I don’t know about all of you, but since the election I feel like my breathing has been so shallow. Whether you are on the right or the left, I think we can all agree that this election has brought forth a lot of emotions: fear, anger, sadness, resentment, elation. It feels like America is on a really rickety roller coaster that could fly off the track at any moment. And while we are being promised that America will be “great again,” I’m not really sure America was ever all that great to begin with. I think it’s always evolving and changing and it’s never going to be perfect. It certainly hasn’t been perfect yet. In many ways, America is like a toddler- amazing, courageous, and so loveable, but it is also prone to unreasonable temper tantrums, petulant sulking, and don’t even get me started about potty training.
To me, America feels stuck. We can’t get out of this two party political system. We can’t seem to move beyond our status quo. We argue endlessly. While I’m here in my fairly comforting Vermont bubble, even we are not immune to the bigotry, racism and sexism coursing through our country. We live in a democracy and that allows people to vote for whomever they choose and I am grateful for that. This election, however, has evoked such hatred and anger my heart is literally aching. Yet, my tears haven’t fallen. My palpable fear for my black, gay, immigrant and other vulnerable friends paralyses me and I don’t know where to begin to help.
Sometimes I think I could have this terminal illness because I am too sensitive for the hatred in the world.
Other times I think, “well, I certainly can’t die, because the world needs my love.”
Mostly, though, I think about how I can help love win. Love is not defined or portioned out by Hillary or Donald or even Bernie. To me, love winning looks like equality, like peace, like fucking logic. Love looks like inclusion and safety and fearlessness. I am not particularly religious, but I do believe the Bible got it right in Corinthians 13:4-7 when it reads: Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
I get that it feels impossible to access the simplicity of love when we are talking life or death. I deal with this conflict on the daily, believe me. When your livelihood and well-being are being violently threatened. When your actual life is on the line. I really do get that. I understand if you need to be angry or sad, I do. However, at some point, we are going to have to figure out how to move forward. I feel desperate to do something to show that I am not on the side of racism and sexism and hatred, but I can’t figure out what to do. My words seem inadequate and my actions feel misdirected.
I really like what Obama had to say to his daughters about this topic during an interview published in the the November 28th, 2016 edition of The New Yorker:
“Societies and cultures are really complicated… This is not mathematics; this is biology and chemistry. These are living organisms, and it’s messy. And your job as a citizen and as a decent human being is to constantly affirm and lift up and fight for treating people with kindness and respect and understanding. And you should anticipate that at any given moment there’s going to be flare-ups of bigotry that you may have to confront, or may be inside you and you have to vanquish. And it doesn’t stop… You don’t get into a fetal position about it. You don’t start worrying about apocalypse. You say, O.K., where are the places where I can push to keep it moving forward.”
Personally, I have an overwhelming need to get grounded before I figure out what I can do to help move our country forward. I want to respond in a way that is both from my head and my heart. That’s why I’ve decided to do something I’ve never done on this blog before! A challenge! Do you think you are you ready?
Here’s the scoop: Throughout my breast cancer diagnosis, I have been doing some one–on–one yoga and meditation practice. My teacher, Jessica, and I have been working on meditation a lot. She had me sit still and in a comfortable position and breath. She told me to visualize the breath coming in through my nose, down my body and curling around my heart, then exiting the same path it came in. It’s quick and you don’t need to lengthen your breath or anything. Meditation is not easy but I think I could benefit a lot from the stillness of it all. Regular meditation practice changes the way your brain works and calms the reactivity that is ordinarily triggered in high stress situations. Meditation is grounding and centering and puts us in a stable position to RESPOND instead of REACT. I want to learn to respond thoughtfully to the wrongs I see in the world.
My challenge is simple. 10 days. 5-10 minutes of meditation every day.
Here’s how it will work: Let me know if you want to sign up to be a part of my meditation challenge. If you do, I’ll add you to a secret Facebook group where you can find strategies on how to prepare for your meditation challenge. Every day during the challenge, I will post a 5-10 minute guided meditation video. You can choose to use the guided meditation video or you can do your own form of mediation. Throughout the 10 days, I will post tips, articles, and blog posts about mediation. I’m a beginning meditator too, so we can learn this together. You just need to be willing to spend 5-10 minutes per day alone in a quiet area of your home/office/life where you can meditate. It’s as simple as that.
The challenge will take place from December 6th- December 16th, and is meant to trigger a positive change in your life. I’m hopeful that you will join me and can find some value in adding meditation as a daily practice in your life. I also hope you’ll join me because there will be some AMAZING giveaways from local artists to help enhance your mindfulness and keep pushing you forward! More details on that coming soon.
Finally, make sure you are following my blog by heading to www.maggiesbrightside.org and scanning down the right side of the page until you see the button that says “follow” (then click it). This way, you can receive emails about giveaways and other tips about the challenge.
This election has left me feeling confused and conflicted. I want to hold some positivity and joy, but I know that our country has some serious work to do. I want to be a part of moving the country forward, but in order to do so, I have to be as centered and grounded as I can. I am ready to get started. Will you join me?