Pondering Politics and More in the Pacific Northwest
By D’vorah Kost
Of course don't forget to inhale. Exhale. Welcome, parasympathetic nervous system engaging, at least these few seconds. With a lengthened exhalation I can savor, for a few seconds more, the slowing of the heart rate, the lowered blood pressure and the release of muscle tension. These days, I'm directing my breath to my mind, heart and bones, which need steady reminders to release the ever-present tension which lives inside every cell of my body and this country these days. [Take a deep breathe iiinnnnn. Let it ooouuuuuttt.]
These weeks. Months. Years…four to be exact. We're all talking about it. Some of us are raging about it, some are surely drinking about it, smoking about it, writhing about it or writing about it. I'm grateful that I'm able to write this because writing is another tool I employ to maintain balance. Journaling helps me get the crazy out. Writing an article for The Insider gives me a purpose and a deadline.
One more stress relief strategy to consider: Physical shaking. Have you tried it? Just start with your hands. Shake them. Sometimes that's enough, though usually I proceed with shaking the arms, the shoulders, head (gently), hips, knees, feet. Sometimes fast, sometimes slow, big, little, vibrate, wiggle, shudder. Again, again. Stress! BE GONE! In Somalia, they do all that and say shu sho BAH, shu sho BAH. I learned that from my Somali women yoga students. We do it every Sunday, on Zoom now. The laughter that follows also helps.
Many people are looking for ways to cope with these extreme times of extremism. Young new activists, working so intensively for so many months, fighting for their lives, ask us elders, "How can we avoid burn-out?"
The dire helplessness we feel in the face of an absolutely incomprehensible state of affairs--the inflammatory double whammy of coronavirus and Trumpitis-- necessitates more than the usual level of self-care. I have amped up my meditation practice with the teachings of Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. He's the real thing. A mensch from India.
He teaches that the mind is not inside the body. Rather, the body is inside the mind. "The body is like the wick of a candle," he intones, in lyrical heavily-accented online guidance, "and the mind is the glowing light cast around it."
I am seriously choosing to believe that when we strongly focus our heart mind awareness, i.e. intention, we can fuel our energetic power to impact, beyond the visible realm. Some call it prayer. May we who are compassionate, sensible, honest and caring human beings take deliberate time to 'beam our inner light, our energetic vibrations towards healing the massive destructiveness we face on so many fronts, climate disaster above all.
It can't hurt, and at the very least, it feels good. Invoke your imagination, visualize a world of justice and truth, equality, democracy and planetary stewardship (or sustainability). Conjure what you want to see until you feel it deeply, as though it were true right now. Doesn't that put a smile on your face? Don't forget to smile, as much as you can. You do know that helps reduce worry and the wrinkles caused by the same, and can actually tone and uplift your face? Do you see any wrinkles on the Buddha's face?
Four years ago, I wasn't sure how our country and I would survive a full term of Trump. I tried conjuring his term-ination within the first year, (I got very hopeful during the impeachment hearings. Inhale. Hold my breath.
Eventually I exhaled, and now I can't stop until January 20th, and he is out.
I like to visualize the big bungling baby being bodily removed from the White House, by six hulking and joyous hims, hers, and thems. Did I say Hymns?
Hallelujah! Which reminds me... Leonard Cohen, may his memory be for blessing, departed four years ago.
Will you intercede for us, Lenny? Please? He was a dedicated meditator too.
On election day in 2016, I was flying over the Atlantic Ocean to the Gaza Strip, via Jerusalem, with a medical delegation. I learned of Trump's win just hours before crossing the Erez border into Gaza. I was going nuts. I had to stuff my feelings in order to get across the border, and to be present for the Palestinians of Gaza whom we came to serve. As deeply enriching and gratifying the experience of the Gazan people was, at the same time I was feeling the agony of the election results and also the reality of being away from Seattle and my peeps for five to six weeks, depriving me of grieving in community, in post-traumatic-election-distress. I know of many people who were triggered this month with memories of November, 2016.
Instead, there I was with Gazans, whose collective chronic trauma of war, occupation, seige and blockade didn't dissuade them from trying to comfort us privileged Americans, "Don't worry, you will get through this" they said, smiling wryly, "if we can get through 68 years, you can get through four."
And here we are. We have, indeed, survived four years.
BIG SIGH of relief...an exhale! It's OVER, It's DONE. BIDEN WON!
HOWEVER ( Inhale. Notice the tension building?). Cheeto just can't do anything without creating chaos, instigating division, spreading suspicion, and polluting with his poison. No surprise that he refuses to concede. The poster child for malignant narcissism relishes the drama of keeping us anxiously on the edge of our seats with his lies and nonsense.
The toxicity spewed and the horrific damage wrought by the Trump Administration and his cowardly lackeys in the legislature and cabinet, on the social fabric of this country and our semblance of democracy is beyond measure, unreal. But it is real.
What is most terrifying is that tens of millions of Americans seem to have fallen under Trump's evil spell. From the get-go, Trump's ploy for ultimate power gained traction when he began to succeed with his meme of Fake News, which became his foundation for credibility. He could then invent and disseminate any distortion of reality to serve his self-interest.
Is it that Trump's base is seduced by his celebrity, hyperbole and drama, enjoying his flair for conflict, bullying and excitement, thus cheering him on, invoking similarly charged emotions as fans in football stadiums and boxing rings? Roman coliseums, public hangings, military spectacles. It's not unlike how some children take the side of the classroom bully, so as not to be the next victim. It seems addictive as well as contagious. Opium and Covid-19 on steroids.
I deeply fear that the numbers of Fox News afficionados, and conspiracy believers are growing, as seen in the increasing subscribership to Parler, a rightwing extremist social media platform. Nearly half of American voters prefer to have Trump for another four years, rather than a man of essential decency and humanity.
It is beyond my comprehension. I hate giving such vent to my fears, keeping me awake, for better or worse. But I must face my heartache and wrestle with my belief in humanity. Needless to say, daily effort is required to keep replenishing hopefulness and patience, love and compassion and belief that we can build bridges toward unity. We must learn to carry the sorrow and the joy simultaneously, while holding on to our center.
I make sure to give attention to the beauty and wonder of the natural world. I make art. I dance alone and with others, music or not, moving my body in unexpected ways, so as to stay strong and balanced. I also smoke a little weed, legal here in Washington, of course.. I cultivate humor, seeking opportunity to laugh. I drink beer, and wine too, preferably red.
Projection can have numerous meanings. In the world of psychology, it refers to qualities, motivations or behaviors that one blames on another, when they are primarily true of oneself. Trump accuses his opponents of cheating because cheating is how HE lives his life, always has, and being a malignant narcissist, he can't conceive that others might be motivated otherwise. It is his party that is f***ing with the elections, not the Democrats.
We have to wait until January 5 to find out about the Senate. We have to wait until January 20 to allow our shoulder blades to release down our backs.
Move your body often, in all the ways it can, and don't hold your breath.
A suburban Detroit transplant, D'vorah has lived in Seattle for 42 years. After a 30-year career as a clinical social worker, retirement means more time for her to pursue lifelong pleasures of drawing, writing, dancing, connecting with loved ones and nature, and teaching yoga and creative movement. She's looking forward to traveling after pandemic. And she has finally given up on her mission to save the world.