Since January 20th, I have been to three political demonstrations: the Women’s March on Washington, a protest in front of the White House against our new president’s executive order to ban refugees from entering the country, and a protest at Dulles International Airport for the same cause.
I have called my elected officials and donated money to groups supporting principles I value. I have written about how to take mindful political action, including the importance of keeping a sustainable pace for what will be a marathon, not a sprint.
After I squawked (OK, swore out loud) at yet another alarming news development coming out of the White House this week, my son said, “You’re not practicing what you write about in your blog.”
Fortunately I have a wide range of mindfulness teachers to call upon for guidance here, who remind me that mindfulness isn’t about burying our emotions. Emotions are part of the human experience. Rather than resisting or sweeping emotions under the rug, mindfulness teaches us how to relate more skillfully to emotional triggers. We reframe the experience from identifying with the emotion to observing it with curiosity. We shift from “I am angry” to “I feel anger.” Doing so creates space to take considered, intentional action.
Having been on a pretty even emotional keel for the past several years, since Inauguration Day on January 20 I have experienced a roller coaster of emotions: outrage, embarrassment, sadness, fear, heaviness in my heart and body, and uncertainty about how much damage can be done within our system of checks and balances. And yes, I swear from time to time. I take comfort in knowing that even the Dalai Lama loses his temper occasionally (I heard him say so myself).
I have stayed present with these emotions, allowing them to move through my body, honoring their role in trying to protect me. I allow emotional responses to have their brief moment in the spotlight, but I don’t let them paralyze me.
The emotions pass through. I readjust, realign. I remind myself that this is the United States of America. How ironic that this dark period of our history, this breathtakingly unqualified president, give rise to the strongest patriotism I have ever felt.
Our nation’s strength is in our compassionate spirit, our open and welcoming hearts, our empathy. That spirit will not be broken. Our light will outshine and outlast this chapter. Keep speaking up, my friends!
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