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

Freedom from fear

Isn’t this the greatest freedom? The one that most policy, law, corporate marketing, and personal strategy aim to relieve for each of us; “to be free from the threat of “x” (fill in the blank).

As I work through my own layers of fear and see the conditions they created, it is abundantly clear that operating from fear is not only unwise, but unproductive. That being said, how could any of us actually ever be “free from fear” when the world appears to be fueled by it– literally.

Becoming psychologically and emotionally free, is inner-work each of us must undertake. And it is doable indeed. There are thousands of books (old and new), and teachers (old and new) that can guide you back to the temple of your own understanding. There is no hack, short-cut, or magic pill for this. Fundamentally, while teachers and books can and do help, you are your own best teacher and guide for this transformational journey.

Remember this: fear is a construct (a thought/an idea) and also a vibration which generates emotional states and a whole chain of chemical, electrical, and biological reactions in our bodies. To be truly free, we must each dissolve all the ways we are not. Many people are addicted to these chemicals and to the rush of energy they provide. But just like any addiction, the energy rush is only temporary.

Fear is not something that randomly ‘happens to you’– but something you choose to live and experience. Fear occurs in the absence of knowing any other conceivable way– and therein lies the doorway. Each and every time we step away from our own knowing– from our own inner temple of truth, we will experience fear. Accordingly, living from the integrity of our center, from our soul-knowing, not only dissolves fear, but provides all the necessary energy and creative power to fuel your days.

“Keep the poop in the loop”

Over the weekend, I watched a lovely and illuminating documentary on Netflix, Kiss the Ground. It highlighted well-known data on climate change, as well as some of the noble workers (aka regenerative ranchers and farmers) who are “walking the talk” and modeling, for each of us, what it takes to address our collective disconnection from our planet, from nature, and essentially from ourselves.

Because I work at the intersection of community health education and personal regeneration, I’m always looking up and downstream for the ways that individuals and groups are talking about complex topics.

Although I think and feel very deeply on human matters, I delight in simple messaging– and I literally laughed out loud when I heard “keep the poop in the loop”— and while I know that those who work at the macro-level of environmental health know exactly what this means, I wondered if we had ever pondered the micro or individual application; of how we can “take our shit” (our emotional baggage, our nonsense, our anger, etc.) and transmute it into rich, fertile soil for our lives– like collectively. I think we are ‘here’– well, I am definitely at this juncture in my life.

And so, after I watched this, my mind immediately flashed back to 2 key memories:

Kent State University professor/researcher Chris Blackwood stating (and educating me!) that “soil is life!”; and Thich Nhat Hanh’s beautiful reminder: “no mud, no lotus”

I don’t know if “emotional composting” is a thing, but clearly, it is yet another pathway to earth and human regeneration; emotionally healthy people make kind and loving decisions. To regenerate ourselves, by consciously NOT walking away from our “waste” (emotional and otherwise) and really looking deeply at it all, is the “heartbreak” that so many of us sense is the necessary catalyst for personal and global transformation.

To this end, I’m working on a couple of books and workbooks — that are helping me connect dots I had not fully connected, and to help me make the most loving, and therefore powerful, decisions going forward. Over the weekend, I also re-released Until it happens to you— a tiny biographical poetry collection that spans 20+ years of my life…..all to model personal regeneration and “keeping poop in the loop” (and yes, I’m laughing out loud right now!) — If that’s too gross or offensive, remember this message instead: no mud, no lotus.

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.

Converting energy

Like most scientific-minded and curious people, I’ve had a life-long fascination with energy. Throughout my life, I’ve read, studied, and questioned the mysteries of it all; from how energy is converted and transmuted into new forms of matter, to how we can harness it (ala Tesla, 3-6-9).

For me, one of the most provocative quotes about energy came by way of Jesuit priest, scientist, and philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Jardin. The quote was this:

Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

In recent years, and as communities face a number of converging crises, I’ve explored how, personally and collectively, we could harness energy to meet our working and living needs in a manner that doesn’t generate greed or exclusion, but greater ‘power’ and wealth for all.

Cracking this code for myself has been a life-long journey through struggle and suffering. I’ve written about this before, but before my father passed away in 2014 he made me promise that I would re-focus my work and writing on adults and work on love.Sure, Dad“– Thinking to myself “whatever the heck that means.”

For 50+ years, I’ve been led on a path to a singularity of sorts– the thing that would explain to me all the “whys” of my life and all the seeming failures of my journey. If you’re reading these words, perhaps you are on this journey, too.

If you’re brave enough to go into the whirlpool or the abyss, pick your metaphor, the abyss will inform you. My life-long question, spoken without words, was asked and the answer was given (although because I’m a little dense, it had to be given, analyzed seventeen times, verified, given again until it “took” in my heart).

For now, I can conclusively recommend to anyone reading this to “trust yourself”. I also offer this nugget of wisdom from a recent meditation and trust that it will serve to inspire and illuminate your own journey of personal discovery.

Fear is the fossil-fuel of humanity.
Love is the energy of the future.

Mayra Porrata

Bring your soul to work day

Back in my corporate days, we had a day each year when we would “bring our daughter” to work. In recent years this was extended to bring “our daughters and sons to work day.” As the essay title implies, I offer that the time has come to do something of substance– something that actually matters.

For many years, I struggled to put words together to describe the sad and incomprehensible things I witnessed during those years. Despite the economic and emotional scraping and bruising I sustained, and that is an inevitable part of being in environments that are not aligned with our highest-selves, I also see that I was meant to be there and to witness what I witnessed first-hand. Because that is the only way to truly know– first-hand. Not from a book, or hearsay, or speculation. But to have lived and suffered it all the way to your bones.

While on the one-hand, my career in the financial services sector was productive and generally stellar, on the other, it became increasingly clear that the higher I went, the more terrible I felt about myself and my work. Today, I sense that part of the reason was this: rising up the corporate ladder required me to progressively leave my soul behind.

You either “get with this program”, or you don’t. For those of us who are sensitive enough to have walked away from those settings, we did so because we sensed that if we didn’t, it would have literally eaten us alive from the inside-out. Like a cancer. It will kill you. It doesn’t care about you. It doesn’t care about anyone or anything but itself.

While it is only one of the unique aspects of that which makes you, “you”, your soul is your highest intelligence. If you’re not bringing your soul to work (or to your home office, the coffee shop, the grocery store, or anywhere you go to on a regular basis), you’re not doing your best work. Period. Overtime, when you don’t do your best work, your heart will show you the symptoms; stress, anxiety, heart disease, extra weight, and the list of inflammatory conditions of “unspecified origin” go on. Health insurance will not save you. Your employer will not save you. Only you can correct this ailment.

Collectively, as a society, we have created institutions and corporations that are literally ‘gutting people and communities out’ from the inside-out. And we, collectively, are seeing the collapse of these same entities and the frantic attempts to bolster them– with AI (artificial intelligence), with bail-outs, with shame, with more predatory industries, with policy and laws that withhold basic liberties and human necessities….and all for what? We all know the answer.

I was telling a colleague recently that the internal pull to go “off-grid” is a calling from our souls. It doesn’t matter if you lean conservative or liberal— anyone who has a longing for the “basics”; to protect their families, to grow their own food, and to consciously elect to disconnect from the numerous ways that corporations and corrupt institutions have infiltrated our lives, that is to go “off-grid.” Alaska or Idaho may feel safer, I get it. But what if we just brought our souls to work instead– would we have to even move?

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

The tree of life

As I stood beneath this massive tree, a beautiful download of information was received and it went something like this:

Humanity is like this tree. We all stem from the same root. We all grow and are nourished by and through this tree.

All of us start out in the lower branches– gaining mass and strength that assists the tree in becoming sturdy and viable. Smaller branches grow from the main ones and expand in new directions, gaining new perspectives and light that nourish and replenish the tree.

The branches on any side of the tree can only see what they see. However, the knowledge and insights from all other branches is readily available to them. All branches need the same air, light, water, and soil to survive. If one branch perishes, the entire tree is at risk.

Each leaf on this tree is like a human being. Some are green, some are brown, some are yellow. You are a leaf. Each person you know is a leaf. Clustered in branches, some new, some old, each leaf is part of the tree, but also individual and unique.

Although the leaves (humans) on the lower branches cannot see what the leaves on the higher branches are doing, they are enriched by the fresh light and air, nonetheless. The leaves (humans) on the higher branches are there due to the strength and nourishment from the lower branches and the tree itself.

Without new branches, new leaves, and new growth, the tree cannot remain viable or regenerate. Without light, the tree can actually perish. To fear light and growth is to fear life itself.”

Soul Friend: a reprise

When my daughter Serena and I first released this book in 2010, it was met with both praise and criticism. Even then, though I lacked the words to fully explain ‘where’ I/we were coming from, I understood why some people ‘got it’ and some did not.

This past week, something was illuminated for me while I was writing; the awareness that ‘understanding often precedes language’ — in other words, we often ‘know things’ we don’t yet fully (fully) understand, or have the words to explain to others.

Although I’m in no way professing that I now have all the words to explain what Serena and I were attempting to convey way back then, I am a little closer to knowing that we were indeed on the right track.

So, aside from some minor editing, we stand by these words and its deeper message. We see that even those who “seemingly appeared” to be our enemies are indeed our soul friends, too….and in time, they too will come to know this truth.

This tiny “children’s book for everyone” is freely available (below). It is still our joy to share this simple message; that we are all here (on Earth) to learn and support one another– “through the good times, the in-between times, or when you’re feeling totally blue.”

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