In recovery, affirmations have been integral to the rewiring of the neural pathways of my brain that were deeply grooved in decades of painful thoughts about myself like “not good enough,” “unworthy,” “damaged,” “bad,” “unloveable,”and “everyone else’s feelings, wants and needs matter more than my own.”
One of the ways I like to bring my affirmation practice alive is to create my own “affirmation cards” as modeled after Louise Hay’s Heart Thought Cards pictured below along with my own contributions! I encourage you to give this a try, yourself.
On Creating Sacred Space (for your healing process)
Surround yourself with messages of care, support, and loving encouragement. Make a space in your home to collect and display plants, rocks, pictures, important symbols or objects, and your own artwork. Allow that space to become a source of support for you that you can access to help you experience a state of calm, at ease, connected. You can heal.
On “The Sacred Pause” (self care moments)
In trauma, our nervous system gets overwhelmed. In situations where we are unable or not allowed to effectively mobilize our “fight” or “flight,” responses, our nervous system may “freeze” or disconnect/ dissociate us from the experience of life-threat or terror as a survival mechanism. When we have adapted to chronic states of dissociation, we may struggle at times of stress to remember to eat, drink water, take a bathroom break, go to bed, get up, move around, or otherwise attend to our basic needs. We may get stuck in hyperactivity mode, always needing to be on the go because to sit still a moment brings up intolerable sensations. We may fret endlessly with our brains looping around repetitious, unproductive worry. We may just “go away” and shut down, retreating into isolation. Does any of this sound familiar? [Read: all of this is a reaction to trauma.]
Dr. Tara Brach teaches a concept known as the “the sacred pause.” As much as possible, especially now, I’m finding that the practice of engaging in what I’m calling “sacred pause self-care moments” throughout the day helps me take better care of myself. One easy way to do this is through the skill of “grounding.”
Sacred Pause Practice: Grounding
One of the most effective ways I have learned to (healthfully) “go out of my mind” (lol) for a few moments is a technique called grounding. I love this practice because it involves working with one of my favorite external resources: the earth.
In a grounding practice, you intentionally connect yourself back to your physical body by engaging the energy of “earth,” “ground,” “support,” and/or “gravity.” By engaging our senses (touch, taste, smell, see, hear), we can attune to the reality that we are in continuous interaction with the elements of the natural world (air, water, sun, earth, wood, etc). We can then draw upon those very elements as resources to help support our ability to come back to a state of ease and presence.
- “Find your feet” (if standing) or “Find your seat” (if sitting).
- Notice and attend to the sensation of support where your body meets the surface it is in contact with.
- Experiment with deepening your breath and varying the pressure on your feet or your body with the surfaces it can make contact with.
- If you need more movement to help you connect, you can experiment with shaking your hands, torso, hips, legs, etc for several moments, enough to generate some energy. Then, come to stillness with curious attention to the sensations that are present now in your body.
Another way to engage in a sacred pause self-care moment can be as simple as asking ourselves questions like:
- “Am I breathing?”
- “Where can I feel my body right now?”
- “What feelings or body sensations do I notice?”
- “What emotions are present?”
- “What can I do to take care of myself right now?”
I find this earthy painting created by one of my art teachers, Dana Finimore, to reflect another one of the ways I can experience “grounding.” What images are most grounding for you?
I hope some of these thoughts and suggestions help you the way they have helped me. If you need some support, I’m here.