On November 9th America “woke up” to a new President-elect, and what, to some, felt like a new country. Some were surprised, some were not. Many felt disoriented, depressed or in shock, many did not. For some, the election news raised deep concerns about liberty, freedom of speech, and personal safety. For others, those concerns have been present day in and day out, for years on end, on both “sides” of the political divide.
“Waking up” is a term used in spiritual practices. It can refer to an awakening of the reality beyond the material, but it can also be an awakening to what is, rather than what we want, or what we think. Some would say waking up is a pulling back of the veil of avidya, the Sanskrit word for ignorance, which is also translated as not seeing. It is one of the reasons we practice yoga, to reduce ignorance in the forms of ego, attachment, aversion, and clinging to life. But letting go of these forms of ignorance is not easy, and it can be acutely painful.
Post election we can see our country more clearly as it is, and this, while possibly sad and worrisome, is a good thing. We’ve awakened to a dis-ease that has no quick fix, but the fact that we are waking up is actually cause for celebration.
So here we are. It’s December. It’s almost winter. This is the time of year to slow down and go deep, practice restoratives and yoga nidra. It’s a time to put on layers, take hot baths, eat warm soups. It’s a dark time of year, when we get less energy from the sun. And it’s also the season, in many traditions, to call in the light that guides us through darkness.
Please remember this, as you navigate your month. If something in you is waking up you may feel a call to action – I know I do – and there is much to do. There are real people, policies, and institutions at risk. But can we also find moments of celebration, acts of amazing self-care? Can we find comfort in a conversation with a neighbor, or a nap on a Sunday afternoon?
This month, stay awake, but also take care. We need you, all of you, to be strong, and rested, and resilient. It’s a long road ahead.