Post-election Stress

The dharma, and mindfulness practice, offer us the best way to cope with the emotional firestorm that has followed the November 2016 elections.  Turbulent passions can make it hard to find wise speech and action that will be truly helpful.   When we take time to be with our inner experience and breathe through troubled feelings, we can regain a sense of well-being and re-establish the paramount intention of good will.

Mindfully following the Eightfold Path can bring relief to the stress of all changes, including political ones.  Many people around the world are feeling tremendous uncertainty.  Even taking a wait-and-watch approach to the future is hardly soothing to the nerves.

The accepting awareness that we cultivate in mindfulness meditation allows in whatever arises: things, events and our reactions to them.  As long as we hold open both our minds and hearts, our distress will pass away more easily than if we resist these changes.  It must always be said that this does not mean acquiescence to injustice.  It is just a mental and emotional willingness to deal with what’s true now.  We have a tremendous advantage in coping with change when we’re not unbalanced by it.

We are so much braver than we may give ourselves credit for.  We all allow ourselves to love beings that can die, opening the gate to grief.  We do this because it’s the nature of life, to get on with what’s in front of us now.  Fearing what may come or clinging to what’s past wastes our emotional energy and saps our effectiveness.  Instead we could be celebrating the courage that lets us engage with our experience.  Being present for it allows our distress to fade enough that we can get on with living. 

My recent dharma talks have focused on how to live fully in the kaleidoscope of difficult changes.  For many of us, the first step is fostering emotional balance.   Just sitting, or lying down, or walking with the intention of meditating is a blessing we can give ourselves.  Even if the mind is turbulent, it helps.  Sitting with a troubled mind is like visiting someone who’s in distress.  It helps. 

Striving to achieve serenity in one session may be counterproductive.  Instead, you can cultivate the Brahmaviharas, wishing lovingkindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity to yourself and all beings.  Cultivate a spirit of thankfulness for all that is good in your life.  Whenever mindfulness occurs, celebrate it.  Take refuge in the company of sangha and other supportive people.  Then, when the mind and heart are steadied, go forth and act as wisely and effectively as you can.

This entry was posted in Mindful Living. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *