The Feeling of Safety

When reading my daily meditation from Richard Rohr (if you haven’t check him out he is a fabulous writer focusing on how to live a contemplative life) I was struck by this simple conclusion:

No bootstraps needed to pick myself up!

No bootstraps needed to pick myself up!

The only people who change, who are transformed, are people who feel safe, who feel their dignity, and who feel loved. When you feel loved, when you feel safe, and when you know your dignity, you just keep growing! That’s what we do for one another as loving people—offer safe relationships in which we can change. - Richard Rohr

This idea had to tumble around my mind a bit before I came to agree with it. Typically, I think we understand transformation as the outcome of struggle and work. This is usually how I approach my yoga practice as well. While I view it as a form of spiritual expression, and I physically convey what is on my heart, I still want it to be work. I want to put in effort so that my intentions can reach their goals. I think of how we have to face our fears so often in life in order to move forward. To use visual clichés, we have to go out on a limb or pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. How then can transformation only be achieved from a place of safety?

Then I chose to replace the word “safe” with “nurtured.” After the verbal substitution, Rohr’s meaning became clear to me. True and lasting change can only be created if our environment or relationships support the change. We can will ourselves to be different but, if those around us aren’t invested in our success, we are doomed from the start.

Safety, nurturing, love — all these qualities need to be present in our lives in order to be transformed. Without them the changes we make in our lives will be superficial.