Monday, October 6, 2008

Election Season Fears

Not long ago I read that people in South Africa, when facing the unknown future between apartheid and a new order, used to gather in groups to offer up their positive visualizations of a peaceful South Africa. This was not just a matter of words and thoughts, but of engaging all of their senses and their fullest imaginations to envision a peaceful and prosperous future. Some would even say that their communally shared imaginings made a real difference. Even if you're not willing to believe that doing this helped to shape the future reality of South Africa, perhaps at least you can imagine that it helped to allay people's fears and  allowed them live from a more positive and hopeful place.

I began thinking about this as a personal (and potentially communal) strategy for dealing with my own pre-election fears shortly after the announcement of Sarah Palin as McCain's running mate. I remember all too well how I was gripped with fear four years ago,  how exhausting it was to live yo-yo-ing between panic and buoyant hope, and of course how utterly devastating it was to experience yet another W victory (never mind that it was actually W's first true victory). Inspired by the story of South Africa, I decided to make this a personal practice until November 4: whenever I feel the cold claw of fear begin to close in on me, I will stop and take a few deep breaths and invite myself to imagine election night with all my senses and cylinders firing. Where will I be watching the returns? Who will be my companions? Think of the food and drink, perhaps there's music playing as well as the TV--Jim Lehrer, Gwen Ifill, Judy Woodruff and the PBS gang--and the voices of friends and neighbors. And especially, what will it look like, sound like, feel like, taste like, even smell like when it is announced that Barack Obama is without a doubt the next president of the United States!  Imagine the cheers, the tears (of joy and relief!), the excitement and exhilaration--I can SO get into it!! And you know what? It makes a difference. It removes the cold claw, or at least pries loose its grip a little bit. Perhaps that in itself isn't enough power to turn an election, but it sure beats fear and panic. With a few companions, it could even be fun! (Everyone can pitch in a piece of the imaginary picture.)

Today I was asked by a small group of friends to lead an impromptu "positive visualization," so we simply stood in a circle and held hands, and I offered the briefest guidance, even briefer than what I've written above. The only "rules" are that you don't have to believe anything; you don't have to have a clue how this is actually going to come about--no fussing about the electoral college map or who wins Florida; and you don't even have to think that doing this will have any impact at all on anything other than your own (and your close others') state of mind at the moment. And that's enough. It sure beats fear. 

2 comments:

Meredith said...

Sukie:

Fear certainly does creep in on "little cat's feet," as the poet said of fog and anything that fogs up our spirits. Hope is really its only antidote, and you make that beautifully clear.

I find myself telling people of late, "The bad news is all bets are off. The old model has fallen, and the new has yet to become clear. The good news is all bets are off. The old model has fallen!" We are the creators of the new model, and we bring that creation to reality by speaking our truths, voting our truths, and putting our feet on our own holy ground. Then we wait to see what emerges when we've all taken our places.

Years ago, I had a dream where at first tens, and then many dozens, and then hundreds and thousands of people were pouring out of their homes, holding lit candles and climbing a mountain until each person stood on the mountainside, and the mountainside was lit up by many thousands of candles. This is our time.

love to you,
Meredith

Karlotta said...

Well, this worked well, Sukie. Thanks for this gift. I shared it with some anxious colleagues and everyone felt better, just knowing about the technique, not even trying it - another tool in the "thriving life" toolbelt. Seems to me that visualizing something is the first step to making sure it happens. Let us all hope so.w