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Inner Peace: It's not easy to keep peaceful in a political season

Politics! You’ve probably noticed lately that during this presidential election season we are cheering or jeering one candidate or the other. We choose sides and it may seem ridiculous but it looks like we actually enjoy disliking one of the candidates, or maybe both? Of course we need to vote, but choosing peace during this process is a challenge. 

We find ourselves gnashing our teeth over what they say or don’t say and it can be fun or unnerving depending on who said what. I think we like disturbances on some level. Some of you may remember the “dust up” over Medford’s pedestrian and bicycle bridge over Barnett Road a few years ago. There is always something going on like the recent choice of a sculpture for the gateway of Ashland, or the store owner who displayed a book in the front window of her store.

We like controversy as it makes us “feel” something: upset, offended, judgmental or alive and we think we are right and everyone else is wrong. It is either a “love it or hate it” at the time, but thankfully time will move on and memories can fade. This will happen with the current political season, but only if you don’t attach yourself to the outcome. 

Attachment and disappointment could keep the rumination going for years and decades to come. Attachment is problematic. We want “things” our way. When we don’t get what we want we suffer — especially when we hold on to the grievance. Why hold on? Do we like to suffer? That must be the case when we hold the anger or grudge unwilling to let go. 

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; You are the one who gets burned” (Buddha).

We can still get involved in issues to make things better, but we will regain our happiness when we let go of the outcome of whatever it was we hoped to accomplish. Holding on to the outcome is a recipe to suffering. Do your best, work with good will and a courageous mindset while singing that old Doris Day song: “Que sera sera, Whatever will be, will be, The future’s not ours to see, Que sera sera.” I know that dates me but it is still good advice! And better yet, learn how to meditate so not getting your way will roll off like water on a duck’s back.

The book “The Relaxation Response” by Herbert Benson, M.D., was written in 1975 from his studies in transcendental meditation at Harvard Medical School. His latest book is the "Relaxation Revolution" (2010). His website is at www.bensonhenryinstitute.org.

Here’re some tips:

1. Sit quietly in a comfortable position.

2. Close your eyes.

3. Relax all your muscles beginning at your feet and progress up to your face and top of head. Keep them relaxed.

4. Breathe through your nose and focus on your breathing. As you breath in and out repeat the word “ONE” silently to yourself in a slow but natural rhythm. This focusing of the mind is called a mantra. You can use any word or sound but be sure it is neutral.

5. Continue this calming practice for 20 minutes and if distracting thoughts come up gently repeat the word “ONE” to settle the mind.

6. Do not worry about whether you are successful or not.

When you finish, sit quietly with your eyes closed. At first I had a pencil and paper nearby to jot things I deemed important to remember because the mind does not quiet down easily. Eventually it will. Practice meditating at least once a day and twice is better but wait a couple of hours after eating a meal.

You will reach a deep level of relaxation and you won’t care about politics, the outcome or the election. The benefits are immense and peace is your prize — no matter who wins.

Sally McKirgan facilitates one of several local groups studying the spiritual book "A Course In Miracles," edits the Tidings Inner Peace column and its Inner Peace Community blog online at www.dailytidings.com. Contact her at innerpeaceforyou@live.com.