This election season has been anxiety-inducing for all of us—regardless of political allegiances. In fact, according to a recent Harris Poll, 52% of American adults are coping with high levels of stress brought on by the election. To cope with these uncharacteristically high levels of stress this November 8, I talked to spiritual teacher and best-selling author Dr. Deepak Chopra about his advice and tips to keep calm during and after going to the polls. I also solicit his perspective on what the dynamics during this turbulent election season tell us about the state of our country, politics and consciousness—and the opportunity he sees post-election for reflection and healing our divides.
Hopefully after the election, we can all work to restore inner and outer balance, unify around our commonalities rather than our differences, spread love rather than hate and, as Deepak suggests, put our awareness into creating the world we want ourselves and our children to live in.
Marianne Schnall: This has been reported to be one of the most stressful elections of our lifetime. Why do you think this election has been particularly stressful and what evidence of that have you noticed?
Deepak Chopra: While it is important to be informed, there has also been an overload of melodrama in the media that I think has contributed greatly to stress levels. At this point in the election, it is time to detach from the news and make the choice you know you need to make.
MS: What advice or tips can you offer to help people cope with these uncharacteristically high levels of stress as we head towards election day?
DC: Go with your conscience. Have a vision for what you want America to be now and in the future. Beyond that, do not subject yourself to media overload. Focus instead on activities that will help you reduce stress, such as meditation and yoga, whether it be by taking a class or practicing on your own. I offer a number of guided meditations online through Jiyo, which also offers guided yoga practices with other leading experts as well.
MS: Has the election been causing you stress? What have you personally been doing?
DC: At stressful times like these, it is all the more important to make sure you are addressing all dimensions of your health and wellness. Things like making sure to get a good night’s sleep, taking at least a few minutes every day to quiet the mind, exercising each day, and eating mindfully are all steps that I take to maintain balance.
MS: On the day itself, as we all go out to vote and then have to await the results which we may not know until the evening, do you have any advice for getting through that specific day?
DC: On Election Day, I suggest everyone take a few minutes to put your awareness in your heart and ask yourself what kind of world you want to live in, and what kind of world you want your children to live in. Then, do what needs to be done and leave the results to the unknown. You have to accept that you cannot control the collective consciousness, only your part in it. There is no such thing as certainty in life, and we should remember this always—during election season and beyond.
MS: What does this dysfunction in politics and in other current affairs of the world say about our state of consciousness?
DC: The current political dysfunction has brought out our collective shadow. The shadow is that part of every human being that they are embarrassed about. It's your dark side, which if ignored says “You are ignoring me; I will soon embarrass you.” Trump gave permission to everyone to speak without being “politically correct.” As a result we see what's really in our collective psyche—hidden racism, bigotry, prejudice, ethnocentrism, hatred, fear, hostility, shame, guilt, and poor self-esteem. Our subconscious is in fear of joining the global multiculturalism that is emerging. When unveiled, America's face looks quite ugly.
MS: This election has been so divisive - how do we heal this division after November 8th?
DC: See any ugliness from this election for what it is – a confrontation with the shadow. Instead of demonizing, acknowledge that the shadow is in everyone and always has been. At the same time, realize that the shadow never wins in the end. Find every opening to reinforce the value of returning to right and reason in your own life.
For more information on Deepak Chopra and his work, visit www.deepakchopra.com.
Marianne Schnall is a widely published writer and interviewer whose Mwritings and interviews have appeared in a variety of media outlets including O, The Oprah Magazine, Marie Claire, CNN.com, AOL Build, the Women’s Media Center and The Huffington Post. She is also the co-founder and executive director of the women’s website and non-profit organization Feminist.com, as well as the co-founder of the environmental site EcoMall.com. She is the author of Daring to Be Ourselves: Influential Women Share Insights on Courage, Happiness and Finding Your Own Voice and What Will it Take to Make a Woman President? Conversations About Women, Leadership, and Power. You can visit her website at www.marianneschnall.com.