Breathing in: I am safe.
Breathing out: I am held.
As I sat in the hot tub yesterday morning enjoying the sounds of the waterfall in our backyard, the morning birds chirping, and the fresh, cool Pacific Northwest summer morning air on my face I realized that so often what I need most is a reminder that I am safe.
I am blessed for many reasons and one of those is that in the eleven years we have been in our home I have had the opportunity to make it into a safe space for myself.
I haven’t always felt safe where I lived and am fortunate that in every home I have shared with Charlie that is not something I’ve ever had to worry about. I know there are many who do not have this same luxury and I know the feeling myself more than I would like to.
There are still times though where past experiences flutter into today’s reality and it can take a while before I realize that the shields and walls have come back up. That I am on guard, protecting myself.
Of course, we all deal with experiences that can make us feel unsafe, whether they be in our homes or out in the world. I wish for every one of us though, that there is at least one place that is safe.
Again, I know that is not the reality for many, but if you happen to be one of those fortunate souls that has a safe place I’d like to remind you to sink in to that space and really allow yourself to be held there as often as possible. Why not right now?
Our brains and bodies are beautiful miracles, they want to keep us safe. Throughout our life, as we experience things that make us feel unsafe they are constantly learning and adapting, encoding what, where, and who is safe and is not safe. We carry that within us, even when it is long past.
And, for those of us who have experienced extreme trauma, we know that the re-training of the body and brain is a lifelong process. Even for those who have not experienced such traumas, there is still yet plenty in our lives that can cause heightened awareness and guardedness.
The year 2020 was full of those experiences for many: the pandemic, social and political unrest, financial insecurity, role strain, second and third shifts to adapt to new realities, caretaking, natural disasters, and on the list goes. And, 2021, has seen much of that continue for many people.
Each of us has felt it in our own unique way. Some have adapted very well. Some are struggling. Some of us are just realizing how impacted we really have been because we’ve been in “just get through” mode for so long.
I shared not too long ago that I am dealing with burnout and working diligently to get myself back to a healthier place. It’s been quite the process and I am realizing just how patient I need to be with myself throughout this. I like to have a plan and a timeline and recovering from burnout just doesn’t work like that. In fact, if you want to ensure you don’t recover from burnout put yourself on a timeline for recovery.
Because I have been on guard for quite some time now, working extra hours, taking care of family members, navigating our business changes, dealing with health challenges, finding my way through COVID world, and more, it became clear to me that part of what I have been “holding” is not feeling safe in some ways.
And, of course, our bodies and brains react to stress and fear in similar ways. Whether it be contracting physically, emotionally, or spiritually, shallow breathing, adrenaline overload, the frontal lobes going offline, hiding, or something else, we react in ways to protect ourselves.
Our bodies and spirits cannot do that for such extended periods though without having dysfunction happen. This is why having a safe space is so important and why it was a beautiful gift for me yesterday to be reminded that I am safe.
As I continued to sit and really sink in to the warm water as well as the space and time I was in I began to meditate and what I shared at the very beginning of this post is what came up for me:
As I breathed in deeply I said to myself: I am safe.
As I breathed out I said to myself: I am held.
With every single breath, I found myself sinking deeper into being held. Being held by the water. Being held by the oasis we have created in our backyard. Being held by our home. Being held by Spirit. Being held safely.
I could feel my shoulders relaxing. I noticed my breathing deepen and slow. I noticed a warmth and heart expansion in my chest. I noticed the rays of sunshine through the branches overhead. The birdsong seemed sweeter. And, every cell in my body seemed to unclench.
While I am “working my way through burnout,” an important part of that is that I need to feel safe again. It has been easy to recognize that I have been exhausted, but I did not realize that I had also been guarding myself so much and it looked just like when I have not felt safe in my life. So, reminding myself that I am safe will continue to be part of this recovery process for me.
I know that there are many of you who may also be contending with burnout or pre-burnout as you are trying to find what life looks like for you now. Extra care is needed to take care of yourself to get back to a healthier place and rhythm.
I wanted to share this awareness with you today though in case you may also be dealing with fear or feeling unsafe and you are not aware to what extent that is showing up for you.
Do you have a safe space you can go to and spend some quiet time?
I would like to offer you the simple meditation that came through for me yesterday to take with you into your safe space.
Breathing in: I am safe.
Breathing out: I am held.
Can you allow yourself to be held in this safe space? To let go just a little with each exhale? To surrender that which you are holding that is not serving you?
You are safe. You are held.