We all want to feel safe. Especially in these times of multiple crises and turmoil, which brings up tons of worries and fear. To feel safe, however, we need to feel well in our bodies. Most people don’t know that. All too often we expect our bodies to function and don’t look after its needs for rest, comfort, play, and our own kind attention.
“The enduring experience of safety is anchored and sustained by the chemistry of wellbeing”, says William Bloom, one of Britain’s leading holistic teachers in his Book Feeling Safe. A mix of hormones such as endorphins, dopamine, and oxytocin transform the often fearful biochemistry of the body, by inducing a feeling of wellbeing and happiness. This “chemistry of pleasure”, says Bloom is triggered when we enjoy ourselves. It is also triggered when we laugh. Bloom concludes: “To feel safe you must find a way to do the things you enjoy”.
One of the problems is that we have not been taught to be aware of our bodies. It seems that we don’t really inhabit them well with our awareness. Most of us become aware of the body only if some parts of it start hurting. Pain is, in fact, a wake-up call to start taking tender care. The key is to pause and notice.
1- Deep Breaths
The starting point is to take a few deep breaths and focus on what the breath is moving from inside. Then we can feel the body from within and scan it from top to toe, feeling its aliveness, and daring to feel its pain. Most of us shy away from this ancient Asian practice which nowadays has become popular in the form of Mindfulness because it seems unpleasant to feel the aching parts. However, the awareness of what hurts, where, in which way, actually feels comforting and often reduces the pain.
Our bodies need our attention, just like a child craves for attention. Neglecting it leads to the body acting up – as children do. Sending kind messages into your body, in the way you would comfort a child, feels reassuring. Bloom points out that our minds can develop the attitude of a loving parent towards the body, who fully accepts and sympathizes with all the inner imperfections and distress. Yes, we can do that, even if we didn’t grow up with particularly loving parents. This is the major challenge of growing up: developing into a mature adult capable of looking after ourselves on all levels.
3- Check in & Pause
Checking in with how we feel inside is part of this much-needed attitude of self-compassion. It’s also a good way to disengage from unpleasant events or people around us. It reconnects us to our own center of strength. In these situations, the body has enough trouble dealing with low-frequency energies coming in and doesn’t need to be aggravated by the mind getting lost in running anxious thoughts.
So the essential strategy is to pause and notice. Instead of going into overwhelm and creating the toxic chemistry of anxiety, you can send the body a message on the lines of: “Hello beautiful body, I am sorry that this is happening to you now. I am sending you some loving thoughts and feelings now, so you can be okay again.”
4- Become aware and conscious
To recover a strong sense of energetic security, it is also very helpful to become aware of the ground beneath us and the earth, because our bodies are made of the same physical matter as the earth. When we lose the sense of connection to the earth, it can create a feeling of instability and weakness. So taking a walk, and consciously feeling our feet on the ground, or sitting on the ground and leaning our backs against a tree, are great ways to restore the feeling of connection to nature the body needs.
Here are some suggestions for things you easily can do that connect you to your body and increase the physical chemistry of wellbeing:
- Lingering in a hot bubble bath
- Rubbing a good cream on all body parts
- Enjoying a massage
- Going for a swim
- Gently tapping all parts of your body
- Lying down on a blanket on the floor and moving the legs around in the air
- Stretching gently while giggling a bit
- Taking a walk and realizing the trees and plants around, feeling the feet on the ground
- Looking at plants or flowers and intensely appreciating them for a few minutes
- Dancing at home to your favorite music
- Enrolling in a yoga or Pilates class
- Getting into a state of flow through a creative activity
- Sitting down and breathing deeply, thanking all parts of your body
In order to feel safe and to feel good, we urgently need to learn the practice of steering our bodies away from the impulse to produce loads of chemicals and hormones of fear at the slightest distressing moment and instead actively stimulate the production of the pleasure chemistry. Again and again.