It doesn’t matter who you are voting for, I think we can all agree that this particular election season has be particularly divisive. There have been a lot of moments and issues that bring up passion, anger, and frustrations in all of us. Here are a few ways to use yoga to survive till election day.
- Remember yoga? Remember how nobody brings up any politics while you are in down dog? Get to yoga, every day if you have to. Use the break to put down your smart phone and log off of Facebook, and reconnect to the simpler things in life, your breath, your body, and your spirit.
- In yoga, we are asked to drop our egos. We are supposed to drop our competitive minds and accept our practice, and the practices of those around us, without judgement. This can be called, “keeping your eyes on your own path.” While we might want to tell the person next to us that they are doing a pose all wrong, or their breathing sounds funny, we don’t. Let them do their thing, and you do you. Perhaps, bring this concept to your life, and political discussions. This does not mean that you have to shut up about what you believe in. It simply means that you do not have to “correct” or change another person’s beliefs. You do you, and let everyone else take care of themselves. Honestly, we probably can’t change anyone else’s deeply held beliefs; so why stress trying?
- Now, you might be able to not put your beliefs on other people, but what if they try to influence you? This can also happen on your mat. Your instructor might offer up an intensification or modification that does not work for your body. Listen to what the instructor, or other yogi, has to say. But afterwards, choose what works best for you. In life, when someone tries to tell you who to vote for, or why you should change your vote, be considerate and listen. But when they are done talking, choose the political “pose” that works for you. Most of what your yoga teacher says are strong suggestions, not forced rules. Nobody knows better than you, what you need. This is true both in your body and in the voting booth.
- This point was mentioned above, but it bears repeating: LISTEN. We can easily shut down when someone with opposing views tries to tell us how they feel. The yoga sutras teach us that “when negative feelings restrict us, the opposite should be cultivated.” You never have to agree with the other side. But it does not hurt to listen and honor that person’s feelings. Notice when you have negative feelings rise us to the surface, during political debates. Remember that we are all imperfectly human, trying to sort our way through this cycle of suffering. Hear people out. Let them live their lives. Love and respect everyone.
- The sutras also mention five yamas, or laws of life. Live by these: non-harming (with your words and deeds a much as your body), truthfulness (stay honest), integrity (don’t feel like you have to bend your beliefs to please others), chastity (don’t waste your energy on trying to bring someone to your side), and non-attachment (you are allowed to have your views change; you do not have to care what others think.)
- Remember yoga? When all else fails, bring your frustrations to your mat. November 8th is just a few days away. We will get to the other side. Until then, breath, practice, love, and occasionally drink wine.
Good luck keeping your calm as we approach the impending election. And, perhaps, remember these points on November 9th, and all the days afterwards, whether or not your candidate gets elected.