How meditation can save America

American flag against clear sky

Really? 

Meditation save America? 

“You must be joking,” you think. 

Sure, meditation can reduce anxiety and stress, but how could it be the answer to an entire nation’s problems? 

And besides, the recent troubles of the coronavirus, protests and riots are all just temporary. Things will get better, especially after the election. America couldn’t possibly be in real, serious trouble. Especially if your candidate wins, right? 

Perhaps…but probably not. 

America has been caught in a destructive spiral for years

In Jim Collins book Good to Great, he talks about a phenomenon that happens in businesses called the doom loop

What is the doom loop?

It’s basically when a company has no consistent leadership, no consistent principles to guide the company. The CEO, who knows he won’t be in power long term, makes short-sighted decisions that undermine the company’s success. Then, when the new CEO takes power, his policies are completely different than his predecessor, and he overhauls everything. This continual shift in strategies results in a company that stagnates—there is no compelling mission that unites the company, and therefore, it’s unable to reach new levels of success. 

Now substitute the word “company” above for “US government,” and CEO for “President” and you’ll start to see how the doom loop has been playing out in the US for years. 

The most glaring policy shift by president Trump has been his attempt to repeal Obamacare. What’s more, Trump has tried to overturn nearly 200 policies that former President Obama enacted. 

Before you exit this page thinking I’m a Trump hater, let’s look at things from the Republican side.

If Biden wins in 2020, what will he and the Democrats likely do? 

They are almost certainly going to take this same retaliatory approach and overturn as many Trump policies as possible, probably including the US/Mexico border wall. 

Repealing the border wall will have the same negative effect as Trump’s attempt to repeal Obamacare—wasting valuable time, money, US tax dollars and continuing the divisiveness prevalent in the US. The result is the US does not move forward as a country. 

If Biden wins, who’s to say the next Republican president won’t restart the wall? And then we’re back to square one. 

The source of America’s woes

I don’t care what policies you support, whether you’re a Democrat or Republican. The policies aren’t causing America’s downfall. Instead it’s the reaction of those who strongly identify as either a Democrat or Republican: blaming the other side, name calling and refusing to take any responsibility for USA’s problems

If you read my recent article How to be calm when fake news invades your social media feed, you’re probably bothered by the constant political posts online. Why are these so troubling?

It all comes down to a word thrown around a lot these past years: divisiveness. 

I’ve heard both Democrats and Republicans blame the other party for divisiveness. But let me tell you this: using the word “divisiveness” doesn’t automatically make you a saint, political hero or a person who’s fixing the problem. Every time I hear this word tossed around in the media, the person using it blames and labels the other side as divisive. But isn’t blaming divisive in nature? 

Doesn’t blaming “tend to cause disagreement or hostility between people”? That is the actual definition of divisiveness, after all. 

When you point your finger at someone saying it’s their fault, you automatically create a divide. Instead of bringing people together and working to solve the problem, you stall progress. 

The truth is, divisiveness’s source is in the individual. And I believe that meditation can help heal that divide. 

How meditation helps you deal with divisiveness

In Ordinary Dude Meditation’s early days, I wrote a post called How Meditation Saved My Relationship With My Girlfriend that was published on the Change Blog.

The article explains how my relationship with my girlfriend (now wife) was also stuck in a downward spiral. Before I began regularly meditating again, it appeared our core relationship issue was her fault. And I continually made her aware of this by lecturing her whenever she did something irritating. In hindsight, I didn’t see things clearly. But when I started meditating every day, my perspective changed.  

Essentially meditation helped me become hyper aware of my emotions, specifically my anger. I was overreacting about stupid, little things (like splitting the bill for a candy bar). When I finally became aware of this pattern, I chose not to react to my negative emotions. Instead, I let them pass and then reflected on the issue once my emotions settled. 

Judging from the constant, irate political stories and arguments online, as well as the political anger amongst my friends and family, a lot of people are stuck in highly emotional states. People are acting out of emotion, instead of logic. We as Americans are not thinking clearly. And that is fueling divisiveness. 

For this reason, I believe meditation can help Americans come to terms with their overwhelming emotions and make better decisions.

Instead of arguing, listen

The easy route is to argue with anyone who disagrees with you. To prepare your argument in your head while the other person speaks, instead of truly listening. 

In almost all cases, if you start to argue or tell a dude he’s wrong, you’ve instantly lost the battle. You have no chance of influencing his opinion. Instead of that dude hearing your perspective, all he hears is, “You are wrong.” 

Whenever you start a debate, the minute you show disrespect to the other party—whether through name calling, yelling or belittling—the debate shifts from being about the issues, to being about the disrespectful attitude you’ve shown. According to the book Crucial Conversations, the other person then feels unsafe and likely responds back with sarcasm, insults, stonewalling or other aggressive actions.  

If you can’t enter a debate with a level head, just listen. Wait till your emotions calm down and then think about how you can calmly present your points in a respectful manner. Or just let your argument go. Just because someone disagrees with you, doesn’t mean you’re wrong. Defending your point is optional. 

Be like Mandela and Gandhi: Make friends with your enemy

There’s a lot we can learn from great leaders. 

Mandela and Gandhi are two such revolutionaries who I’ve read biographies on. They dealt with oppressive governments who not only disagreed with their beliefs but also were violent, killing countless civilians. How did Mandela and Gandhi react? They did something many of us believe unthinkable—they made friends with the enemy. 

If you’re a devout Democrat or Republican, you probably see the other party as an enemy. But this is the problem. You can’t influence an enemy

But if you can change the way you look at your enemy and see them as a friend, a partner, then you can make progress forward. Only then you can make change, just as Mandela and Gandhi did. 

Unite as one America

I believe a better America is possible. And I believe it starts with you—the ordinary dude, the individual. 

If you can become aware of your emotional state, heal your own inner turmoil, clear your head and treat the other side with respect, I believe the US can get out of the doom loop and progress towards a better future. 

But this won’t happen by itself. We all need to change ourselves. 

Wouldn’t it be great if all this constant political fighting was over? The change starts with you. And I believe meditation can ignite that change.

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