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You are Safe

I ended up in time-out a lot in first grade. My constant excitement was a little too exciting for my teacher, so I spent a lot of hours by myself sitting outside the classroom's back door. Unfortunately for her, I loved my time alone; and I often found myself pondering impossible thoughts. Christianity was a hot topic for me because I didn't believe much of what I was being taught. Creation and Hell, for example, never made sense to me. I couldn't believe there was ever nothing, or that God would condemn anyone to an eternity of misery and pain. Much to my surprise, no one was willing to seriously entertain these topics with a 7 year-old; and it made me very anxious, and afraid. I went on a mission to make sense of it all; and I did this, more times than not, in time out.

One of my favorite time-out activities was trying to imagine nothing. I would start this visualization in the real word, full of life, and then graduate to no cars, no roads, no buildings, no people, no animals, no trees, no grass, no ocean, no dirt, no rocks, no core, no earth, no other planets, no moons, no sun, no stars, no noise, just black. This visualization went the same way, no matter how many times I tried to change the outcome. I'd be floating in this...nothing...but it was still something. I would float for awhile, and then stars from another galaxy would light up in the distance around me. It was very cathartic.

Unbeknownst to me at the time, I was essentially doing a mental focus exercise, followed by meditating. This activity had an unusual consequence: it made me realize I was safe. Over 20 years after 1st grade, I started a meditation practice, and reconnected with that safety.

Meditation does not make you feel safe, meditation enables a deep knowing of safety. Feeling and knowing, although both valuable, are very different. One may find comfort, and feel safe snuggling up to someone during a dangerous situation; but there is not necessarily a knowing of safety. Knowing encompasses acceptance, surrender, and awareness: you accept, and surrender to the reality of the danger; and you're aware you could experience harm, but you know you are safe regardless. Someone could physically or emotionally hurt you; but what is "unsafe" about pain? You could botch a verbal presentation; but what is "unsafe" about failure? You could die today; but what is "unsafe" about death? Understand, I view these common fears compassionately, and hold no judgment against those who have them. Regardless, these seemingly negative and often feared occurrences are all natural parts of life. The longer you practice meditation, the more your understanding of safety changes.

A meditation practice will not necessarily inspire you to believe you're invincible; nor will it make your life painless. Yes, your courage increases because you are dissolving fear. Yes, your tolerance for pain expands because you are detaching from your ego. No amount of meditation will make you any less human; but you do become less "human animal". You learn to control your mind. Evolving past our basic biology adds precious value to our lives because we can start living in a more aware, but less fearful way. This evolution leads to less adrenaline spikes, stress, and inflammation (read about stress and inflammation). The decrease in anxiety and stress one experiences with a meditation practice is truly the decrease of fear, because one begins realizing they are safe.

You are safe.


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