September 10, 2012

We See Things as We Are. ~ Marlena Rich


A Look at Mindfulness Training, Love and the Joyous Dance of Life with Karuna Cayton

Karuna Cayton lives true to traditional Buddhist principles and has gifted readers with a readily accessible, down to earth guide for living a truly happy life. In his book, The Misleading Mind he clearly outlines a pathway to personal paradigm shifts that engage us in truth, while illustrating these multi-millennium aged premises with concrete examples from his life and that of his clients.

In our engaging conversation, Karuna indulged some of my favorite topics: spirituality in business, love,  relationships and dance. This article will touch on each of these.

Karuna has been leading the way with Corporate Based Mindfulness Training (CBMT) for a number of years and is a senior trainer with The Potential Project. He has coached some of the most successful business leaders, who understand that at the core of Buddhism are keys to success in every aspect of life. Mindfulness improves the triple bottom line when integrated as a non-spiritual culture in the corporate world.

“The power of love is transformative,” says Cayton, “Happiness, love and compassion are states of mind we are responsible for within ourselves.”

Ideally, we allow love to transform our own heart so that we are available to fully engage in loving relationships. He is concerned about what he feels is a dangerous cultural trend; people perceiving happiness as coming from relationships rather than from inside one’s self.

In my training as a Calling in “The One” coach, I have witnessed the same. Katherine Woodward Thomas, teacher and author of Calling in “The One,” shares that in our reluctance to extend love toward ourselves, “We create an intense hunger for love in our hearts. Our drive to find “The One” is intensified as a kind of compensation for the love that is missing in our lives. We are filled with a deep and enveloping longing to be loved.” This ironically counters the success of actually connecting with a partner at the deepest soul level, as the longing can be repulsive.

Karuna aptly points out that, “Each person struggles with their own afflictions. If we totalize the other as our ideal of beauty and loving kindness, they are bound to disappoint us, for they are imperfect, as we all are. In addition, should the other person accept this role in our drama, and we believe their job is to ensure our happiness, they are bound to fail. Not only can’t they control what may happen in the future, but they certainly can’t control what goes on in our mind.”

The same is true for reversal of roles. If a person accepts the pedestal position, then they can be sure that they will disappoint and be blamed for causing the other person’s pain. Each has a role of responsibility in the duality. If we get side tracked by mismanaged emotion that disguises itself as a legitimate love guide, our rampant desires can run the show.

It is as though the fears hidden deep in the heart, “Serve as an irresistible aphrodisiac, seducing the shadow side of life,” says Katherine Woodward Thomas. The only way out is through the fear, squarely facing off eye to eye.

In other words, see life as it is, without illusion and respond with courage.

The Misleading Mind speaks to the elimination of the afflictive mind and ignorance, and to the development of wholesome minds. As we “become familiar with ourselves from a non-shaming perspective,” Cayton says, “we naturally become more kind, loving and caring.” The process is one of sharpening our discernment without judgment.

In my work, I find that many people are so shut down to love that they are actually disconnected from their desire. So, part of the process of increasing the capacity to love is accessing deep desire. Karuna cautions that the key to happiness is to desire the right things in the right way—to see things as they are. Our intentional motivation is a subtle yet critical element in determining whether our present and future is peacefully and gratifyingly sustainable, happy.

Relationship is a gateway. When considering a romantic partnership Karuna suggests asking the question, “Can I grow spiritually with him/her to develop my inner potential?” Partners are off to a good start when they share reciprocal intentions to support each others’ growth with wisdom and kindness; wise within self to see truth in making personal growth choices and kind to the other while they go through their cycles.

Finding balance, letting go of attachment and managing afflictive emotion comprise an ongoing dance; the growth engine must continuously be churning. As dancer in the center of the circle, as Native Americans map out on the medicine wheel, all personalities/aspects of self are consulted in each moment—fluidly responding to what is, rather than from a static identity perception.

“The mental quality that accompanies pleasure is contradictory to a state of balance and peace. What makes desires destructive, is that we cling to or become attached to what we desire,” Karuna offers. It is useful to differentiate passion from desire, from wanting. We want from the place of experiencing lack, yet we can desire from the place of soul purpose.

We can passionately magnetize happiness when we work at discharging the human tendency to cling to outcome and pleasure.

The dance of Argentine tango is a playground for exploring the mysterious reaches of our own insatiable passion, drawing us so intrinsically deep within, that we exist face to face with the truth of each fleeting moment. Within the structure and technique of the form, one is free to engage in the underbelly of ardor with harmoniously oppositional, counter-gender energetic mirroring that gives way to joyous participation in the human condition.

Tango as a discipline teaches that mental states and attachment kill the spontaneity that creates the magic of the dance. The achievement of balance and peace within the smoldering dance expression requires precise present passion released in every moment. We come to the dance with the desire to engage the complexities of our being, and are required to liberate all thoughts associated with holding on to the pleasure.

Gustavo Naveira, the world’s most renowned tanguero says, “The tango is an artful form of communication, exploring how men and women are actually linked together by music. This allows us infinite exploration, full of action and surprises, in which artistic creativity comes not from “an” author, but is born and manifested within this relationship. Each dance is a unique event, a singular and unrepeatable event, where the “dance embrace” is a metaphor for an emotional and conspiratorial solidarity between man and woman.”

Gustavo and his partner, Giselle Anne, express tango in a way that is thought-provoking, desperately intriguing, sometimes humorous, joyful and intrinsically passionate. They will host a seminar during the two weekend Boulder Tango Festival September 28—October 7. For more information on the tango festival, classes and tickets to the spectacular performances see Boulder Tango Festival.

Anais Nin is famous for stating, “We don’t see things as they are; we see things as we are.”

Let us each step into the center of the circle, spontaneously responding to life with fresh vigor, clear sight and continuously renewed joy.


Marlena Rich is a powerful guide toward opening your capacity for great love, infinite possibility, attraction and connection with your soul mate. A certified Calling in The One coach, author and dance/movement transformational facilitator for more than 20 years, Marlena uses insightful, compassionate and practical methods to help uncover and release old patterns and beliefs. Training by author Katherine Woodward Thomas, mentoring by master teachers in ancient and contemporary healing disciplines for 35 years, a depth of experience in the business world and a life-long spiritual practice have prepared Marlena to inspire dynamic, heart-full magic in every aspect of life through partnership and creation of a profound space of deep self-discovery for her clients.


Editor: Sara McKeown

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