are? Perfect in our imperfections, and beautiful in whatever brokenness we carry?

I know it might sound too easy.  There’s likely a bumper sticker somewhere that says something to this effect.  I don’t mean that we don’t, all of us, have things to work on — of course we do. But what I do mean is that the standards of measurement for what is and is not normal or acceptable might be missing the mark. What are the origins of those standards? Are they not, for the most part, developed by clinicians and in clinical settings, and then adapted for easy consumption by mass markets?

Anyone who has spent some quality time in a clinic can tell you that the conditions there – and the systems developed under these conditions – do not fit with and account for our actual experience in every day life, not to mention our inner worlds.  Not by a long shot. There are indeed certain solutions or treatments that can and should help remedy certain serious psychological ailments. Yet for the rest of us – we should wonder why we accept their derivative products ‘hook, line and sinker’ as the ‘go-to’ solution to our general life problems.

I see that many of us carry around a sense of all the things we are not, can’t do, or have not accomplished — our cultural thinking has reached a point where too many of us feel irredeemable and would not know where to look for redemption or reconciliation even if they were concepts we accepted. Even though a lot of lip-service is paid to it, we do not really focus on what our unique talents, abilities, dreams, pleasures, and joys really are.  Instead we engage in the never-ending cycle of self improvement and self-depredation.

Now, I definitely possess a can-do attitude, and I am a problem solver by nature and affinity.  I don’t think that there is enlightenment to be found in chosen or created suffering.  In short I do not advocate anyone staying in a place of victim-hood or reveling in the wounds that we all of us have experienced. But I also suggest we be honest and kinder to ourselves. We are all flawed, all scarred.

Flaws are interesting. They are salt in the proverbial stew.  They create breadth and depth where before there was narrow shallowness.   Scars –  those points of maximum vulnerability in body and memory –   become the toughest most essential and irreducible parts of ourselves.  They can become ornaments that express the energy of who we are, or where we have been. This is why it seems to me that scars are sacred – they point to or signify our essential nature, mark us out as one, unique and whole being.

What would happen to us if we stopped trying to find a quick fix and improve ourselves according to the artificial categories and plans set forth by clinicians and their derivative practitioners in the consumer industry?  We shall always aspire and strive to become better and live more whole and more meaningful lives. But what would that look like without ten step plans? Would we actually start playing more? Stepping off the track, would we start enjoying life right now a little more, just as it is?

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Stepping Into Divinity-Reconciliation in love & life

Right Relationship

D

ear Miracles: In one of the traditions that forms my personal practice, the term reconciliation refers to a wide body of ritual lore and ceremonial observances aimed at reconciling lovers, friends, or family members who have parted ways–usually in anger, pain, and almost always deep miscommunication. Reconciliation work is the most commonly requested service I am called upon to provide by far. More than the desire to attract a beloved, more than the blessing of children & families, and more than any kind of abundance work you can think of, folks look to ritual when their hearts are broken and hurting.

Often when I first speak to clients about their desire to reconcile they see it in a very narrow light. We fought, we broke up, I am hoping to make up, so the story goes. And this is fine, it is true in so far as it goes but what I have found in my years of practice is that it does not go deep enough–not by a long shot. So today I want to talk about the spiritual component of reconciliation.

Theologically reconciliation deals with one aspect of salvation: the re-uniting of the soul with the Divine, the Source of All. In the Catholic church the act of Confession is sometimes called the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation. This is because, as I understand it, confession is a ritual cleansing, and it allows us to make peace, to reconcile with ourselves FIRST and then with God. Now some people see God/Goddess/Spirit in Christ on the cross, or in Our Lady of Guadalupe, or in Cerridwen, or in the Green Man, or in Yaweh, or in Yemayah, or Buddha, or Krishna, or in the stones, plants, animals, and living soil on which they live. Most religious traditions agree that as it is above, so it is below-that we, each of us, have a share in the divine, in the Godhead, in the Source of All. That means that when we seek to reconcile with our own sense of the Divine we must first reconcile with ourselves. I don’t think its an accident that many mystical traditions such as Gnostic Christianity and Sufism to name a couple, view God as the ultimate lover & beloved, for when we seek out the Divine we do so from an impulse to know and love more deeply and truly.

This is why spiritually speaking personal reconciliation work is so difficult to achieve, not because people fuss and fight or because broken up relationships are beyond repair, but because, as Confucius says-we must look within first and address our shortcomings before commenting on someone else’s. We must look within and see clearly-warts and all our own illusions, shortcomings, fears, mis-placed prides–we must look truly and deeply. Once we see it clearly we can acknowledge and address the scars, the blocks, and illusions. We can apply a healing balm to those parts of ourselves that have been wounded, cut up, and isolated, we can summon a bit of breath and brightness to our hidden places, we can reconcile in, of, and with ourselves and in so doing acknowledge our own blessed divinity. Reconciliation is not for all times and places. It is specific work applied at particular moments in a day, a week, a month, a life. But if you are feeling the “fracking F’s” as I call them: fragmented, fractured, fearful, and frazzled, then it might be time to consider reconciling with the greatest lover of all–your own soul and your understanding of what is most Divine and Holy. It is also noteworthy to remember that “holy” springs from the old English halig and literally means to make whole, this of course is the ultimate goal of all kinds of reconciliation.

May there be blessed wholeness and holy-making for us all.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.