People have been asking, how can my practice support me in this time of political and social unrest? When sitting with my breath just amplifies my sadness and sense of helplessness, what should I do? Firstly, I’d suggest broadening our definition of “practice” to encompass the process of tapping in to what we need in any given moment and then acting to give that to ourselves. Here are some suggestions:
Take a breath
The simple act of breathing in slowly and deeply and breathing out slowly and deliberately contributes to vagal tone, helping to calm down the sympathetic nervous system. Just a few deep breaths can help to move you toward more clarity and less agitation.
Nurture yourself spiritually
Go to nature, church, synagogue, whatever place nurtures you spiritually and give yourself over to that which is larger than all of us.
Your difficult feelings are a part of you – access your courage to keep them company. They give you information about who you are and what is important to you. They are part of what makes you up, a result of your core values and spiritual direction. Don’t exile them; tend to them in the way you’d tend to a child with the flu – not to make them go away, but simply to keep them tender company.
Reach out to others who are also having a difficult time. You are not alone.
Take a break from media, especially that which whips up strong emotions and sends you into flight, flight or freeze. There are other things to watch and read. We’re not abandoning our principles just because we choose to consume something different for a while.
Walk, run, stretch, swim, hike, cycle – whatever feels good for your body. Get the blood pumping and those exercise chemicals streaming into your system.
We need to continuously balance our opening and our closing. We need sleep to balance our days of stress. Determine to get as much sleep as you really need (not just as much as you think you can get away with).
Give yourself nourishing food, and allow yourself to have a “crash” night every now and then when your body is crying out for junk. Junk food is OK every now and then, especially if it addresses that little voice inside that says “I just don’t want to be told no right now!”
Be open to the positive
There are many organizations out there offering words of wisdom and avenues of action in our community. Check out YES! magazine for one great example.
Don’t forget to laugh
Comedians are people who have been through the same difficult stuff as any of us, and they find a way to make our experience something to laugh at, even if it’s just for a moment. Check out this video by The Holderness Family for a lighter approach to Thanksgiving conversation in these political times.
If you’d like to practice some meditation practices with a teacher and a group, join us online for a HeartWorks 3-hour mini self-compassion retreat. For support in your practice, check out the HeartWorks courses online. I hope to see you there.