Alan Sheehan fired home a brilliant free-kick as Notts County registered their fourth successive win under Keith Curle to move into the play-off places.
They went in front when on-loan Jonathan Forte headed home from Alan Judge's right-wing cross.
And the visitors' own play-off hopes were further dented six minutes later when Sheehan found the top corner after Lubomir Milachik fouled Forte.
Jon-Paul McGovern hit the side-netting late on with Carlisle's best chance.
VIEWS FROM THE DRESSING ROOM
Notts County manager Keith Curle told BBC Radio Nottingham:
"I think it was an important day, not for myself, but for the players.
"The last three games I think emotionally - with the adrenaline that's been pumping, the effort, the commitment, the application - it's taken care of itself because the players have been given the license to go and express themselves.
"Today was a big game for them because they knew they were playing against a team that's been up there for a long time in and around the play-offs and pushing for the play-offs. It was a big ask and a big challenge."
Carlisle manager Greg Abbott told BBC Radio Cumbria:
"There's a lot of frustration there, it's a really frustrated dressing room, a really frustrated touchline.
"It's a game we thought was going to be tough, they're on a good run, with a new manager and all that.
"As the game's panned out we've given more, or as much as we've been given, back and we can't find the goal. Then we've conceded two bad goals."