Now more than ever before, the tools of mindfulness can really come in handy. Although I recognize that after this election there will be a wide variety of feelings among you, I can bet that most of you have shared the shock, grief, anger and fear that many, not just Americans, have been experiencing since November 8.  And it's not over -- these feelings are likely to be rekindled over and over again as the future unfolds.

So what can we do? We must honor and respect these feelings, as unpleasant as they may be. They are a natural response to your caring about the world, and there is a lot of wisdom hidden inside them. Mindfulness gives us tools to allow full expression of painful feelings, while at the same time accessing a spaciousness of mind that is bigger, and kinder, than the afflictive emotions. Mindful acceptance can help you to walk that fine line between being overwhelmed by a difficult emotion and denying it -- either numbing out or trying to constantly look for the "silver lining". The suggestions that below are not meant as an escape; they are rather a means of strengthening those qualities in you that can most deeply support wise action.

It's also important to realize that we never know what's going to happen. Remember the session on worry, when we observed how quickly the mind goes from observation to interpretation to catastrophization to rumination? Mindfulness offers us tools to practice staying with the present, to take a break from the obsessive story-telling mind -- to go from thinking mode to sensing mode.

Here we go:

UNPLUG: give your mind a break from the onslaught of disturbing information and opinions. Try to take a "news Sabbath" at least once a week. Ask yourself if you really need to know right away what outrageous what outrageous guy DT will appoint to a cabinet post -- or to read another analysis on why Hillary lost. Stay off Facebook! It will just keep rekindling the difficult emotions. This is not putting your head in the sand -- it’s taking it out of the shit-pile!

GET PHYSICAL. In our session on worry and catastrophization, do you remember our antidote? It was the "beditation", a lying-down body scan designed to take us from the thinking mode to sensing mode. Do one of the body scans on the NYU Mindfulness page. Go for runs, walks, cycling, yoga, tai chi. Slow down and observe your motions keenly, close-up. Keep sending your mind down to the lower half of the body. The wisdom of the body can help with much more than just getting back to sleep.


TALK TO TREES. Just like your body, Mama Nature has an awesome healing power. Take a walk somewhere outside the city noise, and whenever your thoughts keep taking over, take a deep breath and look around -- be right there rather than somewhere inside your head. And don't forget to thank the nice lady.


THINK BIG. I hate to say this, but this election and its immediate aftermath is not going to be the worst world crisis you face in your life. Our planet is at a crucial turning point and there will be many upheavals in your lifetime. Shifting our economies from earth-destroying to life-sustaining, turning from violence to cooperation, distributing the wealth of our planet more evenly to all -- these are big challenges -- but not impossible! It looks like we are poised to take some big steps backwards on all of these, but the Turning is happening.  This election can inspire you to search what special gifts, abilities you can develop to help tip the scale back, to make the Turning easier.


GET HELP. If you're in any urban center, there will be lots of opportunities to find regular instruction in any of many mind/body disciplines: mindfulness, yoga, insight meditation (vipassana), tai chi or other martial arts, and so much more. A regular, outside structure will help you find the inner strength to go forward to do your good work.


In the inspiring book Active Hope: How to face the mess we’re in without going crazy, authors Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone describe the process of their workshops entitled The Work that Reconnects as a spiral with four stages:

      coming from gratitude

      honoring our pain for the world

      seeing with new eyes

      going forth


Note that the first three stages are all internal; by going inward, connecting with the values that give you the deepest nourishment and strength, you will discover how you can go forth and share those with the world.


Be well, and have a peaceful, mindful Thanksgiving,



© Anthony Ackerman 2013