My 24/7 "safe place"
The woods; my safe place—the place my mind takes me in challenging moments.
At any moment, I can look up at the sky or even close my eyes and go to the woods. It's a gift to be able to escape in this way, to feel connected and grounded when Life tries to pull out the rug from under my feet.
Through PTSD treatment, I learned coping skills such as going to the woods. But the truth is, we all need these safe places. We don't have to experience trauma to feel anxious and need a space to center ourselves.
So here's my space. I'm sharing it with you because maybe you need a space like the woods, too. There's enough space in these woods for all of us to share.
It's a warm fall day, and the wind shakes the leaves down to meet me, kissing my skin. I walk down a path that leads me to a log where I can sit and be. Just be.
I have space. Physical space that I can move around in. Space inside my body that I can breathe in. Space in my mind that I can think freely in.
I look up, and the sky consumes me with its vastness. The troubles that were upsetting me shrivel, cowering at the sky’s magnitude and presence.
I drink in this moment—knowing that I am a part of something much greater than me. Greater than my life, my loves, my passions, my pains. But although I am small, my life is purposeful; it has meaning that contributes to this universe—even if in a small, insignificant way. Because all those small, insignificant purposes of billions of small, insignificant creatures are what make the Big Picture so grand, so vast and so beautiful.
Time does not exist; I do not know if I’ve sat here for 10 seconds or 10 hours. And it does not matter. I have all the time and space I need to enjoy the now. Just being.
When I’m ready, I stand on my feet, feeling more grounded than before. My heels dig into the earth and the crown of my head lifts up toward the sky. I seem to take up more space. Connected. Whole.
One mindful step at a time I follow my path to head out of the woods and I find myself back at my desk in the office among co-workers and clicking keyboards. I’m no longer in the woods, but I brought its space and grounded roots along with me.
In my classes, I try to share this gift with others. I tell students that the peace they feel now, on the mat, is always accessible to them.
Do you have a space like the woods?