I have had yet another conversation with a friend about how the stress of these times is hurting her/his/their health.
No, Mr. Trump and minions, you may not wreck the health of my friends and neighbors, and you may not wreck my health. First of all, Jesus doesn’t like it.
“Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God?” (1 Cor. 6:19)
Other faiths and humanist traditions also honor the body and teach, in different ways, that care for the body is a positive spiritual practice.
Trump’s political philosophy is based on abuse, as I have written. Psychological abuse as well as physical abuse cause tremendous stress that literally poisons your well being. Taking positive steps to lavish love on yourself and others is (and I am not exaggerating) a life-saving, life-affirming strategy of subversion of this politics.
What follows are some suggestions of things that work for me. Add your own as you wish.
When I first became the President of Chicago Theological Seminary , I was sick all the time. The doctors told me it was ‘executive stress syndrome.’ In other words, the stress was wrecking my immune system. I had to fix it.
Yoga. I had done yoga on and off since college, but I went back to daily yoga and it helped enormously. There are forms of yoga you can even do in a chair if you wish.
Meditation. I had not regularly meditated up until I became CTS President. I started then. I have found that meditation allows me to slow down my mind and let go of stress. I follow the meditation methods in Thich Nhat Hanh, The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation. Meditation has largely replaced spoken prayer for me, as I find it better to listen than to speak. There are many such spiritual practices that used regularly slow your heart rate and increase your vitality. The key is “regularly.”
Walk. I am on the board of Renewal in the Wilderness. This is a not-for-profit dedicated to helping people renew their bodies, minds and spirit that often get shredded by our work for justice and peace in the world. Contact with wilderness can refresh you so you can renew commitment to building cultures of compassion.
No handy wilderness near you? There are tips on the RITW website for how to do a local walk. For example, follow this link to the RITW description of how to do a “Beauty Walk.”
Sit. Look. In his book Cabin Fever: A Suburban Father’s Search for the Wild, Tom Montgomery Fate has taught me to contemplate an ant on a blade of grass to encounter the “wild” and its spirituality of renewal.
Music. When I am really, really low, nothing lifts me like the music of Sweet Honey in the Rock. Music heals and transports. Human creativity in music is deeply renewing and a balm to the spirit.
Worship. Whether in a formal religious service or out in the wilderness, on your street or sitting looking at an ant, I find the attitude of praise for the infinite is deeply healing and restful.
Turn off the hate. The hate pours out of our media like the river of slime in Ghostbusters. Be self-protective. I limit my contact with media and take one day off completely from any contact with it.
Block the Face. Get the “Make America Kittens Again” app. The Google Chrome app replaces images of Donald Trump with pictures of kittens. I like puppies a lot, so in this post I put kittens and puppies together. Didn’t you feel better just clicking on that image?
#LoveOneAnother. Share your love of self, friends, neighbors and our whole society with one another. Post affirming things. Notice the life changes of others and enter in to their joy or pain.
Be Present. “Do not be anxious,” says Jesus. Matt. 6:25) Jesus and the disciples had plenty to be anxious about, so this was not a there, there, now, now kind of admonition. Or, as my mother used to say, “Don’t borrow trouble.” Stay in the present and deal with what you can.
Yell Your Head Off If You Want To. When I did domestic violence counseling at a YWCA, there was a vast wood nearby. I would take women out to the woods and encourage them to yell their heads off and express the anger and hurt they had experienced. I plan to go to the Women’s March and yell my head off. Feels quite good.
Please share what works for you. We will get through this, especially if we #LoveOneAnother and ourselves.