Like half of my country–and much of the world, I was disappointed by the US election results in 2016. I continue to be shocked. Bewildered. But I refuse to give in to pessimism. I don’t think polarization will help anybody. I’m convinced there is a valid lesson to be learned from having leaders who lack integrity. I think the lesson is this: you can choose to give your power away to others, or you can be your own leader.
I hear people talk about leaving the country. If you truly do want to become an expat I understand. (Having been an expat for nearly half my life I can also help you find your way if you want to talk about it. I offer counseling and coaching for expats via Skype)
But I think this is about more than fleeing. This historic moment is about each and every one of us–whether or not we are US citizens– learning to lead by example. We can learn to lead ourselves and others to our highest potential aligning integrity with wisdom and action.
Be Your Own Leader
How can you be your own leader? Develop your own integrity. Hold yourself accountable for what you believe is right. Practice kindness, tolerance and compassion. Be humble.
The more I practice settling mind through sitting meditation and nurture my relationship with basic sanity, the more stable I feel. When I stop looking to others to behave in a certain way, I become acutely aware of my own projections. I am thrown back on my own ability to manage my mind. This gives me the option to choose to act in a way that feels authentic and full of integrity. Even though people around you may not earn your respect, you can still earn theirs–or your own. As Michelle Obama put it, “when they go low, you go high.”
A practice I find indispensable for times like these is tonglen –sometimes called loving kindness meditation. Appreciating our differences and the similarities we share with everyone is key to developing a working relationship with our minds. Rather than making snap decisions or careless comments about the choices others make, we can choose instead to observe our own reactions and develop the steadfastness necessary to ride out a storm.
A Guided Meditation from Alan Wallace
One of my meditation teachers offered this short talk and guided meditation in response to the current political situation. It’s a great reminder that no matter what happens in the phenomenal world, we always have the option to continuously take refuge in our inherent goodness and basic sanity. What if we all did this? I wonder what would happen.