How to mend a broken heart

“Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.”

It Hurts

photo credit: Theafroman9

I used this quotation from cool-dude Dalai Lama about two years ago in an essay about unrequited love. It’s in one my books I think.  The quotation stuck with me because when I first saw it, I was in pain, from a relationship, not getting what I had wanted.

Relationships—as in all human interactions—are the nexus where heaven and earth meet. It is the playground of the ego. Human interactions, particularly romantic ones, usually start off blissfully, with a great deal of mutual validation and excitement and high expectations. But it isn’t long before the past comes up, patterns grip us, irrationality rules, all in a hotbed of pain and guilt and hurt.

And this is our best opportunity to awaken!

We spend most of the energies of life avoiding discovery of our patterns and naked experience. If we simply relaxed in Awareness and allowed, we discover our patterns and the true experience of reality and we see that there is Awareness and everything else is simply an impermanent point of view in Awareness, and the two are not two. It is this unity which is already all that we chase for in life. But we are deluded by our thoughts and beliefs and so we do not see this.

Human interactions are therefore a gift, a mirror, in which we can see the reflection of our conditioning and patterns if we choose to. Of course none of us wants to be dismantled, though that is exactly what awakening is—it is the falling away of the false—but none of us wants to be ripped apart, and this is the gift of human interactions. They automatically start the process for us.

So if you are in pain because of a relationship or the lack of one, take heart, because you will learn from it, and you will see it indeed as a wonderful stroke of luck. If you are in pain, right now, you want to be heard, you want your hurt to be acknowledged, you want someone to see how hard you’ve tried and to see your qualities and to acknowledge that all you’ve done is tried to love. Or you want someone to show love by behaving in certain ways. You want someone to show that he or she is thinking of you. Or you want someone to take responsibility for your hurt. Or perhaps you are blaming yourself or someone else. Or, you are feeling uncertain and lonely and tired and confused and despondent and insecure. Or you are feeling guilt. Or all of this.

Decide you want peace more than drama

Make the decision that you want peace more than you want drama. Your words may be different—fun more than hurt, happiness more than unhappiness, openness more than contraction, sanity more insanity…however, you choose to express it, it comes down to your decision to want awareness more than you want to be tied to reactive conditioning.

When we can decide this we stop pointing fingers outside of us. This letting go of the need to exercise our usual patterns is acceptance.

The Buddhists express this very well in the saying that whenever we are angry or offended or hurt by someone, it is always because of a pattern inside of us. We cannot possibly be offended or angry or hurt by someone unless we recognize the same pattern within us, and it is this self-recognition which makes us angry. Test it out. It has never failed me.

When I was in pain from a relationship, there was a period where my mind was very busy with stories. All sorts of mental-movies, mental-conversations, mental-judgments, mental-hope and mental-demands came up. Why oh why does it have to be this way instead of the way I want it to be?

This insanity can even get out of hand. I’m sure you have had the experience where you think, say, or do something, and in the middle of it, you have a moment of lucid awareness, and you ask yourself if you’ve gone crazy.

Indeed, you have. The ego is nuts.

When I was in this period of pain from a relationship, where my mind would not settle, I decided at one point that all my thoughts were irrational. I simply decided that each and every thought I had was suspect. At a much later time, I read “The Work” from Byron Katie. I realized that when I had decided that every thought I had was irrational, I had instinctively used Byron Katie’s technique of questioning beliefs. I don’t find it useful to analyze each belief—it worked better and easier for me to simply uncling from thoughts by deciding they are all suspect.

We can develop the skill to ride the high and low waves of human interactions. It is in the low waves, from misery and bleakness, that the stuck structures of the ego and conditioned patterns can be looked at, and that’s all it takes. Just a looking, from awareness, without intellectual analysis, is all it takes to release them.  We can call this instinctive recognition or wisdom or intuition. I invite you to leave everything just as is, without labeling or judging, and simply notice effortlessly.

If the mind is racing, it can help however to use specific techniques to settle down painful emotions from relationships. The technique that helped me the most with relationship-pain is a letting-go technique. No surprise there, right?

It’s a useful technique to use for any interaction with anyone.

How to release interactions

Visualize the person you’re trying to let go of.

Ask yourself: What do I want from this person?

Let go of the wants.

Then ask: What do I feel the other person wants from me?

Let go of feeling of what the other person wants.

That’s it.

More…

Remember that this is not a cognitive analysis. You don’t try to figure out why you want what you want. It’s not a psychological assessment.

Sometimes it’s difficult to know or articulate what it is that you wanted from the interaction. It can help to categorize wanting into four categories: approval, control, security, and completeness. If you look honestly at any desire you have, you will be able to categorize it according to one or more of these four categories, or their opposites.

What did you actually demand internally? Did you want approval? Approval can be love, reassurance, validation, confirmation, conformity and many other things.

Did you want to control that person? Control can be the need for the person to see you in specific ways. It can be the demand that person show his or her love to you by behaving in certain ways. Did you want the person to feel certain feelings? Do you want the person to agree with you in some way?

Did you want completeness? Do you feel validated when the person is in your life or behaves in certain ways? Do you want some sort of communion or association? Do you feel that a continued association with this person somehow makes you feel more complete or accomplished or accepted?

Did you want security? Do you want a future, a feeling of safety?

There is no judgment here. There is no question of rationality—whether what you want from the person is rational or irrational is irrelevant.

We can take these wants and put them in one or more categories of approval, control, security and completeness.

Then use the release technique to let go of the wanting. That is, let go of the wanting of control, security, approval and completeness, and their opposites.

If it helps you, jot down the wants and their categories.

Why this works

An effective release technique simply uses our own intuition. With this, we acknowledge and accept and fully allow the pain and patterns which have built up in us. And we look at the patterns of wanting with Awareness, with instinctive non-thinking wisdom.

What happens

Continue the exercise as often as you want. Use the exercise for any interaction. In any interaction, whether it’s romantic or friendly or familial or business or casual, the ego has demands and the ego makes assumptions on what it thinks the other is demanding.

As false emotions and patterns are released, intuition rises. Space is created within us. The clinging to particular patterns or particular emotions or particular wants begins to loosen. We become very open.

You will find that this technique, just like the letting go technique, very soon vanishes as a technique, and becomes easy experience.

With increasing intuition, you may also recognize the ego’s tendency to seek out interactions which give the ego the opportunity to exercise its stuck patterns.  As you let go, you may become more alert to this tendency.

Does it really work

Yup, it does. I went through over a year of turmoil, and another year of “low-grade” longing. With this technique, the painful emotions went away in two weeks. What is left are just good feelings of wanting the best for the person in question. There is no longing or pain or demands.

I’m not trying to sell you on this. There is nothing for sale here (well, the books are, hehe). But there is nothing for sale as a practice. Even though I do talk about practices, I also say that if you can see that any practice is just a point of view in Awareness, and not Awareness, then you don’t need any practice. Practice of any sort is in the realm of the limited mind but practice does have the effect of settling down particular beliefs and pain, and this can allow us to see what it means to let go and rest in Awareness.

Give it a shot, and let me know how it goes.

49 thoughts on “How to mend a broken heart

  1. Brenda

    Hi Kaushik

    Are you in a relationship now? It seems that there is the potential for getting so good at nonattachment that forming relationships would suffer as a consequence. Relationships are formed by attaching one’s time and attention to another person. How do you explain this subtle paradox?
    .-= Brenda´s last blog ..The Unnamed Light =-.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Brenda,

      Oh boy!

      No, I’m not in a relationship as you mean it. I have a supportive family and a bunch of fascinating friends.

      You make a great point about non-attachment. We create ideas about non-attachment, and people often think it is the purposeful suppression of compassion and love. Non-attachment the way I see it is the opposite. It is the letting go of any sort of suppression or resistance, and then an openness develops which does not cling to any particular point of view. This is the expansion of love.

      There isn’t any particular reason I’m not in a committed relationship. I’m completely open to whatever develops.

      I hope you’re doing well!

      Peace,
      k

  2. Jodi at Joy Discovered

    Kaushik,
    This is a helpful article. I use your release technique a lot. It helps so much to get to the root of issues I encounter. Like you wrote, things usually come down to wanting “control, security, approval and completeness, and their opposites.” Recognizing the core issue helps me let go of the stress and anxiety that my thoughts are producing. It’s pretty incredible.

    I also like what you wrote about patterns–that is dead on!!!

    Take care, thanks for such a thorough post! Jodi
    .-= Jodi at Joy Discovered´s last blog ..Planting Seeds for the New Year =-.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Jodi,

      Thanks, and it’s so wonderful you’re using the technique and it’s helping. The root of the issue is fear, and once we see that, all this becomes rather simple.

      Thanks for visiting and for sharing your experience.

      I hope all is well!

      Joy,
      k

  3. Liara Covert

    Everything is a process for an individual. Many people only perceive love through the filter of their own experience. As a person shifts from the perspective of logical mind to feel with the heart, expanding unconditional love and forgiveness are all that flow. The right brain believes almost anything you repeat unless you raise consciousness to recognize how perception is manipulated by sound energy. As you see through self-hypnosis, you begin to realize the healing power of magnetic energy. Spiritual consciousness reminds you what you can do even through emotions often cloud inner knowing to distract you from the truth.
    .-= Liara Covert´s last blog ..What are you downloading? =-.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Tess,

      Yes, peace more than drama. It’s an important question to ask ourselves–it helps us see that ego will want drama. It wants to be right, not happy. This realization can help us make the decision that we really do want to live consciously, more than we want to live according to conditioning and stuck patterns.

      “…meeting silence.” Yes, exactly, well said.

      I hope you are really well!

      k

  4. Nadia - Happy Lotus

    Hi Kaushik,

    That Dalai Lama is one super cool dude and you are so right about the ego…it is nuts! 🙂

    So many gems are in this post and I think the one area in human existence where we have really messed things up is the area of romantic relationships. I talk from experience. When I look back at all those relationships which did not work out, I am so grateful because something better did come along. Many times we want things without thinking whether or not they are good for us. Therein lies the rub of human desires. What is good for us and what is not…we master that with time and as you so beautifully endorse, when we become aware of who we truly are, then the clouds lift and we can see much more clearly as to what this whole game is all about.

    Hope all is well, my friend. This post was a joy to read.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Nadia,

      You’re so right that we’ve messed up our relationships, particularly romantic ones. In the egoic mind, it is difficult to know what we need–the ego of course has its own agenda based on history and validation and conditioned patterns. When we can rest in Awareness, intuition rises, and we can see clearly and connect authentically. As human beings conditioned in this civilized society, it is difficult for us to connect without demands and expectations, but the seeing of this is an important step to clarity.

      Thanks for expanding the discussion brilliantly!

      Peace,
      k

  5. Lisa (mommymystic)

    Oh, boy this realm of relationships has been a big learning area for me as well. And I do think this recognizing and questioning of what we want from others, and releasing it, is such a key part of truly learning to love (both ourselves and others.) Or perhaps I should say for letting the love come through. Romantic relationships, and especially marriage have challenged me in this way, but so has parenting, as children are another kind of mirror too. So often we have so much invested in how they ‘turn out’, in how they reflect on us (although we never want to admit that), and that in itself becomes a block. Thx for another thoughtful post…
    .-= Lisa (mommymystic)´s last blog ..Spiritual Processing,Transits and Empowerments =-.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Lisa,
      Yes, I agree, all relationships can be a mirror. I don’t remember who said this, but it’s a great quotation: if you think you are enlightened, spend two weeks with your parents!

      Thanks for your insights. I hope all is well!

      Peace,
      k

  6. Andrew

    “I’m sure you have had the experience where you think, say, or do something, and in the middle of it, you have a moment of lucid awareness, and you ask yourself if you’ve gone crazy.”

    Yes that absolutely has happened before.

    Is it possible to release thoughts as well as emotions? For example, what if we keep having a recurring thought that is actually an accurate thought, but it causes us distress? I know that attaching to the thought is causing me distress, but if the thought is “true”, then by not attaching to it am I not denying the truth of it?

    One other question (this may sound dumb) but say we are truly “enlightened”, would not every woman we come across be the perfect one for us? In that breath, how can we differentiate between partners? Is it simply that we just enjoy the form (personality, looks, intellect) of one partner over another? Thanks Kaushik!

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Andrew,
      Yes we can release thoughts, and way to do it is not direct. I have written about how to let of compulsive thoughts. But I think we can also simply rest in awareness.

      Observe thoughts. The gaps in between are awareness. Short moments of awareness put together adds up to awareness. With more and more experience with short gaps, there is expansion, and we experience warmth, ease, compassion, a letting go. Thoughts diminish and we see that thoughts are actually very impersonal.

      In observing thoughts, don’t judge them to be true or false or rational or weird. Don’t label, don’t interpret. And labeling happens, allow that as well, and watch, because that too is just another thought.

      To your other question, whether we’re enlightened or not, we have embodied patterns. We resonate with some people more than we do with others. We can radiate compassion equally, but we can still resonate with some more than others.

      I hope this helps.

      Once again, you’ve asked some very essential questions! Thanks.

      Peace,
      k

  7. Megan "JoyGirl!" Bord

    Kaushik, I am so glad that you pointed out that this whole view could be applied to familial relationships (like duh, right?!). I was reading, reading, and nodding my head but thinking, “I’m not in romantic pain right now, so I don’t really need this.” And then I hit your suggestion that (of course!) we can apply this to other relationships, too. WHAMO! I’m fresh out of wondering why one of my family-of-origin relationships isn’t how either party wants it. I’ve sort of landed in the space of just accepting that it is how it is, and that how either of us are (distant) doesn’t mean we don’t love each other.
    But when I want to better understand or release my own “stuff” related to this relationship, I can look at your categories of wants (thank you for that, by the way), and figure out why I’m so hooked by the shenpa of what’s happening between us.
    This article, like you and like always, is brilliant.
    Best to you, my friend!
    .-= Megan “JoyGirl!” Bord´s last blog ..Funny Cookies =-.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Megan,

      Yes, this can be applied to any relationship or interaction. Family relationships are long and develop as our own conditioning and patterns develop, so they can be particularly instructive. I don’t know that we can get anywhere with thinking or analyzing our relationships, because of course we think and analyze with the same the belief and assumptions and stuck patterns. When we can let go and remain aware, an instinctive recognition takes over.

      Thanks for the wonderful insight. And the kind words!

      I hope you are really well!

      Peace,
      k

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Amit,

      Yes letting go works in the same way for any situation. With practice we realize it’s not a practice. It’s not even something we do; it’s something we stop doing. We stop resisting. A feeling is just a message from intuition. With an emotion, if we fully allow, welcome it, we see its true nature and we stop holding on to it.

      Thanks for the insight. And thanks for the kind words!

      Shanti,
      k

  8. Paul Maurice Martin

    That’s a great idea – applying mindfulness directly to interactions. I’ve tended to be more mindful of my private inner stream of consciousness and will try to remember to apply this.

  9. Laura Hegfield

    So much here to ruminate upon here. This really jumped out at me “…we are angry or offended or hurt by someone, it is always because of a pattern inside of us. We cannot possibly be offended or angry or hurt by someone unless we recognize the same pattern within us, and it is this self-recognition which makes us angry.”

    this is something that is more and more in my awareness radar…recognizing my discomfort (and myself) in other people…turning it around and working on my own stuff…letting go of the “blame” and allowing compassion to flow in both directions.

    so glad I discovered your blog today.

    gentle steps,
    Laura
    .-= Laura Hegfield´s last blog ..Darkness Provides =-.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Laura,
      Yes, this is powerful knowledge. It has the effect of making us stop and looking at our patterns even in those times when we tend to be very unconscious. “..compassion to flow in both directions.” Beautiful!

      Peace,
      k

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  15. Sarah

    Its amazing what a relationship can set off inside a person, the power, the intensity. And, funny thing, all that power is yours. Make it pain; make it love; its your energy and your choice. A hard lesson to learn. But when something makes you aware of that power, the power of your own love, you can heal yourself. Maybe when I’m done healing myself I’ll be able to heal someone else and do magic tricks, read minds, and other mystical things. For now, I doubt there’s any separation between the two – healing myself and others. Love will always last, so long as you recognize yourself as the source.
    .-= Sarah´s last blog ..The Surfers =-.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Yes, Sarah, relationships are our best mirrors.

      It starts with love, loving ourselves. Love is the opposite of fear. Developing love and releasing fear are the same. You have articulated it so well: love and pain are both power, and we can use our power, awareness, to heal ourselves first.

      Thanks Sarah for the eloquent insight.

      love and peace,
      k

  16. Nina

    I am sorry if this sounds like a stupid question but how exactly do you let go when the pain is so strong and the desire to be with them is entrenched.
    I believe in what you are saying, I just cant understand the letting go part

    Thanks for responding! This site is great!

    Nina

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Acknowledge your feelings. You have a right to these feelings. You have the capacity to love and love can hurt.

      When the thought-stories play in your head, acknowledge them. Watch them, witness them, as a detached observer. These stories are stories, they are not you.

      Part of what is adding to the pain is that you want the pain to go away. Allow the pain. It is your human thing, a very natural thing. Make space for the pain. Make space for the pain in the body, make ever more space. Can you just allow this, this bittersweet pain, which you know hurts, but you also know is very much a part of being human?

      Be grateful for this pain. It is not only reminding you of your humanity, it is also the trigger for waking up the unawakened parts of you.

      1. Laura

        Your words are very healing! Thank you so much for helping ease my current pain.. realizing that I am not my thoughts and to begin to observe my thoughts, I have been consumed with thoughts and actually began labeling myself as “crazy” for having them. I needed to hear that when I stop resisting my thoughts and begin to observe them, I am practicing release, a form of letting go.

        I am grateful for your words!

        1. Kaushik Post author

          Good to hear, Laura. At this point there are really only two techniques I recommend to people. Looking at you (looking at sense of being, the sense of I AM); and a release technique which though not essential can help us through some of the harsher emotions. ou can look up the release technique here.

  17. Rahul

    Hi Kaushik,

    Thank you so much for these articles and for the techniques described therein. I was definitely in a stuck place for the past several months replaying the same emotions and thoughts over and over again in regards to certain individuals. I attempted this technique as well as the emotional and thought release methods (as mentioned in your dark night of the soul article) and boy what a difference it has made. It’s not even been a day yet and I feel an expansion so vast it’s incredible! Thank you again!

    Love and Peace,

    Rahul

  18. Nicole

    Hi Kaushik,

    Helpful article and I’ve really enjoyed and appreciated the discussion following. I know these things to be true, but I like Nina am having a hard time letting go. I want to ask what is wrong with having needs of security, approval, control, and completeness? Is it not important to honor our needs?

    What does make sense to me is choosing peace over drama and wanting to be happy not right. I know love is expansive and fear is limiting. Makes sense that letting go is not something to do but to stop doing, stop resisting.

    Thank you!

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Nicole,

      Well, what’s wrong with having needs for security, approval, control, and completeness is that the absence of these doesn’t feel very good, and that’s not necessary. You are already complete; you exist and so you already have massive approval; you cannot control. This feeling of wholeness which is independent of any need is very possible; in fact, I see it as my true and essential nature. From this point of view, it is still possible and desirable to strive for some level of practical security (money, the people in my life, and so on), but my sense of self no longer depends on the conventional concepts security and approval. Awakening can lead us to this independent feeling of wholeness.

      You might want to check out the book, “The Sedona Method.” If I remember correctly, it goes through some exercises you can do to get more clarity on these needs. Byron Katie might be helpful as well.

      My overall recommendation is get in the habit of self-observance and self-honesty. Try John Sherman’s looking technique, try this release method, and get in the habit of observing thoughts, emotions, mental activity and so on. With self-observance, you will create your own spiritual path.

      k

  19. Alan

    Thank you for writing this. At 42 years of age, and 18 of marriage, I met the woman I always looked for. And she is the most happily married person I’ve ever met, married to a great guy, and they have the kind of marriage I always wanted. She also happens to be my teammate at work. She knows how I feel and doesn’t want me to get a new job, but the pain has become unbearable. I will try to follow your advice and hope to get past this soon.

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