- Politics and Social Issues
Political Activists Need Rituals Too
Political activists make the world make sense in areas that are important to them, focusing especially on government, even when it seems to be falling apart. The activist redefines the world and shows how we can take action to create the kinds of lives we prefer to live.
In order to do that, the activist has to be observant, centered, passionate, articulate, and well-rested. Because an activist is continually reacting to what could be made better and often faces controversy in the process, there is a great need to take special care of oneself.
Morning and evening rituals help an activist stay centered and organized. A morning ritual starts the day off on a good note and contributes to the accomplishment of goals. The evening ritual gives space to acknowledge successes and failures of the day and determine what needs to be improved. Between them, the day shapes itself, gearing up gradually to hours of intense activity, then slowing gradually to rest at night.
Definition of a Ritual
Rituals do not necessarily have anything to do with religion. They are simply a special practice regularly repeated. According to my online dictionary, "A series of actions and type of behavior regularly and invariably followed by someone."
That can include chanting, meditation, or just a regular routine carried out at a particular time of day. In this case, I am offering morning and night rituals that help keep me clear, healthy, and effective as a political activist.
The two rituals below are samples for what you, as an activist can design for yourself, based on what you best respond to and do naturally. The goal of the morning is to wake up refreshed. The goal of the evening is to relax and sleep well. Both rituals can be adapted or completely scratched and redone to fit what will work for you, once you see the intent. They are only examples.
Political Activist Wake-Up Ritual
When people first wake up, they're usually in a good mood. It's only subsequent thoughts or memories (or drinking the night before) that brood them into feeling awful. For a successful day, it's important to prolong that great feeling for as long as possible. Start with the following while still in bed:
- Appreciate - Stretch, breathe deeply, massage face and eyes, as though to say, "Thanks for this great sleep!" Get up, open blinds, stretch a little, put on morning music. Say (or feel), "I am awake and grateful to be alive!"
- Wake up - Start a cup of tea. Get out breakfast makings and dishes to wake the stomach up. Wash face, brush teeth, brush hair while the tea water is heating.
- Contemplate - When water is hot, make tea and take it to a comfortable place to sit. Write thoughts of the morning, goals for the day, or dreams of the night for your journal. Silently thank your mind for its hidden workings on your behalf.
- Stretch & Meditate - Do some simple stretches or a hatha yoga routine, then meditate for a few minutes to plan the day. Align with your center, check your goals and desires, then chant to give them power.
- Clean up - Make your bed, eat breakfast, do a little cleaning up. Dress and apply makeup (if you wear it), even if minimal. You are ready to start the day.
Daytime Work or Political Action
Hopefully the day will go well, pretty much according to plan, with some interesting unexpectedness thrown in. In my life, I make sure to stop for lunch at some point. I also make sure to keep my activities somewhat in balance - both political and work - so that I have working time, time socializing, time on the computer, time to eat, time to rest, time to think, a chance to exercise, and time to create. Some of the day can be rushed, some can be relaxed.
Balance is what keeps people healthy and relatively stress free, even when living an active life. If we keep ourselves in balance, we will have plenty of energy and focus to accomplish our goals and have fun. We will see ourselves as productive, worthy beings. The things we say will make sense to people even though they may disagree. And we will be able to respect ourselves, even when we mess up. When we stay in balance, we end up needing less food and less sleep than most people do.
Political Activist Bedtime Ritual
After a full day, it's time to begin to relax. You want to be able to sleep well and awaken refreshed in the morning. It is seldom possible to go directly from a state of productive agitation to sudden and total relaxation for sleep. It needs to be done in gradual steps and a bedtime ritual is perfect for that. Here is a potential routine to follow:
- Setup - Put on relaxing music. Light candles. Pull down bedclothes & turn on bed lamp, softly asking your body to prepare for sleep.
Wash it off - Shower to wash off the day's stress & say, "It's over. I can sleep now. Good job." Prepare your body for bed, focusing on the value of self-care.
- Close the day - Make nighttime tea to soothe & further relax. Write in your journal to relive successes & highlights of the day. Envision the morrow with pleasure. Chant your gratitude & bless the earth, "May the Earth be filled with Peace & Joy, Purity, Light, Love & Life."
Relax in bed - Blow out candles & turn off the lights. Climb into bed. Massage your stomach as if to say, "Thanks for digesting this day so well." Massage your eyes & face to say, "Thanks for seeing so clearly. Thanks for showing the world my best."
Sleep - Stretch, cuddle, think of good things. Then breathe into your heart and let yourself fall asleep.
Dreams Help Activism Too
Know that night sleep is a time when the mind organizes on a really deep level. Dreams often reflect the organization that's going on, and sometimes generate insights that can help you resolve whatever issues you encountered during the day. They can also highlight things that you may not have fully noticed, but that are important. Or they will answer questions you have consciously or unconsciously asked. Here is an impactful dream I had awhile ago that helped me quite a bit:
I was feeling anxious and discouraged about why it seemed to be taking so long to make things happen. One night I dreamed I was climbing a mountain. I was exhausted, almost ready to give up, when a little mouse raced across the path in front of me and ducked into a hole in the side of the hill. In the dream I stopped and looked, then realized he was showing me I was almost home. So I dragged myself up the last, steep way and when I came around the curve on the top of the mountain, there was a beautiful, well-planned neighborhood just waiting for me to join it. The view was incredible.
These days, when I wake up in the morning the first thing I do, even before I get out of bed, is look to see if I've dreamed. If I remember bits and pieces I will save them until the morning ritual in a little while when I can write them down. Setting that pattern helps me to remember dreams regularly.
Some of the best artists, musicians, scientists, and businesspeople have gained insight about their lives and creations through their dreams, and there is no reason that political activists should not be among them. So set up rituals for yourself, one in the morning, one at night. Keep your life in balance, too, and your political activism will become very interesting, highly rewarding, and lots of fun.