Since the election of Donald Trump, people across the country have been full of emotion. Some celebrate while others mourn. Some lash out while others recoil. The election results have left few people unmoved. Many people, furthermore, can articulate precisely why their response is justified. Regardless of people's positions, reactions, or justifications, the practice of mindfulness has much to teach at this time.
Mindfulness is an ongoing practice of paying attention to what is, without judgment, without presumption, and as much as possible, without filters. This radical attentiveness inevitably calls people out of routine habits of thought and action. It calls people out of reactivity and into focused presence. It calls people into a way of participating in life from moment to moment that persistently opens hearts and minds to clarity.
Without a practice of mindfulness (or other discipline of attentiveness), we tend to feed on the anxiety of those whose voices are loudest, regardless of which direction that anxiety happens to be pointing. When this happens, we find ourselves with a shallow breath, quick to anger, and slow to listen. Perceived division between beings grows larger, and the authentic connection at the heart of all things becomes less apparent; disintegration compounds, and suffering increases. The reactive brain stem (which contains the fight, flight, or freeze instinct) takes precedence over the creative frontal lobes.
But practicing mindfulness empowers us to respond creatively to our circumstances. In the sacred pause between stimulus and response, we begin to perceive choices about how we relate to others within this moment. Mindfulness slows the breathing, opens the ears, and creates space for something new.
There is much that can be thought, spoken, and accomplished for the good of all in the wake of this election; now is a time when such creative participation is deeply needed. Practicing mindfulness clarifies what is needed at this time. May you recenter within this moment in order to think, speak, and act with clarity and integrity. May your presence build a deep awareness of our global interconnections. May your attentiveness help others step out of anxiety and into freedom.