Spiritual teacher, medical intuitive, and best-selling author Caroline Myss tells Oprah what she knows for sure. Everything in life that I find meaningful I want to share. As a seeker on the path of my own spiritual evolution, I was introduced to the work of Caroline Myss, an astonishingly gifted intuitive who can see into people's bodies and souls. Immediately I wanted the whole world to benefit from her wisdom. In 1998 I invited her on The Oprah Winfrey Show to talk about her work. At one point in the conversation, I noticed the studio audience looking at both of us like we were speaking a foreign language—back then the idea of a mind-body-spirit connection was indeed a foreign concept to many people.
Caroline has been at the forefront of advancing spiritual insight and enlightenment in our culture. She is a teacher, thought leader, and mystic for the times we live in.
My most recent conversation with Caroline, during an interview for OWN's "Super Soul Sunday," brought an aha nearly every minute. Most people are miserable because they're trying to live a life that doesn't belong to them, she told me, explaining that no one can be truly healthy or fulfilled if their head and their heart exist as two separate forces within them. What you really want, she contends, is to be madly in love with the life you have and realize that everything you do counts. This is the essence of Caroline Myss's work: helping us all awaken to a life that counts.
Oprah:You and I spoke on my show in 1998. Back then, we were talking about your book Anatomy of the Spirit. During the taping, I looked out at the audience and I could tell they were not with us. Do you remember?
Caroline: Yes, I do.
Oprah:I stopped everything and asked, "Do you all understand what we're talking about?" And a woman stood up and said no, she really didn't. Then you explained what we meant by spirit. Can you do that again?
Caroline: I sure can. Your spirit is the part of you that seeks meaning and purpose. It's the part drawn to hope, that will not give in to despair.
Caroline: It's the part of you that has to believe in something more.
Oprah: It's the light of you.
Caroline: It's the light of you.
Oprah:Well, there it is. You've said that from a spiritual perspective, the entire physical world is nothing more than our classroom, and the challenge is for us to decide whether to make choices that enhance our spirit or drain our power.
Caroline: That's right. [You should] see everything about your life as a lesson. Ask, "Am I empowering myself?" Even for a tiny thing, like if you're in the grocery store and you're thinking, "Should I buy that?" And your gut says, "You know you can't eat that." If you decide not to listen, you've harmed yourself by blocking your intuitive voice.
Oprah: So every single choice we make is either going to enhance the spirit or drain it? Every day, we're either giving ourselves power or taking it away.
Caroline: That's right.
Oprah:I get that. When you appeared on my show again in 1999, you said, "I'm not born here to have a personality. I'm here to have a spirit. Each of us is born with a purpose for being alive." You actually wrote a book about that idea called Sacred Contracts. Why are so many people confused about what the contract says?
Caroline: [Laughs.] It's not a literal document. That's the first thing to understand. We could think of our sacred contract as a spiritual document that our soul recognizes.
Oprah:I love that—a spiritual document that our soul recognizes. Sometimes I have to repeat it to get it.
Caroline: Absolutely. You know how we say things like "I just have to be true to myself"? What does that mean? Great people always say, "There's something I was meant to do." That knowingness is what the soul understands. You have fundamental agreements that you simply feel. You can't put your finger on them because they reveal themselves to you within the context of your life through coincidence, synchronicity, and obligations you can't get out of. Together, these things form the whole of your sacred contract.
Oprah:But you think many people are completely in the dark about their reason for living. How can someone be so confused about their reason for being here?
Caroline: I'll tell you how: Because they define their life by what they want versus what they have. People get fixated on something and they have to have it, even though that voice inside tells them it's not meant for them. They want their reason for living to be a singular thing, like a career or a relationship, because this makes an individual feel secure in the physical world. We don't fare well in the realm of the invisible—so telling someone that their purpose is multilayered and includes the arduous journey of discovering who they really are is not always the answer they want to hear. But consider the complexity of the question: "What is my reason for living?" How can that question not include a journey into the depths of your own life?
Oprah: I love that you say, "People suffer when they pursue a life or chase a dream that doesn't belong to them." I think that is so profound. But then the question becomes, how do you know what life or path is meant for you?
Caroline: Well that's not as difficult as people think. Everyone has a path.
Oprah: So there's nobody here on Earth whose life doesn't have a purpose or a path?
Caroline: Correct. If you have life, you have purpose. It can't be otherwise. One atom is as purposeful as our planet. What is in one is in the whole.
Oprah:The magnitude of that idea makes me want to weep.
Caroline: But it's true. I cannot take you out and say you are separate from the whole. If someone says to me, "Well, how do I find my life purpose?" I first say, "You've never lost your life purpose." Number two, I say, "Have no judgments about your life. No expectations. Give up the need to know what happens tomorrow. Just be fully present and appreciate all that is in your life right now."
Oprah: What if I lost my job and I'm in the depths of despair?
Caroline: You are in the depths of despair because you locked in on something or someone that didn't belong to you. I've met many people who have lost everything, especially in these times. People who survive devastating loss have the ability to let go of what they were doing, how much they were earning, and what they feel they are entitled to right now. They may well return to their former status, but their immediate task is to assess their skills and show resilience moving forward. Survival activates miracles when a person relies on the graces of hope and faith. And, yes, of course you battle despair. It is often a day-to-day fight, but it's one that can be won.
Oprah:So we need to live with no judgment and no expectations?
Caroline: Expectations are usually predicated on the idea that the everyday things that happen to ordinary people shouldn't happen to you. People hold the idea of being ordinary in absolute contempt, so when they face an illness, poverty, or any kind of catastrophe, they say, "I can't believe this happened to me." And who did you think it was going to happen to—the woman across the street? It makes them think, "I must be on the wrong path." But what if something you thought was bad was the best thing that ever happened to you? What if that was part of your path? Life on Earth will never be fair the way we expect it to be. Oprah:Is that because the choices we've made throughout our lives affect whatever happens to us in any given moment? If so, I think we forget that's the case.
Caroline: Yes, and bear in mind that we're actually making not one but 30 choices at a time: Our mind is making a choice. Our heart's making choices. Oprah: So going back, how do you know for sure that you are on the right path, what dream belongs to you, or what husband or job belongs to you?
Caroline: Here's your clue: You're not put in a position where you feel like you have to negotiate your sense of integrity, which is an act of betrayal. You don't feel like you have to compromise who you are.
Oprah:I got that. It's like if you're at a job, and you know you're really gifted and talented, but you come in to work every day feeling "I'm really not valued or I'm not being respected for what I do."
Caroline: That's right.
Oprah:So when you have more respect for yourself and put yourself in a position where you feel your sense of value or worth, that's how you know you're on the right path.
Caroline: You know an action is the correct one for you because you don't think, "This is costing me my power." I can be tired after a day's work at the right job, but I'm not psychically drained to where I feel like I'm losing life.
Oprah:Or losing myself. Speaking of...I have a lot of married friends, and over the years I've interviewed a lot of people who are married. Everybody talks about how relationships are so much work. What is the difference between betraying yourself and compromising because that's what you have to do to get along?
Caroline: A compromise is done willingly and out of love. You don't go away thinking, "I betrayed myself."
Oprah: It goes back to what you said earlier: Every choice is either going to enhance or drain your spirit.
Caroline: Right. Think about the number of times someone will say to herself, "I want to get out of this circumstance, but I'm too afraid. I'll lie about how happy I am in this marriage, and I'll put up a front." But she's betraying everything that's in her heart. She's making choices that are harming her, and that's why she's hurting. Her intuition is trying to tell her that. When your life begins to harm you, know that you have taken a detour from your true path.
Oprah: You know, I just had an aha moment listening to you. I love it when that happens. Having been betrayed by a close member of my family years ago, I've often thought there's nothing worse. But just hearing you talk about it today, I think there's nothing worse than betraying yourself. Caroline: Especially consciously. When you have an opportunity to protect yourself and you choose to do otherwise? That is hard. That's brutal.
Oprah: It's brutal because it's you saying you're not worth protecting.
Caroline: Or it's you saying you are no different from the people who hurt you. What's the difference between those people who hurt you and what you are doing to yourself? Oprah:That is big. Big.
Caroline: We are born intuitive, which is why for most people, their intuition is actually the source of their greatest suffering.
Oprah:I don't know what you mean by that. How is your intuition the cause of your greatest suffering? I'd think it would be the opposite.
Caroline: Because people know when they've betrayed themselves. They are very much aware when they are not honest with themselves. They hear the voice that says, "You shouldn't have said that" or "You know that's not right."
Oprah: Or "You're still with this person, and you know you should've left 12 years ago."
Caroline: Totally. That is the voice of your consciousness. It's the voice that's speaking the truth you may not want to hear, and it never turns off. It's the part that keeps us moving, that pushes us. But it's also the part that says, "You've done everything you can."
Oprah:So what you're saying is exactly what I've always believed and how I've operated: When you have done everything that you can do, surrender. Give yourself up to the power and energy that's greater than yourself.
Caroline: That's right. Give your best effort...
Oprah: ...and then don't be attached to the outcome.
Oprah: So did you always know these things?
Caroline: I was very intuitive all my life.
Oprah: Your mother saw it in you.
Caroline: Yeah. But when I went into the world of medical intuition [in 1982], helping people to understand the deeper causes of their illnesses, my inner world developed very rapidly.
Oprah:Is there something you're still striving for?
Caroline: I'm working on forgiving myself for some not-so-hot choices I've made in my life. I neglected two people I loved dearly. They are both dead now and I obviously can do nothing to repair or change that, and I grieve every day for those choices. That grief can be paralyzing, but it has made me understand the pain of holding on to unfinished business. In my case, I had put work first. I will never do that again. Having made that choice, I find the grief in my heart finally abating. Now I teach the need to forgive yourself and others relentlessly.
Oprah: So you're going to actually practice what you teach?
Caroline: I am.
Oprah: Well, I'm taking my cues from you. Show me the way.