Mindfulness Booster: Compassionate Voting

This week’s mindfulness booster is inspired by one of my favorite teachers Sharon Salzberg where she articulated the act of voting as the ultimate expression in compassion. She says:

I believe voting is a great privilege and that civic participation can be thought of as an expression of mindfulness and compassion. In fact, voting seems to step from one of the cornerstone visions of lovingkindess: we all matter, we all count, and we all deserve to be happy, peaceful, and safe.

Lovingkindness is a simple, heart-centered meditation technique with roots in Buddhism, sometimes called Metta. Practiced around the world, Metta cultivates compassion for one’s self and others. Compassion is the natural state of the heart and mind, which is motivated by cherishing other living beings and wishes to release them from their suffering. In this meditation practice, you gather your attention to focus on a specific compassionate phrase that you repeat silently. During this practice, it is important that you don’t force a warm and fuzzy feeling or get rid of unpleasant or undesirable ones. Instead of expecting to feel a particular way or judging and analyzing what you do feel, allow whatever happens just to happen – with a beginner’s mind.

As I waited in line for early voting this week to cast my ballot in this historic election, I realized it was an ideal opportunity to practice an abbreviated version of this powerful meditation technique. Instead of perusing Facebook on my phone, I went through the line of people and gently and silently offered them lovingkindness:

  • May you be happy.
  • May you be free from suffering.
  • May you know peace.

With so much unpredictability, this is a simple practice that can have profound impact in highlighting the interconnectedness we all share and naturally brings us to the present-moment.

So as you head out to cast your ballot, consider offering lovingkindness to yourself, your fellow Americans, and the candidates themselves. You can also practice the longer guided version of this meditation below.

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