I could not breathe. It was if an elephant sat on my chest. And although we all knew that it was going to happen, it was still so hard to believe for so many reasons: she was a badass, she was just, she was our protector. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, The Notorious RBG, may have been all that was standing between us and the complete fall of Democracy. If you, like me, are completed exhausted, panicked, anxious and angry then this list may be of service.
1. Let the Feelings Flow.
The worse thing that we can do right now is pretend that everything is fine and shove our feelings down. That moment, on Friday, September 18, 2020, when I heard of RBG's passing, I took an unwanted trip on an emotional rollercoaster. I felt deep sadness followed by anger followed by extreme fear for the future of our country. What would happen to my rights as a Black American woman? What would become of the marriages of my friends in the LGBTQ+ community? Who would protect us from a crooked election?
I allowed myself to feel enraged and let it out via text messages to my family and yoga mentor. I allowed myself to curl up into the fetal position and weep. I stuffed myself with chocolate and soothed myself with peppermint tea. I allowed myself to be there in that state of utter defeat. Are the bad guys winning? Didn't we just lose Elijah Cummings and John Lewis? Why is our team becoming so depleted and yet others seem to thrive?
And then I remembered one tried and true thing that makes me feel better.
2. Move Your Body.
I practice Yoga which makes me one of the lucky ones and on this particular weekend I was taking an immersion. Immersions and trainings are wonderful because for at least three hours you do nothing but breathe in and absorb the practice. You discover all of those places where your anger, fear, and even defeat hide and give yourself the opportunity to move them out of your body by moving with deep intention and precise alignment. By removing these things, you make room for something better, something productive. Moving your body and releasing a bit of darkness gives you the space for a little Light and Hope.
3. Get Into Community.
One thing that I know for sure, is that I am not alone in my feelings from Friday night. Due to the pandemic (yes, that's still a very real thing) it isn't exactly safe to gather and hold each other in this moment. But what we can do is use the phone, FaceTime, Zoom and the like to check in and ask one another how we are doing and hold space for a genuine response.
Community also provides the opportunity to plan next steps to not only preserve our sanity but also to preserve democracy. There is power in practicing together, yes even online. And the practice extends beyond those in Yoga but also out to social activities like book clubs, group phone calls, online dance parties and celebrations. Remember that we are social animals and rely on one another to make it through both the good times and the bad.
4. Take Action!
We cannot stay in a helpless, hopeless state. We must yogastha, stand in our Yoga and fight! The Saturday after RBG's transition, I began filling out my letters for Vote Forward encouraging others to get out and vote. I am checking in with family and friends to make sure that they are not only registered, but that they have a voting plan in place. I am reminding folks that more than likely, we will not know the results of the election until a week or more after polling.
I am also taking action by going deeper in my understanding and teaching of Yoga. This is not the time for asana alone, it is also a time to explore pranayama, meditation, myth and philosophy. These are the ways that Yoga can not only profoundly change us as individuals but also uplift our nation.
See you on the mat and in the fight!