Don’t Be Afraid To Speak Your Truth, But Be Forewarned…

Don’t Be Afraid To Speak Your Truth, But Be Forewarned…

Don’t Be Afraid To Speak Your Truth, But Be Forewarned…

 

 

Speak your truth.

I hear this phrase thrown around a lot, usually in situations where someone is, just has, or is about to say something that sounds a little bit…crazy – whether it be an opinion or an experience.

Yes, it’s true, we should all be allowed to speak our truth. Freedom of speech, after all! But just like freedom of speech, speaking your truth does not mean that you are protected from the consequences. Opinions are like assholes, everybody’s got one. Experiences are filtered through your beliefs, which happen to be the foundation of your opinions.

You see, it’s your truth, not the truth. Your truth is just a version, an interpretation of the Truth, and it can be as close to the absolute Truth or as far away from the absolute Truth as your current place in your spiritual evolution allows you to understand. And that’s the truth ;).

But we should be able to be who we are and believe what we believe!

Yes, that’s true, too, so long as you take one thing into consideration:

You have to be prepared for the inevitable lesson that what you find to be an absolute truth today will eventually no longer be so at some point in the future.

That’s the nature of evolution. Things change. You find out new information and what you once thought was a solid experience suddenly is seen in a new light, and you realize that perhaps what you originally thought wasn’t quite the way it actually was.

The problem with “speak your truth” is that people can become attached to that experience, and dependent on that experience, and they incorporate that experience into part of their identity, and then later when they find new information that broadens their original view, it creates an internal crisis, and they fall apart. The hard lesson learned.

I find that the best way to handle such things is to find a healthy balance between belief and skepticism, remain detached from the experience itself and refrain from making any conclusions about intuitive information until such a time as you’ve gotten “all the facts” so to speak.

Simply hold that thing as a possibility that may be proven right – or wrong – at any point in the near future. File it away under the “curios information” folder and see what else accumulates as you go along.

Speaking your truth takes on a whole new meaning when you become a spiritual teacher. As any kind of digital influencer, people with platforms are community leaders. Having those platforms is a form of power and influence, and to quote Uncle Ben from Spiderman, with great power comes great responsibility. Once again, even as a spiritual leader, our truth is not always the Truth. If we present our truth as the Truth we then leave the territory of personal opinion into recommendation.

As a spiritual teacher and digital influencer, you have a greater responsibility than simply to yourself. You have a responsibility to your community. That responsibility comes with the ability to both heal and harm people with the ideas that you share–particularly during a global health emergency–because you’ve built a community of people who look to you as someone who has knowledge.

When we reach this point, we are living our lives in service to the collective. It’s no longer about us. And that’s the life we choose.

If we want to go back to a life of “I can say whatever I want and share my opinions without consequence,” then we need to step away from being a community leader.

What kind of truth am I talking about exactly? Here’s a real life example:

My attention was brought to an online “spiritual” women’s coach with a large audience on Facebook who made a post chastising women who experienced coerced rape as having porous boundaries and told them, “Regret isn’t rape.”

Anyone who is even remotely trauma-informed, has a background in psychology, or is simply educated about rape culture knows how much shame and guilt rape victims deal with. For one of them to then go online and see a person that they respect and and whose opinion they believe is “Truth” to effectively validate their worst fear–that what someone else did to them was their fault–is incredibly harmful, and extremely ignorant on behalf of this “coach” who has claimed that they are here to heal people.

Said coach is entitled to her opinion. I might even go so far as to say that this coach has likely experienced coerced rape at some point in her life and internalized her own shame and guilt around it, has convinced herself that it was her fault for not having better boundaries (newsflash: the only people who take advantage of people with bad boundaries are people who have no respect for boundaries. I.e. abusers) and is now projecting her own experience onto other women. Not to mention she is only holding the victim accountable and more or less absolving the abuser of any wrongdoing in the process.

But as a coach and a healer, she has a responsibility to her audience and her paying clients to educate herself about women’s issues, and to be responsible with what she says in that regard. Her careless victim shaming can lead someone into a shame spiral that ends in suicide.

No, as individuals, we aren’t directly responsible for another person’s thoughts or feelings or choices. But our actions and words do contribute to the climate that people live in which informs their thoughts about themselves, and as coaches, healers, influencers and the like, we hold a form of power over the people who look up to us as a role model and it is our duty to wield that power responsibly so that we, ourselves, do not become an abuser toward the people we are purporting to help.

Xo, 

 

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Spiritual Materialism

Spiritual Materialism

Spiritual Materialism

Back when I was just coming into my spiritual path, about ten years ago now, the concept of materialism–that is, the valuing of material possessions, fame, and wealth above spirituality–was a very common topic discussed by spiritual teachers.

It was understood that greed and a sense of lack–not just materially, but spiritually: a feeling of being less-than–were at the root of the desire for wealth, power, and possessions, and it was understood that this desire was a driving force behind the imbalances on our planet. We were taught that true happiness does not come from material wealth–it comes from within. That the desire for material wealth is one that is based in ego, and when one does the work to tame their ego, the desire for material wealth subsides.

But over the course of the last ten years, as spirituality has become more mainstream and more and more people discover things like The Secret and Abraham Hicks (Law of Attraction), spirituality and “the work” has become more about changing your mindset to manifest whatever you desire rather than questioning those desires, and treating the universe as though it were some sort of genie in a bottle that exists to grant your wishes. 

“Do the inner work and you can have whatever you want!” A new age prosperity gospel. The marriage of capitalism and faux spirituality.

It’s also resulted in swaths of spiritual people believing they can positive-think their way out of addressing systemic inequality like poverty, racism, and patriarchy. You know. Spiritual bypassing and toxic positivity.

I don’t talk about manifesting much because there’s no point in manifesting anything if you haven’t done the work. You’ll manifest a bunch of shit and suddenly realize you’re still a miserable human being. And anyway, one who is manifesting from a place of “less than” will always feel “less than” regardless of what they manage to obtain, and one who has done the work and no longer feels less than will not desire the same things they once did, because they know those things do not bring happiness.

I’m not saying that in order to be spiritual one must take a poverty vow. I’m saying spirituality brings one into true balance with the world around them through the recognition that we are all connected and a part of a whole, only requiring that which meets their actual needs to live a humble and comfortable life, recognizing their place within the community, and above all else, living a life where purpose matters more than success.

These “manifesting” teachers don’t teach you to question your desires or to address their root causes. And if they’re not teaching you self-inquiry, they’re not teaching you self awareness. They’re just teaching you how to delude yourself into believing your ego is right.

Xo, 

 

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Do Not Look Away

Do Not Look Away

Do Not Look Away

This post is going to make a lot of people uncomfortable. Truth be told, it’s meant to make you feel uncomfortable. As spiritual people on a healing journey, learning to recognize our discomfort and sit with it, examine it, find the root of it, and heal it is what we call “the work” of examining our shadow.

Shadow work was never meant to be easy. It was never meant to be comfortable. It is messy and painful and sometimes, downright ugly.

Any strong emotional reaction you have to what I’m about to say is indicative of something unhealed within you that needs to be addressed, and it’s calling you to look at it, sit with it, and to not look away until you’ve come face-to-face with it in the mirror of your reality.

I ran a little social experiment in a Facebook group years ago that literally proved that it was almost impossible for the majority of people to do this. I posted this blog post in the group and asked people to do the exercise contained therein, and to comment not with their opinion about the article, but with what types of emotions were arising within them as they read it.

Nearly every single commenter failed. They immediately launched into their defense mechanisms, commenting with their beliefs and opinions about the article rather than paying attention to what was happening within them, emotionally. Even with further instruction and guidance, many of them continued to react from their subconscious programming.

So here I am, six years later, writing yet another post which is going to challenge you to sit through your discomfort and refrain from reacting out of your own wounds. Can you do it without looking away?  Let’s find out.

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BLACK. LIVES. MATTER.

Do not look away. What are you feeling in your body right now?

Did your pulse quicken? Your heart start beating heavier? Your chest get tight? Brow furrow, perhaps? That almost uncontrollable urge to instantly react and tell me that all lives matter? Or perhaps your reaction is to shut down, stop reading, and immediately click away to avoid having to sit with those very physical feelings?

Do not look away.

If your coping mechanism is avoidance, the urge to run from these feelings is probably going to win out. You’ve most likely already stopped reading.

Do not look away.

The other possible outcome is that you’re already formulating all the arguments in your head to contradict the concept that Black Lives Matter, all of the reasons that justify what you are feeling right now and makes it righteous. This is another type of coping mechanism at work.

DO NOT LOOK AWAY.

Your instant emotional reaction and physiological response to Black Lives Matter is what we call feeling “triggered.” A person becomes triggered when a similar, yet unconnected environmental stimulus causes them to subconsciously recall unresolved emotional wounds from past experiences.

Still here? Still reading? Still able to sit with all of those uncomfortable feelings? Ready to explore them? Good. Let’s dig in.

Every time I write Black Lives Matter, I am intentionally triggering you. But how and why?

More than likely, you believe that acknowledging that black lives matter means that you don’t matter. That somehow, by acknowledging the pain of people of color, that your pain is being ignored. Your own unhealed wound is screaming so loud for acknowledgment and love that you can’t hear, see, or feel the collective pain of an entire group of oppressed people. And so you dismiss their pain or demand that they also acknowledge your wound. You may have wrapped this up in some kind of political rhetoric as a way to justify your feelings, but underneath that justification is your own core wound. Acknowledging that black lives matter somehow, for some reason, makes you feel less than.

In the spiritual community especially, this justification has become wrapped in the flowery language of peace, love, and light… which leads me to–you guessed it–SPIRITUAL BYPASSING.

Spiritual Bypassing: Spiritual Bypassing is a term coined by psychologist Robert Masters to describe the practice of empty spirituality devoid of real personal development. In spiritual bypassing, a person uses over-simplified spirituality to avoid actually doing the internal work to develop real spiritual understanding, often resulting in stunted spiritual growth, repressed emotions, inflated ideas about their own level of enlightenment, and a plethora of other detrimental activities and ideas.

This sort of empty spirituality doesn’t facilitate conscious expansion or enlightenment, but rather feeds one’s own ego and keeps its proponents trapped in the lowest levels of conscious awareness.

Here’s a clear example of using spirituality to bypass:

You cannot heal yourself without sitting with your own discomfort. When you haven’t healed yourself, your gaping wound can block your ability to empathize  with the plight of others, and that aspect of your shadow is reflected back to you in the world around you. In the case of Black Lives Matter, the anger that people feel around black people asking for the acknowledgement of the generational trauma inflicted on them by a biased system stems from feelings of resentment that your own pain hasn’t been acknowledged (and therefore, why the hell should anyone else’s be?).

Acknowledging the collective pain of black people doesn’t invalidate your own pain. That’s you invalidating yourself. That internal invalidation has informed your beliefs about yourself and the world around you. It’s the foundation of how you see the world. It’s informed your politics. It’s informed your actions, which include willfully ignorant blindness to the systemic oppression of people who don’t look like you.

And that, my friend, is how you create your own reality, and how that reality gets reflected back to you–until you heal.

That’s a hard pill to swallow. It doesn’t make you a bad person, it makes you a wounded person, blinded by your own pain. You can forgive yourself. You can recognize your wound. You can begin your own healing process, and in that process, you can contribute to healing the world–including the generational trauma of millions of Black people.

Xo, 

 

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The Great Awakening

The Great Awakening

The Great Awakening

If you’ve been into spirituality for any amount of time, you are aware of the terms “awakening” and “ascension.”

By and large, most people define awakening as becoming aware of what is happening in the world around you–the “real” reasons why governments do what they do, social injustices, the horrible state of the world. Being “woke,” as the younger generation would say.

A lot of people believe that a mass awakening means that the sheeple of the world will suddenly become aware of all of these things, unify, and demand change. Except what that change looks like differs starkly depending on which side of the political aisle you fall on, and for as long as we have a division of values, we will never have unity.

This is not what being awake means, and this is not what the great awakening is. Not by a long shot.

How we see the world–how likely we are to empathize with the plight of others, which side of the political spectrum we fall on, and our natural (or nurtured) personality inclinations—is very connected, and to some degree, how that plays out in our daily lives is what collectively creates the conflict in the world around us.

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space there is a power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. – Viktor Frankl

Becoming self aware enough to recognize our own traumas, habits, and patterns, and how those triggers cause us to make certain decisions is what it means to awaken. Becoming aware of how those engrained patterns and beliefs created by outside influences shape the way we think and the choices we make and being able to separate ourselves from them is what it means to truly free thinker.

Our great awakening is when we awaken to ourselves, because the world around us is simply a reflection of that.

What Price Freedom?

What Price Freedom?

What Price Freedom?

I‘m re-sharing this post that I initially published on January 22nd, 2017, because it seems like a particularly relevant topic right now. Let me know what you think.

I had an interesting dream last night. I dreamed that Donald Trump wanted to buy me. Literally, buy me…like a pet or some sort of material object.

The thing was, I had to agree to allow myself to be bought. The trade off was that I would be completely taken care of, live in material luxury, and never, ever have to worry about my physical safety or being provided for – but I had to live in his mansion and I could never leave. It was represented to me as a gold and glass terrarium, of sorts – literally, a gilded cage, like a human aquarium.

The entire dream, I was walking around with him and one of his assistants to various places where he would comment on things and attempt to convince me to allow him to buy me.

In the end, I decided that no amount of security or safety represented in the form of material wealth was worth trading in my freedom.

As I thought about the dream and what it represented for me personally, as well as on a more national scale, I had some illuminating thoughts.

On a national scale, if we are to take Mr. Trump’s appearance in my dream at face value, it’s an interesting metaphorical representation of Trump’s isolationist outlook and certain political sentiments that have been expressed by a number of people over the last decade (and long before that, I’m sure) in reference to things like national security and the NSA. People who say that they are perfectly okay with trading in certain personal freedoms for the promise that someone else will keep them safe, provide for them, people who are ok with sacrificing their privacy in the name of security, etc.

It’s also a very apt metaphor about the illusion of security that is provided by a capitalist society–that money and things are what make us feel provided for and safe. The aspirations of success and luxury are really just a cage that keeps us trapped in an economic system that benefits some more than others, and is, at the end of the day, unsustainable.

With the rise of terrorism in the U.S., people seem to be adhering to fear in insane ways. Is this what so many people want? Is a prison still a prison if it has golden bars instead of iron? It’s incredible what fear will make people do.

On a more on a personal level, the dream represents sacrificing what would bring you true happiness for the sake of being financially provided for. So many people live in the mindset that they can’t pursue what they truly want because of money or some other material reason based in fear and a scarcity mentality.

When we make these kinds of sacrifices out of fear, we are giving away our freedom to create a life we truly love in exchange for a life that simply meets our material needs. We are sacrificing enjoying our lives to just be alive. Ask yourself this question – which is better? A few short years of pure, unadulterated freedom and joy, unencumbered by the illusion of material comforts, or a long life lived safely but mundanely? Is total freedom worth the risk involved? And how much freedom are you willing to trade in the name of financial safety and security?

Four Ways to Stay Sane Over the Next Two Months

Four Ways to Stay Sane Over the Next Two Months

Four Ways to Stay Sane Over the Next Two Months

I‘m trying to write more, but I am fortunate enough to still be working full-time from home, so a lot of my time is still dedicated to business as usual.

I know things have been intense these last two weeks, especially here in the greater New York City area, and they are only going to get more intense in the next few weeks as cases continue to rise. Earlier this week, the notifications about confirmed cases from people at work started rolling in. Many of them began exhibiting symptoms just 1-3 days after we were sent to work from home (March 10th).  Of course, none of them were able to confirm what they had until two weeks later due to the unavailability of tests. At the time we closed, there were only four confirmed cases in New Jersey (where my office is located) and none in Hoboken where I work. Our offices closed at least five full days sooner than many in Manhattan. As you can see (and as was made clear by many health officials), COVID-19 was already spreading, and this delayed action and lack of proper testing is a major reason why New York City is in the state that it is in right now.

Luckily I work for a university who, like many other universities across the country, closed campus out of an abundance of precaution–and they got us out just in time. Many in the media criticized this action, however, it may very well have saved our student population AND ME.

Like most people, I’ve been experiencing waves of fear and anxiety about current circumstances. Just because I’m here helping you all doesn’t mean that I’m immune to the emotion surrounding what’s happening in the world, and I won’t pretend to be.

I want to tell you that it’s okay to be afraid.

You don’t have to pretend to be strong. You don’t have to bury the fear and pretend everything is going to be ok when you don’t know if it is.
We use coping tactics like denial (it’s just a cold), dismissiveness (I’m not worried!), humor, or even positivity as ways to mask our fears. It’s ok to admit to yourself and others that you are afraid.

You can’t help what you feel. Uncertainty is a BITCH and we are facing a lot of it right now.

But I do know that this is the moment we’ve all been waiting for. This is the moment so many people have been predicting. The world will never be the same after this. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. We have the opportunity to collectively create something better when this is over. Life will change. And we will be better for it.

So for now, we must all be here, together, with each other and for each other, as we move through this. Let yourself cry, and then let go of control, and surrender to change.

As of right now, my tentative return to work date is May 18th, which means I’ve got another month and a half of hanging out at home, and I imagine many of you do as well. Here’s four things that can help you survive the next few weeks:

#1: Limit Your Media Consumption

Stay informed, but moderate your consumption. Stop watching the news and stay out of your Facebook feeds. Stay informed, but remember that once you stop learning useful information that is relevant to your immediate safety, it becomes fear porn. Media speculation is only going to feed your fears, but it’s just that: speculation. Headlines are particularly loaded, divisive, and misleading right now because we are in an election year. The same way that you feed your body, you also feed your mind. Don’t fill it with fear.

You can still be social, just stick with groups that uplift you (like mine! Join here) or on platforms where there’s less fearmongering, like Instagram.

#2: Stay In The Present Moment

The more you focus on uncertainty of the future, the more fearful and anxious you become. Stay rooted in the right now, right in front of you. Your family. Your home. Your work. Yourself. Take it one hour at a time. The sun will still rise in the morning. You are going to be okay. Take a break. Take a breath. Let your mind be with things that bring you joy.

Some of my magical friends and I are offering lots of free or low-cost spiritual resources, classes and events right now including spiritual reading material, free long-distance group reiki sessions, donation-based one-on-one reiki sessions and personal readings, daily online yoga classes and so much more. Join my Facebook group for more details.

#3: Emotional Stability Comes From Within

The notion that it comes from certainty of outside things (like jobs, routines, and otherwise) is an illusion. When you relax into trusting the universe–that you are going to be okay, no matter what, you can release your need for control. This gives us the ability to be resilient, to change and adapt as we need to to whatever comes. It’s easier said than done, but if there were ever a moment to place your faith in something bigger than you, it’s now.

#4: Release The Need For Control

The only thing any of us truly has control over is ourselves. Mind your business, stay in your lane, take care of yourself and the ones who matter to you most, and detach from everything else. The only exception to this is if you feel called to help. Just remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup, and you must take care of your mental health and emotional well-being first and foremost.

It’s crazy out there, guys. Remember, you cannot control what goes on around you, but you can control what goes on within you and that is the greatest power any human being possesses.

Xo, 

 

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