A student of mine jokingly gave me this idea. But since then I haven’t been able to let it go. When it happened, I was sort of making fun of myself for going on and on about meditation. You’ve probably noticed it lately in my blogs. (It’s efficacy is no joke—it’s still the best tool I know to combat the vicious and insidious happenings and rhetoric, and excuse my words but, bullshit, being conjured in this country right now.) She got it, my student, the power of meditation; and she said in jest, “We should organize a Meditation Flash Mob!” We all giggled. But when I hung up the phone from our class that night, the idea not only stuck, it unfurled before me in a solid and tangible way. And my first thought was, “Yes! On Inauguration Day.”
So here we are . Tomorrow Donald Trump is going to be inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States of America. It still gives me shivers (and not the good kind) to put those words together in a sentence.
A large portion of my adult life I’ve heard slogans pushed around like, “This is a really important time period to be alive.” And some implication that we are all really lucky to be here and be a part of a “big shift” that is happening. And at least to my memory now I’ve always kind of felt like “Yeah, yeah, yada yada,” when I heard that. I feel like many time periods feel like that, when you live in them. Big things have happened in the past. Major world wars have been started; lost and won. Renaissances happened. Electricity was invented, railroads, cars… now we have the internet. I can actually video call my cousin on the other side of the globe while standing in my kitchen doing dishes. It’s that kind of no-big-deal– but still it blows my mind. However, great monumental shifts, and upheaval have happened before. Astounding innovations and accomplishments, and miraculous progress have likewise been born. So it always seemed a little short-sighted, from my perspective, for people to be going on about how ours was the REAL great time.
All the “THIS time is important!” hyperbole kind of bored me before. It felt hollow.
Of course ours is a great time because we are here. But it is not the only great time.
But for the first time, this time, the one we are living in right now, the one where– againshudder– Donald Trump is about to become president has made me sit up in my chair in a very real, shut up and take notice sort of way.
For those of us who naturally sit on the left, where I do, this next four years feels like it’s going to be a LLLLLLOOOOOOONNNNNNNNNNGGGG HAUL. And yet somehow this moment, this time period is sitting differently for me. I’ve lived through some of the same politically grueling time periods other liberals have. I was an environmentalist for a living when the second Bush was elected AND the whole congress went Republican. And for us, and the environment, that was like a punch in the face: Every. Single. Day. Day after day laws that protected our trees, our air, our water, and our wild places were repealed and snuffed out; Ones that we had all worked hard to put in place.
Once for a whole entire summer I rode a ferry boat through the Southeast Alaska waters surrounded by the Tongass National Forest asking passengers to write letters to protect our nation’s roadless areas– including the magnificent Tongass. And they did. And they were protected– under Clinton. Until Bush came in and with probably nothing more than a signature on a line repealed laws and enactments that thousands, nay millions, of people had worked to put into place. Those days were devastating for me. For many.
And yet, this feels different. Then, we knew where Bush the junior stood. This time to me it feels like a live wire is very suddenly about to be in charge of A WHOLE LOT. I experience a pervasive sense of illusion and a flaunting disregard for all that I hold valuable. The notions that I see being tossed about are not only just alarming to me, they also feel dangerous. Like for real off-the-rocker and spouting-off-at-the-mouth dangerous; war dangerous. And we’re all in tow. Accidentally, or purposely, we’re all in tow.
I keep coming back to over and over in my mind to a very real and certain limitation about what I can actually do about it all. The machine is rolling. I am watching.
And yet there is another sense that follows those moments of helplessness: the one in which I do remember what I can do about it. And that has another feeling altogether. It is an anchoring, where I am reminded of what I am capable of doing, of living, of contributing to this time period now. And more than wanting to contribute by participating in any march or demonstration (which by the way I am NOT belittling in any way) there is a sense of wanting to reach down and take a very strong hold/make an unbreakable connection with that strength inside of myself.
And that for me happens through meditation.
Ahhhh, you see I’m coming back to it, don’t you? Returning to that place where I started, or in this case where my brilliant student started: a meditation flash mob!
Because this is what bubbles up for me each time I come up against that feeling of powerlessness that exists right now. When I feel that wall of fear that wants to rear it’s ugly head with every snippet of information about even just the Twitter account of the President Elect I remember: I am NOT powerless. And neither are you.
Inside of me, just like inside of you, there is this beautiful, steady, glorious peace and strength. I can and I do access it. I have and I will continue to do so. And having a hold on this place inside of me, this equanimity that can and does exist makes me capable of choosing it time and time and time again; in the face of whatever happens next. It enables me to choose my actions as representatives of the highest and not as a backlash to fear. So can you. So can we all. And if you’re not feeling it– if you are swamped instead by the raging sense of fear, terror, and dread writhing in waves over this country (and world) right now – I recommend a little turning in.
So this is why the idea of the meditation flash mob stuck. On the morning of the inauguration, which feels like a disturbing day for many of us, I wanted to provide a visual image of accessing that strength and peace and knowing inside each of us.
I do not have control over whether Donald Trump becomes president. I do not have any control over what he chooses to enact, enable, or put in motion during his time in office (other than to do my part by being verbal, making calls, etc.).
The thing I do have control over and will continue to have control over no matter what happens moving forward is my inner state. And this inner state is what helps me define my actions. When it’s good, it is what enables me to uplift myself and others to choose positive actions and not out of fear, but out of a stronger and more stable force than fear: love.
This inner state makes a difference; it makes a difference for each of us individually, but also for the collective whole. The vibe we choose to emit does shift, change, and create. A person responding under stress or duress is usually much less powerful than a person responding from inner strength.
So here is the idea I posted on Facebook: a meditation flash mob on Inauguration Day. Do it on your street corner—by yourself or with others. Imagine if you were driving down the road in despair over the inauguration and you came across a person on a street corner (even one) holding a candle and meditating. Would that uplift you? It would me. So here is the idea I posted on my personal Facebook page:
The purpose of this meditation flash mob is to set a tone and to make a visual demonstration of the kind of peace, stance, and inner strength that will be needed and which we are all likely to have to call on in the four years ahead.
Seeing others sit in meditation on the day that Trump takes office is intended to provide a visual image for all who pass of the kind of inner stance that is likely to be necessary as we face the tumultuous, outrageous, and clearly unpredictable times ahead. It’s also intended as a show of solidarity with each other and to the strength and power that exists within each of us– and that is available to us– no matter what outside circumstances are. It’s a reminder to call on this place of power and peace within ourselves, and act from that place rather than from the place of fear, worry, and uneasiness that this next time period is likely to activate in all of us.
I don’t want to use battle language. So let’s just say it feels like we’ve all got a long stretch ahead of us. We will each need a reminder (again and again) of the inner stance that is available to us– and if we can start on this (sad and crazy) day of intentionally setting a tone within ourselves of the kind of strength and inner peace that will likely need to demonstrate to ourselves and each other again and again—that seems like a good thing.
The idea is this:
You sit and meditate (or at a minimum sit quietly—eyes closed or open), on the sidewalks during commuter times. (Or if you are moved any other time on Friday, January 20th, 2017.)
Bring: something to sit on, layers to wear, hot water bottles—whatever you need to keep warm and comfortable during your sit time.
Do it in service of yourself. And in service of others.
Wear Bright colors so that you may be seen and noticed. (It’s not political—well it is, but you know, not in that way, so I don’t suggest your “pink pussy hats.”)
Create and bring signs with one word or very simple messages which either
Describe of the tone/emotion/feeling/or intention that you intend to hold during your meditation (and come back to again and again during the years ahead).
Or describe very simply the skills and qualities that you and others might find useful in the times ahead—something that personally touches you. An uplifting and positive emotion or intention that you feel drawn to or would like to imbibe.
A positive, uplifting message for others to see as they head into this next four years of Trump’s presidency.
This isn’t a demonstration of defiance, well not directly. What I mean is it is intended NOT to incite fighting words or stances, but instead to call all of our attention to the place that lies within us which we can choose to anchor in in the times ahead– the stance of strength and equanimity with which we can choose our actions; all our actions.
It’s a chance for you to do something simple and positive about it all—starting symbolically and literally within; where all great change begins.
If you do– let me know. Either way, I’ll be at the intersection between 8-8:30AM tomorrow morning– candle held between lotus-ly folded legs.