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On Creating Safety… 2 Kinds

There are two kinds of safety. The first involves knowing who you are and trusting your immediate environment enough to step out of your comfort zone and take risks. As creators, we need this fundamental sense of safety.

There is a second kind of safety that’s more global and existential. The sense that the world, in the most expansive term, is chaotic, uncertain, and downright wobbly when it comes to feeling truly safe. We can keep it at bay to some degree, but it subtly undermines our energy and well-being.

This has been on my mind lately and I went in search of wisdom from other writers.

I found this from Roshi Joan Halifax, a Zen Buddhist teacher, anthropologist, activist, hospice caregiver, and so much more.

“All too often, our so-called strength comes from fear, not love; instead of having a strong back, many of us have a defended front, shielding a weak spine… If we strengthen our backs, metaphorically speaking, and develop a spine that’s flexible but sturdy, then we can risk having a front that’s soft and open…How can we give and accept care with strong-back, soft-front compassion, moving past fear into a place of genuine tenderness? “

These are powerful words, and I know I’ve had that sense of shielding or bracing myself versus coming from a strong spine with a soft front.

I found this from Brene Brown;

“The mark of a wild heart is living out the paradox of love in our lives. It’s the ability to be tough and tender, excited and scared, brave and afraid – all in the same moment. It’s showing up in our vulnerability and our courage, being both fierce and kind.”

And this latter part really spoke to me…

“A wild heart can also straddle the tension of staying awake to the struggle in the world and fighting for justice and peace while also cultivating its own moments of joy.”

Genuine tenderness, vulnerability, and increasing one’s capacity to be with paradox seem to be at the core of maneuvering to a place of safety when the world is crazy.

I would add one more thing.

Years ago, I participated in a leadership program that involved doing challenging activities in giant redwood trees.

It was scary, but what made it doable was that when we were up in the trees, we had a belay team. They managed the ropes to ensure that we did not fall.

Along with the internal work of strengthening our spine, allowing a soft belly, and being with paradox, we all need a belay team!

Who are your belay people? Who will keep you on solid ground and open-hearted when the world gets shaky?


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