How to be a Mindful Activist: with Isra Chaker
The world feels like it’s on fire these days. How do we take care of ourselves while still taking care of the world? We reached out to our Game Changer Isra Chaker, a leading activist who’s at the forefront of many causes, to talk about mindful ways to be an activist and what brings her peace these days.
How do we approach being an active participant without being overwhelmed and experiencing compassion fatigue?
If you’re feeling burnt out: Step back and listen to what you’re feeling. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you should respond to that and take care of yourself first and foremost. Stepping back from the news and social media, and taking the space and time for your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing is critical.
If you’re motivated to take action: check your privilege and channel empathy, remember that whatever is happening to others could easily happen to us. How do I do this over and over again? First and foremost remember you have a community and your community is there to lean on when you need them most. This is not a burden that you are carrying alone, it is a responsibility for our shared humanity. Recognize that injustice is injustice. Take care of yourself, see where best you can utilize your energy and resources, and then mobilize, mobilize, mobilize and speak up, speak up, speak up!
What do you do to be in the present moment, what brings you peace and comfort?
Spending time reading the Quran and doing my athkar (remembrance) at the beginning and end of my day really helps me. Other than faith, it’s spending quality time with my family. Being outdoors, exercising and taking walks also helps me be in the present moment. I really do embrace the joy of the small and simple things.
How does one deal with activist burnout?
I would recommend taking a step back, and reflecting on what in your life is causing it. Ask yourself what is draining me and not filling my cup? Then take action in spending less energy and time on those things and more energy and time on things that fill your cup and help you feel at peace and grounded. Make this a daily practice.
Isra’s steps to take mindful action:
- Don’t feel the need to respond and act as soon as a crisis happens, despite social media making you feel like you are ona clock and have to. Take your time to process and be intentional about what role you can and should play. Recognize it's not a sprint, it's a marathon.
- Set your own timeline, priorities, and goals and hold yourself accountable. What helps me manage that is when there are others joining my efforts- mobilizing others to amplify the work is critical in not feeling like the burden is only on your shoulders.
- Identify manageable goals that fit within your time, capacity, and resources. There are multiple ways to take action: donate to one cause, volunteer your time with another, seek knowledge about a crisis, and advocate for policy change, etc. Anything that contributes positively to the cause makes a difference.
- Put your faith in only Allah, He’s our constant anchor in our lives. Remember this dunya is meant to challenge us- our lives will never be perfect. Be grateful for the blessings and lean on your faith through the challenges.
- Advocate from your passion and purpose. Find creative means to take action that line up with your personal purpose and skillset. This is where you will thrive.
Thank you so much Isra for your knowledge and what you do every day for those who are struggling around the world!
Isra is kicking off a fundraiser to help support mental health services for children in Gaza today. Spread the word and donate here!