The mood surrounding the coming election is reminding me how it felt to anticipate major surgery. It was this time of year, eleven years ago that, team of top surgeons from the Mayo Clinic would be removing a tumor that surrounded nerves and arteries at the base of my neck. We were strongly cautioned that I might lose most function in my left arm and even then, they might not succeed in removing all the unhealthy tissues
In the months we had to anticipate this surgery my partner Elizabeth and I discovered we had two really different styles of preparing ourselves.
Elizabeth needed to stare down the worst case scenario and figure out how she could live with it. Thinking through what could go wrong and how she could adapt to it helped her find some peace. This process helped her feel less afraid and more ready to deal with a potential difficult outcome.
Meanwhile, with the support of a team of healers, I found I was less and less afraid. In fact, I felt more at peace than I ever had in my life. I was practicing qigong at home for at least three hours every day and my body just felt so receptive to healing. The intensity of my practice was helping me reset the entire tone in my body. I wasn’t at all surprised when I experienced the best possible outcome from my surgery.
The election has become another date on the horizon, like that surgery, which has the potential to both heal and reveal how we are still deeply wounded.
Is it possible for us to approach November with more peace than fear?
I know many of us feel responsible to stay well informed. Of course being informed is important and we should make thoughtful decisions and plans. Just like it’s good to squarely face tough medical diagnoses and understand the risks of treatment, we need to be aware of what is happening in our community and the diversity of ideas for improving things.
We are also responsible for staying peaceful, open, and loving.
Generally few of us live as though maintaining an open heart is of equal importance to our other forms of civic participation. “Love Trumps Hate” is a popular slogan but those stickers generally put me in fight mode; they have never had the effect of awakening compassion within me.
My qigong teacher Master Chunyi Lin recently shared on Facebook that whenever we get news of a serious threat to our lives, like when “the doctor tells you that you are seriously ill, you get anxious. Your mind is so bothered that you block the heart energy from coming out to serve you. When you change that attitude and release all attachments, fears, and let go of anxiousness, you allow healing.”
Letting go of anxiousness – that’s easier said than done! I’m reminded of watching one of my daughter’s swim instructors repeatedly shout to a very tense little girl “Relax! Relax! Relax!” Shouting and commanding didn’t work for that girl and doesn’t work for us either.
I also am not naively suggesting that we just continue our life as usual and just hope everything is fine. When I was sick and people would assure me that I would be fine it was completely unsatisfying. They had no basis to offer me such assurance and I felt profoundly unseen. Their words spoke more of their fear of discomfort and in some ways made me more afraid.
Before my surgery Elizabeth was worried that I was lost in positive thinking and not being real. It’s true that magical thinking is a real hazard of New Agey things. As I wrote in my last blog post – we cannot bypass grief or the humbling power of uncertainty. I’ve also exhausted myself by willing myself to be well.
The miracle of the healing time before my surgery was that with lots of support and practice, I started connecting with the universe in a whole other way. Almost without noticing, I started releasing my fears and attachments because there was something much more wonderful to experience. Healing then arrived as a wonderful gift.
Right now there is a tantalizing buffet of things we might worry about. There is a lot at stake.
Tempting as it is, worrying is not going to help.
We need our hearts online, so that all our courage and imagination can be set loose. It is so much harder to do this if we are deeply tangled in anxieties.
Shouting “Relax! Relax! Relax!” is not helpful either. Our bodies require more than words to be willing to release our anxieties.
Five practices that can reliably help you activate healing
- Being in nature
- Moving your body
- Practicing meditation
- Connecting with others
- Drawing on music, poetry, art, podcasts, or teachers that raise your vibration
Sometimes we can do all these things at once (check out my outdoor classes!)
These practices can be fun. Taking five minutes for one song, reading one poem, or walking around the block in the middle of your day makes a difference.
While the world around us seems to be on course for escalating anxieties it doesn’t have to be that way for you or others. Could you dare imagine that in the coming month you will cultivate depths of inner peace that you have not yet before experienced? Not only is releasing our worries possible, it is one of the greatest gifts you could give the world.
Outdoor practice groups continue into the autumn
Healing Waters Qigong continues to meet outside (also broadcast on Zoom) when the forecast is above 60 degrees in Minneapolis. The Wisdom Dances Circle meets outside on select Saturdays through the autumn (meeting online alternating weeks).
These times can feel like a real reckoning with ancestral karma. Join me on a dance-based journey to connect with our ancestors and become good ancestors of the future. For people with European ancestry. Learn more.