By Keralee Froebel
“How can you win if you ain’t right within?”
“This is just a part of my nature and everyone’s nature, to offer oneself to serve at the critical moment when the emergency becomes articulate.” –Leonard Cohen
In homeopathy, there is a concept of “proving,” or determining whether or not a remedy is effective. When you are being honest and mindful, you can use anything—including your reactions to external events—as a way to “prove” the remedy. You can investigate your mind and your egoic constructs to see if you are being effective in the external world.
A clarification: the ego is not bad. It is like a car used for transportation. You use the ego to navigate the external world. But if left unchecked, very often the ego ends up “using” you by reactively driving your interactions, decisions, and life plans.
A Yogi’s Guide to Trump: Examining Your Reactions
Using the current change in leadership in the United States as a theme, I invite you to be ruthless and impeccable as you examine your own conceptual and emotional reactions.
Questions to contemplate:
How do you feel about the Trump presidency and how are you reacting?
- Is your reaction allowing you to connect with your fellow human beings?
- Is your reaction enabling you to feel negativity towards anyone?
How is your reaction motivating you?
- Is it allowing you to clarify your political stance?
- Is it inviting you to discuss with and open to your fellow human beings?
- Is it provoking you to engage with the world in a more intentional manner?
- Is it fueling or encouraging hopelessness and despair?
- Is it driving you deeper into your spiritual practice as refuge?
- Is it driving you deeper into your spiritual practice as remedy?
- Is it driving you to other forms of escape?
- Is it motivating you to express your creativity in any form—visual, verbal, written, interpretive dance, etc.?
- Is it motivating you to connect with your community?
- Is it motivating you to reject your community?
What are you getting out of your reaction?
- Are you using your reaction to elevate your ego?
- Are you using your reaction to vent your anger, joy, sadness, etc.?
- Are you allowing your reaction to contribute to a previous emotional imbalance?
- Is the reaction creating division in any area of your life?
- Is the reaction creating unity in any area of your life?
- Is your reaction allowing you in any way to feel superior to anyone else (including Trump)?
- Is this situation creating fear in you? Do you find yourself spinning stories into the future based on hysteria?
Watching the Story
There are many possible ways to react to this change: some more useful than others. All emotions are legitimate, but try watching the stories you tell yourself and other people. Of course, act when called to and when appropriate. Because if the “stuff” really does hit the fan, you’ll want to be prepared. But, do watch for any unwarranted drama or hysteria on your own part. As a new leader takes office we are all given to extreme reactions—both negative and positive. Remember that the governmental process has intrinsic checks and balances and that the story can may drastically change as the often slow governmental process proceeds.
In the United States, and perhaps around the world, the election of Trump has caused some people to give in to despair, fear, anger, and horror. Innumerable people have told me they have cried over it. But over time, perhaps the workings of a stable democracy will check his trajectory as well. (Even if it now seems that his dramatic cabinet appointments tell a different story.)
Witness, too, your engagement with the mainstream media. And consider: have they ever been wholly right about anything? In fact, the Trump upset should only reinforce a cautionary approach to media. Observe your interaction with all forms of news and correspondence—including Facebook and Reddit—and ask yourself if it is becoming addictive or counterproductive.
In addition, examine yourself for any manifestation of personal drama or hysteria. Experience it if necessary, and then let it go. In Buddhism, the middle way is always the better way.
I invite you, yes, to take to the streets—but not necessarily to demonstrate (although that’s fine too, if it’s your true calling). Instead, go out to listen, connect, and discuss things with your neighbors and your community. As a result, you just might find yourself newly connected to your society in previously unimagined ways.
There Is No “Other”
Even more radically, I suggest you use this election as an opportunity to learn to appreciate the apparent “other.” Put yourself in your opposite’s shoes and seek to respond with understanding and compassion for their concerns. Seek greater unity and, as my friend says, “offer love.”
Surprisingly, these wild and unprecedented times might have many gifts to offer. But, if activism is required, remember to conduct yourself with impeccability. Never demean yourself or anyone else by getting violent, hysterical, or personal with your actions or opinions.
In ancient cultures, warriors had a specific code of honor and they bore the utmost respect for the heart and the skill of their opponents. Battles were not pissing contests or grudge matches and were not based on condescension or reactivity. They were based on courage, virtue, heroism, faith, and, quite often, mercy. You are now called to be a warrior: cultivating respect for others and conducting yourself with honor as you interact in the present to create the collective future.
A Detour, Not a Disaster
Yes, the election of Trump was upsetting to many. But things are not always what they seem. Perhaps there is a trend here—even it feels like a detour—that is ultimately bringing the world to a higher level of awareness.
From the yogic perspective, it could be said that “Shiva has spoken.” As the god of creation, protection, and transformation, Shiva is often responsible for what looks like devastation but ends up clearing the way for new beginnings. The current phenomenon can be considered a purification of sorts: clearing out the old establishment to bring in something entirely unprecedented—though not necessarily during Trump’s tenure.
An Invitation to Introspection
The political situation might not look like you want, and there are sure to be occasional switchbacks that can feel like setbacks. But, you can choose to engage with the present circumstances from a space of integrity and power.
Use these changing times to bear witness to the events at hand—as well as to your own thought processes. Because whatever happens, it’s certain to be dramatic, interesting, and wholly uncharted. And if the United States government does go rogue (Shiva forbid!), its citizens and other concerned citizens of the world can choose to be heroic warriors working together from the heart—the coeur—to act with true courage! As such, being non-reactive, integrated, and aware in the present we can enable our collective future to unfold in a coherent and harmonious way. And as heart-centered yogi warriors, we can create a phenomenally powerful, astonishingly integrated, and surprising new reality together.