From Grief to Grace In This Time of Unrest

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Albert Einstein

I am, like many Americans (and our friends globally),  still reeling from the aftermath of the election.  Over the last few days I’ve found myself crying, experiencing sadness, anger, fear, being tired, not too hungry, trying to understand what happened and working very hard to not get sucked into the cycle of fear and despair.

These spaces, I’ve been moving through have seemed familiar.  Having been on the emotional tidal wave over the last year after my Dad’s death…it dawned on me…I’m grieving and so are many other people.

This election was brutal.  Month after month, the drama, the mudslinging, the hateful rhetoric, the scandals the sleazy politicking played out and the media just kept adding gasoline to the fire.

No matter where you stand or how you voted, our collective psyche has suffered greatly, our nervous system is in fight or flight and our anxiety levels continue to be on hyper alert.

People are experiencing genuine sadness and fear and not because their candidate lost.  This election result is not about Democrat or Republican or liberals being upset that a conservative candidate won.  This is about basic human values and human rights being threatened, and  because many are trying to understand how someone who spewed  hateful rhetoric and demonstrated values or a mindset that many Americans simply to not share has been elected to the highest office in our nation.  And the groups whom he has spoken out against are genuinely fearful about what happens now not only with public policy, but also with a rise in hate crimes…it’s already happening.

So if you are someone who voted for Trump because you couldn’t stand Clinton or wanted to disrupt the status quo or were willing to overlook the man he has shown himself to be because you thought he’d be better for the economy, or you didn’t vote at all…please don’t judge or tell people to get over it because their candidate didn’t win.  This is much bigger than that.

And if you are someone who is angry at the turnout of the election and want to do something, please do.  Peaceful protesting and being in community with other people is a great way to express your emotions, but please be responsible.  Violence will not solve anything and burning your own city or flag is just stupid, disrespectful and will not win anyone over to your side.

Please have compassion for the space that people are in right now, even if you don’t get it.  And,  you are one of the people grieving right now please have compassion for yourself and be responsible in your expression of that grief.

Here are the Five stages of grief, so you can know where you are (or where those around you are):

  1. Denial and Isolation
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

It’s not a cyclical process either, so you may teeter back and forth between stages.  It’s important to allow yourself to experience your experience and also move through and release the emotion so you don’t get stuck in it.  That’s when you can become harmful to yourself or to others.

So how do we move from grief to grace?

“In this time Piscean values are giving way to Aquarian values. The difference between the two is very simple. Piscean values work from the ego, creating boundaries. Aquarian values have no boundaries; they are Infinite. Aquarian consciousness takes you inside your soul, so that you can relate to the soul in all.” -Yogi Bhajan

Those are the words and teachings of Yogi Bhajan, the teacher who brought the principles, practices and technology of Kundalini Yoga to the west from India in 1969.

This new age that we are living in, asks us to each elevate our own consciousness and gives us  five principles to practice and live by, or as he called them the Five Sutras of the Aquarian Age.  While they are simple and straightforward, they are also deep and can transcend us beyond our current state of emotion or being and allow for a state of neutrality and mindful thinking, being and acting.

The Five Sutras of the Aquarian Age

1. Recognize that the other person is you.
2. There is a way through every block.
3. When the time is on you, start, and the pressure will be off.
4.  Understand through compassion or you will misunderstand the times.
5. Vibrate the cosmos, and the cosmos shall clear the path.

As I read each of these, I am struck at how relevent and important these principles are right now.  The one that most speaks to me at the moment is number four. Understand through compassion or  you will misunderstand the times.

While the times are uncertain and there is valid reason for fear and unease, I can also see the opportunity.  The opportunity for each of us to seek not to judge or try to convince someone to see our perspective, but rather to seek to understand the perspective or another through compassion.

As much as I want others to see the world as I do, to be as progressive and forward thinking that I am, it’s more important right now that I seek to understand the point of view of another than to try to convert anyone to my way of thinking.  For to cause any lasting change, I must first understand where other people are and what’s informing their belief system and point of view.  And I must listen from compassion rather than for the opportunity to interject my point of view.

I am aware of my own struggles to do that at the moment, and my own thoughts wanting to travel the rabbit hole to a lot of darkness.  But I know that won’t solve anything or make a difference. And so these Five Sutras are great anchors at the moment to pull my mind back to a neutral state and be in the present moment.

When we can allow ourselves to be present, we can achieve a state of grace.  And it is from that state that healing can begin, connection becomes possible and solutions can arise and we can rise together to stand up for liberty and justice for all.

Sat Nam!