My yoga mat stays laid out in my spare room – there for a quick stretch between assignments, for getting right to my morning routine without any set up, and for being my personal safe refuge.
Most of my friends (and I don’t know why I’m pretending I’m not included) run themselves so fast and for so long that it comes to feel normal. We’re stretched so thin and experience so much adrenaline, stress, and anxiety, that we can develop an unconscious emotional insecurity.
With modern life comes a constant but ever changing stream of input. Media messages tell us who to be, how to look, what to do, what to be ashamed of, what to judge…. It’s endless. The emotional toll of this endless stream (that we don’t realise we can turn off) is fragility, self-doubt, and fear of making a mistake.
I recently started a new job that I love. Despite my efforts to be intentional, focus on one thing at a time, and be present with the person or task in front of me, I started noticing clear signs of self-doubt, as well as the pressure of time and the lurking belief that if I don’t compete (with who?) I’ll fall behind.
About that same time, I came home, dropped everything at the door, kicked my shoes off, when straight for my yoga mat, dropped down with my gratitude prayer and immediately went into child’s pose.
Where I stayed for the next 15 minutes.
After the third day of this unconscious urge, I got curious about the pattern. I wasn’t doing any additional yoga, I wasn’t working something out in my head, and it didn’t seem like relaxing was the aim either.
I took a look at child’s pose – the turtle-like shape, the inward focus – and it hit me. My body is sending me to the mat because, in this moment, it’s seeking refuge. But it wasn’t really a physical refuge. It was entirely emotional. Refuge from the insecurity, confusion, and fragility that develops from having so many decisions, so many options, and so much information.
“Am I doing this the right way? Is this the right choice for me? Do other people have this problem? What if it doesn’t work out? Will she be mad at me? Which one is the best one to buy? What if I get the wrong one?”
The realisation that I was giving myself an emotional refuge was empowering. I wasn’t escaping, I was giving. Through the safe space I created physically, I was creating enough emotional space to release the insecurity and develop trust. In essence, I was learning to shut off the stream.
Creating Your Own Safe Refuge
Good options to consider include strong relationships, a quiet spot in the woods, meditation, your yoga mat, running, your synagogue, church, mosque, or other place of worship, or good music in your earphones. Experiment to get a sense of what, when, where, and how you can feel most centred and give yourself the most effortless support.
The idea here is creating a ‘safe base,’ like so many school playground games, where you can turn inward, let go of the doubt, and make space for trust.
By Nadia Alamo