This post was originally published nearly five years ago, on August 17, 2017. So much has changed in those five years, yet the post is relevant to our current situations. As we enter the month of August and turn our focus to the theme of Kindness, we must remember to breathe, resist, and love.
There are three simple and immediate things every person can to do to be healthy and helpful in response to the relentless division, violence, and political rhetoric in America today. Many are complaining of situational high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, and fatigue due to the constant news cycles that reflect a society mired in escalating conflicts over religion, race, gender-identity, immigration, and economic inequality. One day a person’s health care is threatened to be taken away and the next we seem to be on the precipice of nuclear war. Nazi flags, Confederate flags, and Rainbow flags are clashing in the streets.
What is a person to do?
Our breath is powerful medicine.
Take time to stop and breathe when the stress, grief, and reactivity build up. Some people are putting reminders in their phone, on their desk, on their mirrors and refrigerators. Recommit to or learn a meditation practice. For those who pray, starting or ending the day with a prayer is proven to improve a person’s mental and physical health. Exercise forces a person to breathe deeply and has innumerable positive benefits on our bodies and minds. Martin Luther King Jr. said that he used to pray for an hour everyday, except when he was really busy and under stress, then he would pray for two hours. We work and feel better when we are not overwhelmed, afraid, and reactive. Remember to take time to breathe.
Do something to be a force for positive change.
The idea is not to take the weight of changing the world on your shoulders. Find some way, large or small, to contribute to the values and ethics you believe in. Join a march, write a politician once a day or once a week, contribute to the non-profit of your choice. If you are an artist, make art and teach others to make art too. If you are a teacher, talk about ways to take action for positive change with your students. Engage in meaningful activities with your students. Use your skills and resources to push our society in the direction of justice. When we act in alignment with our values, it helps us to be engaged, empowered, and a part of something larger than ourselves. It is important not to let the motivation for these actions be driven by anger, fear, and self-righteousness.
Only love can conquer hate.
It makes an enormous difference if the motivation for our actions is love.
Anger energizes us, but it’s like sugar; the energy is not healthy and leads to a crash and to burnout. Look for ways to turn your anger, fear, and grief into love. Meditation and prayer are techniques that help us transmute destructive emotions and states of mind into love. If the effect of what you’re feeling is depleting your energy you might need to try drumming, dancing, movement, or other practices that build your energy and restore and revive your depleted spirit. Attend a religious service or create a ritual. Keep in mind that love is more than a feeling, it is an action. Make a point of being loving toward others. It is one of the best ways to lift your spirit and infuse the people around you with some positive energy.
Remember that the problems in the world have been around for as long as people have existed and will exist on some level forever. If we wait until there is no more hatred, violence, and division in order to find peace of mind, we will die frustrated and resentful. Our best response is to stay healthy and calm, to do what we can to create change and to add some love to each day.
Love Beyond Belief,
Marlin and Barbara