Yesterday, on CIVIC’s national visitation monthly call, we practiced a short breathing exercise just to center us and bring us into the present moment. I think for many of us it’s hard to celebrate this joyous season knowing that over 32,000 mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters—immigrants in detention—won’t be with their families for the holidays.
But its crucial, epecially in this time of year, to take care of ourselves. This NY Times opinion by Maria Konnikova, The Power of Concentration, talks about meditation and mindfulness. The University of Wisconsin demonstrated that daily meditation-like thought could shift frontal brain activity toward a pattern that is associated with what cognitive scientists call positive, approach-oriented emotional states — states that make us more likely to engage the world rather than to withdraw from it.
In order for us to truly be able to engage the world and be supportive to the men and women we have become friends with in detention, its important to take care of ourselves. One of my mentors and close friends sent me an email recently where she encouraged me to take care of myself:
“I know sometimes it’s really hard to celebrate anything fully when the people you’re surrounded by, the ones you’re advocating for, are struggling so hard to maintain just a tiny bit of hope. Please remember…just like on an airplane, you have to put the oxygen mask on yourself first if you want to be able to help anyone else. The same is true in the kind of work you do. You have to take care of yourselves first in order to press on in this most important mission.”
Please take time out to breathe, to meditate, and to fully experience the joy of the holidays!