I talked with my dad this evening who expressed concern for how our extended family might interact together over the holidays. I was horrified that it could even be conceivable that this election could divide us in this way. If our family can’t come together after this then the world is doomed. I simply can’t stand for it and hung up wondering what I can do, committed to participating in some kind of healing.
In the aftermath of our 2016 election I find myself still searching for my seat in the room. How do I want to show up? What do I stand for? How do I want to act? What is my responsibility?
I found a simple 5 step plan that makes some real sense to me, a solid starting point, a foundation for us to come back together and get to work on healing what divides us:
Pema Chödrön famously introduced many of us to the notion of shenpa, which she defines as biting the hook.
When someone leaves us, we may bite the hook of grasping. When something unfair happens, we may bite the hook of rage. When we are disappointed, we may bite the hook of numbness. What would it look like to not bite the hook? What is non-shenpa?
If you ever had an interest in exploring this answer, now would be a great time to begin. A giant hook with a massive comb-over has just been lowered from bizarro-world. I don’t mean to make light or demean anyone for their political views, but, let’s face it, we have elected an inexperienced, vengeful person to office. Now what? Here are a few suggestions.
1. Remind yourself that generosity is a gesture of power.
Rather than scanning the environment for confirmation or denial of your worst fears, scan it for someone who could use a kind word or glance. It can be that simple. Whether we are swinging at the hook-end of the grasping, aggression, or numbness line, there is one sure way off. It is to help someone else who may also be swinging. This is a really good thing to do for others, but mainly it is good for yourself. When we are afraid, we feel powerless. But generosity is a gesture of power.
2. Remember that nothing is ever, ever as good as you hope or as bad as you fear.
One day at a time. One. Day. And beyond this, one thought, one moment, one heartbeat. This, by the way, is why we practice meditation which is not a life-hack to become more awesome. Rather, it teaches you how to meet your experience on the spot, without embellishment, fully and courageously. Meditation is not actually (or solely) a stress-reduction technique. It is a path of fierce warriorship. Please practice if you can.
3. Reestablish dominion over your world.
A friend of mine sent out an email this morning that suggested we each elect ourselves president. Your life–your home, family, friends, workplace, body, abilities–are your kingdom. You have full rulership here. What can you do for your world? What or who needs tending? What needs to be added or eliminated? This is a time to look squarely at the piece of land that you are responsible for. Because all bets are off, we could feel encouraged to focus on what is really essential. Most important, we could focus on removing every obstacle that stands between us and doing our true work in the world. We need you to own your brilliance, stop pulling punches, and offer your gift.
4. Express your love for your brothers and sisters.
On one level, this means recognizing the vast tribe that feels as you may right now — absolutely certain that there is no place for hatred, racism, misogyny, anti-Semitism, homophobia, or religious intolerance in America or anywhere. Reach out to each other. Affirm your friendship. But please don’t stop there. You could also recognize the vast tribe that does not feel as you do right now, your countrymen and women. I’m not suggesting that we get all snuggly with hate-mongers, but to acknowledge that we are all Americans. This is our country. People fought very hard to give it to us and to protect it. If we seek to excise from our minds and hearts 50% of our brothers and sisters, we add innumerable steps to the path out.
5. Finally, this: feel what you feel.
As best you can, don’t pretend you aren’t scared, sad, angry, and shocked. No problem. What is a problem is to avoid what you feel and then, as humans tend to, work it out on someone else by vilifying them. This is very dangerous. We stand at the intersection of tolerance and hatred as I type this. I’m not saying there aren’t terrible people who shouldn’t be held accountable for the terrible things they have done. But biting the hook of grasping, aggression, or numbness prevents us from seeing clearly the best course of action to take our country back.
~Don’t Bite the Hook:
Five things to remember post-election
by Susan Piver| November 12, 2016.