Rio de Janeiro: A Lesson in Wholeness

Why did the competitors who finished last in the summer Olympics so often seem rioexhilarated? They dedicated entire lives to excelling at their sport. Winning was their goal. How can they be so happy in the face of defeat?

This year’s presidential election represents another type of training and competing – but not just among candidates. It also drives the hard work and dedication of those who support them, hoping to promote causes dear to their hearts.

This year toxicity achieved an all-time high, human decency and basics of logic at times tossed to the wind, the two even confused with or dismissed as mere “political correctness.” Abandoning our humanity traumatizes. It robs us of respect for self and others alike. It leaves us suffocating in a toxic waste dump of suspicion, hate, and fear.

This particular political juncture will soon end, at least for the current set of candidates. But what about the rest of us? How do we preserve our humanity and wholeness, after being bombarded with such destructive divisiveness?

Being whole, the bread of human existence, is not produced by winning, accomplishments, or self-stimulation experiences. We are wired to thrive through connectedness, especially during times of trauma.

Fear temporarily restricts focus, so we can zero in on who or what we believe will save us. Political campaigns capitalize on this. Participants feel safer and more powerful when holding on to one another within common ground, perhaps practically deifying the one “right” solution and vilifying any other proposed agenda.

Fortunately, after an immediate threat passes or diminishes, higher brain functions return. We become better able to see beyond such a limited focus. This means our big chance will soon be upon us – not the election, but its end. The election – the opportunity to react to fears – will finally be over. We will move on.

How do we heal and become whole again? We do so by holding hands, both literally and figuratively. Not in the form of fearful self-protection, but as joyful celebration of the fabric of existence that makes us all one.

This is why even the Olympic athletes coming in last find joy in it. They know it’s not just about them. Greater than winning is joining a time-honored tradition of setting aside differences and becoming one with the world’s humanity in pursuit of athletic excellence. Hats off to Brazil, providing opportunity for this joining together, in spite of built-in difficulties and frustrations for countries that host this mammoth event. And, hats off to all who set aside this year’s divisiveness to rejoin productive spiritual wholeness.

Feeling stuck? Try a loving kindness meditation. Apply it to yourself, and others:

  • May you be safe.
  • May you be healthy.
  • May you be happy.
  • May you live with ease.



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