In my meditation on Wednesday morning I was feeling deeply sad. I decided to sit with that feeling. I came in to the office looking for answers, for reassurance, for optimism. It was good to be around other people and to talk.
No one really knows what’s going to happen now. These are very uncertain and volatile times. I wondered if people would think this isn’t the time for mindfulness. How irrelevant does sitting in silence feeling your breathing seem in the face of all this?
Well this lunchtime I hosted a mindfulness session that I called The mindful response to Trump. What does that look like? Well, I crowd-sourced some answers from the group, and this is what we came up with:
1. Allow the feelings
Whatever you’re feeling in relation to this situation, notice it and allow it to be there. Whether it’s sadness, anger, fear, frustration, anxiety, resentment or whatever. You can’t process and move on with your feelings unless you first acknowledge and accept them.
2. You are not your feelings
Remember that whatever you’re feeling is not you. Feelings or thoughts are just phenomena that you’re experiencing. You wouldn’t hear a sound across the room and think you were the sound. See if you can just observe it.
That doesn’t mean giving up on changing the way things are. It means accepting that Trump is President. No one can change that now. It also means accepting that there are a lot of people with very different views to yours, and wishing they were different, won’t get you anywhere.
Also, it doesn’t make sense to accept different genders, races, and sexual orientations, but not different political views. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect.
There’s been a lot of mud slinging between Hilary and Donald and their supporters, and little attempt to understand the other’s point of view. If we’re going to move forward progressively from where we are, we need less telling and more listening. Why did people vote for Trump? What are they angry about? What are they afraid of?
In the group we practiced a meditation that involved wishing for Trump and his supporters to be happy. Some found it very difficult. Others found that it felt good to do so, and one person had the realization that she really did want them to be happy, because if they were, they almost certainly wouldn’t have voted for Trump.
Resenting them and wishing they had different views leads to unpleasant feelings and isn’t helpful, wishing them well is more constructive and feels better. Put it this way, you’re never going to hate/judge/argue someone into submission, are you?!
In terms of what action you can take, I’m going to borrow from one of my favourite writers, Charles Eisenstein, who suggested the following:
“See to it that you imbue everything that you post to social media, every comment, every reply, with a spirit of compassion and respect.”
I think that’s a good start.
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Andy Hix is founder of zen at work, a London-based happiness consultancy.