Sacred Activism: Moving Beyond the Ego

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Sacred Activism Moving Beyond the Ego

A big mouth and a sharp tongue

I was seemingly born with a fire in my belly and a sharp tongue. My mind stays sharp under pressure – maybe it even gets a touch sharper – and I’m notorious for saying what I mean.  Just ask my family. These qualities made me a pretty righteous babe my entire young adulthood. Strong opinions, lots of critical thinking, a heaping portion of skepticism, and belligerent atheism, I took a vow of matrimony to science in my late teens.

Here’s what I believed:

  • Science is truth.
  • The one who knows the most science is right.
  • There is a right and a wrong, good and bad.
  • There is a rational explanation for everything that deviates from what science would predict.
  • Time is of the essence. We need to hurry to get things done, and under control.
  • Misfortune comes from laziness.

I did it my way

I approached my medical training, my feminism, and even my first pregnancy with an “I’ll do it my way, thanks” attitude. This is how I began to question what I was taught. I decided to put my academic skills to use and looked into the data on electronic fetal monitoring, induction, and cord clamping, all conventional practice in hospital births. Then I had a patient whose baby died, in utero, after a second trimester flu shot, and I dug into the literature on that too.

The dissonance mounted.

I’m here to support the science, right? The science, at least some of it, is telling us something different than what patients are being told in the doctor’s office.


I began to understand that we were being told a story by the dominant paradigm. It was a controlled narrative that served an agenda – all that I had hoped to believe in, the promise of science and trusted authorities came crumbling down.  I’d seen the man behind the curtain and there would be no forgetting his feeble visage.

I spent every waking hour reading, researching, and plumbing the depths of every topic I cared about – women’s health, birthing, mental health, children’s health, infectious disease, cancer. I began to hold everything I had ever been taught up to the stark bright light of detachment. I watched these teachings crumble to dust and and blew them away.

I began to understand science as a tool rather than a doctrine. In the wrong hands, it was a weapon of destruction, and I had to make room to integrate this. The room that I had constructed to keep myself safe was blown out with the bellows of my rage and indignation. I put myself $200K in debt, spent years of my life traumatized by the indentured servitude of medical school and residency to learn what?! A pile of lies and convenient “truths” that serve an autocratic machine of human oppression?

I felt an ancient fire kindle inside me that churned and twisted with my own native force. I held my sword aloft. I began writing, speaking, lecturing. I changed my practice. And, of course, I was given the gift of my own health challenge to initiate me into the realm of self-healing and the power of food as information. Now I had proof – my recovery, and then the recovery of dozens of my patients as I began to arm them with what they intuitively knew to be the reason they had been stuck: our systems are making us sick and then profiting off of our ongoing illness.

The monstrous path of the righteousness

I was lionized. But I also felt alone. I felt awash in a sea of thinkers, doctors, and scientists, each with one pet interest they were willing to stick their neck out for. The anti-GMOer who would trust the same corrupt industry with their life if they got a cancer diagnosis. The anti-vaxxer who ate Twinkies for breakfast. The homeschooler having their babies at the hospital, just in case “something went wrong”. The green revolutionary screwing curly Q mercury-laced bulbs into every socket. The anti-fluoride campaigner turning a blind eye to escalating prescription of stimulants to toddlers. And the list went on.

I saw the world in black and white – are you on my team? Do you get it? I navigated every experience with distress and derision. I would sit at my daughter’s birthday parties disgusted by parents handing out epi-pens and asthma inhalers to their pizza-eating, juice-box guzzling kids. I longed for the Schadenfreud of a prominent political figure struggling with vaccine injury. Somehow further news of catastrophe at the hands of industry would only validate my beliefs and intuition that everything was wrong.

There were times the Truth felt so oppressive I wanted to be dead. I wanted not to have brought children into this corrupt, twisted world where everyone is self-sedated and complicit in evils beyond all imaging.  Playing sports and watching TV while babies are being experimented on in the name of sound science and the greater good.

I began writing about my plight, the plight of the awakened, and now I understand that I was looking for my tribe.

It worked because I began to meet my people. I heard their voices in the wilderness. When I met pan-activists like Louise Kuo Habakus, Sayer Ji, and Nicholas Gonzalez, I breathed a sigh of relief. I took down my sword for a moment and let the blood rush back into my arm. Somehow, feeling seen and understood in my pain, helped to ease my rage. I was able to think more clearly.

Preparing for war

We joined forces, started groups, organizations, and non-profits. We had secret meetings and began to attract more and more like-minded thinkers and feelers. And our timing was serendipitous because we were marshaling forces for the greatest assault on Health Freedom since World War II – the introduction of 110 bills across the nation to eliminate a parents’ right to refuse the entire vaccine schedule of 69 doses (and more in the pipeline) in order for their child to receive formal education.

I was up nights strategizing, desperate to stop the passing of the flagship bill – SB277 in California. I’m not legally savvy, and resented, on some level, being forced to cram my brain with legislative details and language – knowledge that in no way helped me to become a better healer. It just helped me to put a chip on the board. To throw my hat in the ring.

Fearless and ready

I’ve never cared about dying. For whatever reason, this has never been a compelling threat to me. I didn’t come in with the usual checks and balances that keep people in orderly control.

I knew that I would willingly run naked out on the battlefield, but I also knew that we had to be strategic. Not impulsive. Nonetheless, an aggressive tactic was the only one that appealed to me. My trusted colleagues disagreed and told me that I would be “inviting negative energy”. I felt suppressed by them. Alone once again.

I was fighting a system that put an end above the means. I was in danger of doing that myself, though.

As Nietzsche said,

“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster.”

A phoenix from the ash

Then, an invitation for transformation was delivered to me.

I received a call on July 22, 2015 that my beloved mentor, and in many ways, psychospiritual father, Nick, had died suddenly.

We had spent the previous week scheming on next steps in our Health Freedom battleship game.

I was brought to my knees.

This, in the wake of my mother-in-law’s death, a Truth-sayer and inspiration in this arena felt like more than I could handle. A world without these energies felt like a prison.

I was brought into the space of zero-point stillness. That suspension before giving up, when you realize that you still have a choice to engage with grace. That choice is called surrender.

Working towards the light

So that’s what I did. I began a pre-dawn practice of Kundalini, every day. I wished for only one thing – the intuition and internal guidance I needed to know what to do and when to do it. I sought support from healers, mediums, and mystics. My egg continued to crack and crack and crack as I expanded to encompass truths that didn’t fit neatly into my worldview.

Then funny things began to happen. Coincidences, synchronicities, and signs. I began to feel that I was part of something bigger. Something unfolding. It was a liberating and exhilarating sensation.

I began to be exposed to new kinds of knowing. I began to understand with something other than my mind. These things that I learned felt more like a remembering, than a learning.

Ego strikes again

Then I got caught again, this time, in the “spiritual ego”. I began to feel frustrated with everyone in the activist realm who wasn’t “doing the work” of self-betterment. I felt superior. I was trying harder. Working on myself in every way possible. I lost patience. Again.

I had to ask myself – do I just want to be right and win or do I want to change the world and the experience of life on this planet?

Then, I opened the door to my waiting room, and uncharacteristically asked my lovely patient what she was reading. She said, The Yoga of Eating. He’s written other books as well, you should read The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible.

My own heart swooned at the title alone. I read it within days. Here’s what I learned:

Our Stories: We have told ourselves, and been deeply conditioned by a Story. One that has many names, but that Charles Eisenstein refers to as the Story of Separation. It is the Cartesian story – the one of our flesh robot existence, floating on a dead rock in the middle of space. It’s one of us as separate from each other, the environment, god, and our souls.

In this Story we harbor the collective pain that this separation and its myriad consequences and outgrowths, creates. This pain has grown to a point that we all sense – we know that the promises of science, medicine, technology, our economic system, and our political system are not likely to be fulfilled. We feel the “bankruptcy” of these systems, and many of us are activated to do something about it. Some of us are clinging more tightly to the fantasy of order and safety. And some of us are withdrawing, checking out, using psychiatric medications to numb the anguish, ease the anxiety, and stimulate us to engage when we don’t want to.

Symptoms of the root cause: These are but the symptoms and to think of the GMO issue as separate from the vaccine issue as separate from the fracking issue as separate from the climate issue and the terrorism issue is myopic. It is not dissimilar from the parable of the blind men feeling the different parts of an elephant and declaring it a pillar, a pestle, and a plow.

To address one of these ills is not unlike our current medical system that treats the head as separate from the body, the heart as separate from the lungs, and the gastrointestinal system as separate from all other parts.

Everything is everything: We must move into a different story. One that Eisenstein calls Interbeing.

I love this story!

It is a story of an intelligent universe based on cooperativity and cocreation, not one of dominance.

It is a story of a more feminine power.

It fits perfectly with the Story I have been telling – one from an ancient wisdom. One that demolishes false boundaries and illuminates the interconnected systems within the body, between the body and its environment, and even between ourselves and divine power.

It is a story that leaves no room for classical germ theory and the war on infections. No room for women fighting with their own bodies in the form of birth control and medicalized births. No room for ends that ignore the means like pesticides and industrial chemicals. What is in the best interest of the planet, the germs, and our shared ecosystem is in our best interest. And in this way, we are all cells in a larger organism. Different, with different purposes and gifts, but each necessary.

Integration is the mandate.

Us vs Them: Stop the turfwar, the labeling, the blaming, the us vs them, good vs bad. It must stop because this thinking, this energetic orientation only maintains the problem as it exists. Eisenstein says:

“Ask yourself, if you think that the wealthy, the powerful, the Republicans, the Democrats, the big game hunters, the meat industry executives, the frackers, or any other subset of humanity is evil (or shameful, revolting, disgusting, etc.): Would you be willing to give up that belief if it would make you a more effective agent of change? Are you willing to take a look at how much of your belief system is a giant game of upholding a positive image?”


He is interrogating the reader to expose some hidden agendas in the righteous activist. He’s asking whether we can be less Cartesian in our ways, less dualist if we really want change. But is that sufficient? To just stop putting down our opponents?

We have the tools we need, already: If we are to accept that more of what we have already been up to – rushing through life, using technology for quick fixes, obsessing over money, warring, fighting, and angsting – is unlikely to fix the problems we perceive, then we need a new approach.

This approach will come from the wisdom of the ancients. From a people we have been conditioned to perceive as backwards, primitive, and miserable, but who undoubtedly touched something magical in their lives that we can barely even imagine. Indigenous people, all now but extinguished, experienced a richness that we sense we lack access to.

Now what?

While there is certainly no manual, no set of instructions, and no should and shouldn’ts, here are some points of guidance:

Fight for not against – while this is a transition, I plan to uphold, celebrate, and embrace the beauty of a life lived in the spirit of connection and purpose. I care, deeply, about all of the issues that I have cared about before. It’s just that I have grown the power of my intuition, my softness, my divine femininity. My suffering is witnessed by my higher consciousness and it is integrated, not resisted. I live without the stress I used to call a companion. And I’m making space for things I never had time for – including being quiet and still.

Hold space – Be the change you want to see in the world, right? As you are waking up to the Truth, simply work to be more you. By living your truth, you hold space for others to live theirs. This butterfly effect is referred to as “morphic resonance” and describes the effect of your way of being on those around you and the world at large. Your energy affects those around you as evidenced by own personal electromagnetic fields. Your decisions matter.

You don’t need to be right – What comes with the agenda of holding space is a relinquishing of the need to be right. I don’t need to be right anymore. I simply don’t care whether others agree, judge, or even rage against my perspectives. I understand that everyone’s journey is different, and that their behavior is a reflection of their lived experience and their relationship to themselves. Being right doesn’t do anything for me other than enforce a divisive narrative. In fact, paying mindful attention to the strong defensive reactions that arise in us helps us to know when a wound is being exposed. Awareness is sometimes the best healing.

Use logic and reason sparingly – I now understand that science and data only ever reflect our beliefs. They don’t create beliefs. I won’t convince anyone who is clinging to the Story of Separation that tens of thousands of scientific references undermine the safety and efficacy of pharmaceuticals and vaccines as they are sold to the populace. You have to sit quietly with yourself and feel for your truth. Choose what Story will be yours.

Feel into yourself – Choose what Story you believe in. What feels true to you? Are you, as Alan Watts would say, an “accidental microorganism infesting a minute globular rock that revolves about an unimportant star on the outer fringe of one of the minor galaxies” seeking dominion over nature, over the bad guys, and over our malfunctioning and faulty body parts?

Or are you a being, with unique gifts, here to uplift the experience of others through your own connectedness to the spirit within and around you in a web of conscious, intelligent, and purposeful energy?

Wahe guru – My favorite Kundalini mantra, it means the ecstasy of truth. Feel the wonder of it all. Check out the pattern in a pine cone, marvel at the complexity of your hearing mechanism, feel your heart swell when you watch a bird feed her chirping nest of babies (you may have to leave Manhattan to do this). Connect to the wonder that exists, because this connection helps diminish the story of terror, pain, and isolation, every time you feel it.

I understand now, that I have a choice – a choice to put my energy toward that more beautiful world I do believe in, or to seek to feed my wounds and my ego by dwelling in the misery of how far off the golden brick road we have wandered. Both in my office with patients, in my teaching and writing, and with my daughters, I hope to offer an experience of the Truth. And a glimpse of what we all know is still possible.

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About Dr. Kelly Brogan

KELLY BROGAN, MD, is a holistic psychiatrist, author of the New York Times Bestselling book, A Mind of Your OwnOwn Your Self, the children’s book, A Time For Rain, and co-editor of the landmark textbook Integrative Therapies for Depression. She is the founder of the online healing program Vital Mind Reset, and the membership community, Vital Life Project. She completed her psychiatric training and fellowship at NYU Medical Center after graduating from Cornell University Medical College, and has a B.S. from M.I.T. in Systems Neuroscience. She is specialized in a root-cause resolution approach to psychiatric syndromes and symptoms. Learn More