by Mollie McDonald, CSOY Alumna
There are myriad reasons why one might be outraged and confused over our new president. Many of us believed he'd never have a chance and that his campaign was a joke. But it was during his campaign that I realized he actually had a following. A following of Americans who saw him as fit to lead this country. I thought to myself, well, all of my friends are like-minded and intelligent and could never vote for someone so unfit for office. WRONG (said in Donald Trump voice).
"I was so devastated that someone so close to me had done something I found to be so….IGNORANT."
And not only did I have friends who voted for him, MY BOYFRIEND DID. The person I live with and love and spend most of my time with. Not only did he vote for him, but he didn't tell me what he'd done until after he mailed his ballot in. This resulted in a month long meltdown and arguments consisting of “How could you?!” and “You're part of the problem!!” and every other variation of the same. I was so devastated that someone so close to me had done something I found to be so….IGNORANT. I was so angry at him that there were days I'd come home from work and couldn't even look at him. How could I be expected to just go on like this? Feeling like there's a dark cloud following us around for at least the next four years? I knew something had to change and one day it hit me. I simply could not continue to sustain that level of anger with my boyfriend or anyone else who voted for him and I could not continue to let Trump ruin my everyday or send me into a dizzying frenzy of hot boiling emotion at the sight of my beloved. As a yoga teacher and practitioner, I know the effects of stress and such intense negativity are simply not something I want to live with and propagate for the next four years.
I ran across an article where the Dalai Lama shared his thoughts on the election. He said “This is life, there are the good things and the bad things. Our minds should maintain better calmness.” My mindfulness practice had practically vanished after the election. I was 100% reactive and had no interest in even listening to arguments made from the other side or opinions differing from my own. My relationship was on thin ice and we spent many evenings arguing about policy and coming to the realization that we would just never agree on some things. Ok, so how do I make peace with this? How do I make peace with something that angers me which I cannot change? I took the Dalai Lama's simple and wise words of wisdom and sat with them. I made the decision to work in earnest on calming my mind and decreasing my reactivity while simultaneously increasing my peace of mind. I had to sit. I had to up the ante on my meditation and asana game knowing that I needed a double dose of the medicine to get my mind right. So I committed. I committed to a regular routine of meditation followed by journaling in the morning and a five-day a week asana practice.
Why sit? Why practice asana? I think first and foremost to manage stress and reactivity. Through meditation, you develop the ability to observe the chatter which gives you the opportunity to either feed it or not and also gives space to the calmer side of your mind. When you begin to meditate, whether you are sitting alone for the first time or have been doing it for years, you are making the powerful decision to gain some distance from your thoughts and emotions by clearly noticing and witnessing whatever it is that prevents you from being happy, present or productive. You will continue to evolve and grow in meditation by developing an unshakeable center that keeps your grounded in all sorts of different life situations.
The effects of doing this and focusing on my self-work (especially during this tumultuous time) have not gone unnoticed. I am able to scroll through Facebook without compulsively clicking on the emotional language written by left or right wing media. I am able to accept the decision of others who voted for him, even though I disagree. I have come to accept the fact that my boyfriend is a Trump supporter and I accept the fact that he is our president. I do not agree with many things he has done in office but I must continue to hold on to hope that we will grow stronger together. Meditation is what I credit for allowing me to remember that there is more to life than the angry headlines blaring through the car speakers or viral videos. I have even come to see some benefit to this presidency - it has catalyzed many of us who may have been relaxing back in apathy and disbelief.
If you too don’t want to live in anger or fear any longer, I encourage you to have a sit. As often as possible and take an inside look at what is going on in detail. Focus on what is most important to you. The next four years are sure to be a bumpy ride and we don’t have to sit aside and take the punches without fighting back but we do have to find some internal peace so that our thoughts, words and actions are intentional, effective and beneficial. After all, do you really want the President to have such power over your mental health and emotions? I certainly do not. There are numerous approaches one could take to cope with the next four years but I choose to remain HEAVILY MEDITATED.