It’s not uncommon to feel like you’re unsafe in your own body. For those who are neurodivergent, there’s a lifetime of being told that everything you do is wrong, or you just don’t understand it. Chronically ill folks are gaslit about their own lived experiences, especially by medical professionals. These experiences overlap, as do the communities, and the truth is all if it leads to not feeling safe in our own bodies.
Part of not feeling safe is not trusting our own feelings and sensations. If someone acts harmful towards us, we may wonder if it’s us, if we did something, even when we rationally look at the situation to know that we’re in the right. There are many ways we distrust our own bodies and lived experiences, from not being sure we can physically or emotionally handle something, to being told that what we’re feeling isn’t what we’re really feeling.
This combines to create a sense of not feeling safe within our own bodies. Safety isn’t just as the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs pyramid, it’s also at the foundation of what we need to avoid burnout and cultivate wellness.
If we don’t feel safe, then we’ll have a difficult time feeling good about ourselves and feeling good about our lives.
The first place to create this sense of safety and the only one which we can control, is finding safety within ourselves. Yoga helps us do this.
The whole of yoga philosophy and yoga spirituality is designed to help us create union between our bodies, our minds, our spiritual selves, and the world around us. We begin by focusing on our breath, our thoughts, and our bodies through meditation, yoga asanas (postures), and mindfulness. Putting these three things together help us to ground through our body and to be aware of our body, breath, and mind without judgment. We begin to believe ourselves. We begin to trust ourselves. And we begin to cultivate safety.
We shouldn’t confuse safety with cure. The “cure narrative” relies on medical professionals and all the socioeconomic barriers that go along with it. Depending on what country you live in, where in that country you live, your community and identities, you may, or may not, receive medical care that makes you feel safe. While everyone deserves competent, harm-reduction, trauma-informed, SAFE medical care, it is something that relies on outside circumstances.
Safety, that sense of connection with ourselves, begins with us. If we, in any given moment, trust the experiences and feelings of our body, minds, and breath, we can cultivate safety. And it’s something yoga can help us with.
In my next blog, I’ll talk about how we can still cultivate this feeling of safety, even when our thoughts choose a different path.