The problem with cultural appropriation in today's spiritual practices

There’s an ever-growing need for spirituality in this day and age, Gurus pop up everywhere telling us they have the key to enlightment in 3 simple steps, or promise how to teach you to be a billionaire with a one-hour workshop, or the blatant lie of being god-like or, truly, a goddess, exchanging your authenticity to fill their pockets and give them instagram followers. None of this will bring true spiritual fulfillment and will end up being an experience in how to better compete with others for attention, or worse, how to step on everyone’s toes because you were promised a million dollars by the end of the week by a Facebook post.

The insanity that has permeated what some call Spirituality has infected the real Spiritual Practices with lies and delusions about the rising of a self that is no other than an inflated ego. I too, was a proponent of this in the past and in fact the only thing that it awoke me to was to the reality that we have to deal with our own mess if we want to stay sane in this society.

Cultural appropriation is concept in sociology that explains how something of a culture is appropriated by another culture and used as an exotic toy or branding without respect for the meaning behind it. A blatant example of cultural appropriation was the Nazi use of the Swastica symbol, for example. Or, more recently, the fashion of naming one self as a Goddess in order to gain status as a woman, which in my view only makes one lose authenticity and in the eyes of those who study the Great Mother, and feel like their contribution to the world only allowed the creation of unhealthy egos, constantly trying to dim their own lights in order to fit in the shadow of something they do not, or will ever, understand. Another blatant example of cultural appropriation is the “Mickey Mouse Rastafari Hat” — which we can and are allowed to chuckle about.

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What does this even mean this day and age? It means that we are allowing for the misinterpretation of reality and falling through the lens of a caleidoscope of delusion about what is, in fact, spiritual. This delusion is a veil of mistrust about our inner ability to be true to ourselves and still be good people, instead of taking on masks that we do not understand, to fit a societal role that does not really exist.

A lot of good effort from a lot of people in the field of Spirituality is enhancing the lives of people who find comfort in their beliefs, shared happiness and compassion. The parting of Thich Nhat Hanh will be a sad loss to the world, lets just hope his work will carry on through his teachings. Others like Tara Brach, and her husband Jonhatan Foust, who spread a word of understanding, mental health through compassion and radical self-acceptance — flaws and all, wow! — will carry on the legacy of the ancients.

The rise of modern Yoga came to bury in the sand millenia old teachings of spiritual advancement, through the fallacy of the “hot-bod” and “yoga butt”. Meditation worlwide has turned into a “manifesting your dreams” instead of “understanding yourself”. So, Spirituality has gained a neo-liberal capitalist take that deeply bothers those who are actively seeking for a break from all that. Those who meditate to receive money probably don’t understand neither money or meditation, and those who capitalise from those fallacies do. That’s the problem with cultural appropriation, it’s sand thrown in your eyes.

True spirituality is heartbreaking. It’s a revelation of the most intrinsic and horrible parts of nature, the cruelty as well as the beautiful. A lion does not stop to work on their dreadlocks with beeswax on the way of dilacerating a prey, and a giraffe does not wait for the bird to sing to destroy it’s nest. In fact, in a regenerative and holistic lifestyle, both the giraffe and the bird may learn to live in peace, and the lion and the prey may not ever find each other, but it’s possible for an integration of common values as it is seen all across nature. (Lagadema video), through common shared love and appreciation for life. This is the basis of a naturalistic approach and a an inclusive unconditional compassion — not to be mistaken with what Pema Chodron called “Idiot Compassion” — and live in harmony within an ecosystem.

Wildlife sanctuaries are proof of this ability to live in harmony for the greater good, there isn’t a need to step on anyone or be anyone’s superior - as long as we understand everyone’s roles and places within the ecosystem, and share respect for that hierarchy. A tiger may very well chose not to eat you, and there is nothing more spiritual than that.

On the worship of the Ego

The ego is our “survival master”, that drive inside that pushes us for constant reaction against events and consequences without a second to pause to think things through and through. Paranoia, escapism, delusion, all comes from this ego-grip and the need to survive.

Without it we’d be lost in a sea of positivism, too much on it we’re lost in the assertivity of our own existence.

Once we accept, but deeply accept our own flawed, mortal, impermanent selves, we find a sort of peace of mind that beckons forgiveness for our flaws and mortality. We stop looking at death and aging as a deadline and start seeing the reality of constant transformation and the immutable reality of change.

When we cling to old ways, when we avoid transforming into a different skin, the metamorphosis stops and stays stagnant — we don’t deal with the darkness inside, we just numb it continuously with things like relationships, drugs, alcohol, food, consumerism, tv, internet, gossip, etc…

In order to deal with the darkness inside we must expose ourselves to it and risk the possibility of self-hatred, self-disdain and self-repulsion. Just as long as we remember to hold on to the ego for survival.

It’s fine to have self-esteem, in fact, precious. But it’s also fine to have a healthy dose of the pragmatic acceptance of imperfection.

Cultivating a healthy ego, helps to nourish a healthy sense of self, and in this day and age, being a healthy anything is a beacon for hope and change.

In order to deal with the darkness, the ego must be completely shattered into the small pieces of what we think is us, to look closely and realize we were never truly it. How come we admire our own reflection in the mirror, if we loathe ourselves inside?

There comes a time in the lives of some of us where we are faced with the horrible crap we’ve done, accepted and allowed around us. Coming to terms with these facts and not succumbing entirely to self-blame, while at the same time, taking responsibility, is not for the weak of heart. Quite literally, high levels of anxiety can cause heart problems, such as the medications for the anxiety and depression (or other symptoms) that occur.

It’s not pretty, but there is an awakening of sorts.

No mud, no lotus.

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Shifting Mindsets for the Creation of Solutions

Whilst watching the videos from the free course Awakening the Dreamer, from Pachamama Alliance, it is spoken on the section “How we got here”, that the “make-&-use” mindset of the planet’s resources is one of the reasons that got us here. That our dictatorship over the land is one of the main causes of disruption between the human self and the natural self.

The separation about what’s human and what’s natural, brings about a radical division about what’s us, what’s the self and focuses on our differences instead of our commonness. Racism, xenophoby, anihilation of indigenous cultures, the partake that we are somehow superior to other animals, in fact the insistance that we are, the incapacity to comprehend the wisdom of what’s natural and the assumption that it’s more natural than humankind, it’s a cognitive dissonance that we barely notice within ourselves.

In order to acheive consonance instead of dissonance, a shift in mindsets is needed. There is a whole world of knowledge to learn if we focus on what’s important to the natural self, the self that is intrisincally natural by itself, that belongs to the cosmic interconnectedness of this Universe and does not seek to destroy their home, instead builds a foundation of mutual support and shared common ground.

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The recent “right-wing” rise in the world, is a reflection of this inner battle we all face, where we either choose to look at our similarities or discord our existence with the Other, beside the self.

The existence of the ego, survival-driven part of us that pays no attention to rationality or common-sense, seeks the destruction of what supposedly harms us, instead of seeking harmony on what can be a bridge of security between all that is alive on this Earth.

As an example, bacteria often disengage with single bacterial organisms that do not act for the sake of the entire system they’re in, and so do human beings act this way. The mechanism of survival of the systems we have created, make it so that those who do not actively and happily engage within the self-imposed boundaries of unregulated economical growth, are often seen as strangers to the communities. Ever tried being a vegetarian amongst hunters? Or a tree hugger between loggers? Or have mental health issues in a community seen as sane, even if not so? You can, possibly, even die for having such stances and issues, depending on the humane values of those around you.

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The issue with interconnectedness is that it takes what we feel is lonesome within humanity, and makes it not only common as passible to be shared and evaluated and healed, so a loss in privacy and uniqueness is a consequence of said situation, making humanity feel included rather than isolated and excluded. This seems like a beautiful thing, but it isn’t the actual reality at the moment, so a shift in that direction makes it so we lose the false assumption of separatedness and rely on community for survival of the body, mind and environment. In a way, it is already so.

When we’re sick, we go to the doctor, when we’re hungy we seek supermarkets, when we can’t pay bills, we seek a job working with or for others. So the interconnectedness is already here, human beings are barely separate of each other, we all belong in a network cosmically designed for survival. So, how come we seek to destroy it with the illusion of false control, of false creators and false destructors? Can we not see we’re just another expression of nature?

We share opinions and divisions about what’s different, we separate the land with borders for cultural protection and economical self-sustainability, but we come together when we need to grow and act as one, like ideas such as the United States, the European Union or the United Nations. (Notice the variations of the word “unity”.)

We fight a common world union because we understand the dangerous of our own dictatoral selves. We understand that if we have a common ground, a common culture, a common ideal, it can all be manipulated into the destruction of the individual, of subcultures, into a dictatorship of one single organism for one entire big planet. Well, isn’t that what the “free market” is already? And the dangers already happened, banks were saved instead of people, deforestation happens, the degradation of soil for pastures, the anihilation of entire species, the unregulated consumerism and creation of plastics, the results as the rising sea levels, the melting of the artic, the dangers of breathing the air, of eating the food, of drinking the water. We are already at that point we fear we’d got to, so how come so many of us don’t see that? How come we still fear an apocalypse that has already happened? My assumption is that we only fear the worse, always the worse, and it can get worse, and unfortunately, without solutions, rapid changing solutions, that’s where we’re heading.

The Climate Strike kids warn us about mass extinction and are told to go back to school. Occupy Movement warned us about the dangers of the capitalist unregulated growth, were told to find jobs. We stop eating meat for the sake of the animals, planet and our own health and are labelled as not being completely part of this system.

So another separation is happening and it’s a blatant one, those who are seeking and walking towards the collapse not only of civilization and the modern world, as to the ecosystems in which we rely in, making it impossible for future generations to even live and breathe on this planet, and those who actively seek solutions and find common ground and share the support of what we call humane values.

Humane values of charity and kindness, of mutual support and understanding, of learning and teaching, of a free society made of shared commonness and the interest of the survival of this interconnectedness of the natural self with it’s surroundings are being called on us to bring the fruits of a better tomorrow.

What call will you reply to?

The Emergency of Native Planting for Survival

“Native fauna evolves with native flora”

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It’s undeniable that the environment we choose to be in has it’s own ecosystem and relies of it’s natural and native state for it’s own survival. Being in that place, it’s often misunderstood the role of the “Agricultural Dictator” in establishing balance between what to plant, how to plant, when to plant and why to plant. By “Agricultural Dictator” I mean the ones who take that balance and reuse it for food, pasture or landscaping, dictator because it’s role dictates the future of that ecosystem.

The role of what’s native in a place is the basis of survival of said place, hence the names ecosystem and environment. The survival of local fauna depends on the thriving of local flora, and vice-versa. Local flora depends on local pollinators, and pollinators depend on their local environment for survival, as blatant example.

The use of pesticides, chemical fertilizers and other influencers on the degradation of the soil, only damage both flora and fauna alike. This seems easy to understand, so why is it so hard to place it in practice?

The number one reasons are capital investment, consumerism needs and product viability. The globalized society has learned to depend and survive on the global market. So it is necessary to go back a little, and focus primarily on regenerating local soil with local flora, so local fauna can thrive and acheive an ecosystem balance, tackling climate change this way, so we can relearn to depend on what is native in our environments.

Soil is the first thing to take into consideration here, it’s degradation produces drought and loss of ecosystems, which brings bigger and more dangerous consequences such as release of the soil’s CO2 into the atmosphere, wildfires due to bad land management, and other issues.

Regenerating damaged soil isn’t that complicated. Here’s a simple and small guide that I’ve posted on Instagram relating this subject: Soil part 1 / Soil part 2

There is an emergency right now on restoring damaged soil and regenerating ecosystems. The dangers of global consumerism have reached catastrophic proportions. If we don’t act locally now, there won’t be a globally to act on in the future.

With love,

Matilde.

Dimensions of Human Being

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There are various dimensions of self. In a simple explanation, we all think and feel in diverse yet similar ways — either going through extremes or in a more stable fashion.

Emotions are triggered by thoughts, and thoughts by emotions. When we feel we need to name those emotions in our minds, and hence language influences the course of thought and response towards the emotion in a short period of time. From this process, new patterns of being arise, creating what we call spiritual growth, personal development, self-actualization, self-realization and so forth.

In order to find authenticity of self, without the survival mechanisms of the ego in the way, a way of simply being, we need to stop looking for the singularity of emotion, and start noticing the spectrum in which emotions operate. Become their observer, and notice how humanity is tied together in such conditions of emotion, thought and response.

Homeostasis functions this way, creating interaction between the Self, the Other and the Environment. The true making of cultures, as explained by the neuroscientist Antonio Damasio in his book “The Strange Order of Things”.

To be an observer of the spectrum of emotions, we borrow from meditation and mindfulness the pattern of being non-judgemental about what arises in the self, and the confluence of the survival mechanisms from the ego that move some deeply rooted behaviors. As an example, how to respond to anger? When someone is yelling, we either yell back or stand in silence, or fight, or go to another room, sometimes slamming the door behind us. These reactions are engrained in us as solutions to the simple problem of threat. Buddhist schools teach non-judgmental compassion facing another’s pain, and anger does come from pain, misunderstandings and confusion.

Accepting the spectrum of emotions, does not mean to stand idle when facing our own darkness and say “Oh, I am this way and I just have to accept myself”. Acceptance does not mean compliance. Acceptance means realizing what belongs where, for what reason, with what purpose, and questioning whether it needs changing or cultivating more of it. This is the path of least suffering, and like any path relating suffering, we often need to suffer a lot in order to understand it. The Buddhists call it Dukka.

Like any path, it confuses us, we can get a little lost, and we then seek guidance from mentors, gurus, articles, YouTube videos, mediums and astrologers, and so forth… When in fact the answer always lies in being the observant.

There is a little exercise I practice in meditation, where I send an imaginary turtle to find me the anwers of the questions that fill my mind when entering the meditative space inside. This turtle often comes back later with ideas, new thoughts, new dimensions of emotion. It’s an interesting exercise because it helps develop not only the imagination, as patience and being more observant.

It seems simple to speak of things in these terms, but it’s a practice that takes time, effort and, again, lots of patience for ourselves. Observing how we get angry with ourselves for being imperfect, how the hindrances we take on life as obstacles to face sometimes are just a way of our own selves to protect us from what can bring us instability.

If anyone has told you an awakening of sorts, often spoken about it being spiritual, is glitter and scented roses, they were lying. It’s a heartbreaking, sweat dwelling, teeth grinding, anxiety propulsor, solution-finding-obsession, path of life. But when the fruits of this labor start to bear, it’s impossible to go back to our previous way of reaction.

A pause to think and observe ourselves, often is the most rewarding experience someone can ever have.

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On the virtue of patience, on the virtue of impatience

Nothing like remaining calm during a time when everything seems to be in chaos. Taking deep breaths, being able to relax and enjoy life while the alarms of a climate catastrophe awakes the minds and bodies of people for action.

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Some patience is needed to explain the dangers of current lifestyles, some patience is needed for the hatred and disbelief, and some patience is needed towards our own selves to understand how we fit in all of this, when we are deep into the unknown future and it’s scary to believe in what is being told.

We need patience, yes. But we also need a heavy dose of impatience.

We need impatience towards the corporations and governments who promote unregulated and unsustainable use of the world’s resources. We need impatience towards the heavy debauchary happening in society where everything is game as long as it makes money and influences people.

We need impatience towards those who harm people and wildlife, we need impatience with ourselves to understand where can we take action and when should we retreat.

We need both patience and impatience equally in order to face what is in front of our eyes, to not allow this to disrupt our sense of self and morality, but at the same time to not allow the destruction of the planet and it’s inhabitants.

It’s the first time in the World’s history when the climate change we’re facing is man-made. We need man-made solutions, and for that we need patience with those who are actively seeking solutions and change, and a lot of impatience towards those who refuse to change anything and keep defending values that harm themselves, others and the planet out of both ingenuity and belief that things will change by miracle.

We eagerly need patience towards each other, on whichever polar opposite of the moral fence we are, but we need impatience towards the change of those rotten values we so desperately need right now.

How do we go about seeding both patience and impatience, then, isn’t it counterintuitive?

Actually, no it’s not. We all have polar opposites of emotions and traits inside of us that come out when we most need them. That’s why they exist! A stable and balanced person understands we need both to remain healthy. It’s accurate to have anger towards those who destroy what we fought so hard to build and maintain, it’s inaccurate to blame and have anger towards those who help us.

This stability can be acheived by understanding and responding instead of reacting. A pause to think things through instead of hanging on to our beliefs and be cruel about anything, or to be funny or because we truly believe it to be correct, sometimes brings us the awareness that any kind of cruelty is not only not ok, as it is harmful for ourselves, others and the environment we live in.

It comes to show that now more than ever, we need to face what we own inside of us and understand where our values truly lay.

Do we value money more than the ability to be alive?

Do we value consumerism more than the future of our children?

Do we value fast cars more than we value the oxygen we breathe?

These may seem like no-brainer questions, but a lot of people struggle to answer this as they know of no other reality.

So, how to bring about change? Impatient patience towards this change?

"It's not me." & "You do you."

One of the biggest problems we face today, in various activities in life — from family life, to work circles, to environmental issues, to lack of responsibility over how we care about each other — it’s the two fold “It’s not me” and “You do you”. These two statemements have permeated society like a virus.

We all have responsibility over our existence and how we affect others, regardless if we believe in determinism and that everything happens for a reason. If women didn’t think we could vote, nothing would had ever change in that regard. So were the men, people, involved in the Feminist movements, then and now, who believe one person’s problem is everyone’s problem, one’s oppression is everyone’s oppression.

Second, the “you do you” mentality has spread across the globe with a vengeance. My belief is that it comes from an increase in need for privacy and demand for individual action. So the intention might be good, but the result is catastrophic. Increasingly so, we have people ever more isolated, with less humane principles, with less manners and respect over each other’s opinions, less educated, with a lesser ability to live in community, with less respect for one another.

The “it’s not me” ideology comes from the idea that we are solidily ourselves without the other, and that is a blantant lie we tell ourselves. We could all study anthropology and understand the importance of connecting with the other. The other is different, yet just as valid. The other has a different approach to life, yet their existence is enough for them to earn human rights. They might have differing opinions, but they still deserve respect. And so do we.

This protection we put in ourselves against the bridges we can build in dialogue, compassion and respect, are nothing more than a protective mechanism to ensure we don’t really take responsibility over our lives and the course we’re heading. How do we attribute responsibility over our lives to another agency? How do we accept this control over our lives and then blame each other?

Environmentally speaking, it’s easier to blame the other than to attribute responsibility where it lays. We’ve all been manipulated into blaming each other and getting stuck in opinionating about political agendas, that we’ve forgotten how to rise above it and demand real action about real problems. Worse, we criticize those who do demand action, and those who take action. It will never be good enough to live in this society, from across the spectrums, we are being isolated and demanded perfection, without retribution and reciprocation. And here I am, asking you to be more complacent about the need to reach out to the other. Can you please, just be perfect?

So… The “It’s not me” ideal, takes away our fair share of responsibility. And the “You do you” mentality, divides us from community and action towards common ground. They both only serve those who wish to see us be the fall-out for the big corporations filling their pockets, for power over lives to continue to go unpunished and unregulated.

Women, children and the under-priviledged continue to be the most affected by this issue. Isolating abuse victims is a very well known abuser’s tactic to not allow the victim to speak up. Can we see how we are being abused on a 7 billion people scale? Being pushed into overconsumptions by the media, into buying products of slavery over lack of other options, into opinions that aren’t even our own, into lack of opportunity to study or work in good and humane conditions, and a myriad of other issues that plague humanity. Is this common ground enough?

On a lighter note, there has never been less war than it we have now. There is more food and even more ability to live longer lives, but the system that gives us this, also destroys us. Yet, “it’s not me, it’s them, so you do you and leave me alone”.

How do we go about to change this? We need to reach out. We need to branch out. We need to admit that we’re wrong sometimes. We need to validate our lives not by our opinions over it, but by who we are inside. Taking a deep look and asking the questions “What am I doing? Who am I being? How am I living? Where can I improve?”. These are not hard questions to ask one self, and my proposal is to try and answer them without blaming your government, or your bosses, or your family. It’s hard. Don’t worry, we do not need to be perfect to answer these questions, we just need to be true to ourselves. There isn’t a need to share them on social media, you can even burn them afterwards if you’re too embarassed to admit you answered them. We don’t need to share everything, we don’t need to let go of our privacy and values, we just need to think for ourselves for a minute.

Do you believe that it’s not you? and that we should all be isolated when dealing with ourselves? Or do you believe there is a deeper issue here, that we are more connected and in community than we even care to admit?

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The Age of Change

We live in a time when everything is changing and we feel the pressure to either keep up or give up. Mental health problems worldwide have never been so high, stress, anxiety and depression have been on an all-time peak, and there are those who capitalize from suffering, creating circles of interdependence that keep people stuck on services they can barely afford (think food overconsumption leading to health problems, as an example).

It seems easy nowadays, to just pick up and change your entire life from scratch. A lot of people, in this globalized world, move countries to start anew - new jobs, new families. Others move to the country side and begin to believe a lot more on self-reliance. Others keep their spirits up in the urban centers where they evoke change. Others can barely keep afloat with the demands of their every day living, and can’t think about the changes they feel they need to make in order to have a better life and future for themselves and their families.

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I do not believe one single bit that there is one person in this globalized world who isn’t at least a little bit worried about their future. Those who have money, are facing the questions on where to invest it in order to keep having it in the future, and those who don’t keep thinking of ways of making more in order to just survive. It has become a polarized world of who has more and who has less and the public narrative is stuck on this duality of “having”.

An idea that has occurred to a lot of us, is to change the “having-consuming” mindset to “making-reusing” mindset. It’s not new, it has existed since the dawn of the human species. Some might think we need to go back in time, others want progress, others want continuous unregulated growth.

It’s not a lie that politics have become, in the least, a gray area. The line that divides government parties and ideologies have become tenuous. We barely know what we really defend anymore, or on what source of information to believe in.

More and more, people are advocating for others to think for themselves, as if any kind of originality in thought will bring about the much needed change we all crave nowadays.

The problem isn’t who advocates for change, but those who are adamant in keeping things as they are because of convenience. The hope that everything will turn out ok in the end, is a Hollywoodesc interpretation of reality - the Disney’s Happy Ever After ending. More and more it has come to our understanding that we all need to make a change, a big shift in our every day living, in order to even survive and give a future to our children and grandchildren.

There is also the catastrophic “I give up” happening inside, the self-destructive button that we want to push because we are witnessing first hand what our outer destruction can bring to ourselves, others and our environment. So this change that needs to happen is not only on the outside world of ourselves, but inside ourselves too, otherwise nothing happens and everything just goes back to being the same way.

The shift that is begging to happen takes front on all the human circle stages. From economic to spiritual, to our relationships and even on our own self-talk.

Personally, I find it amazing that we’re alive in such an age. I find it trully amazing that we are able to be a part of this shift in perception about who we are on this planet, what we are doing to it and ourselves, how we function in our relationships and how that effects everything around us, creating a butterfly effect that will affect others on the other side of the world.

All of a sudden you see thousands of new communities of people advocating for a peaceful transition into a new Global Mindful Solution. The way we consume is not sustainable for the planet, the way we demand action from power is not sustainable to our relationships, the way we invest our time in not changing anything is not sustainable for the future of our future generations.

All of this has reached a tipping point of whoever is not part of the shift that is happening, will be dragged into it whether they like it or not.

So, I’m happy to be alive today because the very much needed human fear of our survival threat is fueling a global iniciative of regenerating the earth and creating a new paradigm not only in consciousness but on the environment we’re in as a consequence.

Thank you, you, for being a part of it, whether you like it or not.

With love,

Matilde

Mental health, activism and social support.

During Climate Strike and with all that is going on in the world at the moment, it’s important to remember that this type of issues bring about a lot of undealt with anxiety and other emotions, a lot of anger from all sides and a lot, a lot of hatred.

The world of social justice is filled with anger and hatred and division, lack of understanding points of views and most of all, lack of support for the one’s who don’t want to deal with those kind of realities.

I’ve been an activist for most of my life now, since my early teens. And I’ve been dealing with a lot of issues since. I had a huge meltdown and burn out in 2013, and for much of my surprise the enormous lack of support came precisely from fellow activists themselves.

Two or three of them called to want to know how I was doing, but even so I was met with blame, guilt trips, hatred, condescendence, paternalism and other issues, like I couldn’t possibly think or feel for myself in any valid way due to mental health issues.

A lot of my problems came from both childhood trauma as also I was a victim of domestic violence, the fact that I hid these problems inside and refused to face them for years, made me develop a lot of anxiety, depression, addiction issues and other consequences that took years to treat. I’m well now, completely recovered, and for much of my dismay, I see the same guilt trippers and blame throwers talking about justice for abused women, and other concerns that they, as human beings, failed to support back to health.

So, instead, their hatred fills the living room with ignorance about mental health facts, about the realities of abuse that happens behind closed doors, towards both men and women alike, and how the hatred spread through these medias enter’s the homes and lives of these persons and blinds them to the reality of the urgency for unity and social support.

It’s interesting that a global network of people who talk about no borders and no system, develops invisible walls and systems of thought control and judgement, in their ignorance about the matters they speak about, or complete hypocrisy about their own actions. It’s all beautiful in the sunshine, but when you meet the darkness of it all, all illusion falls and you’re left thinking “where did humanity go?”.

I’ve been witnessing the absurdity of adults attacking children because of lack of responsibility, when the adults themselves lack the responsibility of making a better world and lead by example towards the children, and hence their need to strike. This obvious matter is not brought into the light so much, as there are more important things to do right now than to focus on healing intergenerational trauma, or so some might think.

In October there will be a free to access Online Summit on Healing Collective Trauma - Here’s the link.

I think it’s important to understand that these issues that the social justice movements are facing, arise mostly from intergenerational trauma. As a collective, humanity must come together and heal itself in order to survive.

We are angry because we don’t really understand what’s happening, despite making it seem to everyone else like we do. We don’t. We don’t understand mass extinction, we don’t understand not being able to survive heat waves. We don’t understand them because we never lived this before. We might have an idea, and we want to avoid it, but it’s no wonder that there is so much anger and hatred, it’s ignorance and it’s no one’s fault.

These kids protesting are dealing with issues we can’t possible understand because a lot of us had secure childhoods where most of our problems resided in this girl or boy who liked us or not. We don’t understand what it is like to be a child and have a toxic wasteland as a future prospect for our World.

A lot of us won’t even be here to see it, but they will. They want children and grandchildren. They want happiness, families and to travel this beautiful world like we all did when we were kids. They want to be artists, constructors, engineers, biologists. They want a future, is that too much to ask?

When facing this, adults go into denial and hatred and fill their lungs with judgements about these kids missing school, or about them not having the ability to think for themselves, or worse, that they are serving an agenda. If this agenda is to save the world, I really do hope that these kids are being paid for it.

Our ignorance has reached dangerous porportions, we turn on our friends and family because it’s difficult to look at this and think “Shoot, we destroyed the planet.” instead of facing this reality, and help build a future for these kids. Help them get support for their mental health, help them face a bright future of possibilities instead of having a life of fighting and anger and hatred and judgement and guilt trips.

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Alimentação ética e informada

Há muitos motivos para alguém decidir-se por ser vegetariano, vegano ou comer somente alimentos biológicos, ou por si cultivados ou de hortas comunitárias. Hoje em dia, cada vez mais existem apelos ao veganismo, vegetarianismo e outros modos de consumo de alimentos que sejam sustentáveis e saudáveis. Acima de tudo, existe um apelo a uma alimentação ética que diminua ou extinga de todo o sofrimento desnecessário do animal e cause o mínimo impacto ambiental possível.

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Até há bem pouco tempo atrás, eu defendia calorosamente que o ser Humano é omnívoro, e continuo a dizê-lo por ser verdade. Mas também é verdade que hoje em dia com os recursos a variedades de nutrientes a que temos acesso, podemos fazer um milagre, que é a escolha evolutiva de deixar de o sermos. E é realmente uma escolha.

Sou uma pessoa bastante sensível, tanto a nível emocional como de estômago, e na minha viagem alternando entre o consumo esporádico de carne, ao excesso, ao seu oposto, cheguei total e completamente ao ponto onde não consigo comer carne ou peixe e, até me enoja o sabor. Quando por algum motivo não posso escolher uma opção vegetariana, fico sempre mal disposta e com uma sensação de tristeza profunda.

Há uns anos valentes, vi o filme “Home” (link para o filme completo no Youtube), e no dia seguinte fui a um supermercado. Tive um ataque de pânico, bloqueei o corpo e a mente no corredor da carne embalada e desatei a chorar convulsivamente, não conseguia olhar para bifes e carne picada sem me subir o almoço do estômago à boca.

Andei uns anos a vacilar entre comer carne e não comer, a lidar com as dificuldades diárias de não conseguir comer nada na rua por exemplo, ou poder ir jantar fora porque na altura não existiam opcões vegetarianas nos menus dos restaurantes e, como todos sabíamos na altura, o acesso urbano a vegetais e fruta de qualidade eram praticamente nulos.

Entretanto os anos foram correndo, o pânico da carne foi diminuindo, até um dia por destino, comi um bacalhau com natas e no dia seguinte não aguentei e vomitei o dia todo. Na altura andava bastante vacilante, a tentar decidir entre o vegetarianismo e o consumo de carne ética e biológica - o mais próximo do que é natural no meio rural possível. Mas naquele dia tudo o que tinha no frigorífico para comer era uma daquelas embalagens de bacalhau com natas pré-feito. A partir daí o meu consumo de carne tem sido somente por hábito e vício, e nunca por necessidade. Tenho comido o mínimo de carne possível, e sinto-me a reduzir como quem reduz os cigarros para o choque do desmame não ser tão grande.

Decidi entretanto que chega de carne para mim. Tenho a possibilidade de fazer melhor por mim, pelos animais que de outra forma ingeriria e pelo clima, pelo planeta e por todos nós e o nosso futuro e foi essa a minha decisão.

A alimentação chegou a um ponto crítico de que é realmente uma escolha fazermos-nos mal a nós próprios, aos outros, aos animais que vivem em condições deploráveis a vida toda para comermos as doses absurdas de carne que comemos semanalmente, e ao ambiente.

As implicações da indústria da carne para o planeta são gravíssimas e isto já não é novidade nenhuma. E mesmo as implicações para a saúde, cada vez mais se percebe que não é sustentável para o corpo e mente uma alimentação tão desregulada como a que a maioria da humanidade suporta agora. Não é viável enquanto futuro do ser humano e do planeta, continuarmos a alimentarmos-nos desta forma. De hambúrgueres com batatas fritas todos os dias a sushi e peixe frito, a humanidade nunca esteve tão pouco saudável em termos de alimentação.

Por isso faço um apelo à alimentação ética e informada, o que quer que isso signifique para si. Por todos nós, pelo ambiente.

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Strong and Wild Women

Women, this precious creature that teaches mankind about strong vulnerability.

There's a lot to say about how women shape societies all over the world. Movements of women's liberation span all over history, in different contexts in time. My question here comes from within, from being a woman and how that influences my life. I'm incredibly grateful for have never considered myself anything but wild and free. I'm incredibly grateful for having the courage of the women of my family to handle life and do what I can with what I have, making gold out of charcoal.

Women show how strong vulnerability works, how it is possible to be true to one's emotions, thoughts, morals and values and still be strong to nurse an infant at 4:07am. Women show how fierce is motherhood in the face of a threat. These urban lionesses protect the young because their own lives depend on it.

There have been so many women that we can say shaped the world we live today, seldomly in silence, seldomly without a smile on their faces. Strong women thrive in the anger of injustice, in the wilderness of rebellious emotions. Strong women empower all people, men and women alike. Strong women cry and drink way too much too. Strong women are capable of healing themselves and others simply by existing in this world. Strong women dance alone, together, or in the car in traffic to the joy of being alive, every single day, even if just for a second. Strong women have weaknesses and make of them strenghts. Strong women smile with tears in their eyes and fight for a better tomorrow. Strong women love and hurt, and scream and withdraw.

I've met a lot of strong and wild and free women in my life. I've had a lot of rolemodels to follow on my path. I've never met one single strong woman who didn't question herself in every step she took along the way. I've never met one single strong woman who didn't make a thousand mistakes before getting it right. I've never met one single strong woman who didn't want to build a healthy ego for herself. I've never met one single strong woman who didn't go through charcoal on fire to be the strong woman she is today.

So, this ode to strong and wild women is my gift to our legacy.

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Meditation

Meditation is for many something incredibly difficult, something that only Buddhist monks and New Age people and David Lynch do. It's thought to be something that only people connected to ideas of spirituality attempt to do. When I started to meditate I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. What I knew was that my mind was constantly racing and I needed a break from it. It was the only reason. During the following years, I meditated on and off, I resorted to it during times of anxiety and panic, during times of depression and during times of attempting to calm the nervous system when leaving therapy sessions. I tried medication for panic attacks and anxiety, but I didn't want to be addicted to them, so I quit and decided to deal with the anxiety and panic on my own. I couldn't sit in lotus position for enough time, I couldn't have my back straight, I couldn't stop my mind from racing. It was a heavy task to allow the breath to take over, to allow the mind to simply be there. 
Such a difficult task made more difficult by my idea that it is difficult. When I realized the simplicity of meditation, it became second nature. I started learning about Mindfulness and how to wait in seemingly endless supermarket lines with a smile on my face, just focusing on my breathing in and out. It truly changed my life for the better. I realized there isn't a need for all those special things like meditation cushions for example. Just sitting, laying down or standing up in supermarket lines is plenty. Meditation is the idea that we can just exist and be really happy about that fact. But before that can happen, all the emotions that we have burried inside in order to not deal come to the forfront of the mind and body. It's a true Rebirth of the mind to allow meditation to be a healing tool. 
I had a lot of trauma happening in my younger days, a lot of escaping reality with drugs and spiritual escapades. When it came down to it, the only thing I really needed was to really deal with myself. No more running, no more trying to please myself with lying to myself. I went into the depth of my self-hatred, I went into the depths of all the things I had no fault over but needed to look at and feel the guilt of the lack of responsibility over myself. I meditated for hours on end, did yoga to come back to the body and not allow the mind to be disperse and elsewhere all the time. My therapist started saying I was doing an awesome job, but all I really did was meditate and do yoga. I'm not advocating for people to exhange therapy for meditation and yoga, but therapy became a complement for me, not the other way around. I realized I could have all the tools necessary to break free from the issues that plagued me, and ground in myself by meditating and a daily yoga practice. 
It's often said a spiritual awakening is the most painful process there is and that is exactly like it was for me. I began looking for all the reasons I didn't like my own self, my body, my life, my ideas. I began looking and I hated the answers I found. This immense guilt washed over me one day in a shower and I sobbed in convulsion thinking "Holy crap, what did I do to my life?". The "who am I", "where am I" and "how the heck did I get here?" ran intensely for months, I was lost and confused. So I increased my meditation, it was the only thing that could calm my mind from all these emotions. I learned how to read my emotions, how to identify them and to connect the dots to what they meant and what they needed for me to express. It became like a game and it was a tough journey to get to a poing of calm and stress free. It's not like I'm totally Zen, I still get upset, angry, and I still have a bit of a bad temper if I nap for too long. But I do know that all those heavy negative emotions from traumas, self-imposed or otherwise, are now a thing of the past. Thank Goodness for Meditation.

I'll be starting some meditation classes soon. Stay tuned for info.

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Saved Femininity

Women have been scared away from their Nature. We've been told our menstruation is disgusting, our natural body hair something to be disposed of in order to please not only the male gender but also each other (and some idea that we should be hairless). That our breasts are either too small, too saggy, too big, too disform, too unappealing. Our butts have celulitis, that's horrible, there are products, we can't afford them, "her butt looks much better than mine". That we need to look like models, too thin, too beautiful, too much make-up, not enough make up, or simply not enough in general.
It doesn't really matter why we subscribe ourselves to these ideas, but the consequences of it is that we feel we are never enough. Ever looked at a picture of yourself in your 20's and thought? Oh my, I looked great! And remember how awful you felt back then, comparing yourself to every other woman, feeling you'd never be pretty, thin, curvy or what have you enough?
Sleeping the other night, I dreamt I was about 24/25 and saw myself in that body, too thin, too maladapted, too scared, too vulnerable. I also dreamt about how I had to appear fearless in order to protect myself from my own insecurities and how they shined to those around me. The pretty selfies in order to feel better about myself, the spiritual path that led me to Goddesses, who will always be better than me, and there is no comparing possible, so I had to become them in order to grow. What an Ego! I was never pleased with myself, I was never truly happy, satisfied or fulfilled, no matter how much of the work I did was in fact fulfilling and rewarding, the Identity I felt I had was a sham. "Matilde" did not exist, was a mirage in order to please men and women around me alike, but never truly myself. What I really wanted was to be wild, to have hair in my arm pits, to show the hair on my legs in a short skirt, to take a cold shower and not brush my hair, allow it to be the wilderness that it wants so hard to be. I wanted to wear a red lipstick to just prove to myself I could wear a red lipstick if I wanted to. I felt too embarassed to do so, like I was trying to be like the others, with their beautiful shiny and hydrated lips. So I bought a red lipstick and wore it occasionally, I was heavy back then, after a period of depression I gained a lot of weight, so that lipstick was a lifesaver. I felt good about my face! I was laughing on the street thinking I was a monkey in a costume, nobody could recognize this monkey because I was disguised just like them, with their red lipsticks. Then I realized what made me feel good was because I felt pretty. I felt comfortable. I felt like I was finding myself, and my self actually likes red lipstick, I just didn't know that before. I read about the roots of make up and it felt nice to be a part of this sacred ritual of adorning my face for protection against evil spirits. I laughed at the idea that it was actually the red lipstick that saved my mind from the pits of depression. Then came the dresses and skirts, and the hair on my legs. You know what? Nobody even notices it. It's absurd. So much money down the drain we women spend trying to please a society that doesn't even notice when you don't subscribe to the Hairless Rule. It is funny, because the more I try to be real about myself, the more I notice people respect me more. There's an entire process of regaining my natural rhythms that I'm undergoing and the more real I am towards myself, the more liberated I feel from the idea of unacheivable imposed perfection of female beauty. My femininity was saved by a red lipstick and leg hair.

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Shared kindness.

When we speak of dimensions of self, we mean the “frequency in which we vibrate” towards ourselves and others. When we go through the horrors of our past traumas, guilt and perceived mistakes, we feel like there is little hope left and there seems little to hang on to.

Today, I want to speak of the idea of depression versus the diagnosable mental condition called Depression. We all go through periods of depression, it’s a state in which we fall and are forced to deal with the worse of our emotions. For some of us, medical attention is needed. For others, a more holistic approach. For others, only faith saves us. For some, all of the above is required.

When I go through periods of facing my shadow, I know I don’t lose myself in it. I can find myself in the good, the wishing the best for myself and others, the guilt of feeling the need for vendetta for what was done in the past.

Meditation and Yoga are my lifesavers when I’m in this state. A lot of faith in the future and seeking support outside of myself. Sometimes I go to a church and just sit in the quiet. I don’t ask for anything, I don’t feel I need to ask for anything.

I find peace in love and shared kindness.

Today, a Metta meditation is my recipe for the disaster we feel we are sometimes.

With love,

Matilde.

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About mental fog, delusional wishes and how to develop keen observation.

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We are constantly bombarded by information. We seek in multiple channels what speaks to us, according to the place we are in life. Sometimes that changes, and cognitive dissonance ensues, in order to achieve some sort of harmony in our soul's melody.

The internet, social media especially is full of wishful thinking and delusional paranoia, pronoia and both extremes. It's easy to think, extremelly easy, that the world is both awful and awe-full. It's easy to think we are completely helpless and it's easy to think, by looking at how human beings basically control the planet, how we can achieve some sort of God Status. In the case of spirituality, it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking we can get divinity status simply by awakening our souls into realms of the unknown. This makes us fall into the traps of delusion. In extreme cases, medical intervention is necessary. I've seen throughout my life multiple cases of people who've "awakened" to states that simply can't ever be possible for the human being. Being real with ourselves, what are our true capabilities, what we can achieve, the GOOD we can bring into the world, is in fact much healthier for us than to believe we can enhance capabilities and be super-humans (remember Neitzsche who said God is dead? I blame him for this epidemy of confusion.) It's easy to believe we can only change things if we're super-human, because we feel so helpless by the pain that surrounds us. In fact, and in reality, every kindness act, every good gesture, every smile and shared meal helps another person fight the loneliness that this life of extreme consumerism and disdain for what in fact, simply is - call it Mother Earth, God, Goddess, Divine Plan, what have you. My question here is, what does truly matter here? That we awaken delusional superpowers within ourselves, or that we grab what we've established in our lives, develop our talents and find what truly matters to make this world a better place?
A big spirituality trap is to fall for the delusion that we can be Gods on this planet, when the truth of the matter is that no one truly knows what a God even is, what it means, we just feel helpless.
So, my next questions are: How to empower women and men all over the world to make a change in our environmnents that truly matters? How to bring more kindness and less insanity into this world? How to be more in tune with what is our identity, how to develop a healthy ego? These questions are truly meant to provoke, to create a question inside of you that brings you to a land of sanity in the craziness that is the flow of life.
We are not robots that need tweaking to be made better, we are people who deserve self-care, self-love and to not be exploited by others who think they can profit from our ignorance over ourselves.
Are human beings destined to be controled by delusion, or can we start looking at humanity with the fresh look of a new beginning?
How can we not fall prey to the insanity of others? How can we protect ourselves from harm? With love, kindness and self-care, which means self-protection.

With love,
Matilde.

The Value of Insight

The mental phenomenon of insight is an amazing ability, if you ask me. And the more it is developed, the more of a tool it can become. It has a certain characteristic of recognizing and allowing a thought or emotion to happen, then the process of investigation of it's action/reaction context, then the turning it into a conclusion on how to act inside a specifically small or larger timeframe, and the nuances that response may provoke. Applied to any given situation, it's certainly an asset.

The nurturing with self-compassion gives us the right emotional frame in which to develop a wider awareness into life, ourselves included.

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The daily practice of meditation, daily practice of mindfulness and other things like Shadow Work, all services I’ll be providing, are a must for self-development and corner stones for enlightenment.

“No one becomes enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” Carl Jung

I do love both the word insight as the word awareness. In my language we don't have an immediate translation of these words. Insight we call insight, and awareness is translated to "consciousness", which is kind of poetic, thinking about it. I especially appreciate this explanation of insight: "penetrating mental vision or discernment; faculty of seeing into inner character or underlying truth". This is the way I see it, the ability to see behind the veil of illusion.

With love, Matilde

Mindfulness meetings coming soon

Photo by Lesly Juarez, taken from Unsplash

Photo by Lesly Juarez, taken from Unsplash

More often than not we’re stuck on a mindless journey through life, an auto-pilot mode. We do things unware of doing them, we react innadvertedly to circunstances, we speak without true awareness of what we’re saying, and so forth.

In the upcoming months, I’ll be facilitating a weekly meeting of like-minded individuals who wish to work together on becoming more mindful. I’ll provide exercises and challenges to get you started. I’m there to mediate the meeting on whatever reason necessary, and help you to learn how to be more mindful in your daily life.

Have I mentioned this is completely free of charge? That’s right, I believe everyone has the right to learn how to be present without needing to pay for milenia-old natural conscious knowledge.

Stay tuned for more information!

With love, Matilde.