Just over a week ago, I was in a small town in Germany, deeply immersed in healing from the lingering after-effects of a long illness. The town is built around thermal springs, with exquisite Art Deco buildings, a magnificent park that stretches across the width of the town, and an atmosphere of profound tranquility and healing presence. With a population of just 30,000, this lovely little town has over 30 clinics to which people travel from all over the world for cutting-edge energy medicine treatments.

There are intricate layers of history visible there. The origins of the place date back to the 13th century, and it partakes of much of the cultural and political history of Germany, with its complex mixture of profound piety, high art, romanticism expressed beautifully in architecture, music, literature and poetry, recurring, unsavoury fevers of anti-Semitism, and the present-day inclusivity of a highly multi-cultural society committed to understanding and redressing the wrongs of a painful, brutal past.

There is so much I loved, about being there. The town is built around pedestrian, communal life – even in the dead of winter, the park is filled with people of all ages, pushing babies in strollers, leaning on walkers and canes, running, laughing, chatting together as they enjoy the cold, fresh winter air.

Back in the hotel restaurant, I made friends with wait-staff from Croatia, Albania, Italy, Turkey, the Czech Republic, and a host of other countries. Though I spoke no German, and their English was limited, we spoke in gestures and smiles, simple sentences and playful teasing — the universal language of kinship, of the heart.

My time there was steeped in kindness. Each day, I felt wrapped in warmth, welcome and hospitality, from the Devas of the town, the Deva of Germany, the people I met, on the street, in shops and restaurants, in the clinic where I was cared for with tender respect, love, and exquisite presence. I felt truly seen – beyond appearances, beyond the barriers that are too often erected by intellect and language — in ways that moved me deeply.

All the while, the news from home was filled with the appalled and appalling. The inauguration of the 45th President of the U. S. A. The hammer blows of executive orders that threatened to shatter the foundations of democracy, justice, inclusivity, the rule of law, and the freedoms so many had fought long and hard to attain. The manic late-night tweets and rule by fiat. The fear, despair and loathing generated by subterranean political machinations. The spread of overt hatred, misogyny, racism and violence against the most vulnerable.

My days in Germany, meanwhile, took on a quiet, comforting rhythm. Early morning meditation; breakfast; a walk in the park under the bare branches of ancient trees. Then, daily reading: voices of journalistic integrity from publications I trust and support – The NYTimes, Washington Post, The Guardian, NPR, The Atlantic, The Independent, Mother Jones. While folks back home were asleep in their beds, I shared articles, poems, excerpts from books – anything that might add clarity, hope, perspective and civility to our discourse about the events in which we find ourselves embroiled.

The rest of my mornings were spent at the energy medicine clinic, receiving treatments that were deeply healing, that left me feeling profoundly present, as quiet and rooted as a mountain.

Back to the hotel for lunch, followed by a couple of hours of immersive energy work and sacred activism, with the Deva of the United States, the Devas of Humanity, and other subtle energy beings who are actively engaged in restoring patterns of Divine order and harmony on our planet.

Being away from home, in a country that has faced its own dark shadows of fascism bravely and truthfully, gave me strength, clarity and perspective. A lifelong practice of meditation, reflection and spiritual activism kept me engaged and purposeful without losing myself in despair, overwhelm, rage or fear. And, central to my capacity was the choice to step away from the day-to-day of my business for two weeks, to immerse myself in healing my own body and energy body.

We live in an increasingly complex world. One in which it isn’t always clear what forces are acting upon us energetically, emotionally and physically, and what the long-term consequences of our choices and decisions – individually and collectively — might be. And yet, we must find ways to navigate that complexity with all the powers and gifts at our disposal. We must draw on our intellects and hearts, our capacity to reason and our intuitive gifts, to sift through the blizzard of facts and pseudo-facts, to turn down the noise, discern what’s true, and measure it against our own deepest values so we can choose a wise and effective course of action.

Our ability to be still, to listen for the guidance of our souls and the discernment of our hearts is one of our most sacred gifts. Our ability to trust ourselves and to act on our truest impulses is the foundation of our humanity, our sovereignty, and the freedom to shape a world of peace and plenty, justice and equality, safety and freedom for everyone.

We cannot create abundance and freedom for ourselves if we are not also committed to creating these conditions for all beings. Wholeness works through intricate webs of interdependence and comity. The boundaries that are essential to our freedom are not walls, but containers for those qualities of soul and heart with which we want to fill our world.

For those of you who, like me, are struggling to stay engaged, effective and awake without depleting yourselves or frying your sensitive nervous systems, I offer one simple question as a guide. When you find yourself overwhelmed, confused, or lost, ask yourself this question: If I trusted myself completely, what would I choose to do?

Stay soft, receptive, and humble in listening for the truth of your soul. Its answer may cut across the grain of the shoulds, oughts and musts that would force you along paths carved out by ideology rather than reality. It may arouse your deepest fears – of revealing your heart, your wisdom, your vulnerability and your power; of losing those tribal affiliations that depend on loyalty to and agreement with the prevailing winds, rather than the wisdom of your soul. Whatever your inner discernment reveals to you, trust it. Trust yourself, trust your truth, even if it scares you, or isn’t what you expect or want to hear.

Maybe your call right now is to rest, to be still. To listen closely to your heart’s desire, and follow where it leads. Maybe it is to make that call, record that podcast, write that letter, that article, that book. To raise your voice in praise or lamentation, to share your story in poetry, dance, music — in language that is evocative, precise, wise, formidably powerful. To gather with your neighbours and friends and community to act collectively in support of your vision. Maybe your call is to make your art, to serve your people, to grow your business in ways that feel good to your heart.

There is no one right way to be, no one right way to act. Sovereignty offers you the gift and the responsibility to trust yourself, to trust your soul, to trust your deep desire, and to act in accordance with it.

Don’t allow anyone else’s voice or vision to override your own. There is a time for gathering information, for listening with an open and empathetic heart to the voices, ideas, stories, experiences and truths of your comrades. And then there is a time for sifting and discernment.

Listen, with an open and empathetic heart, to the voices of others, but use your own clarity and wisdom to discern what’s right and true for you. Ultimately, your task is to protect and conserve your sovereignty and wholeness, so you can contribute to the wholeness and healing of the world.