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  • Matt

Mindfulness as political freedom

We must learn to take away others’ power to trigger us and replace it with our own power to be mature, grounded, open, curious and loving.

I recently wrote about Donald Trump’s mastery of triggering the human nervous system. He can make our country’s self-reliant rural communities feel needy for his protection, and our urban economic centers feel under siege. He will presumably continue after leaving the White House, with harmful consequences to our country.

It's time we learn to free ourselves from his grip.

Let's be clear why Trump wants to trigger us. He knows that we act predictably when we’re agitated. We can’t see the big picture, handle conflict constructively, or generate new solutions when we are on high alert. We are easier to manipulate when we act in predictable ways. It serves Trump’s political strategy to try to make us scared and angry rather than, say, creative and loving.

Have you ever seen a creative and loving response to Trump? It’s actually kind of humorous to imagine. Envision Trump all worked up, alone in some room, typing an incendiary Tweet. Now imagine a truly loving person, like Mother Teresa or Gandhi, enters the room. They see his humanness and care about his soul. They show him respect and love. They listen to him with deep concern for many hours. They soothe him, maybe they hold him. They redirect him with the nurturing skills of a saint. They help him find healthy ways to meet his true needs and bring wholeness to what is broken.

When I first imagined this, I chuckled at the absurdity of it. Then I experienced an itty-bitty sliver of tenderness. And then I realized that imagining this scene was a bit subversive. It’s subversive because it breaks the mold of how Trump wants us to think and feel. He only knows how to operate if we are cheering for him or pushing against him. When we choose alternative ways to engage, we act with a freedom that confounds aggressors like Trump.

We must learn to take away idealogues’ power to trigger us and replace it with our own power to be mature, grounded, open, curious and loving. When we do this, we’re better able to imagine and explore solutions, rather than rehash divisive slogans about our nation. This is a critical step to rebuilding our country.

Have you ever seen a creative and loving response to Trump?

Fortunately, we all have the capacity to choose our thoughts and emotions. We just haven’t been taught how to access this ability, especially when we’re under duress.

I am trying to learn how to do this. I see it an everyday, my-little-life way to be part of the solution to our nation’s ills.

I invite you to join me! Please click here to read my first attempt at describing a process through which we can respond to triggering with freedom. (And here’s a fun, downloadable summary version to put on your fridge.)

Respond to triggering with freedom
Download PDF • 126KB

I hope you’ll give it a try. Doing this exercise raised some curious questions for me, such as:

What does it look like for a Trump supporter to be open, calm, curious, and loving? What new solutions can they see that others can’t? What is possible for our country when their passion combines with a deep sense of caring for different types of Americans?

What does it look like for a Trump opponent to be open, calm, curious and loving? What could they hear and understand about Trump’s supporters that isn’t otherwise accessible? How might they find new ways to build a common good with different types of Americans?

What do you think? Is this a plausible trailhead to a better future? I’d love to hear your comments. Please drop me a note on Facebook or Linkedin.


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