A Conspiracy of Consciousness: Breathing Together
There are a lot of new readers here. Welcome. And Happy New Year to all of us! It’s been a while since I’ve written. A lot has happened, personally and collectively. I’m not sorry to say goodbye to 2016…
As many of you know, my mother died 10 days after Donald Trump was elected. The past few months have been extremely unsettling. The grief for these two things continues to hit me like waves in the rough Atlantic, inconsistent to my expectations, rising and cresting (and felling me).
[And, let me not make assumptions, if you voted for Trump, you may want to unsubscribe. At the very least, please read this.]
I am still incredulous to these two realities. How could my mom, so powerful and vibrant throughout my life, be dead? How could this ignorant, racist, sexist buffoon be president of our magnificent country? Both of these questions are subject to myth making: the myth of democracy & the myth of a mother’s strength.
There is oppression & greed at the core of this country’s undeniable greatness (as opposed to its mythical greatness) and there was often delusion & selfishness at the center of my mom’s beautiful care for us. Each require me to do deep reckoning, one easier than the other.
As I continue to understand and forgive the limitations of the mothering (and fathering) I received, I meet many challenges. But I have discovered powerful tools and developed my own ways of thriving within my messy, imperfect life. Therapy (lots of it), meditation, coaching, ritual, community, books, art (did I mention therapy?)…
I have a multitude of resources in people, places, and spaces that help my personal transformation. And I share that among/with others: friends & family, teachers, students, clients. We are waking up together in what Mark Epstein calls the “trauma of everyday life.” Rather than shutting them out or numbing them, I open to the traumas of my past and present, allowing them to be felt fully, integrated, and transmuted into wisdom & compassion.
But the collective grief and despair unleashed by the election, this seems almost impossible to feel fully or to reconcile. We live in a big country, affecting a huge world. The challenges seem numberless and endless. And with the incoming administration, every day is a fresh slap of unbelievable inanity — it is horrifying and overwhelming. And it hasn’t even really started. But I don’t want to cut myself off and I (like you) am slowly finding my way into how to stay connected to the waves without drowning.
I know many people are protecting themselves from the news in acts of self–care. And, yes, I may be spending too much time on Twitter (where it’s hard to live in the bubble that Facebook or even non–social media can create; thank you other–people’s–trolls). But at some point we all need to be paying close attention to what is happening, because what is happening could destroy humanity.
Some of you may think I’m being hyperbolic. I hope you’re right and I’m really f*@cking wrong…
I remember going to see Lumumba in the early naughts with my friend Noel. The film follows the true story of the rise and death of the Congolese leader. We lamented a mainstream reviewer describing Lumumba’s assassination as conspiracy theory. “What theory?” Noel and I asked ourselves in vain. The CIA conspired to kill Lumumba; that’s not a “theory,” it’s well documented fact (officially uncovered many years after his death).
Conspiracy started to interest me. I was newly enamored with etymology and (still am) ignorant of Latin so was delighted to discover that “conspiracy” translates to “breathe with.” Lumumba’s assassins (or the ones who plotted his death — Eisenhower, the British, and especially the Belgians) certainly breathed with each other in person or over scratchy mid–century telephone lines to murder the first democratically elected leader of the Congo. There have been countless conspiracies smaller and larger, before and since…
I really hate to quote Julian Assange (yuck) but his phrase conspiracy as governance is apt for our world. There are many powerful people (i.e. white dudes) currently conspiring to do harm — this is NOT theoretical. And they can and will out–might us and out–resource us (materially). But we DO have power.
Why did they kill Lumumba? Because he was organizing and energizing the people. The same reason they killed MLK, Fred Hampton, and others — because they were breathing together to cultivate people’s inherent power, power that reveals the love at the foundation of our interconnection.
We DO have power. And that power needs to be nurtured and cultivated, individually and collectively. Every day. And that power needs to be connected to a SACRED–CORE. Clear. Coherent. Conscious. We must be clear about our values, our commitments and our aspirations (also from breath). We must, as my teacher Thanissara states, “be taken into the sanctuary of our unshakeable, indivisible, brilliantly sane, undying, and loving heart[s].”
Can we conspire together? Actually, we must. We need to breathe together in a conspiracy of consciousness.
It’s so interesting that the breath is at the center of so many sacred practices. We can live more than 50 days without food and about 7 days without water. But, without oxygen we cannot survive more than about 5 minutes. We share our breath with everyone around us — including Donald Trump. Perhaps molecules within me have been within him. Ultimately, we are all breathing in and out each other over and over again. And of course, we are not and never have been separate from anyone or anything…
How do we breathe together in a way that honors our conscious aspirations for equality and freedom and kindness and care? How do we breathe together to resist the agendas of very real harmful conspiracies? How do we breathe together in the consciousness that is absolutely fundamental, that is sacred and universal?
These are the questions that I hope to explore with you over the coming days and months and years…
Please also check out the resources for resistance (in physical terms) below.
Let’s breathe together friends. May the force be with us.