The yogi’s emergency response practice has three pillars: Breathe. Be calm. Smile.
As we envision all the possible scenarios for the US presidential election on November 3rd, one thing is for sure: there will be a lot of emotion! Already we have fear verging on panic and anger verging on violence.
So as we place our votes for US president, let us also place our votes for peace. By that I mean: commit to a peaceful attitude no matter what happens.
Yes it’s scary and we are in a truly vulnerable and pivotal moment of history. All the more reason to renew our moorings and reassert our values. This is not to say that we should be ostriches and deny the realities around us—but rather, keep on being yogis.
Slow down, lighten up, breathe.
A basic stress management approach is to do whatever we can do, and control whatever we can control. “Do your best and leave the rest,” as Integral Yoga founder Sri Swami Satchidananda always advised. The main thing we can control is our own mind. What we harbor in our minds is as powerful as what we mark on our ballots, so choose carefully. It’s our response-ability.
Whatever the outcome of the election might be, it does not benefit ourselves or anyone to hate and revile our leadership. That is only piling darkness on top of darkness. According to our Yoga tradition, all of us who have taken human birth on this planet, in our respective countries, share a collective karma. If that karma—pandemic, elections, inequality, climate crisis—has now come due we’re going to have to face it in one form or another. Be calm.
Let’s see if we can face our emotions without being overwhelmed by them. Let’s take to heart the example of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the equanimity that he brings to every situation. Take note of these words from Sri Swami Sivanandaji: “When the mind is filled with discord, the soldier cells become panic-stricken.” Swami Satchidananda often told a story about a cholera outbreak in India in which 1,000 pilgrims died. Five hundred died from cholera and five hundred died from the fear of cholera. If nothing else, let’s stay calm for the sake of our own health.
The author E. A. Bucchianeri once wrote, “A new challenge keeps the brain kicking and the heart ticking.” We’ve definitely got a big challenge at hand, one which can propel us either up or down. The Tibetans look upon this kind of crisis as a “portal,” an opportunity to awaken to deeper dimensions of spirituality. It’s up to us to make the choice: it is our response-ability.
May we each find our way to radiate health and happiness into our communities, and be lamps onto the world.
About the Author:
Swami Divyananda, E-RYT 500, has had a wealth of experience teaching Integral Yoga around the world since 1973. She has taught at corporations, universities, the Commonwealth Cancer Center, and for the Dr. Dean Ornish Reversing Heart Disease programs. She has also served as one of Integral Yoga’s Basic Hatha teacher trainers. Swami Divyananda took monastic vows in 1975 from Sri Swami Satchidananda. Over the years, she has served as the director of the Integral Yoga Institutes in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and as Ashram Manager at Satchidananda Ashram–Yogaville. She also served for ten years as the director of the Integral Yoga Institute in Coimbatore, India; this immersion into the South Indian culture has given depth to her understanding and practice of Yoga. Now an itinerant monk, Swami Divyananda is constantly “on the road.” She leads the annual Sacred India Tours to sacred sites in India in addition to international Yoga retreats and trainings. See more at sacredindiatours.org