This is 100-year-old City Park in Benicia as morning breaks on the day after the election.
In many ways it’s a classic American small town, and I feel blessed to live here. On the cusp of the culture shift between the San Francisco Bay Area and the California Central Valley, it’s politically diverse. Sometimes there are small, polite groups from both major political parties holding up signs on either side of the street just beyond the gazebo. There is no acrimonious shouting, no insults being traded.
Yesterday, I had a friendly conversation with an older man on the other side of the political spectrum at the coffee shop. We exchanged views. At the end he said, “See, neither of us called the other stupid. I like that,” I warmly agreed, and we waved goodbye.
I imagine I was the last person in America to know about the election results, because I studiously avoided the election night news. I haven’t always done this, but I have learned that it always amps up my anxiety level without changing anything. We had a quiet dinner at home in front of the fire. Music, but no TV. It is possible my spouse took a peek at his iPhone whenever I went out of the room, but, as requested, he didn’t give me any updates. It was better for me to rest and renew myself for whatever the next day would bring
This morning I went to a local coffee shop before I turned my phone on to check news. I liked the feeling of being out in the community first. A few local police officers were there for early coffee also. I’ve seen the Benicia police in action a number of times over the years, and I’ve always been struck by their courtesy, restraint and appropriateness. “Good morning, peacekeepers,” I greeted them. “Thanks for all your good work.”
I read that the common thread at poll booths across the country was anxiety, and I believe it.
Anxiety, fear, and knee-jerk reactivity are the fuel for all conflict escalation. They are the fuel for suffering in your life and mine – and the source of the damage we do to one another and the planet. Most certainly they are the source of the current national and global nightmare that still threatens us.
It is not a small thing to choose actions that help you manage your own fear and reactivity. Neither is it evasive or naïve. It’s lifesaving, and its world saving. It models the only way that we can find resolutions to conflicts that both empower us and benefit everyone. And nothing else will work to bring us the solutions we need. This is the essence of the path of joy!
Whatever you feel about the current election cycle and its results, can you attend to your own anxiety level today and notice when you need to shift your thinking, your actions, and your breathing to bring it down so that you can find the focus and clarity you need?
This will enable you to see where to put your energy next and, more importantly, it will shift the energy that you bring in a way that will greatly increase the impact.
Try breathing in deeply and, on the out breath, send out a wave of peaceful, centered, positive energy from the center of your being and visualize it reverberating around the entire planet, touching everyone.
Visualize your breath spreading an awakening energy that will serve the well-being of all. Visualize everyone who will read this taking that breath and sending out that energy.
On behalf of all sentient beings, thank you.
With You on the Path,