With so much riding on the upcoming midterms (i.e. women's health, voting rights and climate justice), it can feel overwhelming and disempowering. One of my favorite applications of Ishvara Pranidhana (our topic of the month) is in activist or civic involvement work. Ishvara Pranidhana means surrender to God. (Please substitute the most comfortable term for you - the universe, creation, Allah, Adonai, etc.)
You may be thinking, isn't surrender the opposite of what we would want to do to create an impact in the world? Yes, and no.
The surrender part is important in the balance of doing, and not doing. It is in the rest and recuperation. And it is in the acknowledgement that we have limits. We can do what we can do, and that's all we can do, and we can potentially find some peace in the "giving it up to God" idea once we've done our part.
But personally, I don't find peace in not doing my part. Sometimes, our personal part looks like simply voting, or reaching out to a friend to offer to post their ballot, or take them to the polls. Sometimes we have more energy, passion or time and we can volunteer for a strategic campaign, or for a group that can figure out where our efforts are most needed. Sometimes it's chipping in some money to a candidate that needs your support.
Boiled down, here's the formula for doing our part:
Create your intention
Give it your attention
Then let it go (Ishvara pranidhana)
Ultimately, is there anything more you can do than this? No. Is it helpful to not to surrender? My opinion is no. We have to be able to rest and recuperate and to acknowledge what we've done, and to acknowledge what we cannot do. Does this bring up the question of "could I do more?" Maybe. And tomorrow is another day. And the above formula is still available.
But for me, knowing that letting something go (whether just for the day, or for that election cycle) helps me remember that wise use of my own energy is important. Yes, the needs for our attention, our time, money and other resources are limitless. But we can set our limits, and we can know that others are doing the work, too. We can give it over to our higher power, or to the Universe, or to community. We don't have to carry the whole world on our shoulders. We only have to do our own part.
So, what can you do?
1. Strike a power pose - Renowned researcher and Ted Talker, Dr. Amy Cuddy teaches that we can change our relationship to power by embodying it. This power is not power over, but personal power that can help us feel able to do whatever it is that we feel is important.
2. Volunteer for just one task - Sometimes knocking door to door can feel like too heavy of a lift. (But for some of us, that's just the thing to get out into the beautiful day & connect with people!) For others of us, writing postcards or joining a phone bank is a manageable way to influence others without making us feel energetically flattened.
3. Grab a friend - The courage it can take to get involved in getting out the vote can be daunting. We feel more emotional safety when we're with someone we know and trust. The added bonus is you get to spend time with your friend doing something that really, really matters.
4. Get your care-takees involved - Do you spend lots of time with kids, or caring for someone else? Maybe they can help stamp, stick stickers or address things! No hands are too small, nor too shaky to help. Providing this kind of opportunity for another person can help educate as well as provide meaning to someone's day.
5. Practice surrender - do what you can do, and then rest and recover. Your energy is precious. Your voice is important. Use it wisely. Rest it. (Like in Raegan's Learn to Rest workshop this weekend!) Then use it again.
Not sure where you're needed? Below are some close races where Unfold has members. Don't see your area listed? We'd love to have you add your close races and where you live in the comments below! We're not advocating for anyone particular - just showing close races. We ARE advocating for women's health, voting rights and climate justice.
Oregon Governor's race: Tina Kotek (D) v Betsy Johnson (I) v Christine Drazan (R) (Note: Drazan is polling slightly ahead of Kotek in most polls at time of writing.
Oregon's 5th District House of Representatives: Jamie McLeod-Skinner (D) ousted incumbent Kurt Schrader in the primary, leaving McLeod-Skinner to take on Republican Lori Chavez-DeRemer (R). This race in neck & neck.
Nebraska's 2nd District (which includes Omaha): Democrats are banking that their candidate, state Sen. Tony Vargas, can break Rep. Don Bacon's (R) winning streak.
Michigan's 7th District: Incumbent Elissa Slotkin (D) vs. Tom Barrett (R)
Michigan's Governor race also looks close between Gretchen Whitmer (D) & Tudor Dixon (R).
Need to get some rest before you jump into volunteering?
GREAT! Join us for Raegan's Learn to Rest workshop this Sunday! Learn more here.