Every boy, girl, woman and man-ifesto!

Posted by on May 5, 2017 in Empowerment, Wellbeing | 0 comments

I woke up this morning and engaged in my usual ritual with the tiny hand-held misery machine to check the news and justify my extra 20 minutes under then duvet. It was not good news; I mean it was really, really terrible news (US health insurance, Syria, Chechnya etc); dismal news, as my local friends lamented not only at the result of the local Metro Mayoral election and the low voting turn out; but also just fretting and whining about the general… well shitness of everything right now; politics, advertising campaigns, even the ever changeable weather. It’s not even the apocalyptic doom and gloom of 2016 where we were in a constant state of anguish over world events and the loss of beloved celebs; it’s something even worse than that, it’s a resignation to the shitness, a glum surrendering to the inevitable negativity we now expect from the world around us.

And I will hold my hands up and say I am just as guilty of tapping this glumness into the little boxes on my misery machine as anyone else. But I’m also aware that I don’t want to be dragged into an apathetic quagmire either. This does on occasion mean I come across as a bit tyrannical and argumentative about politics and rather than coming up with rational solutions as I know is my brain working at it’s best, I find myself in my chimp brain, ruminating over arguments and getting nowhere.

But in the course of my day the clouds have parted in my brain and I’ve found myself back in solution mode. It has become evident, that no day is truly a bad day. Whilst walking through Debenhams I went to open a door for an elderly man, but he rushed ahead of me to open it for me first, beaming and saying ‘I’m not too old to open a door for a lady you know!’ I then ran into Jeff, the lovely Big Issue seller on Stokes Croft, who any of you in Bristol will probably know as well as I do. He gave me a big hug and a ‘but gal, it’s a beautiful day!

We are all essentially angry and frustrated because we are fighting for our beautiful days, but in fighting so hard we are destroying the very peace we have within us, and if we do that, then what peace will we have to share, to spread? If we are constantly fighting against forces that are fuelled by fear and anger, but getting more and more fearful and angry then isn’t that counter productive? But focusing on healing ourselves from the inside out can we then have any positive influence on anything around us. Divide and conquer has always been a staple of those who wish to seek power; unity and the recognition of ‘oneness’ a staple of those who wish to spread peace.

This is something I have been learning through my yoga practice and studying and although the concept sounds simple, it’s tricky to put into practice because it involves an element of surrender to the notion of non-duality, that there is no separateness between us as humans or the world around us. Focusing on that while meditating or doing yoga or mindfulness or whatever you might do to create inner peace, for a short time is one thing; but as soon as you get off the mat and return to a world that is demanding you see each other as different, pitting countries, politicians, religions, genders and belief systems against one another; that microdot of inner peace and oneness you felt seems to dissolve like the snowflake you were just told you were.

So it takes practice, a lot of practice, but it doesn’t have to be difficult; which is why I propose a new manifesto of daily practices. An every boy, girl, woman and man-ifesto, to bring a little more peace, if not to the world, then at least to yourself so at the very least you don’t go completely mad over the next month or two:

  1. If you care about politics, get informed about your local parties and candidates so you feel informed of your decisions and in any discussions.
  2. Make sure you are registered to vote!
  3. Realise that you might not agree with some of your friends, make a pact to keep debate friendly and if you can’t then agree to avoid the subject for a while.
  4. Use your political beliefs as a way of connecting with other people; you might find that you make many new friends and allies through campaigning and political events
  5. Take social media breaks, debating with people you know is exhausting enough without burning through your energy with long arguments with strangers.
  6. Get into nature as often as you can, with no devises, reconnect with the earth and put your bare feet on it once in a while, remember, trees don’t care about politics.
  7. Practice kindness, kindness, kindness. Politics can be mean. There is no point supporting a party who wants to tackle homelessness if you ignore every homeless person you walk past. You might not be able to give them any money, but eye contact or a smile or word costs nothing.
  8. Practice self-kindness also. It’s okay to take time out, it’s okay to feel overwhelmed and employ some self-care and deal with your frustrations in whatever way you know works for you.
  9. Work on finding that peace within you! Join a meditation or yoga (or both) class, and practice, even just learning to sit and breath for ten minutes a day makes a whole world of difference and help builds immunity to the maelstrom of crazy crap going on.
  10. Find something good in every day. Sometimes the misery machine would have us believe that everything is doom and gloom, but there is always good news too. Relish in your own successes, or those of your friends, or city, or those who are working hard for change, or just find one thing to be grateful for every day.

And if all that fails, I heartily recommend going to Stokes Croft and at least getting a hug off Jeff.

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