Keep your light alive.

Tuesday's election results shocked all the decent Americans I know.  Like so many of you, in the days following, I have been plagued by disbelief, grief, anger, and fear.

For me, this story begins a few months ago during the Republican primaries. I watched part of a Trump speech with my jaw on the floor. This man was spewing hate and getting his followers worked up, talking about building walls and punching people he disagreed with. He was encouraging violence openly. But what was worse than that was what was happening to me.  I was ANGRY.  I felt rage building in me.  I wanted to punch Trump.  I honestly hoped someone would assassinate him and end all this craziness. "What is going on?" I wondered, "I'm not like this." And this is why I am so scared right now.

Donald Trump is such a negative force on this planet that it affects us all.  Obviously, he is ramping up hate and violence in his followers, encouraging anti-islam, anti-immigrant, anti-gay, anti-women words and actions countrywide.  But what may not be as obvious is that in general, his darkness stirs darkness up even in those of us who work so hard to live in goodness and joy.  

As I face the reality of Trump as the President of the United States, I notice the darkness inside me growing.  I have noticed more road rage from myself, less patience with my partner, more irritation with those around me. I have been reacting in anger more easily and loosing sight of the good in the world.

Everyone is saying turn up the love. Offer safe spaces to those in danger around us. Offer understanding to those around us.  Fight harder for the good.  I agree. 

But right now, the best way I can do that is to take care of myself. I must do the work to keep calm and peace inside me; to protect that light inside myself from being blown out. I am a firm believer in Gandhi's call to "Be the change you wish to see in the world."  We cannot change others, we can only improve ourselves and thusly improve the world. Before I can walk boldly and peacefully into the world of darkness that surrounds me, I must strengthen my joy and inner well-being or else it will surely be overcome. 

For me, this meant withdrawing from the conversation for a while.  Not checking Facebook constantly. Not reading the hundreds of (justified) fears and frustrations being shared. My partner and I went camping. We slept outside, we walked up a mountain and took in the views. We strived for moments of awe in the natural world, because that is where we feel safe and at peace.  I turned to my yoga practice.  I sat in stillness and placed my hands on my heart and felt into myself for that which is whole and good.  I watched Zootopia and laughed about how cute hamsters are.

What do you need to do? Meditate? Paint? Run? Bake? Read?  Whatever it is that helps bring you back to your goodness, please don't forget to do it. Go to rallies and speak out or do whatever else you are compelled to, but also take the time to stoke your inner flame and remember what its all for. It is not to fight hate with hate and anger with anger, but to fight fear with calmness and to meet anger with gentleness.

I'll leave you with Thich Nhat Hanh recent thoughts on mindfulness in times of crisis. Be strong.