The political grand uber-meister poobahs in the U.S. have had…how shall I say this delicately…a “difficult” week. The fiasco engineered by a small group of extremists in one party of one branch of government made us all look like the obnoxious drunk uncle at the global family get-together. And I, like many of my fellow Americans, watched it unfold over the past couple weeks with a sense of horrible inevitability… and a bit of nausea.
Sadly, nothing unexpected there.
In other news, I resumed my yoga practice after a summer of neglect, ate an absolutely luscious apple dumpling baked by a dear friend, met her pet chicken named Louise, and picked the last of the peppers. I also taught my classes, graded some tests, checked up on my parents, fired off a few choicely-worded emails to my congressmen (all men), took a walk in a peaceful spot, talked to my sons at college, paid the bills, watered the flowers, went to a meeting, and did the laundry.
Nothing exciting on that list (except possibly Louise).
While Congress went through its theatrical flailing before capitulating to the inevitable, my ordinary life went on. And I’m guessing yours did too (unless you were in the unfortunately furloughed group or a journalist). The powers-that-be went about their dysfunctional business, and we all went about ours. Call it Real Life 101.
The challenge was to stay grounded. To hold center. To not allow the tension in the wider world to gel into a knot between my shoulder blades. I was not completely successful (or maybe I’m just stiff from resuming my yoga), but that’s okay.
What helped was consciously choosing where to spend my mental and spiritual energy, instead of being swept up in the national dysfunction. It was no accident that I re-started my yoga this particular week. Or that I made time to go to my favorite peaceful place outdoors. Or that I did some conscious deep, relaxing breathing while I folded the laundry. I even did a little extra before I crossed “improve karma” off the list for the week (and yes, that really is on my weekly to-do list).
If the world is having a bad week, it will leak into our personal psyches, even if we think otherwise. When the baseline tension of the globe is amped up a few notches, it’s hard not to carry that tension in our shoulders, or our gut, or our unconsciously clenched jaw. Or maybe we’re just a little bit edgy. Tense. Cranky. We can’t quite put our finger on a personal reason why. We just are. When we stop to think about it, we realize that global-bad-week-spill-over has occurred. And heading out on a wilderness retreat is usually not an option. One way or another, we cope.
Better to do it consciously and with intention.
We are all connected. It’s a cliche, but as with most cliches, it holds a grain of truth. We are all connected. Knowing and understanding this truth,we can choose how we respond to the world, especially in a difficult week. Just say no to global-bad-week-spill-over. Step outside, and take a nice deep breath.
Rebecca Hecking lives in northwest Pennsylvania, USA, where the autumn trees are nearly at the glorious peak of beauty. She is the author of The Sustainable Soul: Eco-Spiritual Reflections and Practices.