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Thoughts on Maintaining a Peaceful Heart While Becoming An Activist

(In other words, finding balance in crazy times!)

Back in January, during the Women's March, I really enjoyed the signs.   They were clever and funny and heartfelt.  

I also recall my overwhelming realization that they covered . . . So. Many. Issues.

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I remember just standing there, just kind of gobsmacked, that this wasn't just a march for women's issues.  Or access to health care.  Or clean water for Flint.  Or saving Planned Parenthood.  Or protecting LGBTQ rights.  Or immigration and refugee issues.  Or support for public education.  Or doing something to slow down climate change.  Or environmental protection.  Or preserving first amendment rights.

No.

I realized it was - suddenly - about ALL THE THINGS.

Because ALL THE THINGS were at risk.

All at once.

Those signs, for me, just brought that fact home.

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I've explained here on the blog that after the shock of the election last November, I felt an overwhelming desire to . . . DO SOMETHING . . . in a way I never had in my life before.  It was like - overnight - an activist was born!  And since the inauguration in January, I have done things I never imagined I would do.

I started joining all the lists and sending all the postcards and making all the calls and reading all the news.

But.

My approach was wearing my down.  Because I don't like being on High Alert all the time.  I've realized that I can't be an activist . . . for All The Things . . . All The Time . . . without sacrificing my internal peace.

Without losing my BALANCE.

I recently found this quote by Richard Rohr of The Center for Action & Contemplation:

                "We need a contemplative mind in order to do compassionate action."

This gave me great pause . . . to stop and think and re-evaluate my chicken-with-her-head-cut-off approach.

Because a contemplative mind is not motivated by fear.  Or urgency.  Or my Facebook feed!  Because, well, y'know. . . that just leads to stress, a feeling of impending doom, and RE-action.  Not compassionate action.

A contemplative mind, rather, takes in the situation.  Learns about the situation.  And lines that up with personal values and goals.  In short, a contemplative mind allows for (wait for it) . . . comtemplation! 

Which is HARD.
Because ALL THE THINGS!

But necessary.  Because we need to act from our best and most peaceful place.

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I'm working hard to foster a contemplative space for myself (and - trust me - some days it's much easier to do this than others).  For me, this means that every day, I try to:

  • Meditate (inviting a peaceful heart)
  • Move (working out some of my frustration)
  • Get outside (changing my environment)
  • Limit my news consumption (because overload)

It helps.

By creating space to think, I'm better able to discover and discern just what kind of compassionate action to take.  Because much as I might want to do All The Things, I simply cannot.  I need to choose.  I need to focus.  I need to take aim at specific targets.

I'm finding that having a bit more balance - between my peaceful heart and my new activist mind-set - helps me feel better, speak from the heart, and act more effectively.  By prioritizing my issues, I feel like I'll be able to DO SOMETHING in a way that keeps my values, my passions, my gifts, and my energies in better alignment.

(Balance, my friends!  Turns out it's all about balance.)

"It's not possible to save the world by trying to save it.  You need to find what is genuinely yours to offer before you can make it a better place.  Discovering your unique gift to bring to your community is your greatest opportunity and challenge.  The offering of that gift - your true self - is the most you can do to love and serve the world.  And it is all the world needs."
                                                                        ---  Bill Plotkin in Soulcraft

So.

Quiet your mind.
Discern your priorities.
Take compassionate action using your own gifts.
Find your balance.

It's the best we can do.

 

 

 

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