Election day is an important day in the life of a democracy. For the last few weeks in most US states, people have been engaging in early voting, showing up at polls and casting their ballots. Journalists, pollsters, and politicos alike are working diligently to try and draw some meaning from how many people are voting, who the people are that are voting and what concerns may be driving their votes. These prognostications speak to something that lies just under the surface: change is happening.
Most of us human types find change disturbing. When we can brace ourselves for change, we think that gives us an edge. I acknowledged in a conversation recently that a favorite candidate of mine might not win the election. Even as I said that out loud, inside myself I was holding all hope that they would, in fact, win. Bracing for disappointment, I continue to hope for the change that I see in that candidate’s message.
Elections give the sense that change happens every two years or four or six. In fact, change is always happening. And since change seems to make us so anxious, what can we do about it?
Breathe. Very intentionally. Take a breath with awareness through your nose and notice the feeling of the air as it passes in. Let the breath out, and notice that air as it passes out of you. In that one act of breathing, you have continued to participate in an ongoing process of change that continues until we take our last breaths. Breathing initiates change–air has oxygen pulled out of it and injected into our bloodstream where, in fractions of seconds it rushes along with other nutrients to the trillions of cells in our bodies. In those same fractions of a second, carbon dioxide is pulled out of our blood and injected into the air in our lungs as we expel it from our bodies. From one breath to the next, we are not the same being that we were before. Without this constant changing, we would cease to live.
Whatever happens as a result of this election, change is coming. More importantly, let’s realize that change has been coming and happening all along. Let’s practice our intentional breathing and enter into what the next moments of our history call us to. One of life’s biggest illusions is that things don’t change. Our next breath invites us to practice change for good to all and harm to none.