Kelly Spencer - Happy Healthy YOU
(A wellness column by Kelly Spencer: writer, life coach, yoga & meditation teacher, holistic healer and a mindful life enthusiast!)
When we are feeling on the opposite side of the matter - of any matter - we may feel frustrated, unheard or even fearful.
Initiating or participating in a topic of politics is always a bit like poking a sleeping bear; you really don’t know what you will get when the conversation awakens. Many people all over the world, including myself, have had strong feelings post-U.S. election.
I read an article recently called “Hate didn’t elect: People did!” With compassion and understanding, I try and see both opposite sides of this matter. There are many rural areas in our neighbor’s country that live in dire poverty. There is anger and fear about their lives and their future. They hear the new promises of economics and safety as music to their ears. Why wouldn’t they trust a new kid on the block, when the traditional politicians have failed them?
I live a blessed life. I am not rich per se but have a home, a car, a job. I am safe and all my needs are taken care of and then some. When we can imagine life without that, where our jobs have gone and our water system is polluted or our family is hungry... when we can put ourselves in their shoes, it is understandable. It is understandable that they would overlook the tone of an angry political election with divisive rhetoric and perceived racism, IF it meant they could live a better life beyond basic survival needs.
Can we not put ourselves in the shoes of others and offer compassion and love even though we do not experience what they do?
My sister who works in Toronto emailed me on the weekend. Feeling much concern, she sent some news links regarding violence against a man of colour by a white man on a street car in Toronto. The Caucasian man yelling hateful racism and at one point yelled “Go Trump.” Also in the GTA are posted signs to lamp posts, inviting people to join white supremacy groups. And while the man of colour was protected by many on the streetcar with him, and the signs were taken down, one can understand my sister's worry and concern as her children are half-Jamaican.
Maslow's hierarchy of needs is a theory in psychology proposed by Abraham Maslow in 1943. The theory examines the five stages of a humans needs: physiological, safety, love and belonging, self-esteem and self-actualization.
Basically physiological needs are the physical requirements for human survival. If this is not being met, it is difficult to move up the ladder. The lack of abuse, safety, security, health and well-being is next. After physiological and safety needs are fulfilled, the third level of human need is to feel a sense of belonging and acceptance. We all need to love and be loved by others.
"What a man can be, he must be." A. Maslow
All humans have a need to feel respected; this includes the need to have self-esteem and self-respect and this is the fourth need in the hierarchy. Self-actualization is the fifth. Maslow believed that to
understand this level of need, the person must not only achieve the previous needs, but master them. He also concluded, the self only finds its actualization in giving itself to some higher goal outside oneself, in spirituality and selfless concern for the well-being of others.
“The totality of beliefs and sentiments common to the average members of a society forms a determinate system with a life of its own. It can be termed the collective or creative consciousness.” - Emile Durkheim
Dr. Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist who founded analytical psychology and an expert about our conscious, subconscious and coined the term superconscious or collective consciousness. When we live mindfully, we become more aware of how we are feeling, speaking and acting and ultimately what we are adding to the collective conscious energy of the world.
The power of truth, love and understanding when living a mindful and centered life is hope during times of opposition and divide. It is okay to freak out, grieve, and vent for a while or lean on each other and speak our truth. But then, we reach higher.
Reaching higher doesn’t mean ignoring truth but rather not allowing fears or hurts or other lower vibrational energies to consume your consciousness or add to the collective energies.
“Think of what the Dalai Lama has gone through in his lifetime. He maintains daily practice, he maintains kindness for everyone, though he has lost his country and his culture at the hands of a brutal regime. Yet he doesn’t hate the Chinese and finds redeeming features in them. He maintains his sense of humor. He has turned his tragedy into a teaching for the world.” - Norman Fischer, poet, author and Zen Buddhist teacher and priest.
Here are some simplified ways to use the power of truth, love and understanding:
1. Empathy. When you are not feeling oppressed, it may be difficult to understand another’s point of view. Empathy is the feeling that you understand and share another person's experiences and emotions by attempting to put yourself in their shoes.
2. Bodhisattva. Bodhisattva is the Sanskrit term for anyone who is motivated by great compassion. Compassion offers sympathetic concern for someone sufferings or the misfortunes of others. When we
can validate by really hearing the other person, it shifts our perspective.
3. Truth. Do not allow the normalization of disrespect, hateful rhetoric or infringement on basic rights of people. Hold people accountable. Speak your truth with the same standard.
4. Ahimsa. There are eight limbs of yoga. The first limb, is called the yamas and deals with one’s ethical standards and sense of integrity, focusing on our behavior and how we conduct ourselves in life. The first yama of five, is ahimsa. Non-violence. This means our thoughts, and our actions to ourselves and to others are non-violent.
5. Personal Power. When you can’t change or control what is happening around you, go inward. Challenge yourself to control you and your life. Get centered and grounded. Laugh. Love. Spend time
with family and friends. Do things that feel good.
6. Be the Change. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Reject fear and hate by using the suggestions above. Live your life authentically, truthfully and with much Metta (loving- kindness).
Assist others, get involved, donate and volunteer. Swing the pendulum of fear and anger by living a life centered in love, health and happiness for self and for all human beings.
Words of the late Canadian Politian and leader of the NDP, Jack Layton said in his final days included, “My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.”
(If you would like to see an article on a specific topic, please email firstname.lastname@example.org)