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Collective Exhale ~Thoughts on the last four years.

Four years is a long time – a very long time. Unbearably long to be repeatedly subjected to ill-will and antagonizing dialog, four years of gasping in shock at asinine rhetoric, getting bruised by tweets, anxiously strung along on news feeds, witnessing heinous acts of childlike hateful games; drenched in propaganda, misinformation, outright lies, bigotry and worse. I don’t care which side you’re on, four years is a long time to endure trauma at this capacity. Too long. And the whole while, innocently thinking that maybe one day, maybe the next day, maybe at some point, perhaps we’d get a moment of clarity – a moment of sincerity and honesty from a so-called ‘leader.’ But no. That day never came. The tyranny would be drawn out until the very, bitter end with feet stomping and heels dug in.

And all the while, day after day, headline after headline, I didn’t know that I was personally building my own metaphorical walls as I became more and more numb to the sensationalized barrage of excretion coming from one human and his cohorts. As if it were ‘just to be expected.’ But still, something was seeping in. I tried to pacify the anger and confusion that was building, I was ‘doing my yoga.’ But trauma was being doled out on every level, churned over and over as the drama machine burned brighter and hotter – and no one was immune. No one. I had no idea what was lying beneath the surface of the calm I tried to contain, the balance and patience I tried to cultivate for the last four years.

Until it finally vanished. Exhale. Just like that. Until he finally departed. Until there was finally a calm after the storm. Until there was a hushed moment of quiet – finally. And in that stillness it hit me, painfully and surprisingly hard. That myself, and all of us, have collectively been subjected to deeply traumatizing behavior at such an intense level of consistency and toxicity that it had left an undeniable ache. While I felt a deep sense of relief in the peaceful transition of power it only gave me enough time to actually feel how toxic the last four years had been and how deep this pain was.

There needs to be time to mend this chasm. Take it. Self-care is crucial. The rift is deep. And while many welcome the chance to return to ‘normal,’ I urge us all to reconsider. Normal is what got us where we were four years ago. Normalcy let the last four years linger. We must obliterate our once cushy throne of normalcy. There needs to be a brave new way forward with zero tolerance for the inequalities, corruption and lack of accountability that landed us where we are. Zero. Because four years is too long to endure this trauma, and that only scratches the surface for those who have been subjected to racism, sexism and colonialism for generation after generation.

We are at a turning point. I pray we are. I’m intrigued to see where we venture, but I don’t want to just lean back and watch. I’d like to see us all, especially those who claim to practice yoga, step up and take a stand. To practice what we preach and take skillful action to shine light into the darkest areas of our history and the present. We cannot go back to where we were, because that was never an honest, harmonious existence in the first place. We must take time to heal what has been broken for centuries, acknowledge the injustices and make amends. The trauma of this tenure, and beyond, is overwhelming.

Take time. Be still and listen often now. The road forward will be long and require endurance and fortitude from us all. Take time to replenish. Acknowledge what has come without pushing it down. You have permission to feel it. I personally was unaware of the toll these last four years of trauma had created for me. Many tears have been shed as I deeply feel for a nation, for individuals near and far, and for the collective hopes and dreams that we can do better. We can do better. You and I. Onward we must go, creating a world more inclusive and kind than ever.

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti. Peace for you, peace for me and peace for all.

Nat K


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