When the Ground Beneath Us Vanishes

Disaster is like that. Trauma often is, as well. It’s like the rug being pulled out from under. All that flying carpetseems solid, all that props up our self image, our routines, the view of our world and our place in it, is suddenly no longer there. We are vulnerable, protective coatings somehow stripped away.

How can we go on, in the face of any adverse life event that has left us feeling so exposed? How do we regain a sense of safety, and wholeness?

An adversity’s rightful place on the shelf of our recollections shifts throughout a lifetime. Still, there are ways to coax back a present sense of wholeness and wellbeing, even after disaster.

The beginning steps of the return journey are found on the most concrete lay of the path: bodily sensation. Sit quietly and wrap your arms around yourself, right arm and hand under your left. Wait for a changed sense, an awareness of your physical solidness, taking perhaps as much as five or ten minutes to absorb it. The body is a fortress, a faithful vessel that stores and sustains who we are, and keeps us whole. You are whole.

Next, focus on aspects of your body that are working for you: Your heart is reliably beating. You breathe; oxygen is both available and sufficient. At this moment in time, awholenessll is well. You are alive. It is reason to be grateful.

Over time, your brain accommodates what you choose to show it. Repeatedly exposing yourself to your true physical completeness helps your brain rewire a secure sense of wellbeing.

For more on healing and the mind, check out brain scientist Dr. Rick Hanson’s newsletter.

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