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Kelly Gonsalves
November 06, 2018 9:49 am

While all of us here on the internet have been waxing poetic about how necessary and meaningful it is to vote, we can’t forget that, for many people, voting is an anxiety-inducing endeavor. Especially for those whose IRL peer groups don’t actively discuss politics, it can feel daunting to take your personal politics from the world of tweets, likes, and digital activism and turn them into real, physical action—like heading to the polls to cast a ballot.

Moreover, for many people, the deed is not only stressful—it can feel downright dangerous. Some marginalized groups (think: people of color and immigrants) routinely face hostility from authorities, so interacting with the state in any capacity—even when exercising our most basic legal rights—is a tense affair. And in a country where voter suppression is rampant, who can blame a person for being worried about what might happen at the polling place?

If you’re feeling anxious or nervous at all about voting today, here’s one potential way to help shake off the worries and feel confident about exercising your rights: Shine, a self-care app founded by two women of color to help millennial women find their confidence daily, just released a free meditation specifically to listen to on your way over to your polling place. It’s a quick one—just under five minutes—and it’ll totally help you relax, stay present in the moment, and even feel empowered about the voting process.

Narrated by Rachel Elizabeth Cargle, a popular activist, writer, and lecturer on intersectional feminism and wellness, the meditation walks listeners through an exercise that first helps them calm down, get out of their heads, and back into their bodies. Then it goes on to give a motivational pep talk, reminding listeners of all the people who have fought hard to earn us all the right to have a voice in elections.

“You’re practicing empathy and helping create the world you want to live in,” Cargle says at one point during the meditation. “Countless people have fought for centuries for your right to cast a vote. Even today people are still fighting for all Americans to have the right to vote.”

In addition to recounting the historical relevance of your vote, the meditation also reminds you exactly why casting your ballot is such a strong, worthwhile action that will affect so many people around you today.

“We know that political engagement can boost our overall wellbeing and help us figure out our own values,” Marah Lidey and Naomi Hirabayashi, Shine’s founders, told HelloGiggles in an email. “This election has our members fired up, and they’re ready to turn their emotions—whether that’s hope, fear, frustration, or anger—into action. We created our Walking to Vote meditation as a way to help our members really feel the power they’re flexing on Election Day and get grounded in this historical moment.”

Lidey and Hirabayashi said the meditation can be used while getting ready in the morning, walking to the polls, or standing in line waiting to vote. The hope is that it’ll help people stay focused on casting their ballot rather than panicking and give up in the moment.

“The list of reasons why people don’t vote is long. Among them? Not wanting (or being able) to wait in a long line,” the founders explained. “While we can’t control the wait time, we can make the time waiting more enjoyable and more mindful. Our five-minute meditation can help Shine members find a little peace of mind while waiting, helping them feel more present—and hopefully, less anxious—when they get in the booth and cast their vote.”

No matter your reason, know that it’s okay to feel nervous about voting. Many people do. That’s no reason not to vote though. (On the contrary, the people in whom our country has most instilled fear—the voices that our society has most stifled—are likely the ones who most desperately need to be heard.) And if all the eligible voters in America did vote, our country’s leadership would look a lot different than it currently does.

If you need the extra boost on your way to vote today, consider giving the Shine app a download to walk into your polling place feeling amped about participating in our democracy.

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