The Meaning of Safety and Protection

What words come to mind when you read the question, what makes you feel safe and protected? Try to answer quickly. You may have found that you went to thinking about the larger picture of your life first, such as your surroundings, relationships, and maybe even the state of our world. These are very important things to consider without a doubt, as to feel safe and protected we need to feel this in our relationships and community first and foremost. However, today I am focusing on a smaller, less observed sense of safety. That less observed sense of safety is the sense of safety and protection that stems from what you hold in mind day in and day out.

A teaching from the Buddhist text translates as: “What the enemy can do to you the ill-directed mind can do to you even worse.” Pretty powerful statement if we really understand it. It’s a statement that defines safety and protection as what we hold within. What we focus on, what we attend to, or fail to attend to, and what we say to ourselves. The internal messages and dialogue we entertain and give to ourselves day in and day out about who we are, what we look like, what we do or don’t do, are the basis of how safe we will feel inside. Beginning to pay attention to what we hold in mind is the first step in starting to shift around an internal sense of safety. From there, we can begin to build what really makes us feel safe and protected.

These are a few questions from Chapter 2 in my book Befriending Your Body that can assist you in beginning to attend to when, where and how you feel most safe and protected in mind and body.

1) Where do I feel most alive and free?
2) What or who helps me to feel safe and protected?
3) Where do I feel most safe? What do I do that makes me feel safe?

Once you find the answers, make sure at least one of these is in your life each and every day. Remember, safety is also in what you hold in mind. It is not enough to just have a place or action that makes you feel protected. You must also attend to what you say to yourself once there!

Read more at: Befriending Your Body: A Self-Compassionate Approach to Freeing Yourself From Disordered Eating, Shambhala Publications