Breathe, Baby, Breathe — For the Sake of our Nation

A week ago this morning I was soaking naked in a pool of shoulder-deep water at a Korean women’s spa. My friend and I had not chosen this day because it was Election Day, but we’d chosen this day because it was Election Day. We had elected to give ourselves a few precious hours of restoration. The household management and errands would still be there afterwards. The volunteering would happen before and after. The care for our community and children were safely in the hands of others. For these few hours we would show up to connect with, rejuvenate and care for ourselves.

You might savor the finer points of therapeutic hot and cold pools, heated sand and salt rooms and sweaty steam rooms, but it’s not those scenes I’m writing about in this breath. For now, let’s say I need to trumpet a bit about the week that followed my time at the spa. Our week that followed, yes, yours and mine.

The presidential election did not go as I expected. It did not go as I wished. It did not go as large numbers in our nation expected or wished. But what we wish for and what happens are sometimes not the same. And accepting reality is essential to staying afloat as far as I can tell. Lack of acceptance results in suffering. Sometimes, yes, that suffering is a catalyst for action. But suffering is not required for action. The reality itself can be enough. We can simultaneously accept reality and choose to work to change that reality.

Like you, I venture, I have a busy mind. And body. It’s hard to not be making a list, crossing things off my lists or inadvertently running a marathon in the course of executing my lists. Also like you, I venture, I’m multi-tasking most of the time. I know intellectually I should aspire to slow down and be more present and mindful. But it’s so hard! And there are so many other things to do!

Being naked at a spa is indeed a remarkably good start for some. At a spa, all one can do is converse in a whisper, meditate, or yes, of course, let your monkey mind run. But even my monkey mind is slowed in the calm of the spa. And conversing in a whisper is hard (I got shushed!), so let’s just say I had more meditative moments that morning than usual.

That precious time, full of those meditative moments, too loud whispers and minimized monkey mind has paid off this past week. I went to the spa in a celebratory fashion excited for Hillary Clinton’s election. Celebrating what it would mean for our daughters’ and sons’ futures. What it would mean for the globe. A Korean naked women’s spa seemed as worthy a place to have a little pre-first-woman-president-of-the-United-States-victory self-care as I could imagine. The victory part didn’t pan out, but the self-care part did.

You’ve seen a lot of raw pain since election night. I have too. We’ve also seen joy and I welcome joy to the world. Sadly, and sometimes shockingly closely associated with that joy, there have also been hate speech and violent acts seemingly inspired by the election outcome. We’ve seen and felt fear. Fears of deportation, loss of health care, harm to the planet, violent acts allegedly perpetrated based on gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, ethnicity, legal status, etc. A surge of fearsome acts.

But we’ve also seen alignment. People raising their voices collectively. We’ve seen courage. Women and men publicly stating they won’t be idle bystanders to verbal or physical attacks. We’ve seen love, so much love. Beautiful testaments of gratitude for community. Tiny, exquisite moments between strangers. We’ve seen truth. People sharing their truth with courage and love. Each of these expressions is big and bodacious, necessary and important. They remind of our connection to one another; they make us stronger.

This week was traumatic for many of us. Trauma is from the Latin traumaticus, “pertaining to a wound.” I didn’t know that this election was going to leave a wound, but that’s quite literally how many of us have experienced it. My Election Day time at the spa was healing, restorative and allowed me personally to not be as deeply wounded. I entered the post-election world stronger. Stronger for having soaked exposed in my nakedness. Stronger for having reconnected. Stronger for the calm. I didn’t plan it that way. But I’m certain of it. I’m wounded, yet recovering well. I’m strong.

Now remember, no one knows quite what lies ahead. Joy and celebration, yes. Disappointments and occasional wounds, yes, those too. But we don’t know more. Not yet.

No matter the circumstance, self-care contributes to how you experience each moment. If you didn’t go in strong to this election, if you are struggling to find a foothold, if you are feeling disconnected or full of despair, use that awareness as a reminder to start again with yourself. Breathe. Soak. Pray. Move. Breathe more. Do whatever is healing for you.

It is from your strong, healed place that you can align, tell your truths and act with courage and love. So start with yourself. And then connect with, restore and strengthen us. Our nation needs you.