If you're feeling overwhelmed by concerns about the election, or by what's happing in your personal life or immediate community, taking a pause can be helpful in re-establishing equilibrium and finding a place of refuge in this moment. It's easy to feel overwhelmed right now. See if you can give yourself some respite. Here are a few pauses that I find helpful.
1. Start by taking a few slow breaths, and let your attention rest on your breath. You can also place one or both hands on your heart, reminding yourself to bring not just awareness, but loving awareness to yourself and to your experience of noticing the breath. Close your eyes, and continue to focus your attention on your breathing, letting its gentle rhythm soothe you from the inside. If you would like guidance in this, you can listen to the audio I created for the Affectionate Breathing meditation that's part of the Mindful Self-Compassion course.
2. Take a few breaths. Notice how slow, rapid, deep, or shallow each breath is. Maybe they are similar; maybe each one is really different. Just allow your breath to be the way that it is; no need to try to change it in any way. Expand your awareness to include the space that you are in at this moment: Where are you? What sounds do you hear? What is the temperature in the room? What's the weather, the time of day, day of the week, season, year? Who is nearby? What sensations do you feel in your body? What's the fullest view you can have of this moment? See how specific you can get about what this moment offers you.
3. Let your attention rest on something that you actually enjoy looking at. Maybe you are near a window and there's a tree or a patch of sky that you appreciate. Maybe there is a plant, or a postcard ~ some object or image that makes you smile and feel gratitude that it is part of your life. If you have a book of photographs or paintings that you like, you can take that down from the shelf and actually look at it. Let yourself be absorbed in the images, colors and textures. I find that just a few minutes of looking at trees, sky or beautiful images shifts my perspective. It feels like a massage for the psyche.
None of these practices is meant to minimize the very real challenges that we each face as individuals and as a collective. Instead, they are meant to help sustain and fortify you when you forget that alongside all of the challenges of life, there is also so much beauty. That beauty can nourish you, even when times are very hard.