5 Rules for Discussing Politics without Violating Your Yoga-ness

With a heated election less than eight weeks away, and the country more polarized than ever, how do you stay true to your yogic values while honoring your political values?

If you've glanced at Facebook these days, you've noticed that respectful political discourse is hard to find. Debates quickly devolve into personal attacks. Mindfulness and kindness are forgotten.

So how can we stay true to our values while participating in a political system mired in cynicism and downright ugliness?

Here are 5 Rules for Discussing Politics without Violating Your Yoganess:

1. Set your intention before saying or doing anything. 

Before commenting on a controversial post, ask yourself, What is my intention in debating this point? Is it to change the person’s mind? (This is typically impossible.) Or is it to validate your beliefs? Are you trying to present truth, or to make the other person look dumb? Establish what your intention is and stay grounded in that.

2. Make sure you are dealing with someone you respect. 

The point of any political discussion is to grow in your understanding and deepen your knowledge. This is almost impossible to do if your friend is uneducated or completely close-minded. Once you’ve established mutual respect, acknowledge that your friend just feels differently than you because she’s had different life experiences. Don’t judge them as right or wrong--accept that there are differences and try to honor those.

3. Use words that model your yogic values. 

Practice compassion by truly seeking to understand your friend’s point of view. Choose words that elevate, rather than condemn. Be factual and non-judgmental. Seek the truth without being attached to any outcome other than to balance one another’s understanding. Just as you would with your asana practice, take your ego out of it and let the discussion unfold, being okay with wherever it flows.

4. Find common ground. 

When you passionately believe something, you tend to identify with it so strongly that it’s impossible to find commonality with someone who doesn't share your opinion. Lines of separation are drawn and communication breaks down. For a moment, dig deep to find an area where you both agree, even if it’s something small (i.e. the system is broken).

5. End on a positive note. 

Find a way to compliment your friend--perhaps her ability to articulate ideas in a way that you hadn't heard before. Be flexible enough to examine your own beliefs, which could help you discover a perspective you hadn't considered before. Stay open to the possibility that the discussion might even change your position and help you grow.

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