Skip to main content

What the World Needs Now

By July 31, 2017No Comments

I’ve been thinking a lot about leading in times of political strife and polarization. As I watch us act, react, and shift in the current political climate, it occurs to me that our world needs something particular in this moment.

I believe we need to be a community pulled toward solutions that serve our common good with a vision of deep interdependence and love. To do this, we need strength, fortitude, and loving courage to hear what is being vocalized by those who have suffered from the deeply fractured systems that don’t work for so many of us.

How can we be awake, healthy, and strong enough to suspend our own deeply held beliefs in order to learn from those who offer possibilities we couldn’t otherwise imagine on our own?

There are many ways to avoid the burnout caused by stress and pressure: deep breathing, taking breaks, getting enough sleep. But one thing in particular that works for me is exercise and physical movement.

When I’m under stress, I tend to neglect my physical needs. I stay up longer, rest less, and push myself to do more. I try to make my brain work harder to get things done by pure force; “just work harder!” my mind tells me. Then, a short while later, I am out of energy, sick, or depressed.

I know that my brain, body, and spirit are inextricably linked. In fact, I am not sure where one begins and the other ends, or if there’s any separation at all. I also know I don’t always behave from that place of knowledge and understanding.

I was reminded of this recently when I read Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. In it, author John J. Ratey shows how even limited physical movement can have an effect on our brains, helping us to think more clearly and creatively.

I’d read similar research before, but what I learned from this book is that it’s not about athleticism. Physical movement of any kind can increase brain fitness; we don’t need to run a 5K or become a master yogi to nourish our brains. Only the notion of one’s personal best is important, not how much harder we exercise than someone else, or what type of exercise we do.

Fitness – both for brains and bodies – is individual. We all have different capacities and abilities. Some of us may already have a regular practice of movement, some may need others to move their body for them, and some may need motivation. Regardless of what kind of support we may need to move, incorporating more movement into our lives is at the very least a part of the work of social change. And it could do a huge service to our communities, and the organizations determined to achieve social justice.

So, even though there are boundaries on how much movement I can do because of physical limitations, I’ve started exercising for justice. That’s what truly motivates me. I move my arms, legs, or whatever I’m able to in the moment. I do whatever I can to exercise my way into clearer, more creative and energized thinking.  Moving strengthens me when I’m stressed and keeps my mind and spirit fit, too.

What the world needs now is a bastion of physically, mentally, and spiritually fit leaders. I trust the brilliance of the many folks out there attempting to fix or dismantle systems that don’t serve us, but we need nourishment of all kinds to sustain us during these trying times, and for the long haul.

Let’s challenge ourselves to do what we can to take care of our bodies so that we are ready and able to sustain our capacity to lead until everyone is free.

With love,

July 2017