How do we find safety in this tumultuous, chaotic world we live in?
How do we find safety and security in ourselves?
I find myself asking this question of self-inquiry more often these days. It is a fully-loaded question that’s been unraveling my past and current foundations of security—food control, exercise and body “perfection”—all very volatile things.
As I’m writing these unplanned words, I feel the wetness of the grass on my bare feet and the soft breeze trickling over my cheeks. I hear the birds conversing in the Hawaiian breeze and the palm trees whooshing in the temperate air.
With my feet rooted firmly into the lush, green grass—I feel the strength of the earth moving up my legs, my roots. Sunlight cascading onto my back, I hear the gentle rhythm of the world around me.
It is the light I have been seeking in the darkness. It is the life and vitality in the being-ness of what surrounds me. It is real. It is here now.
And—as if the wind was here to remind me, the birds here to sing me this lullaby or the earth here to show me—I know what it is I seek: safety.
But I seek this grounded-ness, comfort and stability in all things predisposed to change. No wonder I’ve never been satiated or sustained in the food I withhold from myself or in the food I impose on myself. Or in the exercise I force on my adrenally fatigued mind and body—in the regime of anxiety-ridden restriction and deprivation of food and self-love—or the depression-laced, rebellion-seeking overindulgence of food, sugar and sweets.
It is an inner power struggle mirroring an outer. How my mind seeks the extremes—the black and white mundaneness, the past and future polarities. A tug-of-war-fight leaving its present housing space—my body—in disarray.
How my soul aches for the sweetness in the grey space. And how my center of self power—the Seat of the Self, the third chakra and governor of all things digestion and integration-related, Manipura—reflects its inner wisdom back to me.
Its cries in belly-ache, fullness, indigestion, bloated-ness and IBS-related symptoms mirror the inner fire within me left untamed. It is a fire I have felt to become who I am. It is a fire I have allowed to burn its own. It is a fire of my feminine power turning in on itself, rejecting the fire-tender in the process.
My belly has received the brunt of my attacks for most of my life. Catapulted into the throws of anorexia at the volatile age of 13, my stomach was the brunt of my attacks—the dartboard of my misled, hateful darts. I lost who I was before I found her.
My mom saw this darkness swallow me whole and did what she knew best. So, we addressed the symptoms and I saw a nutritionist. More food, more protein, meal times and portions. The meal plan was put in place.
Never once did someone say, “Maybe, it’s not about the food.” Or, “Maybe, this new food regime is furthering the distrust in self.”
Bottom line—my mind no longer trusted my body, and my body no longer trusted my mind in all its insanity.
The tie between the two was severed—distrust in self.
This severed relationship between mind and body is under current reparation, and my yoga practice has been the healer. It met me where I was—fixation on body and physical physique. But in all honesty, I loathed yoga the first couple of months. I hated the discomfort in my genetically predisposed, athletic build and the monotonous emphasis on breath. My mind didn’t understand the point. It was only over a period of time that my heart got its chance to speak the truth of what it was really seeking—the space to breath.
As my teacher said over the course of my yoga training—the purpose of yoga asana is to practice breathing.
The choice is ours—to show up or not. To show up for the breath.
It is through breath that there is yoga and union. Union between body and mind—heart and soul and sky and earth.
I have been slowly, meticulously stitching the two back together, in loving relationship with each other for the first time since childhood. It’s not been easy, and my mind and body continue to struggle.
My mind continues to dance its cyclical dance, as my soul seeks to reclaim its inner rhythm. I don’t always trust my self or my body. I don’t always listen to my self and its needs. I don’t always trust my body’s wisdom to know when to eat and when to stop, when to move and when to rest—but like a curious child, birthed into this world for the first time, I am re-learning—and that is something.
My heart seeks to resource itself through deep, belly breathing. It’s such a simple solution to a dramatic dis-ease in my mind. Turns out, my body’s innate wisdom is intact after all these tumultuous years.
Returning to this moment, and the world before me, my senses drift back to the lush land sprawled before my eyes. It is through these eyes I see the world—the gateway into the reality I seek. The choice of perception is mine.
My mind patters to and fro, past to future, push to pull. It stretches its arms to hold something. It settles on the nutty, cinnamon, savory taste of the hot tea in my hands, warming my belly.
With a rose quartz stone on my newly adorned finger and an earthy, red mandala cotton shirt decorating my belly, they superficially remind me of my anchor beneath my feet—my breath.
I am safe to breathe. I am safe to breathe deeply into my truest expression of myself.
I hear this truth in the whispers of the tropical plants, as they respire life silently before me, and in the birds singing their harmonies of life and creation.
I hear it in the gentle, pitter-patter of the rain—washing away and cleansing my eyes with new lenses. And my heart knows—I am coming home, one breath at a time.
**Author’s note: I wrote this in the aftermath of the most recent Colorado Springs, Colorado shootings. A large part of my own healing journey and recovery from disordered eating and exercise addiction has been about reconnecting to my roots, in the most literal and esoteric sense. Through an incredibly intensive yoga teacher training program last year, I delved into the studies of yoga and came out with deeper understanding of the importance of the Muladhara, root chakra. This experiential journey continues to bring healing to my relationship with my body and food. This chakra is our connection to safety and security. It is our relationship to our bodies, the earth, food, home, family and finances. In a world where most of us don’t feel safe, I hope that my words might shine a little more light on this darkness but also on the etheric and literal roots of all of us. So, that today, we can all feel a little safer, even if to find comfort in that we’re all here to just practice breathing and showing up.
Or, as Ram Dass might say, “We’re all just walking each other home.”
Author: Anna Palmer
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina