Election Trauma 2016: Anger & Sadness Your 7 Step Dojo Recovery Process

Photography by Sabreen Lakhani

The election season ended yesterday with the worst possible outcome for people who did not want a racist, sexist, misogynist, sexual predator for a leader. We are sad, we are disappointed, we are shocked. We did not believe this could really happen. But it did.

Trauma, panic, and fear are real. They affect our bodies. They drain our energy. The break us down. This election process was nearly a year of disempowerment and disenfranchisement. Our national conversation utterly toxic, we’ve stewed in the worst qualities of our government and culture.

This phenomena has swept over us, interrupted all of our lives, and left us feeling stressed out, depleted, angry, and afraid. We need release, recovery, and restoration. We need to move through these emotional states, learn from them, let go, and prepare for what happens next.

I don’t know how to make the government better. It feels like too big of a challenge for me and I’m not a political leader or organizer. I’m an empowerment teacher. Through martial arts, my primary tool, I help people to feel and be strong. And I feel like what we really need right now is to reclaim our strength and find our ground.

I believe that everyone has a fire burning deep inside of them. Some fires are small, close to burning out and others are large and threaten to burn out of control. My job is teach you to tend that fire. My job is to guide you as you access and unlock your strength and to help you to develop the control and coordination to use that fire effectively.

The world is big and scary and outside of our control. What we can control is ourselves. We can control our actions. We can choose to do good. We can respond with courage, generosity, and resolve to support those around us who need our support.

Fighting is easy when you feel like you are winning, it’s much harder when you are losing.

We’re going to train even harder, with more focus in our kickboxing classes. We’re going to find our best, out strongest selves. We’re going to listen to fun music that makes us feel happy. We’re going to connect with our training partners and remember that we are not alone. We are going to remember that strength and community are powerful.

There is work to be done in the coming months. But right now, we need to recover and we need to reclaim our strength. That is what we do in this dojo. Come join us.. We have tuition subsidies available for those of you who may not be able to afford our full subscription rates.

1. Empowerment

We are not powerless. We are not weak. We are not silent. In the dojo we connect to our strength at the most primal level: our ability to stand, breathe, and move with weight from our center. We develop the internal tools that underpin our physical selves. All expressions of power come from this foundation of self-knowledge: the confidence that we are able to make positive change in our lives.

2. Embodiment

We cerebral Seattle types tend to get stuck in processing mode: getting out of our heads and into our physical selves we create the space to start feeling (and releasing) the pent up emotions stirred up by this toxic election process. You may want to pair this step with talking to a professional outside of the dojo.

3. Punching

There is anger. So much anger. Anger is powerful. Anger is an indication that your values are under attack. Physical violence can be an expression of anger. Martial arts, properly trained, give us the freedom to choose how we express this powerful emotion. Hurting others creates more pain, but working through the physical experience of anger by hitting pads brings catharsis. At the advanced level, we also train ourselves to receive violence from our training partners, to be hit and to feel pain as a tool for grounding, to know we are so much stronger than we ourselves believed.

4. Connection

Struggling to cope with the reality that a sizable chunk of your family and friends supported a racist, sexist, misogynist power monger? This feeling of disconnection, of utter disappointment in people is real. We need to focus on our connections with the people around us who share our values: our community. Community is not a buzzword, it’s an intention. Community takes effort, communication, and respect to build. It requires giving more than you take. This dojo is committed to maintaining our community.

5. Self-Care

The dojo is your time to be fully present and all about your own training, growth, and strength. The session should be a release from your day and from outside world stress. We aim to enter into a sacred space where we can exist as our primal selves, detached from our identity. I believe this detachment from ego-self is one of the most valuable and restorative benefits of martial arts training.

6. Mindfulness

Bringing attention to the present moment, acting with intention and awareness: these are skills built through martial arts. Skills that serve us in our lives by slowing us down when everything speeds up, giving us the space to reason through our choices, rather than react spontaneously.

7. Compassion

We learn compassion in the dojo when we meet ourselves where we are each day, when we are patient with our training partners, and when we respect our own limits and needs.

This election was about one thing to me: ignorance. Whether it be through a lack of education, poorly-vetted and irresponsible media, our soundbite culture, or the sneaky blind spots we all have as people, either way, this one was brutal.

The nature of the conservative voter is that they are conservative – afraid of change. But life is change. America has seen some major changes (improvements) in the last decade and some people just can’t handle change that quickly (even if it does not affect them). In Seattle, we’re proud to support our LGBTQ brothers, and sisters and fellow humans, to challenge systemic racism. The rest of the country is not as progressive as we are here at home in our happy place.

For my current, personal practice, compassion is about trying to see the pain of someone else I completely disagree with. I don’t have to like them or approve of them or even to justify them, I just have to know they are a human being in pain. It doesn’t sound like much, and honestly a few years ago, I wouldn’t have thought much on it, but it helps me to feel connected and to feel like the world makes a little bit more sense, even if it feels utterly awful in the present moment.

Be strong my friends.


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Your trial period includes two consecutive classes starting with the date you select.

Fighting chance Seattle is a different kind of dojo. Operating out of Ballard, students focus on strengthening their minds, spirits and community, as well as their roundhouse kicks. The dojo has been in business for five years and is dedicated to empowering students through encouraging personal growth, self-confidence, and martial arts excellence.

By Jordan