True Independence

Today, as we celebrate our independence from the oppressive rule of the English Empire, I’m reflecting on the ways we have re-created “oppressive rule” for ourselves and our collective lives.

As many of us know by now, the fundamental source of this is our own psychological fear. When merged with others who are also operating from this software of sorts, we create unwise policy that impacts and threatens the lives, rights, freedoms, and liberties of millions.

It’s a curious thing we do as human beings– this re-creation of sorts. Like a car with a single headlight, we follow our one-sided vision into darkness….and then defend our darkness (our fear) as if it were the only truth– but it is not. We have another headlight, my friends! (and a little light inside, too!)

To be free from darkness and from our own psychological enslavement, we must turn on our other headlight. If you’re so inclined, from this day forward, vow to grace everything you see with your wholeness and the vision of your internal light.

To see clearly is true freedom. To understand the source of all insidious domination, individually and collectively, is true independence.

Photo by Brady Knoll on Pexels.com

How will you spend your time?

I read a neat quote on Twitter the other day: “Knowledge isn’t free, you have to pay attention.”

Knowledge and information are abundant and everywhere! Yes, in books (one of my favorite places to look!), but also in your backyard, in the sky, at work, even on your Facebook or Twitter feed.

When I went to the hospital to deliver my second daughter Camille, there was a painted mural on the wall with the following words:

“Everyone and everything around you is your teacher.”

For some reason, that quote hit me right in the heart and from that day on, I began to notice everyone and everything this way…..the way I used to during my childhood when I lived in Puerto Rico and spent my days on the beach, gazing at the tides, playing with anything and everything that came my way.

In many respects, planet Earth is like a school; a living classroom, if you will. If you’re aware enough to know that ‘you are here’, and that you are here for some reason, you’re more likely to “pay attention” to what comes your way.

Just like ‘regular school’, however, there are those who do not enjoy this school. They are angry. They may be afraid, and so, they attack what they view as threats: they undermine teachers; they shame fellow students; and they ridicule what they don’t understand. They would rather blow up the damn school!

In fact, they don’t see it as a school at all, but as a place to conquer and overpower– which means that whoever is in their way must be ‘set-straight’, shamed, or destroyed.

This is one key observation that Gary Zukav and many others see as a difference between the human beings who are ‘multi-sensory’, and those who are not (yet). To note, most human beings have five ‘factory installed’ physical senses (sight, touch, sound, smell, taste). But there are millions of individuals who perceive beyond these five.

These are not things that can be proven or explained with mere words– they are known, by the individual, because they are directly accessed. And, this access is open and available to anyone who is willing to do the inner-work to locate this inner-access for themselves.

Millions of human beings are evolving on Earth right now. Our own planet is evolving too. To be mindful that change is hard, painful, and messy, is essential right now.

When people become frightened they either retreat or become angry and may lash out in the ‘playground’ of life, just like the bully at school. All human beings experience fear by the way — that is ‘factory installed’, too. However, we don’t have to act from that emotion.

Given this, the question for each of us, because all human beings are undergoing this journey/transformation/transition, is this: knowing this, how will YOU spend your time?

Arguing with bullies? Shaming ‘teachers’? Kicking the school secretary in the shin?

OR

Following your curiosity? Learning from everyone and everything? Thanking everything on your path?

On planet Earth, YOU are in a body, in time. YOU are what time is doing with itself, right now. How do you wish to spend your time?

Focusing your mind on this simple question will direct, uncover, and yield a wealth of information — the same knowledge that so many sages, philosophers, poets, and teachers throughout human history have already pointed us towards– all we have to do is pay attention.

Revising history

When I was in middle school, I had a classmate who delighted in bullying me. One day, this boy pointed his finger and in front of a handful of friends and other students, shouted “fake, fake, fake” to my face.

Having arrived in the US just a year prior to this incident, I couldn’t begin to understand the rationale or reason, nor the self-superiority or hatred, that would compel a 12-year-old boy to call a classmate “a fake.”

At the time, I was thoroughly stunned. I didn’t say anything or call him something back. I just stood there, utterly embarrassed and in disbelief. I remember coming home that afternoon, searching for my Spanish-English dictionary, and frantically looking up the meaning of the word “fake” (n) fraude, trampa, embustero. I vaguely understood what those words even meant in Spanish, let alone in English, but I knew they weren’t good.

Through that exchange I was shown that in order to be accepted by those in power, I had to ‘get in line’ and be just like them. To this day, this encounter serves as a poignant reminder of the undercurrent of intolerance and the ethnocentric arrogance that ‘white makes right’.

How could anyone call someone they barely knew something that undermines their personhood and character, and that ridicules them in front of others? What kind of person does this?

As I look back upon that exchange, I see something different; the sheer ignorance, fear, and rudeness of this young man. Viewed from the lens of emotional intelligence and wholeness, I also see that he was the actual impostor or fraud; the one who was not behaving from the integrity and fullness of his humanity, but from the wounded part of his personality and the distorted perception that it generated. In psychological terms, he was projecting his ignorance and anger on me.

The bully calling an easy target a “fake”, or worse, is a story as old as humans, yet it’s important to point out that this type of emotional abuse is not okay– not ever. Today, we know that anytime a person responds with anger or aggression, there is an important unmet need. Sadly, for many males in our society, that need is attention, affection, and love.

No one can do the inner-work for these adults and dig them out from the delusion of their one-sided, myopic lenses, or force them to see or read the other side of the dictionary, or the history of civilizations, or institutions, or of humanity itself. But perhaps, we can help.

Spiritual solidarity is a form of restorative justice. It is for the marginalized and for the aggressor, for the bully and the victim, for the sinner and the saint. Spiritual solidarity is for anyone who’s unwilling to be complicit in the misapplication of their ignorance and fear, and who wishes to ensure that the shadow aspects of our shared human story do not repeat themselves again.

Excerpted from Spiritual Solidarity, Mayra Porrata, 2021, ©SEE, LLC

Spiritual Solidarity: Chapter 2

Context

Anytime someone sustains a trauma or personal devastation, their life context changes. It may expand or contract them and their unique perception of life, but in either case, their mentality and reality are fundamentally shifted.

Part of the alteration is due to mere survival. In order to endure a hardship of any kind, we must adapt. The other reason our perception is altered is because our current lived experience no longer matches up to the illusion of how life was ‘supposed’ to be. Mental analysis and reasoning no longer reduce our suffering. Try as we might, what we knew in our heads to be true, no longer satisfies or explains, nor does it inoculate us from life’s hardships.  

When a mother suddenly becomes a primary caregiver to a daughter with cystic fibrosis and spends 8+ years living in-and-out of a hospital, her context and life are radically altered. It’s what I call a life ‘plot-twist’. You thought you were going ‘this way’, but instead, life took you ‘that way’– which is what life does, of course.

Most commonly, when we speak about context, we’re referring to what someone ‘thinks’ about something– their cognitive and intellectual judgement relative to a person, place, or thing. This context is, more often than not, based on historic or past information, as well as the person’s level of consciousness (how open and aware they are to life itself). Our cognitive context is formed by a number of well-known social factors; our birthplace, our family of origin, our language and culture, and what our ancestors loved or feared.

This is tricky for our rational minds to fully grasp, but we see the world as we are and project this onto everything. Until you are aware of this, you are unaware of this, and you may go about your life feeling victimized by others or by life itself.

Notwithstanding the obvious trespasses, assaults, and violations of all types, from a purely psychological perspective, if you’re hurt by someone or something, you are the one experiencing this hurt or pain. There is no amount of ‘othering’, resenting, shaming, name-calling, etc. that will ever reduce or heal your pain. It is your pain. You are the one experiencing this, therefore only you can address its discomfort.

Think Jesus. Think Nelson Mandela. Think Mother Teresa. Insert your own sheroes and heroes. It is possible to understand ‘trespasses’ and therefore forgive. “As we forgive those who trespass against us” is not just a powerful line from a prayer, but a gentle directive for living a wise and meaningful life. This is how we ascend to a new level of consciousness– to a new level of experience for ourselves.

If you’ve ever played or watched someone play a video game, you get a sense of the world of possibilities that await on the other side of our ‘trusting ourselves’ and leaping into the unknown. I learned this from playing and watching my daughters play video games. There are secret tricks. There are bonus points. There are hidden access points where you can enter magical gardens and heavenly scenes. It is still the same ‘video game’ or ‘life’, but it’s a different level or dimension of experience. Once you see what is possible, you cannot un-see it.

That being said, there are no shortcuts to ‘the work’ (learning and integration) that must be done to remain there and to contend with the very real human lapses and relapses of our previous mentality. It takes time to learn and integrate new ways of being and seeing. It takes great patience on your part, too. To be kind to yourself and to others through the time-and-space that’s necessary to grow through difficulties is a practice and a dance. People may question your motives, your sanity, old friends may leave you, but all of this is hugely important, for yours and their own spiritual growth.

What someone experiences as ‘betrayal’, the other may experience as ‘freedom’ or downright relief. Shared reality is in the eye of its beholder. As has been famously pointed out, “truth has 144 sides”, so it all depends on where you are looking from.

Generally speaking, context reveals where someone is looking from. It is their psychology and worldview; their lens of experience, what they value, what they fear, the ‘villains’ or violations they endured, and who and what they love can be easily discerned and observed through their words and deeds.

Think back to my opening paragraphs in this section on context and the plot-twists that life throws at us. Even if you yourself are not a parent, or had a child with a complex condition, or have been in a hospital, you can imagine how frightening and difficult that must be. More often than not, it is precisely in these “life-valleys” that we gain the greatest awareness and vision of life. Now, think about yourself and your own life and ask yourself this:

What ‘life-valley’ did I emerge from and what did I notice, feel, sense, or see there?

Your willingness to see differently is an important intelligence. It is beyond your cognitive context. We now know that emotional intelligence has direct linkages to our physical and mental (psychological) health and well-being. I have a few simple, non-mathematical equations related to emotional intelligence:

  • the greater your emotional intelligence, the less ‘villains’ you notice in your life.
  • the greater your emotional intelligence, the greater personal peace you experience.

Human beings are a relational species. Not unlike most mammals and creatures on Earth, humans relate. We can relate because we are equipped with wiring that enables us to feel things beyond us– things we have not personally experienced. The trick, however, is to pause and actually feel by employing the power of our own senses and imagination.   

If I’m aware of someone’s cognitive context, I don’t need to have experienced their exact lives to know what heartbreak, fear, or grief feel like. That’s what enables someone to be kind. If you have a point of reference it helps us to understand other human beings better, especially those who are of a different race, faith, or culture.

Growing up in Puerto Rico, diversity was a given. When I was young, my mom would often say to me: “there are good and bad people in every race– you can only know by their heart, not their skin color.” This early lesson on race oriented me to the heart of an individual; not what was on the outside, but on the inside— and quite possibly one of the reasons why I’m writing this book today.

As a young child I often wondered ‘what’ made people kind or unkind. The reason for this is because I noticed that wealth or educational attainment had nothing to do with it. Some of the kindest and most sincere people in my early-life were actually ‘economically poor’ and ‘uneducated’ (by dominant culture standards), yet they were filled with such wisdom and richness– it was visible and palpable.

Think for a moment how your own context about yourself expands or limits your own understanding of others. While indeed our rational minds provide our default setting or basic context, there is in fact a greater and deeper context which we all belong to and share. The gateway to this context is the human heart and that is where your humanity and emotional intelligence dwell.

Spiritual Solidarity: Introduction

Spiritual Solidarity: Chapter 1 – The language that has no words

Becoming a ‘first-hand-thinker’

By simply paying attention to ‘you’— your emotions (living truth), your gut, your intuition, your energy level, your imagination, and your heart, you become a ‘first-hand-thinker’ versus an unaware recycler of others’ thoughts and opinions.

Remember: thoughts and opinions are like the wind, or clouds; they come and go because they are based on mental projections. Only words that arise from love are actually true– whether they hurt or not. Love is truth.

Don’t take my word for this!– Take what resonates from these simple words and throw the rest away– let it go like the wind that it is, because only you can feel, perceive, and know what is true and real for you.

Emergency Inquiry

Chaos, rage, confusion, and fear are important and what we do with these energies, even more so.

While our default-setting is generally to ignore or attack that which is bringing us pain or discomfort, the evolved response or ‘advanced-setting’, if you will, requires our curiosity.

When we replace our habitual responses with curious inner-work we find that many times, our anger or fear is stemming from an unmet need– something which we are often unaware of.

Here are 8 helpful questions to explore when we’re ‘hit’ with sudden instability of any kind:

o What is this person, event, or situation requiring of me?

o What is attempting to emerge from this?

o Can I see the bigger grace in this seeming crisis?

o Can I envision the “other side”, or resolution of this crisis?

o How can I serve this situation or crisis without judging, criticizing, over-helping, or manipulating an outcome?

o How can I lend my unique gifts in order to help alleviate this crisis?

o How must I adapt or think differently in order to stop the perpetuation of this “crisis”?

o What would LOVE do?

For further study, a brief 1-HR-Course on anger is available here. (Note: from personal and professional experience my sense is that anger is rooted in unprocessed grief, and often times, we don’t realize that grief ‘energy’ is even there.)

The call to ‘creative action’

In 2007, roughly about a year after my first-born daughter Serena was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, she and I co-wrote a book about a little girl with cystic fibrosis. We did so because at the time there were no books that approached a severe and life-shortening condition from a holistic perspective. We also wrote it to help us contend with the unimaginable grief of it all.

Our local newspaper did a story on us, and then a local television station produced a little piece about this work. Co-producer, videographer, and lovely human being Larry Baker posted our story here.

Years later, finding myself in the lecture halls of both Kent State and Case Western Reserve Universities, I spent a great deal of time talking about the ‘disconnection’ or perhaps the lack of emotional, spiritual, and energetic intelligence in our most important institutions. One of my last lectures came by way of colleague Chris Laszlo who invited me to be a guest-speaker in his class Quantum Leadership. The slide deck from that presentation is attached below.

Today, finding myself in a position of some degree of personal and professional insight, due to the devastation of losing a child, the economic abuse that is currently an inherent aspect of being a head-of-household and parent-caregiver, and the visible failures of our current policies and system of law, I have been called to creative action once again. Why? Because mothers and parent-caregivers need our support. Because leaders are hurting and need our support. And also, to help me, and us, contend with the grief of it all.

Writer and philosopher Charles Eisenstein, whose work and writing I love and follow, once said (I think it was an interview he did with Oprah Winfrey), that the reason we have so much injustice is because “our hearts have not been sufficiently broken-open.” Meaning, we have yet to realize our inter-connectedness to each other, but fundamentally, to our own selves.

Collectively, many are living ‘disembodied lives’, operating solely from their heads and reason that was reasoned well before ‘now’, and therefore cannot address the human needs of ‘now’, of today.

Leaders in our institutions and communities who operate from this narrow lens, are hurting and hurting others who see more because they are not only fully-feeling, but viewing life as it is— not through the veils of dogma, or fearful policy, but from the lens of the clear intelligence that occurs when our hearts have been ‘broken-open’ all the way.

So, to anyone reading this; to anyone who has been moved, shaken, or stirred by these simple words and observations, what can you do in your own life, right now, to help dissolve, evolve, or transmute an injustice of sorts? Whether it hit you personally, or it affected someone or a lot of ‘someones’ you love, what ‘creative action’ (not protest, nor hate-speech, nor violence of any kind) can you co-create and share with us that will help make your and our life better, more productive, and richer in every way? Our wholeness, your wholeness, is only a creative action away.

Quantum Leadership Presentation, Spring 2018,
Presented at: Case Western Reserve University, School of Design and Innovation,
Weatherhead School of Management (download below)

Who is a ‘modern sage’?

(Gentle reminder: You are here. You are whole. There are no exceptions.)

To put it simply, a modern sage is anyone who operates in life and work from a holistic perspective. My friends in education call this wholeness. My friends in business call this authentic or integral leadership. It is also what many soulful teachers call the ‘universal human.’

From philosophy, the term holistic is defined thusly: “characterized by comprehension of the parts of something as intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole.

In the field of medicine, the term holistic is defined as “treatment of the whole person, taking into account mental and social factors, rather than just the symptoms of a disease.”

Although differing in their mastery or developmental stage, there are many modern sages among us! There have always been. I’m reminded of that tender reference Fred Rogers (Mr. Rogers) often shared about his mother in times of turmoil or crisis: “look for the helpers”, she said.

The ‘helpers’ are everywhere– they are the modern-day heroes you never hear about; the mothers, the grandmothers, the caregivers, the recovered, and the spiritually-aware who look beyond the socially-prescribed sanctions and weave love into the fabric of life.

Think for a moment about a person you’ve known or currently know -whether in your family, a personal friend, someone in your neighborhood, or where you work that exudes optimism, understanding, and is moved to kindness or action in the face of human suffering. (This person may be you, by the way!!)

There are people among us who just feel like ‘old souls’, right? In my research and work, I’ve identified a number of qualities, including emotional intelligence, that can be observed in others and in ourselves– qualities that differentiate a “sage” or wise individual or leader, versus someone who is operating from a limited set of ideas and information.

Being or working towards becoming a ‘modern sage’, does not imply perfection or immunity from life– in fact, quite the opposite is true. As my friend Kristie says, “it’s about being and working in the messy middle” and our ability to ‘stomach’ (literally) all that life is. But it does imply a stance of equanimity, harmony, and mindful action– therefore increased vitality for the individual. Being a modern sage is about self-mastery, as well as the ‘letting go’ of the delusion that there is anything to master….(except your own mind, of course.)

The path of the modern sage, including the poets, the musicians, the empaths, the teachers, the healers, the mothers, the caregivers, the nurses, and millions of human beings from all walks of life is a noble one; one that makes the segregation and separation of anyone or anything, obsolete.

You are here. You are whole. There are no exceptions. Therefore, to be a modern sage is simply to know and to embody this truth; your truth.

To inspire this knowing (remembering) in you, there are a number of self-awareness and inquiry resources on my other website. Most of these resources are based upon lectures and courses I taught at Kent State University’s School of Health Sciences and are now freely offered (I will be adding more, too!)

However, as my own life and work have evolved since my days of teaching in higher-education, this website (Modern Sage) will focus on the notions of being an ‘universal human’ (or modern sage!), as well as sharing some old and new resources related to light and sound modalities for stress, reduction, increased coherence, and feeling good and groovy in our lives. Onward! 🙂

Being There

When I was a teenager, my dad and I watched the movie ‘Being There’. To this day, I see how its precious plot and timeless theme still perfumes my own life. (*Thank you, Dad)

When I first watched this movie, I couldn’t understand how anyone would ever ‘think’ that Chance was who ‘they’ thought he was. Thanks to learning and understanding how circumstance and psychological projection work, I see how and why this movie (and book) still circle in my heart like a loving and gentle reminder to just be and to allow others their own space and time.

In truth, “being there” is the most noble and simple thing we can ever do for another human being– it does not require special training, a college or advanced degree.

What it does require is our radical honesty and presence- that’s all. To be able to hold space for another, whether you agree with them or not, whether you even understand their battle or not, is an advanced skill.

Gratefully, I have witnessed that ‘being there’ is a choice and aptitude; one that is acessible to anyone who desires to know themselves and the nature of life itself.

Return to the Main Site: TheFlourishingWay.com

Applying Due Diligence

How do we get past our own anger? How can we forgive the “wrongness” of others? When will justice be realized? As a mother, these were the questions that kept me up at night. Knowing that I didn’t have a clear nor definitive answer, I allowed life to show and guide me– and it did.

My 1-HR-COURSE™ titled “The Anger in You” provides emotional health information and highlights the process I personally undertook, and have consistently taken when faced with a real or perceived injustice, and the anger these events bring up in us.

Anger is a very real and human emotion. Without our awareness, our anger can literally destroy. With our awareness and understanding, however, our anger can be transformed into the wise fuel that is love.

Anger is often related to a fear, real or perceived, that we may actually be unaware of! Case in point, one day, when my youngest daughter was 9 years-old, I found myself in a total tizzy– barking out orders and processing “out-loud” more than I typically do (lol). I was acting “angry” for sure. I felt angry. My words were angry. Then, the most amazing thing occurred; my daughter Camille grabbed my hand and asked me: “what are you so afraid of mama?”

At the time, I had a chart on our fridge from work I was doing on emotional intelligence that listed the main emotions, their symptoms (emotional clusters typically experienced alongside those visible emotions), and their “opposites”; the shadow of the emotion and “most likely” something we are unwilling to feel or express, because it’s occluded from our own awareness.

My daughter, who undoubtedly is one of my greatest teachers, looked past my tantrum and pointed to the chart on our fridge and repeated: “what are you so afraid of mama?”

In that moment, I fell to my knees — humbled by the heart and grace of my sweet Camille. Stunned by her question, looking into her precious face and innocent eyes, I choked back tears as I actually verbalized something I didn’t even “know” I was feeling, but was the precise root and source of my anger.

Remember, the fundamental reason you (or anyone!) is or feels anger, is because a “need” is not being met. Whether the need is real or perceived (because of a “should”), the energy* of anger, (*our thoughts, our emotions, our body sensations, the chemical changes in our body, etc.) must be addressed in order to return ourselves and our bodies to a state of stasis and equanimity.

The slides below unpack the mental (analytical) process of due dilligence or “wise action” and the personal responsibility that is required of each of us when facing something, anything, that brings up anger in us.

The entire slide deck, as well as other 1-HR-COURSES™ are freely available via my main website The Flourishing Way in the 1-HR-COURSE™ page.

Return to the Main Site: TheFlourishingWay.com