I went to the opening night Laker game this week and as much as I appreciate my alone time, I love being in spaces with energy, athleticism, and the star spangled banner. There is a feeling being around people you don’t know, it’s filled with potential and excitement, and I noticed how long it had been since I had felt that. Over the time I have written my blog, I’ve learned that nothing in life is random, that every chance encounter with another person is full of possibility and could be the source of the next great story. Curiosity about other people, what their experiences are like, and what makes them tick is the ground floor for uniting people, which is something our country feels like it is looking for, even if we don’t always know how to act to make that happen. Beyond the joy of watching athleticism on display, what I have always loved about sports is the ability they have to bring people together…and that’s exactly what I felt at that game on Tuesday night.
I used to think that all the things that catch my eye, or more likely my wandering brain, were unrelated, but now I see them as my own unique story, and I’m not afraid to tell it. Even if someone tells me they don’t get it. Lately my mind has come back to the intersection of mindfulness and the politics, two topics of interest for me, but when I’ve tried to explain my thoughts on the intersection of the two to people, most of them have responded by saying:
“Wendy, those two things couldn’t be more opposite.”
But the way I see it, the corporate world is embracing mindfulness more and more amongst their workforces, and I’ve experienced firsthand the way mindful pursuits can change a home environment, so why shouldn't the people wielding power, and the citizens that have the conversations on contentious issues, look at following the same path? It seems to me it would make our interactions and connections much more positive and meaningful. Here are a few reasons why:
Mindfulness teaches us to recognize our ego, and where it may be overzealously driving the boat. If we can stop feeling so protective of ourselves and our way, we will be more receptive and less threatened by the thoughts of others. We will be able to blend, compromise, and learn while we still have a deep understanding of our own stances and beliefs. As my dad put it in a text to me: “Politics is the art of listening to others, not yourself, and incorporating what you hear into your policy that you also support.” It doesn’t feel like we have a lot of that spirit running through our Capitol’s these days. In learning to slow down our minds, maybe that could change.
Mindfulness teaches us to recognize fear based thinking. All too often, in politics and the ensuing policy, the ideas that we encounter come from a fear based approach to life. Being able to slow down our thoughts helps us recognize our motivation for the feelings we have and the decisions we make because of it. Mindfulness reduces anxiety and helps us feel safe in our bodies, which always gives us a better picture to make a decision.
We need to set an example for the next generation about how to have compassion, evolve, and get along with people who have different opinions than our own without caving in to fear of rejection, being immediately offended or hurt by what we think other people think of us. Mindfulness helps us create a strong sense of self that will create a more resilient spirit, thicker skin, and the discernment to know when to challenge and when to pull back or compromise on an issue. The next generation needs to see a greater example of this than what we have been showing them.
I was heartened this week when my favorite podcast came out on Wednesday and it was an enlightened conversation between Dr. Michael Gervais and Dr. Amishi Jha. Dr. Jha, among other important positions, is the Director of Contemplative Neuroscience for the Mindfulness Research and Practice Initiative and her work has been featured at NATO, the World Economic Forum, and The Pentagon. Those qualifications more than caught my eye…maybe it is happening. The conversation had it’s roots in exactly the place my mind has been swirling for some time. The synergy can’t be ignored…the optimist in me tells me we are due for a shift. We are a country capable of gathering to celebrate and relate together. As Dr. Mike put it so well:
“Extraordinary performance is counter to our natural impulses, so it takes incredible training.”
It’s time to take that training from athletic arenas and the corporate world and bring it to the Capitols to change the dialogue between both the power brokers and the citizens of our great country.
With love & optimism,