In a new study by the APA (American Psychological Association), it was discovered that a considerable number of Americans (52%, to be exact) report that the 2016 election is a very significant or somewhat significant source of stress in their lives. Whoa. That’s a lot of sleepless nights, pits in the stomach, and premature wrinkling going on out there. Maybe you can relate?
No matter where your politics lie, I think we can all agree that these copious levels of unease are doing any of us any good. In fact, stress wreaks some serious havoc on our bodies and can cause a myriad of health problems.
As one individual, let’s be honest, we have a relatively small influence on the outcome of said election. That’s not to say we don’t have some serious issues to be concerned with. And, surely, we should exercise our rights to speak out about them. BUT, it’s also incredibly important to protect our own energy fields and to take care of ourselves. It’s also an opportune time to take a look at the energy we’re putting back into the world. Are we contributing in a way that is supportive and solutions-oriented or are we adding to the negativity and stress?
If you have a mindfulness or meditation practice, there may be no better time to up the dosage to help ease your discomfort levels. And, if you haven’t started one yet - there is no time like the present! Although this election will soon be over (halleluah!), stress will always find a way to make itself known … especially when your self-awareness and self-care are wavering. Mindfulness is the antidote.
A meditation practice helps to keep us balance-minded so that we aren’t so quick to get judgemental. It helps us to get out of our heads and into our hearts. And, maybe, just maybe, we can begin to see another’s point-of-view without feeling like it’s a personal attack. And, when negative emotions do arise (because they will - we’re human!!), the benefits of our meditation practice will show up. Our mind-training allows us to stop becoming so attached to said feelings. Eventually, we start to view these thoughts as “just information” and let them come and go without all the tension and discomfort that tends to set in when we get wrapped up in them.
Anthony Profeta, a former-medical-student-turned-meditation-teacher weighs in on this subject saying, “meditation helps us see what's really going on within our hearts and minds. It allows us to see where we are being judgemental, when we are acting from fear, anger, prejudice, or selfishness, and where we are making assumptions. All of these things inhibit our ability to make wise decisions and can cause stress and anxiety in the body.”
A lot of our electoral stress is born out of our divisiveness and our fears. Anthony goes on to say, “We tend to think, ‘I have nothing in common with that person. I can't reason with a person who believes X,’ and these thoughts are totally motivated by fear or ignorance. Meditation begins to open our eyes and allows us to see things clearly - rather than through eyes blurred by fear and anger. As we deal with our negative emotions, it helps us to cultivate calmness, kindness, and compassion within. These things are of tremendous benefit when conversing with those whose ideas & points of view are different than ours.”
Imagine if we could have peaceful disagreements on policy without becoming so clouded with our own fears and judgements. Imagine if we could see that the other person is you (just viewing the world from a slightly different lens). Oh, what a world it would be.
Regardless of what happens on November 8th, approximately half of the country will likely be very disappointed. For some, the stress levels may go down, but for others, they may continue to rise. The divisiveness that this election cycle has amplified is certainly not going to disappear overnight.
However, we can all do our part to elevate the vibrations being put out into the world. It all starts from within. And, if that sounds a little too woo-woo for you-you, know that you have the power to reduce your own stress and anxiety levels (and as a result of that, the world gets a little less stressful and anxious too).
Ready to feel a little more at ease and high-vibe? Alright! Turn off the news and/or log off Facebook and try these 5 easy steps to cultivating mindfulness & happy thoughts during this crazy times:
- Sit in meditation. And, if this doesn’t mean anything to you: Just find a comfortable seated position with your spine nice & straight. (You can sit on the floor, on a cushion, or in a chair, if this is more comfortable)
- Close your eyes and allow yourself to relax, but still keeping a straight spine. Start to become fully present in your body. Take long, slow, deep breaths - inhaling and exhaling slowly and smoothly.
- Sit and observe. Simply notice the inner-dialogue. No judgement. Keep focusing on your deep breaths. Inhale peace. Exhale anxiety. Inhale love. Exhale judgement. Inhale acceptance. Exhale attachment.
- Begin to imagine that those who disagree with you are human too. (Because they are!) And, that they have their beliefs for a reason. (Because they do!) Now, send them love. Now, envision the political candidate that you don’t like. Dig real deep and send them love too. You can do it. Yes you can! Dig a little deeper. Trust me on this one. They are human too. Send them love.
- Now, enjoy the sensation as you feel your body and mind start to relax and the stress begin to melt. Continue breathing, loving, and letting go.
We’re not going to create world peace overnight, but this is a start. You can, at least, create a little peace in your own world.
Be sure to repeat often. Start with just a few minutes, if you’re a beginning. Work your way up to 30 minutes per session. And, remember these wise words from Adi Da Samraj, “Relax, nothing is under control.” It’s good to keep a sense of humor about things! And, focus on the one thing you can work on controlling -- how you feel from the inside out.
Stay easy, friends.
(Dawn Gluskin is truth-digger, storyteller, and content strategist that happens to be a lover of love and all things woo. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook or sign up to her newsletters for little blasts of love.