What a tense, roller-coaster of an election week this has been! And what a vivid illustration of how the mind reacts wildly to what it wants – and doesn’t want. However you voted, for me, it was a Tuesday night of tears from not getting what I wanted, followed by elation – time to get out my dancing shoes! For you, it may have been a triumphant Tuesday, followed by a sense of stunned deflation yesterday. Waking up well before dawn this morning, after a brief meditation I caught myself staring in a fascinated trance, glued to the phone screen and refreshing endlessly, seeing the same news over and over again, yet hoping for a different, certain result. Then this afternoon, weary of the worldly winds blowing, I needed a rest, to go for a walk among trees, to sit and meditate. How is it for you?
I’ve read that fear motivated the astonishing turnout for this election. People are afraid of losing what is important to them, whether it is agricultural subsidies, economic and racial justice, white privileged social status, environmental protections, American global dominance, democracy, gun rights, the list goes on… But what I’m afraid of losing when I get caught in such fears is my connection to the clarity, openness, presence, and love that I treasure. This is the point of meditation, to help shift my identity from the streaming content of my thoughts to the freedom and ease of an open heart, far bigger than any of this.
“When you lose your sense of fear, you are free,” says John Lewis in the inspiring documentary, “Good Trouble.” He worked tirelessly for civil rights, for a cause greater than himself. And when things didn’t go the way he passionately believed in, he took refuge in his courage, faith, and perseverance. “Fall down 100 times, get up 101 times,” as my first teacher Zen Master Seung Sahn always told us when he talked about great faith. Great faith means staying connected to the teachings of mindfulness and compassion that ask us to stand up for what’s most important, to live the truth in our hearts.
We are transient life forms in the universe, the earth reflects our local star shining among the vast profusion of suns strewn sparkling across the night sky, visible as the Milky Way. As the moon wanes and the stars come out, I vow to keep my heart open. And when fear arises, to look at the sky, breathe, and connect with what Mahatma Gandhi called satyagraha, the force of truth. And – as John Lewis said while dancing to Pharrell – “Be happy!”