Breathe deep. Clear your mind. Everything will be alright. You’ll survive this election and find your zen again.
Admittedly the presidential race has been stressful for all, both Americans and observers abroad. From person to person, ideologies may differ dramatically but psychologies are fairly similar, and the American Psychological Association reports that this year’s election has significantly raised tensions across party lines, ages, races, genders, and ethnic divides. More than half of the 3,500 people it surveyed in the US reported serious race malaise.
But when the race is won and we resume the everyday business of living, we’re going to have to chill out. A non-partisan group called Elevate the Vote has been working on helping us accomplish just that, organizing meditation flash mobs to descend on over 1,000 polling stations across all 50 US states at 6pm EST. It’s a nonpartisan effort to alleviate national anxiety with a mass breathing exercise.
As flash mobs go, these should be calm, involving only taking time to inhale and exhale for unity, and sit to the extent it’s suitable. The organizers ask that peaceful crowds descend at the designated time to meditate at various locations; each assembly will have its unique dynamics, depending on attendance and participation.
For those who can’t make it to any of the scenes, there’s a livestream. In a statement about the event, the group explains, “We are not for or against any political candidates or parties. We are for respect, unity, compassion, kindness, and peace.”
On its Facebook page, voters and international observers alike are checking in with their locations and pledging support. One writes, “I will be meditating from the Heart Chakra of our planet, Glastonbury, England.” German and Irish meditators are lending their breath to US voters too, along with more than 25,000 others who have signed up for the event.
Its promoters point out that meditation has been scientifically proven to reduce anxiety and increase empathy—exactly what’s needed right now.
“People are pissed off, they’re angry, they’re hurt and they feel hopeless,” Jacob Devaney, a spokesperson for Unify, one of the groups organizing the event, told The Huffington Post. “Whoever becomes our next Senate and president, we’re going to need mental clarity, inner peace and compassion.”
There are others around the country working to sooth the national spirit after a harrowing campaign season. In New York, the Mark Morris Dance Group in Brooklyn held an open meditation this morning, and tonight the Shambhala Meditation Center in Manhattan is holding an Election Night Dharma Gathering. There are free election meditation classes in Arkansas. And if you’re having a panic attack, there’s an app for that; the meditation program 10% Happier asked instructors to specifically design exercises that address election stress.
“Our democracy is not perfect,” Elevate the Vote writes in a statement. “And neither are we. This mass meditation is an opportunity for us to come together and heal the divisiveness.” Getting people together, they hope, will change minds, open hearts, and make the world a different place.
Whatever your feelings about meditation’s powers of transformation, that much at least is true. Soon the world will be different. Breathe deep.