A practice to reclaim yourself

Burning Contracts helps you let go of unworkable things

Because emotions carry such vital messages, I created the Empathic Mindfulness practices to help you learn to work with them,

These skills rely on your ability to work in the imaginal realm, which isn’t something you make up; rather, it’s the place where your creativity comes from.

In the imaginal realm, you create music, art, dreams, ideas, and sudden inspirations — and all of these recruit and rely upon your emotional and empathic abilities.

In this work, we learn to rely on our imaginal abilities so that we can work with our emotions in new ways.

How to separate yourself from an idea or behavior

This following practice helps you approach your behaviors and attitudes as decisions or agreements you made, instead of concrete traits that you cannot change.

We call these agreement contracts, because they basically act that way — as if you signed on some imaginal dotted line.

In the Empathic Mindfulness contract called Burning Contracts, you get to rescind old agreements and free yourself from ideas, behaviors, and attitudes that don’t work for you any longer (if they ever did).

The Gifts of Burning Contracts

Behavioral change ~ Emotional healing ~ Self-restoration

When you can view your behaviors not as life sentences, but as decisions you made, then you can choose to support or release those decisions.

If you’ve got trouble with certain emotions, you can burn your behavioral contracts with those emotions and restore your emotional flow.

If you’re unhappy with one of your behaviors, you can burn your contracts with it and free yourself from its clutches.

If you’re unable to function in relationships, you can burn your contracts with those relationships – not to end them, but to reorganize the behaviors that control your interactions with others.

And this practice is portable!

You can burn contracts at any time, and in any place. No one needs to know you’re doing it. This is a fully portable, emotionally welcoming process that was created for people with busy lives; it can be used whenever and wherever you like.

Burning your contracts – because it relies on the imaginal and emotive language the psyche likes best – will move you to a new place in consciousness.

Burning your contracts can set you free.


25 Responses

  1. Simon
    | Reply

    I just burned few contracts WHILE I was reading this article, it works. Thanks Karla for your priceless advice, info and research.

    • Karla
      | Reply

      Haha Simon, you rock!

      • Karen
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        I found your site today and have spent the whole morning reading your blogs. It has released something big because it has validated what I’ve believed for some time now. But for years suppressed and faked emotions to survive in a very toxic family. where emotions of any kinds were not allowed. Then later in society in general with so much valencing. All the shaming memes for having any genuine emotions. All the therapy sessions and prayers session to rid me of my genuine feelings. Thank you thank you thank you!! I just ordered your book and can’t wait to get it.

        • Karla McLaren
          | Reply

          Welcome, Karen!

          Oof, the messaging we receive about emotions is so often rotten. It’s no wonder so many of us struggle with them, and it’s so tragic that we do. Because they’re awesome!

          Welcome to the adventure!

    • Mariam Halstead
      | Reply

      Hi Karla,
      Your work has helped me so much as well as my clients. Thank you!!! – Mariam Halstead

  2. Lewis
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    I recently came across an audio tape “How to Become an Empath” at a library. I’ve listened to it twice and made notes, enjoying your unique perspectives. Is the new book a rewrite of this material?

    • Karla
      | Reply

      Hi Lewis,

      To a certain extent, it is, because the skills aspect is very similar. However. this is actually a reworking of the book and audio called Emotional Genius.

      After I left my new age career in 2003, I did a great deal of research and discovered that the information I have on emotions and empathy is quite original. It has been wonderful to have the opportunity to rewrite the material from my new perspective. I’ve been able to remove the metaphysical and paranormal stuff in favor of more grounded psychological and sociological principles. Yeeha!

  3. Miguel Angelo
    | Reply

    I was searching for some advices and answers after spending big part of my life in pain and lack of energies balance.
    Last week I’ve bought one of your books (“Your Aura & Your Chakras”) and it’s been a great self experience to me.
    I would like to thank you for your work and dedication.
    In one of the lines you say that we readers can send you a letter. I will!!
    Miguel Angelo
    from Brazil
    (I’ve exploded the shame of the last comment!)

    • Karla
      | Reply

      Hola Miguel,

      I’m glad the book is helping!

  4. Helen Shultz-Kamadulski
    | Reply

    This looks to be a very practical and doable exercise. I really like the inclusive way you describe the process…leaving room for people to use their imaginal abilities in the way that works best for them….whether actually visualising, or acting out with the motions, etc. Oft times exercises I’ve seen map out a very specific process requiring, perhaps, really good visualization skills. I get kind of hung up and discouraged in those situations. Your way makes the process more accessible to me and, I imagine, other folks who’ve felt similarly challenged, as well. Thanks again Karla!

    • Karla
      | Reply

      Thanks Helen, yes, imaginal abilities are such an awesome way to get at behaviors that may live underneath language and seemingly out of reach. With imaginal and emotive tools, we can access behaviors in their own language, excellent!

  5. Becky
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    Hi Karla,
    I’m reading all these different posts and wishing you and I could just talk for an hour or two!
    Shame…maybe you have said this. But I see shame as a healthy way to monitor my own behavior towards other people AND towards myself. My healthy shame is then how I notice that I have just done something to erode my own boundary. Does that make sense to you? I see anger as my response to others impinging on my boundary but shame is how I monitor how I am impinging on my boundary.

    • Karla
      | Reply

      Hello Becky, yes, you’ve got it. Shame, when it’s healthy, is the behavioral monitor that helps you understand how well you’re living up to your own internal moral structure — and whether or not you’re breaking your own boundaries or the boundaries of others. Here’s a post on shame if you haven’t found it yet. Good work!

  6. Becky
    | Reply

    Wow! Easier for me to be focus on other’s boundaries partly because they’ll get upset if I don’t. Million dollar issue: being aware and taking action about my own boundary. Thanks for your affirmation!

  7. David
    | Reply

    Hi Karla!

    I’ve been trying out burning contracts, and whenever I try and throwing out or burning the toxic emotion, my whole body starts to tremble/shake, like I’m having some kind of seziure. I can stop this counciously just by stopping the whole process, sometimes it gets through and I feel a release, but mostly I just try and shake it off so to speak, but it really feels clogged up and blocked.

    I get this same issue sometimes when i hit blocks in meditation, I start to shake intensly and sometimes it’s also accompanied with a pose where I automatically raise my mouth to the ceiling and my jaw opens quite harshly as if though something is trying to be released through my insides.

    I wonder if this is something you’ve come across or have some spontaneous though about. I kind of like the shaking because it feels as if I’m on to something when it’s happening, though it feels awry in some way as well.

    Anyhow, thanks for your great work. It’s been really important on my path.

    • Karla
      | Reply

      Hello David, wow, that’s a very interesting reaction!

      My first thought is about Peter Levine’s Somatic Experiencing, in which he talks about the shaking and trembling that happen as people heal from traumas. If you’ve had physical traumas in your life, it may be that process, and it could be a kind of self-healing down-regulation.

      The other thought is that it may have to do with anxiety? In either case, it might help to see a somatic therapist. Peter Levine has a practitioner’s list, though he is not the only person doing somatic therapy, and his work is primarily focused on trauma. His practitioner list is here: http://www.traumahealing.org/

      I hope that helps!

  8. David
    | Reply

    Hi Karla!

    Thanks alot for the quick and interesting answer. I live in Sweden, so I will have to look for similar/other options here. Massage has been of great use, as well as different types of meditations (especially compassion, body-scanning and prayer).

    Either way, i believe it’s certainly related to both physical trauma, which I personally believe is related to the abuse/stress my mother was afflicted with during her pregnancy and during my early years, and anxiety as companion to it. My first memories in life, are mostly of me experiencing myself as a lifeless ghost, which I interpret as the out-of-body-experience/dissociation as a self-defence against the stress and life-threatning experiences of early life/prenatal life.

    Actually i get the same shaking experience during prayer when I pray for contact with my own source, and during intense orgasm (induced during audio-hypnosis). I believe all of this is related to my attention/energy/tuning in to bodily senses – a “channel” that’s mostly been closed up my whole life. I’ve always been an highly intellectual type of person, mostly up in my own head or drowned in visual/auditive stimulus – not the bodily.

    Since I experienced a sort of bodily/emotional awakening after 1 ½ month at a zen tempel, this started the shaking, I’ve cried almost every day since (now it’s 4 months ago) and recently I’ve been enjoying moving my body more in dance and touching my whole body just at anytime. Depression and healing from it is definitly in this picture as well.

    Anyhow, thanks alot for your answer and your work, It’s bringing me clarity in these really confusing time in my life and pointing me in directions I believe I have to go.

    • Karla
      | Reply

      Thanks David — yes, Somatic therapies might be very helpful for you. They focus on how your body is feeling, moving, and expressing itself, and they help you connect to the messages your body is sending.

      It sounds like you’re doing that already, but it might help to have some support. It’s an amazingly gentle, yet powerfully integrating process. A practitioner might also suggest that you incorporate shaking and trembling into your dance moves to help your body continue to heal and integrate.

      There are two Somatic Experiencing practitioners in Stockholm, and if you’re not near there, they may have ideas about other somatic practitioners nearer to you. The somatic community is pretty close-knit. http://sepractitioner.membergrove.com/search-directory.php?sb=loc&st=Sweden

      Be well my friend!

  9. Phoebe
    | Reply

    Hi Karla, thank you for your work. It is amazing, fascinating and quite unique information! (As you know) I’ve had your book Language of Emotions for about a year and I’ve just started now to really click with it. I was fascinated from the start but also found it so confusing new and really scary. My partner split up with me 3 weeks back and since then I’ve been reading your book most days. I just did the burning contracts exercise for releasing the relationship and suddenly all this unexpected anger just jumped out of me onto the page and I spontaneously groaned with relief for 2 minutes. It was a massive relief and felt surprisingly good ! I didn’t get through all the anger because then I sort of clammed up and became very frightened. But it was good to shift a part of it.

    • Karla
      | Reply

      Hello Phoebe and thanks for commenting.

      I’m sorry about your break-up, but I’m glad that you had the Burning Contracts practice available to you. If you felt too much anger coming out, it may mean that Conscious Complaining would be a good regular practice, so that you can hear what your anger is trying to tell you. At first, this anger may be intense, because it hasn’t been heard, but it will learn how to calm down and speak in a way that’s comfortable for you.

      Grounding and defining your boundaries will also help, and the Rejuvenation practice can really help calm and refresh you when you need it.

      Take care. If your anger doesn’t calm down, it would be good to talk to someone about it, like a counselor, so that you’re not alone.

  10. Kate Autumn
    | Reply

    Thank you, Karla. I’m feeling my sadness flow just reading this post (without yet actually burning any contracts, I will do so this evening at my fire). I appreciate your work very much and use the Language of Emotions as a go to reference book for myself personally and my work. I am traveling now and do not have the book with me, so I am grateful for this website as a resource. I’ve been working with anger, depression and panic for many years and now just beginning to open up to how much my shame has been out of balance. (Lot of tears just saying this… It’s like magic!)

    • Karla McLaren
      | Reply

      Hello Kate, and welcome. And welcome sadness, the all-purpose healing balm of the soul!

      I’m glad you’ve found this post. Burning Contracts is marvelous for separating yourself from inauthentic shame and making room for your healthy and life-affirming shame to be heard.

  11. Dylan
    | Reply

    Hi Karla,
    It is me Dylan. Do you always have to burn contracts to move emotions through you, or emotions can just move through you as long as you don’t criticize yourself and let go of any “shoulds” by noticing them. I have noticed that when I stop using “should” statements and just accept myself, emotions can still move through me. Does that resonate with you? Because I don’t wanna feel like I always have to keep reminding myself to see if I need to burn contracts. That would be a lot of work and I feel like I would not be able to relax.

    I hope you are understanding what I am trying to ask!


    • Karla McLaren
      | Reply

      Hello Dylan,

      You’re right — you don’t always have to burn contracts or work hard. Once you learn to work with your emotions and accept them, they’ll be able to work without a lot of effort on your part.

      I might not burn contracts for months at a time, because nothing really needs a lot of attention. It’s work at first, but then your emotions take care of things on their own, pretty much!

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