“War and peace begin in the hearts of individuals. Strangely enough, even though all beings would like to live in peace, our method of obtaining peace over generations seems not to be very effective: we seek peace and happiness by going to war.”
I’m going home for Christmas, always a great opportunity to practice loving kindness and mindfulness.
My folks are kind, generous, church-going people whom I love deeply and feel deeply loved by. And still, post election, I feel like I am on the edge of a crater and they are on the other side. Every time I hear about the some incredulous thing President-elect Trump has done — which let’s face it, is pretty much every day — I feel a very young part of me surge in anger towards the only place I feel I have any power…my parents (How could you…?), hurt and confusion bubbling up. Arguments in my head become heated and then I gently and mindfully bring myself back to my breath and the present. Thank you, meditation. Thank you, practice.
I choose the magical, mystical, timeless power of love. I choose connection. I choose to look for the beauty. And with that, I have spent the last 20 minutes on FaceTime with my nieces who are eight and four and very much looking forward to our arrival Sunday morning, which my mother has reported will feel like -20 degrees. Cozy time!
The theme that has been coming up for me since this year’s presidential election, connects beautifully — What is right action?
What do I do with this overwhelming feeling of disheartened powerlessness that washes over me when I watch the news or read about our current state of global financial, racial, ecological mess? We are a fucking mess. And we don’t know what to do about it. And the we I am talking about are not divided by color or gender or political party. The we is our collective humanity. We are waiting for someone to lead us out of this mess. We, each one of us, is that someone.
What is right action at a time like this? One of the major voices of ego/conditioning is “there’s something I gotta do.” So I practice not doing. No place to get to. Nothing to fix. I practice peace by going inside. Getting curious. Exploring my own habits of fear, of going to war, both outside and inside myself.
This might be the most important thing I want to say here, so I’m going to say it again:
I explore my own habits of fear and going to war.
Not what that guy over there is doing. I have no control over that.
I’ve also been dabbling in the Abraham-Hicks world of manifesting. We are the creators of our lives. We have created the lives we are living. We create with the focus of our attention. Are we always complaining about what we don’t have or do we look for the beauty?
Abraham-Hicks says go general. Know what you want to create (peace, connection, love, care for each other and our mother earth) and then look for the beauty. While you are looking for the beauty, clues will come to you about how to create more love, connection, peace and care, or whatever it is you want to create.
Mindfulness also suggests we look for the beauty (and when we meet ourselves exactly where we are, beauty can exist even in pain, sadness, rage).
You wanna know what I do know? That cleaning my house is an act of self-care. When I do, it feels freaking amazing.
That having a voice and using it, not to influence or change or win over, but simply as an expression of who I am, is energizing and empowering. I matter.
That who I am is always changing. What I say, think, feel today, may be different tomorrow. I am open to that. Life is always changing. My cells continually renewing. I don’t need to do to force change; I only need show up and pay attention. Acknowledge and remember. I can grasp onto my old stories and sometimes I do. Even the ones that cause me to suffer. I love them. They are quite comfortable, safe even. But when I do, I am living in the past. Because I am no longer living in the potential of the me who is alive in this moment. Who has thousands of life-changing experiences every day, from the moment I open my eyes and say, “Yes, thank you,” or “FUCK! I don’t wanna get out of bed,” to my first glimpse of the morning sky pink and singing with breathtaking glory — good morning! It never fails to soften me and remind me to breathe.
I think I know what’s going to happen next, and I’m pretty much never right. Maybe that’s why I always feel wrong, not because of some deep conditioned belief, but because I live my life as if I know, and life is continually showing me that I don’t. It quietly whispers to me, “be here now,” and is endlessly forgiving when I am not. Providing opportunity after opportunity after opportunity to tune in.
What I do know is it’s the small things. The simple things that make a difference.
So what to do?
Turn off the news? Sure. I’ve certainly done that. But I don’t want to bury my head, so I try to listen for the facts, and turn it off when the stories turn to supposing what might happen next. Nobody knows what’s going to happen next. I think that’s been proven. News = fear.
How about allowing and making space for the discomfort, the sadness, the outrage? What happens when I embrace these feelings instead of trying to get rid of them (by taking some kind of action)?
That’s my choice. To deepen my meditation practice. To trust that in stillness and allowing and embracing, I will be guided to my next action. When I get still, I feel my heart ache. I don’t know how long this ache will last. Along with the ache though is a raw beauty. A multi-orgasmic relief made up of the sweetest moments, of family and friends and community. The sun rising and setting. The aliveness I feel when I pay attention to the air as it touches my skin. A morning lavender chai brought to me by my sweetie, deep conversations with my kids, a clean bathroom.
Stillness brought me to my first action outside myself, a week after the U.S. election: I called my mom.
My parents are Republicans and Trump voters. I am neither. My teenage sons are biracial. After what was for us a disappointing and highly emotional election, we found comfort in our community. In living in California. Neither of these included my family of origin, and that was breaking my heart. Finally, after my 17-year-old son told me he had mixed feelings about spending Christmas back in the Midwest, I knew a dialogue had to be opened. A dialogue. Not a debate. No winners or losers. No trying to convince or convert. No blame.
It was an amazing phone call with my mom. She is an amazing woman. And while we continue to feel different about many things, the divide I was feeling melted away. We were able to connect with an understanding of best intentions and innate goodness.
I could hear in her voice how painful it was for her (an uneducated, white woman) to be called deplorable, a term Hillary Clinton used for Trump supporters. A feeling that I suspect runs deep in our current culture of haves and have nots. Educated and uneducated. My mom made sure I was one of the educated ones. My quiet, reserved mama, who when one of my high school teachers told her not to bother sending me to college (I hadn’t the discipline for such endeavors in her opinion) went in and gave that woman a piece of her mind. She sent me to college so that I could have an opportunity that she did not have. I don’t think Hillary was talking about her, but that doesn’t really matter. It’s what my mother felt.
My mama was able to hear me when I pointed out that she, a white woman of some financial privilege, could not begin to understand how my children, who identify strongly with their black roots, are filled with incredulous anger following the election.
This conversation is not the end of it. It’s only the beginning. The beginning of a conversation we could have forever glossed over while it quietly kept us apart. Yep, this Christmas I am being gifted a wonderful opportunity. It might get messy. It might not. Probably it will be nothing like the worst case scenario stories dancing about in my head.
What to do when you just don’t know.
Get quiet and listen.
We all have biases. Let’s start there. Not with the biases of others, but with the biases that we hold (of the others). This is what we can do now. It’s one place we can start.
Get clear: what is it you desire? What will you create? How do you want to feel?
I’m thinking about a worldwide dance party. Coming together in the name of love, connection, peace and caring, we could raise our vibration by dancing our asses off. Together.
Look for the beauty.
Life is pulsing with beauty and the more we touch our own vulnerability and the fragility of our humanness, the more vibrant and delicious it becomes.
This is my practice edge right now.
Comment, share, open a dialogue. What do you do when you just don’t know? Any ideas on throwing a massive dance party?
P.S. If I’ve given the impression that this will be easy, this work of mindfulness and radical compassionate acceptance, I didn’t mean to mislead you. This is the work of warriors. It takes courage and resilience and daily practice. Just now, walking home from the drugstore across the street from my duplex (for laundry detergent), I found myself mentally posing a sarcastic question to my parents, “So, are you super excited about big oil running the country?” Yep, it’s a practice.