Very early this morning, after a mere two hours of sleep, my anxiety woke me. After watching the end to an awful and divisive presidential election, rest mostly eluded me. I have made no secret of my own particular leanings this year. I felt devastated as the reality of an ending that almost no one predicted rolled out over hours. How the hell am I going to explain this to my daughters? They have heard with their own ears the way that this president-elect speaks about women and immigrants and people with disabilities and… “Will my Muslim friend now be deported?” “Is he really going to build a wall?” “Mom, I am afraid.”
So I headed to a place where I most often find peace. The yoga room. My teacher walked in with intention. She almost sounded like a drill sergeant as she grasped for words of response to the early morning news. I imagine that she leaned the same way that I did – most yoga instructors probably did. She reminded us of the sacred community in our midst on several occasions. We focused on heart opening exercises. At one point, she had us balance multiple times on each foot. There was so much wobbling all around.
Toward the end of class, she said, “I invite you to join in the river of the room.” We all lined up right in the middle as she instructed us to put our hands on the shoulder of our neighbor. Then we balanced once again. “How does this feel differently when we lean on and support each other?” It was like night and day. I was at ease and knew that my neighbor would not let me fall down. Cleansing tears were released to flow down my face. I have never before cried during yoga.
My greatest concern with this president-elect is how he has normalized the speaking out loud of things racist and misogynistic and hate-filled. Yesterday, I listened to the story of a Vietnamese adoptee who passed by one of his political rallies on her college campus, and his supporters felt the freedom to yell at her “go back where you came from.” She was shaken to the core. She looks very much like my daughters.
The sludge of human prejudice that we all battle inside has been emboldened to shoot out loud from mouths more freely and without pushback from those who know better. We are closing our ears and our hearts to those we deem “other.” I want to be able to tolerate the voices of the “others” in my life, but when that which is being spoken is filled with contempt and hatred, I draw a line. I will not be silent.
I will continue to return to the river that my yoga instructor invited me to this morning. When my daughters looked at me this morning with fear and confusion, I hugged them and said, “We will love and support each other, we will love our neighbors, we will love God, and we will move forward.” When a man with skin tones different than my own arrived to work at my home this morning, he said, “you were up late last night, weren’t you?” We hugged each other. For this day and this moment as well as any challenging ones ahead, I will do my best to stand in the river.