Last week was a hard one for me and pretty much everyone I know. The mere mention of the name “Kavanaugh” seems to be enough to make people visibly cringe, like they were sick to their stomach or tasted something bitter. I personally spent that week mostly in bed with a nasty cold, listening to the news, spending way too much time on Facebook, and watching so many of my friends get truly rattled, shaken, knocked off balance.
Maybe you can see where I’m going here, but bear with me. I’ve been thinking about this since the 2016 election, when I was trying to support a friend who was completely distraught at the result. “Don’t tell me it’ll be ok,” they said, “because it won’t be!” I couldn’t argue with that then, and I can’t now. The confirmation of Kavanaugh to the supreme court, like the election of Trump, will have a real impact on both the laws of our land and the character of our culture for some time to come. So if you feel as my friend did, I won’t tell you that it will be ok, because you are right — it won’t. But what I’d like to suggest you — you who are rattled, who feel knocked down, who feel like you are running on reserves of rage — what I’d like to invite you to consider is that maybe you can be ok. Maybe you can take care of yourself without giving up the fight. Maybe the best thing you can do, for yourself and for what good you can do in the world, is to calm your rattled nerves and find a quiet center of integrity from which to act.
More easily said than done, isn’t it? I remember the first time someone suggested I “ground and center” myself I had absolutely no idea what they meant. It sounded so esoteric, as if I was supposed to do something with my “energy,” to ground it like grounding an electric circuit. It took a while before I realized that all it means is to literally feel the solid ground on which I am standing or sitting, simply noticing that it is holding me up, and I can rest my weight on it. To that I can add a physical awareness of the center of my belly, and an awareness of myself in the space around me, and as I do, I find it more possible to let go of some of the fight or flight tension in my body and the holding of my breath of which I wasn’t even aware. In this state I am no longer rattled, knocked off balance, but grounded and centered, and able to look at the situation I’m in and make better choices about my life.
I was having a hard time personally a few years ago, and during the 2016 election and its aftermath it was all I could do to practice this for myself to navigate my own life. I’m thankfully in a better place now, and finally able to share these ideas with you. Here’s a bit of audio with a very basic form of this practice which I learned from Russell Delman. The recording is only about 5 minutes long, and the practice itself can be done in as little as 30 seconds.
I’ll also be teaching a more expanded exploration of these ideas this Sunday, 10/14/18 at the Arlington Center.
And if you really want to enter deeply into this sort of practice, join me next month for what promises to be an incredible weekend with Russell Delman.
Finally, here’s a podcast conversation with Russell where he speaks (among other things) about navigating the current political moment with presence.