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November 17, 2016

Ten Yogic Tips for Processing Grief & Making Change.

courtesy of author, Kristin Bindi

“Get up, stand up. Stand up for your rights…don’t give up the fight.”
~ Bob Marley

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My Facebook feed is blowing up with outraged, terrified and sorrowful responses to the announcement that Donald J. Trump will be our next President and Commander-in-Chief.

According to one of the most sacred yogic texts, we are currently in a period called Kali Yuga. This period is the darkest of the four ages. But the great thing about Kali Yuga is that it will help us to evolve as a species through facing the darkness (gu) and collectively choosing to turn towards the light (ru).

As I flow between the stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance), I’m also feeling quite optimistic about the avalanche of awesome reform that could be born from this most unfortunate reality.

I left the U.S. the day of the election and flew to the Sacred Valley of Peru. There, I met up with a friend and fellow yoga teacher for lunch. She is a social worker in New York, and I listened compassionately as she expressed sheer terror of her clients potentially being deported under Trump’s jurisdiction.

Trump was elected by a country living in deeply-rooted fear. Having an unbalanced root chakra leaves people wanting to latch onto a strong voice to enhance their perceived sense of safety. I could go off about how racism, bigotry, and sexism won—but instead I want to offer tangible ways to move forward.

I recently  went to a yin yoga class at the Yoga Room in Cuzco. The class was so packed that our mats were touching, and students were turned away at the door. About half the class were citizens of the U.S., there to grieve collectively after an emotionally draining day. The teacher, Katherine Narvaez, said something during class that really hit home with me:

“Don’t allow the darkness of the world to reside in your body.”

As I saw my friends posting about post-Trump hangovers, I realized that people really need tangible tools to help them process their grief sustainably. Here are a few simple things we can do:

1. Make a conscious decision to concentrate on your breath when you are feeling disgruntled. Think about breathing in light and exhaling darkness. To make real change we need to balance our outrage with healing vibrations. We can balance our left (feminine) and right (masculine) brains through practicing the pranayama alternate nostril breathing, agni sadhana.

2. Be cautious about where you allow your mind to wander during this trying time in history. Choose to reflect on positive interactions, remaining a positive petunia even in the sea of negativity.

3. Dance ecstatically! Attend an ecstatic dance in your community or just let loose in your room. Free-form movement allows you to be authentic, spontaneous and expressive in a moving meditation. It can serve as a constructive relief from the stress and tension of this election.

4. Meta and mantra meditation have been essential tools for me to dissolve my anger and frustration and transform those feelings into universal loving kindness. Try the mantra, “Sat cit ananda” which translated from sanskrit means, “I am an eternal, conscious, blissful being.” Do this 108 times, or until you feel more at ease.

5. Try to incorporate postures where your forehead or third eye is receiving pressure to help dispel illusion and bring about clarity about what you can do to positively contribute to the world (triangle, child’s pose, standing forward fold, seated head to knee).

6. If you are feeling ungrounded, try working on your root or muladhara chakra. This chakra symbolizes your relationship with pacha mama—mother earth. The mantra for this chakra is Lam, and its color is a deep red. Give yourself a foot massage to move consciousness toward your primary connection to the earth. Try earthing, which can be as simple as sitting under a tree with your hands on the ground.

7. Try focusing on what change you want to see. Visualize it, draw it, talk about, journal about it. Once your vision is clear, commit to it and share it with the world to inspire others.

8. Try AcroYoga! Lifting others up and trusting others to lift you up is a powerful way to build community, communication skills, and strength to keep fighting as a peaceful warrior.

9. Be extra sensitive about the food and substances you choose to put into your body. Wanting to go out and get trashed to forget the whole thing is a totally natural response, but the reality will be the same in the morning—only you will be less ambitious to do anything about it. Eating pure satvic food will help you to be able to think more clearly, and it’s better for the planet.

10. Do something to be a part of the change! Teach a free yoga class outside that starts with a clean-up, organize or take part in a peaceful protest, or volunteer for a non-profit whose values align with yours.

The globe needs compassionate beings who are inclusive of all races, genders and religions. It is time to organize—to come together on local, national and global fronts to say we refuse for this to be our reality.

I refuse to hunker down and just sit gritting my teeth as this level of discrimination plays out before my eyes.

We do not have to continue to repeat history. We are standing on the shoulders of giants—Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi Gi, Cesar Chavez, to name a few. Our water warriors with the Dakota Access Pipeline have been gathering people and restoring our national sense of community activism.

We can run with the momentum those activists have built to bring about real sustainable change for ourselves and uture generations.

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Author: Kristin Bindi

Image: Author’s Own

Editor: Toby Israel

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