Election 2016: Unexpected Lessons in Mindfulness
I was SO mad at my neighbor. It was 10pm on election night, and the surprising Trump results were starting to come in. I was still in denial, convinced we were going to have the first female president.
My neighbor, Travis, was egging me on with Republican retorts to my pro-Hilary sentiments. Probably because of my visceral reactions to a potential reversal of Roe v. Wade and Marriage Equality, I wasn't able to contain my anger.
"How can you NOT care about people?!?" I exploded. "People's lives are at stake. Our freedoms are in question! Agh!"
I excused myself to calm down. Playing with my cat helped to put the chaos into perspective. When I returned to my neighbor's apartment and the election coverage, I felt more grounded in my safety and wellbeing (no matter the outcome of the election).
Travis and I stepped outside to watch the rain together, and he said, "Isn't this fun? Emotions are the best part. Not many other animals get to experience the depth of feeling that humans do. We should enjoy riding the roller coaster without getting stuck at the highs or the lows."
I was not expecting to receive zen lessons from a Trump supporter.
But Travis's "be present for all of it" viewpoint echoed the training I had received on meditation retreat the weekend before. It even aligned with the yogic tradition of "aparigraha," or non-attachment to things, emotions, and mental states.
Travis went on, "I know everything will be okay. No matter who is our president, my family and my loved ones will be safe. Trump is not going to build a wall or expel all immigrants. But he did succeed in getting people's attention."
Slowly, I began to calm down. I felt lucky to have gotten some well-rounded insight into American viewpoints. Sometimes we get so involved in our own situations that we lose perspective of the entire country's struggles.
I don't believe that some of us are "right," while others are "wrong."
I believe that we are fundamentally misunderstanding each other. We fear what we don't understand, and that fear becomes anger and hostility.
Let us vow to take the surprising election results as a wake-up call. As inspiration to reach out to those different from us and find middle ground. By mending these wounds of division, we have a real shot at "Making America Great Again."