After the events of November 8th, and the shocking victory of Donald Trump as our new president-elect I sank into a despair. Living in my little Northampton bubble did not prepare me for the sweeping wins of the Conservative Right, and the subsequent unearthing of hatred towards people of color, women, immigrants, LGBT folks, and anything considered “other” by those who fear it. I’ll confess I was disillusioned and exhausted. How could we be THIS? How could so many people in this country have so much fear, hatred, anger, and entitlement? I felt queasy as stories rolled in about acts of vandalism, assault, bullying, and threats to vulnerable populations. Where did all of this come from???
As with most things, I turned to Ayurveda to make sense of my confusion. Where do we see this quality mirrored in our bodies? Where in our physical forms and mental activity does this emerge? The answer is: during a Cleanse. Everything I mentioned above- the queasiness, the exhaustion, the anger and fear, the entitlement, and even throw in some self-pity for good measure, show up for me when I am cleansing. When we do a cleanse, we are moving foul toxins trapped deep in our tissues out into the bloodstream where they can be eliminated. Most of the time, this waste is sequestered in cells away from normal functions of the body to prevent the system from deteriorating. It is only when we mobilize the toxins from deeper tissues that we really notice their effects on our bodies and minds. While this activity may feel absolutely awful, it is crucial to go through this period and purge everything out in order to feel fully vitalized and healthy again. Better outside the body than trapped inside, making us feel older and sicker before our time.
In a similar vein, we have had some very sick elements in our culture which have been suppressed and pushed aside because of their ugliness. We don’t want to think of this country as one full of racist, misogynistic, homophobic, xenophobes, and yet for about half of us, at least to some extent, that IS the case. These abhorrent acts are showing our true colors, and it may get worse before it gets better. But I have to and I do believe that airing this dirty laundry will lead to healing and progress eventually. People are coming together to protect and prop each other up. Communities are mobilizing in ways they never had to when they could complacently believe in a President we liked who did “the right thing”. Our voices asked for change, and we wanted it so badly we elected someone who is nothing if not unpredictable. So for the next four years here is the challenge: how can we make our lives, and the lives of people amongst us better? Let’s envision the future as a bright inclusive one, and take steps to make it happen.
For my part, I am reinstating my Third Thursday Lecture Series at Valley Ayurveda to create a save space for people to come together in a spiritual context. Together we will learn how to promote strength, equanimity, and balance in our own bodies, and to bring those qualities back to our own communities. I look forward to moving through this uncomfortable “purge” in our society by making connections with all of you, and seeing each other through this unknowable time.