The Emotional Currency of the Heart

Instead of leaning into emotional acceptance of our present moments, we are busy trying to integrate messages of today’s media that urge us to embrace positivity at all costs. This brand of toxic positivity masquerades as a healthy self-care philosophy while neglecting to address what’s actually happening beneath the surface. Being a human on planet, you’ve likely asked yourself at least half a dozen times what it is you’re meant to do or who you’re meant to be in this life — an existential crisis, to be sure! Whether or not we’re consciously aware of our desire to find our place in life, being somebody seems to take up a great deal of our time. Seeking guidance or answers to these questions isn’t just a modern-day dilemma but rather the common thread that connects us at our core.

While Ram Dass has been a “purveyor of peace” on a timeless path to tell the truth about what it means to live and love unconditionally, we have also become his students on this spiritual adventure, learning to embrace vulnerability as the emotional currency of our hearts. Authenticity is important. Being honest with yourself and your motivations are important.

Ram Dass reminds us, “Each of us has to be true to ourselves to hear what is our unique way through because if you get phony holy, it ends up kicking you in the butt. You’ve gotta stay true to yourself.”

This sentiment holds true, not just for those who have seen or felt a shift in our perspectives through meditation or personal spiritual journeys, but for those of us in corporate business settings, too. The second we opt to spiritually bypass life’s difficulties, we are creating more obstacles on the path towards our liberation.

Brene Brown, a well-known shame researcher and storyteller has championed the idea of focusing on what makes us vulnerable as the ultimate key to our personal and professional success. It takes courage to live a life of authenticity but along that path comes the need for vulnerability. And for most of us, we’ve spent the majority of our lives trying to avoid the very things that make us feel anything that remotely resembles a state of vulnerability.

Brown says, “ The path to a meaningful, loving life comes through a willingness to be vulnerable — and a rejection of the socially produced shame that convinces us we, or our vulnerabilities, are not worthy of love.” With that idea in mind, imagine a place like Google embracing the idea of empathy as a way of creating and doing business in the world. And now, imagine a film that showcases teachings about awakening and clarity, vulnerability and unconditional love being at the forefront of its message. It is through these unexpected voices (storytellers, musicians, filmmakers) making their way into technology that we’re witnessing a shift in business consciousness, which is truly a shift in the collective consciousness when you think about it.

Ananda Danielle Krettek, female founder of Google Empathy Lab and co-partner of the documentary film, “Becoming Nobody” has made it her mission to use the lab to investigate creative and brave ways to explore vulnerability and emotional parts of ourselves that we typically exclude when it comes to business.

We have been told the story that vulnerability is a point where we can be attacked, when actually, vulnerability, if wielded properly, is your greatest strength. The watery, messy parts of myself are just as important, because those are the unknown depths, but these are the great mysteries that move the human spirit.”

It is this mentality that is shifting the corporate landscape, making it possible for films like “Becoming Nobody” to be seen from a different vantage point.

“Slow down in your life . . . and in your work.” This was a recurring critique I heard often from the poet and author, Catherine Barnett during the course of my graduate studies at NYU Paris. You would think that might’ve come easily after spending two years prior at Naropa University where I received my first MFA in creative writing. There, meditation was on the menu morning, noon and night. By the time I decided to pursue my second graduate degree, I was keenly aware I had so much work yet to do when it came to my meditation practice. And how do you get quiet? How do you slow down, really? Well, you start working in this community of people who make it their priority to be of service to others. And you start listening and creating awareness around what’s needed in the present moment.

For me that journey began at InsightLA, a non-profit meditation center based in Los Angeles. While my job at InsightLA is to act as our digital communications manager and content producer, it also allows me the opportunity to champion the efforts of our facilitators and instructors in their teaching endeavors. As a poet and writer, I’m very interested in telling stories. And because of people like Trudy Goodman, (the founding teacher of InsightLA) I get to do that as part of my job and for whom, I’m eternally grateful. Slowing down has meant that I now take the time to listen more and spend time looking for ways to help write stories that affect change. Right now, this means really examining how I can highlight our programming but also the work we’re doing around social justice issues with Insight in Action (a program that makes mindfulness meditation available to caregivers, activists and those on the front lines of suffering) while helping to co-create catalysts that shift our consciousness and lead to real-world change.

Trudy Goodman has been a long time friend of Ram Dass and she spoke on a panel following the private screening of “Becoming Nobody” last week in Venice Beach, CA. Listening to Trudy alongside producer Raghu Markus ( co-founder of the Be Here Now Podcast Network where he hosts Here & Now with Ram Dass as well as his own Mindrolling podcast), Ananda Danielle Krettek (Google Empathy Lab) and Duncan Trussell (Duncan Trussell Family Hour podcast) reminded me of the importance and incredible value of Ram Dass’ beautiful and wise teachings that encourage us not only to be vulnerable but in letting go of being somebody, we become everybody and nobody all at once.

These are important times we’re living in that are summoning us to find new ways of thinking and being which ultimately requires us to acknowledge that each of us matter, through our actions, our thoughts and our deeds.

Remember, we are all affecting the world every moment, whether we mean to or not. Our actions and states of mind matter, because we are so deeply interconnected with one another. Working on our own consciousness is the most important thing that we are doing at any moment, and being love is a supreme creative act.”

Jamie Catto’s Becoming Nobody: A Film About Ram Dass” will debut in theatres, September 6th.

*Angela Stubbs is a graduate of both NYU’s MFA Creative Writing Program in Paris and The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University. She is the Digital Communications Manager and Content Producer at InsightLA. Recently, she completed a collection of poems titled The Iris of Necessity. Her work has appeared in Harvard University’s Periphery Journal, Black Warrior Review, The Rumpus, The Nervous Breakdown and the Los Angeles Review of Books, among others. She’s currently focused on a book-length meditation of poems that address memory and the art of surrender. You can find out more here: https://www.angelastubbs.net