How Prayer, Patience and Practice Can Help Us Make Peace With PoliticsBy:
The mid-term election season is upon us, rife with robo-calls, confusing ballot initiatives and a host of candidates whose positions seem to further polarize our communities at a time when unity feels essential, for our hearts and our planet. I find electoral politics regularly challenges my commitment to grace, love and spiritual activism. If like me, you find this time of year tough, here are three P’s to help you through: Prayer, Patience and Practice.
Prayer: Pray early and often! It can be a challenge to reconcile the spiritual knowing that we are all one with the harsh feelings of ‘othering’ and separateness that the ballot box accentuates. As we listen to disparate positions on the issues that matter most to us, like the health of our families, our homes, our air and water quality, our local economy and more, we can find ourselves taking it personally, because, well, it is! I find that praying regularly for everyone on all sides of the issues, and especially for the candidates themselves, helps me remain compassionate (and not panicked!) as I consider a future governed by individuals who have very different senses of how to serve on behalf of my community and my future. I particularly recommend Loving Kindness Practice or Metta, in which you have the opportunity to pray for people with differing viewpoints, even those you might consider dangerous. Pray dear ones, all the way to the polling place! Pray in whatever ways you pray to whatever Divinity you pray to.
Patience: Election season is a great time for cultivating patience. At a recent county council meeting in my community, despite over 90% of voter opinion in opposition, our elected leaders chose to join a coalition focused on increasing dirty energy extraction in my fragile desert home. I found myself patiently pacing the halls and engaging yogic breathing or pranayama breathing while listening to the deliberations. More than 70 others were also overflowing into the hall outside the meeting room, which was packed with concerned community folks like me. Breathing and finding patience while I awaited the vote helped me remain calm and compassionate, even in the face of a result that I didn’t agree with. I left relaxed and at peace, grounded in the patience to await the outcome of the next election, which might result in new leadership and a reversal of this dangerous decision.
Practice: Finally, as the seasons change and the political winds blow in whatever direction they are blowing in your district, now is the time to deepen, sustain or rekindle your practice. Be it meditation, yoga or exercise, lean in to the activities that allow you to be your best self. They say that voting is your ‘civic duty’, and I would assert that your ‘cosmic duty’ is to engage in your spiritual practice. We need you at your best, dear one, for whatever befalls your jurisdiction when all the votes are counted.
So take a stand for democracy and for spirituality, and let your love light shine, on Election Day, and every day. The planet itself, all life forms and even future generations are depending on us!
Celia Alario is a communications strategist, coach and professor. She cavorts with grassroots change agents, academics and donors who share her love for social justice, planetary healing and culture shaping. She sustains her activism through an alchemic mix of yoga, hula hooping, and practicing the art of nonattachment. Bred by New Yorkers and raised in Los Angeles, she alternatively chases her poodle across the majestic redrock landscapes of Southeastern Utah and the effervescent coastlines of Central California.