Interviews with Karuna Students: Marie Endres

Our next interview is with Karuna Graduate Student, Marie Endres. Marie is a certified visionary craniosacral therapist and a retreat facilitator in Larkspur, CA. She says that her interest in Karuna stemmed from her faith in Karuna teacher Melissa Moore.” Really it has to do as my connection with Melissa” she explains “and my recognition that she had really developed some tools for working with people to help us and that I can learn to help others relate to their difficult emotions in a more healthy way.”

Marie says that helping others relate to their difficult emotions has been a lifelong passion. “This was a desire of mine since when I was about 19 years old. My spiritual path has really been about how to help people and help myself too, to suffer less and enjoy life more.”

Healing From Shame

Still, this path has not been without challenges. “Shame was really the big bugaboo that I felt like I needed to work with.” Marie explains. “It could just come up so randomly and bite me. And all the content or the reason in my mind was often really quite small, but the pain was really intense.”

“One morning not very long ago, I woke up feeling ashamed about some painful memory coming up. And I was thinking I was working with myself.

I was going ‘I LOVE YOU! I LOVE YOU! It’s OK. it’s not a big deal.’

And then all of a sudden I realized I was kind of saying ‘I love you’ to myself kind of aggressively and I really wasn’t doing the four step process. I had developed this habit, from before I came to Karuna, of that message. But it was really a spiritual bypass, or an uplevel as I call it. As soon as I realized that I just looked right at the shame, and something just shifted right that moment. I just connected with it and felt some sort of kindness towards the shame.”

“It was really interesting. And then it just shifted, it softened. And that moment, that piece of work was complete.”

Marie says that she still struggles with shame but she knows now that she can be with it. “It’s not like I haven’t had moments of shame since,” she explains. “But I now have that as a reference point. I don’t have to go ‘I LOVE YOU! I LOVE YOU!’. I can actually be present with the shame in a hospitable accepting way that it’s just another energy cruising through.”

“Sometimes you think you’re doing something beneficial, but actually be using it a bit aggressively or in some way not really being genuinely present.”

Learning from the Practicum

Marie’s Karuna Practicum was focused on hosting a weekend retreat for three women. “I met these women on Mount Shasta” Marie explains. “They were all in their early 30s and it was immediately obvious to me that they had all been abused.”

When all three expressed interest in the weekend, Marie set up an overnight camping retreat, where she helped the women process their emotions.

Marie says she learned a lot from the experience. “One of the things I learned was not to be so quick to hug people, especially if you think they’ve been abused, and also making sure the environment is really secure.”

Marie knew during the planning stages that the weekend’s location needed to feel safe for people to share. “The first three hours were at Mt. Shasta, that was just great. The campsite was very private. That worked out really well.” she recalls. Still, in planning for the overnight Marie took extra care. “Talking to my mentor, she had said ‘Are you sure it’s going to be secure enough?’ or ‘Are they going to feel safe enough?’” explains Marie. “She knew we were going to a campground. And I had actually reserved a specific campsite. My partner and I had camped at this campground before. We had checked it out quite thoroughly to find the most private spots and reserved it six months ahead.”

Still, even the best-laid plans sometimes fall flat. “I thought I was good with that but it wasn’t.” She says “I didn’t know until we were there.” Upon arrival, Marie realized the campsite was much more crowded than it had been when she had camped there before. “There were a lot of kids near us, so it didn’t feel as secure and safe. It worked out OK. It could have been better.”

Marie says she wouldn’t go with this public campsite for another retreat but the weekend still went well. “It was really good to be in nature. That part was very nurturing and healing.”

Integrating Karuna Into Craniosacral Work

Marie says that Karuna has also been integral in her work as a craniosacral therapist. In fact, she says she uses it every day. “Just this morning, someone came for a craniosacral session and we talked about relating to her painful memories,” Marie recalls. “We talked about how she related to these memories in this session, in her daily life, and in her meditation sessions. I’m using the concept of ’embracing the energy of emotions’ with people. I’m introducing people to that and doing guided work with them.”

Marie says that she is seeing progress with her clients. “This is the second session that I did guided work on embracing painful emotions with her,” Marie explains. “The second session, which was today, she was quite able to express and be in touch with her emotions.”

Advice for Those Considering Karuna

When asked if she has any advice for people who are considering Karuna but who may be on the fence about it, Marie says confidently “Yeah …Do it! Don’t hesitate. Even if even if you find that you can’t use it with clients, because you’re an accountant or something, it will help you in your intimate relationships with people.”

“It will help” she goes on to say. “It will help you because you’ll be able to be more present with your own pain and not tend to either lash out or automatically suppress. You’ll have more compassion when you see your child acting out or your spouse getting angry about something. Even if you feel like you didn’t do anything, and they’re just getting bent about something and blaming you, you will be able to have more compassion for yourself on the spot, and for them too.”