813th Week: Cultivating an Internal Sense of Safety

Recently, I had a conversation with a colleague that revolved around the subject of cultivating an internal sense of safety. We talked about how external safety isn’t a sure thing and, in these uncertain times, doesn’t ring true as a possibility for many people. 

My deepest sense, as we talked, was that the only place I could find a reliable sense of safety, and it’s a relative thing, is inside my own embodied core presence. This is because embodied presence is something we carry within us all the time, even when we’re unaware of it. 

I’ve talked many times about the dynamic of “foreground/background”. Depending on what we experience in any given moment, feelings of activation, distress, overwhelm, and/or shutdown may have moved into the foreground of our awareness. When this happens, our internal steadiness and embodied core presence slide into the background and we no longer experience these qualities of our inherent being.

For this week’s practice, I invite you to orient your awareness to that place in you, that state of body-mind being, where you are present and aware of what I would call your core—the place where we find a deep sense of embodied presence. It’s that deep and central place inside that is your true home base. Having a home base to return to no matter where you are, no matter what’s happening is a valuable resource and it’s one that you carry with you in every moment, even when you aren’t aware of it.

Here’s a brief process you might engage to come into a deeper awareness of your core embodied presence:

  • Sitting in whatever position offers you a sense of being alert and present (posture matters) follow your next out-breath into your body and notice where you automatically land.
  • With each out-breath, invite yourself to settle just a bit more. If you find that this agitates you instead of helping you settle, orient your attention to the sensation of landing in your natural resting place inside your body.
  • Cultivating a felt-sense of being in your internal home base is time well spent, so take however much time you may need or want to become familiar with the sensations and state of body-mind being that arise in you when you rest in your internal home base.
  • Take a moment to notice your spine and how it supports your back all the way from the base of your skull down to your tailbone. Also notice your skeleton, your body’s internal infrastructure of support. Noticing your spine and skeleton can help to support the sense of internal steadiness that I talk about in the next step.
  • As you continue to explore your natural landing place, your internal home base, notice that there is always a steadiness there, an aspect of your being that cannot be disturbed. Give some time to sensing into this steadiness without working at it. Simply notice that it is present and, over time, explore and become familiar with the qualities it offers.
  • If using the breath works for you, over time you can train yourself to drop into your core embodied presence with one out-breath, following it down into your body and settling into your internal home base as you exhale.
  • Again, if the breath doesn’t work for you, notice if there’s a word or an image that invites you into this ever-present place in you.

Over time, it gets easier and easier to access your embodied core presence. And, as with all these practices, there’s no right way to do this one. Be sure to allow yourself to alter it to meet your own needs in whatever ways help you to access the steadiness that is always present in your embodied core presence.

And, as I always say, please remember to bring along curiosity as your constant companion and to pat gently on the head any judgments that may arise, allowing them to move on through.

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