This presidential election cycle has been a very INTERESTING time. Not necessarily in a positive way, but it definitely has not been a ho-hum run of the mill election. Tensions are stoked on both sides, the world in general seems to be spinning into chaos, and as a country we are more polarized than I’ve ever experienced. The dualistic world we live in seems magnified exponentially these days.
And yet crisis always has the opportunity for growth. I have learned that politics in general, and an election year in particular, is a great opportunity for me to practice reflecting on how well I “walk the talk” regarding my desire to live from a unitive perspective, and to observe compassionately the many, many ways I fall short of that.
Politics as spiritual practice. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton as my spiritual teachers. Who’d have ever guessed? I don’t think I’d ever willingly sign up for that workshop! But every day life offers itself as the most fruitful spiritual practice. Our adversaries have much more to teach us than our friends.
So what better way to put our ideals to the test than this election?
I’d like to invite you to join me in slowing down a bit in your response to the media frenzy around the election and the challenges that our world is currently facing. Regardless of what country you live in, consider incorporating some or all of these practices in your daily life:
- Meditate and/or pray before you take in the first news story of the day. Ground yourself in your spiritual center and feel your positive intention to live the day aligned with truth and love.
- Notice if the conflictual nature of the news stories make you feel alive and energized. Is there a kind of distorted pleasure in the conflict? If so, you might want to turn the TV/computer off and take a walk. Observe what it is like to consciously choose to detach from this negative pleasure.
- Do you find yourself debating or arguing with others who hold different beliefs? Do you detach and withdraw, while remaining steeped in judgment? Are you trying to prove yourself “right,” or can you listen to the underlying valid concerns and viewpoints of the other?
- Take time to feel the pain of the world without moving immediately to action. Each time you allow the grief and sadness of the world to move through you, you are releasing something for the whole world. Balance that by noticing the love and joy that is also alive and well in the world today. Can you hold both without negating or minimizing either?
- If you are engaged in political activism, are you engaging in this noble service with an open heart? Are you campaigning for something, or against someone? Are your spiritual and ethical values reflected in your actions?
- Notice if your response to the events of the day relate in some way to your childhood wounding. Can you find a similarity in your reactions to the world that was your childhood family setting, and the world you live in today? Is this pointing to some personal healing that might be calling to you?
We are living in a challenging time, but let us not forget that it is also a time of great opportunity. We each are called in different ways to manifest a more beautiful world that deep down we intuitively know is possible.
I believe we can trust our intuition enough to be willing to respond in a way that supports unity instead of separation. And when we don’t quite live up to that ideal, I believe we can meet ourselves with compassion and acceptance.
I’d like to leave you today with the words from one of Melissa Etheridge’s songs:
“I believe that we are waking up from the spell that those that profit from the fear cast so well And good people of the earth now can tell, there is no us and them.
If not now, when? If not today, then…. What happens tomorrow? What happens tomorrow?
All is love All is choice Everyone and every voice All of life that you see All are possibilities As above, so below To wed the sense into the soul This is truth I believe I believe, I believe.”
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My ‘practice’ around the current political climate is to hold both sides in compassion and reflect on how each one ‘wants’ an outcome. Reflecting on the apparent ‘outcome’ that each wants, I look for possible distortions and negative world views that drive those distortions. I believe we are slowly moving, with great challenge, into a better world, and it is the friction between these polarities that helps us find a more inclusive, middle ground.
I totally agree, Jack. Thanks so much for your wise words!
Very well written Beth! I also love your comment Jack.
Thanks so much, Caroline! I’m so glad you enjoyed it! And I hope you are navigating this political season well….
great post, Beth. Politics as spiritual practice. Trump and Clinton as our teachers. noticing our negative pleasure in all this commotion. may this all be so.
Thanks, Martha! And it’s progress, not perfection! (for me, anyway!)
Here in Canada, there is also a lot in the media about the US election. It is difficult to understand all the forces at work and what we are to learn. The spiritual practices you suggest are really insightful and could be applied to a number of situations in our world. I plan to do just that.
Thanks so much, Beth. I so enjoy reading your posts.
Thanks so much, Jean! We are all connected, and what we do affects everyone, even across national borders. Glad to have you as our northern neighbor!
Wonderful thoughts Beth.