The Inner and Outer Kingdoms: On News and Anxiety

Yesterday morning, I woke up feeling sick to my stomach. I instantly knew what it was: I had ingested so much news, so much anxiety about the world, that I was making myself sick.

I felt trapped in my illness: I felt obligated to stay engaged with the news, to stay glued to the screen of my computer, to witness each horrifying executive order, each breakdown of democracy. Yesterday, I realized that I was killing myself, quite literally: my cortisol levels were in overdrive, flooding my blood stream. If I allowed that to continue, it would cripple every system in my body. I was allowing myself to get lost in anxiety, losing the anchor of my soul.

We stand at the threshold between two worlds: the inner and outer, the esoteric and the exoteric. Depending on our temperament, we are more likely to plunge into one while neglecting the other. My temptation during times of uncertainty is to neglect my own heart and plunge into the revolution, but this is doomed to failure.

You and I hold a moral obligation to both Kingdoms. We cannot create sustainable change in the world around us if we fail to keep our inner Kingdom in order, if we do not examine our own hearts, if we do not discipline, and care for, and nurture our inner worlds.

In these uncertain times, remember that the revolution, the resisting of evil, begins within. It originates within ourselves, in our deepest spaces, and then radiates outward in concentric circles. Now more than ever, we need to get our interior kingdoms in order if we wish to resist the evil in the world.

There is no time for self-induced sickness, no time for self abandonment to anxiety. We must examine our hearts and live with integrity. The greatest weapon against people of no integrity is to find integrity within ourselves. Are we corroding our inner life through a lack of discipline? Are we allowing our insides to be ripped apart by the news? Are our cortisol levels through the roof? Are our boundaries too porous? Are we letting runaway empathy make our lives unmanageable, disabling our capacity for good in the world?

Do not neglect your heart. Do what you need to do to keep it alive: put down your phone, read a good book, do your meditation practice, go for a long run. And in doing so, go deep – in these self-caring acts, examine your heart, your character, your integrity. Let the revolution begin within you.

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