Five Ways to Avoid ‘Bad-News Fatigue’ and Stay Compassionately Engaged
by Shannon Sexton
Like many people in the yoga community, I want to take a stand against violence, injustice, and divisive rhetoric in the world. But I’m ashamed to admit that, lately, I’ve got bad-news fatigue.
According to longtime activist and yoga teacher Seane Corn, I’m not alone. “Most people just keep taking in more and more information, until they feel overwhelmed,” Seane says. “Their nervous systems become deregulated, and they start to shut down or feel sick.” But the less we’re engaged with what’s going on in the world, she points out—the less we’re paying attention, protesting, and advocating—the more fear, violence, and injustice reign.
I asked a couple of yoga-practicing activists how we can stay compassionately engaged—while reading the news, bearing witness to injustice, taking a stand on issues that matter—yet still take care of ourselves, so that we have the strength and the courage to make a difference long-term.
Transform your inner world.
Kundalini Yoga teacher Guru Jagat, author of the forthcoming book Invincible Living and the founder of RA MA Institute for Applied Yogic Science and Technology, says, “To me, the new activism is about doing practices that help you touch that eternal space of peace and happiness in yourself, which you then take out to the world.”
She says she does her yoga, meditation, and pranayama practices every morning so that she can make herself “strong enough to engage with the world from as high of a level” as she can, “with as much energy and generosity” as she can. “The whole reason we do spiritual practices is to cultivate enough energy to become the trailblazers and thought leaders that the world needs now,” she says.
Reframe your perspective.
When we watch the news or scroll through our social media feeds, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all of the violence, injustice, and hateful rhetoric in the world. But the way Guru Jagat sees it, “there’s only a small minority of people on this planet who want the majority of the population to be in fear.” She says it’s important to remember that “the majority of people want peace. They want schools and families and economies that work for everyone. They want harmonious nation-states.” When you find yourself getting overwhelmed or afraid, try looking at the world through this positive lens.
Guru Jagat also suggests cultivating the ability to look at one topic, conflict, or situation from multiple perspectives. For example, explore content on one particular issue that has been published by different political groups, different news outlets, different experts, and/or different witnesses or citizens. Consider each perspective (including those that you’re averse to), and start to suss out the true story. Share that…..
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Shannon Sexton is the former editor-in-chief of Yoga International magazine and a freelance writer, editor, and strategist based in Honesdale, Pennsylvania.
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