CREATING SAFETY IN YOUR BODY IN AN UNSAFE WORLD
I am stunned, heartbroken, terrified, mortified and yet not surprised by all the #metoo posts that are circulating my Facebook feed this morning. My heart is broken that so many of my beloved friends have experienced some form of sexual assault in their lives.I’ve never felt completely safe in my body. Even after the immense amount of work I’ve done to connect with it from a holistic, loving, and soulful place, I still suffer from the occasional bombardment and overwhelming emotion that my body, and very being, is under attack.
It all started at the ripe age of twelve when I found myself constantly being verbally accosted by men who were twice sometimes thrice my ages. I would politely decline their advances, divert my eyes in the opposite direction, and do my best to abandon the situation altogether. I couldn’t tell you how many times men would drive past the bus stop, turn their car around, and park right in front of me. Flashing their two dollar smile, asking me to get into their car, assuring me they’d get me home. Being the polite young girl I was, I would smile and decline their offer, while silently calculating what I’d do if they tried to forcefully put me in their car.
The first time I was physically assaulted was in college by one of my classmates. I woke up to him fondling my breast and vulva while I was intoxicated in the front seat of a mutual friend’s car. I remember wanting to fight back, but I couldn’t move my body because I was too incapacitated.
I decided not to tell anyone because one he was a friend of my very good friend, and two I was drunk, so the details were hazy. Till this day I play the scenario over in my head, maybe what happened didn’t really happen, maybe he didn’t mean it. YetI know, in my heart of hearts, that it did in fact happened. I kept the event to myself and never told a soul until years later.
The sad thing about these stories are they are all too common. When women have the gumption and ovaries to report sexual assault or misconduct we pretend as if the incident was the first of its kind. But women don’t speak. We lay low, we silence ourselves, we unconsciously protect the assailant, because we are too afraid that we ourselves will be persecuted in the process. We don’t speak up because we are shamed or blamed for the incident, and God forbid if you are sexually assaulted while intoxicated or while wearing socially unacceptable clothing, everyone will just assume you were asking for it.
This leaves so many women feeling isolated and alone. Taking the blame, and beating ourselves up because WE put ourselves in this situation. If only becomes our daily mantra, and instead of healing we internalize and build a shield of protection around our body. But walking around on the defensive all the time can be harmful to the body, and cause unneeded stress to the nervous system. Walking around on the defensive is exhausting emotionally, physically, spiritually, and psychologically.
Both examples shaped how I saw the world, and how I moved in it. I was constantly walking around on the defensive, just waiting for someone to verbally or physically violate my space. I knew I could no longer live like this, especially while living in a big city. It was time to do something about it and shift my perspective around my presence in the world. I chose not to allow these moments in my life define the whole of me. I was determined to be a stand for myself and begin to heal from a deep profound place.
When I started studying tantra, I practiced a meditation that allowed me to tap into my body and find a place that I could cultivate a sense of safety from within. It was a process, but it changed my relationship to my body forever. This powerful meditation can be used during your regular meditation practice, during self-pleasure, or even when you’re having sex with your partner. Choose the scenario that currently makes you feel the safest.
Before you start this meditation, let your partner, roommate, friend, parents know that you need 20 to 30 minutes of alone time. Communicate that if they need anything from you, you’ll be available afterward. I personally lock the door, just so I have peace of mind, which allows me to be present during my meditation.
Create a safe space. For me, my safe space in my bedroom. Its where I feel the most comfortable. I usually clean my room, make the bed, put away clothes, light a candle, burn some sage, pull out my favorite blanket. Whatever brings me comfort, and makes me feel good.
Get comfortable. Set a timer so you know when your meditation is over. Get into a comfortable position. Make sure this position is comfortable enough for you to sit in for 20 to 30 minutes. I actually prefer to lie down on my back in the middle of the bed, complete stretched out, allowing my body to take up space. You can also sit in an upright position, with your back supported against the wall, bedpost, or the back of a chair.
Breathe deeply. Once you find yourself in a comfortable position, close your eyes, and begin to breathe deeply in and out of your mouth, if this is too uncomfortable for you, please feel free to breathe in and out of your nose. Breathe deep into your belly. Scan your body, and locate any sensations or emotions that you may be feeling. Remember, you can’t heal what you’re not willing to feel. I know it’s painful, I’ve been there, but numbing the issue won’t give it space to be resolved. Just relax as much as possible, you’ve got this, I promise.
The safety mantra. Once you feel ready, whisper I am safe or safety, softly to yourself until it becomes a gentle chant.
Drop into your emotions. Just know that whatever comes up for you, is perfectly fine. You may feel profound anger or sadness. Don’t hold back if you need to express these emotions. Perhaps you feel like sobbing uncontrollably, or if you’re angry punch a pillow or throw a tantrum with your body. Just remember your emotions are welcomed, however, they show up. It’s all a part of the healing process.
Self Soothe. When you’re finished, make sure to nourish & shower your nervous system with self-love and care. If you had a strong reaction to the mediation and ended up crying or shouting in anger, your nervous system may be in shock, if this is something it’s not use to. I personally love giving myself a hug, while I breathe deeply and whisper thank you or I love you. I sometimes kiss my arms. I also love taking a nice warm shower or bath, there is nothing more soothing than warm water on your body. I would also drink lots of water and abstain from any drinks filled with sugar or alcohol.
As someone who’d rather live in their head, instead of grounded in my body, I found this meditation to be life-changing. I still practice this meditation when the world feels particularly unsafe, or I’m in deep need to feel loved, seen, or worthy. It allows me to cultivate ease and peace of mind. It lets me know that I can always find a safe place in my body, no matter how small. It also gives me the space to heal unresolved sadness and anger, and uncover the cause.
The time has come for us to reclaim our bodies and make them our own. It is so easy to dismiss our bodies, especially when it feels like it’s under constant attack, but please know that you deserve to feel safe, you deserve to heal, and you deserve to use your voice. Your body is sacred, you are sacred, and no one can take that truth away, no matter how hard they try. I am here to support you. I love you, I see you, I’m with you.