Note: this post is a (minimally edited) journal entry that I’ve converted into a blog post.
Election results are coming in, and checking my phone was a mistake.
Neither Biden nor Trump have the race cinched, but most of the states that have not yet reported full results lean heavily in Trump’s court. Another race I truly cared about was that for Montana’s Senate seat (that’s where my family lives). The popular but termed-out Governor was running against an incumbent right-winger and lost. It feels soul-crushing, as his opponent represents truly everything I find abhorrent with politics.
My heart rate has quickened, and my breath has become shallow.
I fear for the continuation of my country’s very existence as a “democracy”. So what can I do? It all feels so hopeless.
For starters, I can bring awareness to my breath.
Noticing it’s shallow nature and then consciously choosing to breathe fully and deeply sounds so simple, but it’s truly the most potent tool I have in my toolbox (short of taking a Halcion) to calm me down when anxiety grips my heart.
Then, I can put things into perspective by contemplating what I’m truly grateful for.
I have love, clean water, food, a job, a home, etc. The key to making this practice meaningful rather than a superficial “chore” is to really experience this gratitude from the heart.
Next, I can surrender.
In 12-Step programs they like to say “Let go and let God,” and this captures the essence of surrender perfectly. I cannot control the election results or aftermath. In fact, the only things that I can control are my reactions to them. Will I react from a place of fear? If I’m living on autopilot and don’t manage my breathing or focus on what I have to be grateful for, I’m practically guaranteed to react to the current events from a place of fear. Fear begets more fear, anxiety begets more anxiety. Love begets more love. Surrender to what is (since I can’t control it even if I refuse to surrender), and let the heart do what it yearns to do. It yearns to love.
Finally, I can go about my day.
I will practice my yoga and (most importantly) meditate on what I can do during this national crisis. I will not check the news or Facebook every two minutes. I will periodically check in with myself and see if my breath has become shallow. If it has, I know what to do. And I’ll remember that getting outside in nature always soothes my soul, so I’ll probably take a short walk around the lagoon or just crunch through some leaves during my lunch break.
No matter what happens, I’ll be okay.