Lately I’ve been involved in a very interesting conversation about creating safe space. It came up in talking about working with clients, but it really applies to our lives as a whole. How do we create safe space for ourselves?
And what I find particularly interesting, is how do we create safe space for our bodies?
I don’t mean wearing a seatbelt, and picking up broken glass before you step in it! I mean how do we give our bodies the opportunity to relax, to feel the sense of safety that allows us to let go of the stress response that keeps us vigilant, ready for danger, ready for confrontation, or ready to run. How do we allow our bodies to be at peace?
So many of us walk around in a perpetual state of fight or flight readiness, with stress hormones coursing through our veins, muscles tense, sympathetic nervous system on alert. If your mother was severely tense or anxious when she was pregnant with you, you were bathed in her stress hormones, and born accustomed to a high level in your bloodstream. Like a baby born addicted to drugs, we can come into the world “addicted” to a high level of stress hormones. And while a baby can’t (fortunately!) create their own cocaine, they can create their own adrenaline and cortisol. And if your childhood was filled with tension and fear, danger or abuse, your body becomes accustomed to being in a continual state of vigilance and stress hormones.
Creating safe space for our bodies means finding ways to calm the fight or flight response, ease the flow of stress hormones, and find a sense of peacefulness. How to do it? Meditation is one of the best ways to re-train and re-balance your nervous system. Breathing exercises as well, especially Yoga breathing like the alternate Nostril breathing technique can re-balance the sympathetic nervous system and down-shift your system.
I created the “Four Steps to Center” meditation system many years ago to help my clients learn to meditate. In it, I go through the four levels of being; body, heart, mind and spirit to reach a meditative state, what I call the place of center.
I always begin with the body – if your body isn’t safe and peaceful, how can your mind and heart be at peace? I have never been a fan of meditation techniques that teach you to ignore your body, because I believe it’s an integral part of us and must be included, (and also because I’ve always been something of a fidgit!)
Each time we meditate, we are literally down-shifting our system, calming down our stress response, decreasing our stress hormones. We are also re-training our mind and body to operate at a new baseline, and creating a place of peacefulness and safety.
So take a few minutes, right now, to breathe, to relax, to remember that place of peace and safety that lies within your heart…
You can get a free download of my guided imagery meditation “Six Minutes to Peace and Relaxation” or any of my other guided imagery meditation, including “Four Steps to Center” at www.CarolRobin.com .
Yours in peace and safety,