I was once asked to describe a place where I felt most safe and happy and whole. The image that came to mind, and still very often does, is sitting by a beach, with the quiet movement of waves coming in and out to meet the shore and the warm golden sunshine warming me inside out. For a long time, whenever things would get too rocky or difficult, a quick trip to the beach puts everything back into place and when I return to my regular life after a quick side trip to the beach, I’d be okay. Even when I’m in my shavasana after a yoga practice, it is the sound of the waves that comes to calm me and lull me to a restful state where I find release and freedom from all that ails me. It is sitting by the ocean where things suddenly become so clear to me, where everything just falls into place and makes sense. Yes, that’s how connected I was to the beach, and how much it has been a place of solace and comfort for me. It is where I can take a step back from the things that are happening, drop my guard, stop thinking and just be me.
A few days ago I told a friend of mine that I was surprised that I managed an entire summer (now that I think of it, six whole months!) without going to the beach (well, save for that one day I went to Subic and stayed by the waterfront, but that wasn’t a REAL beach, right? teeheeheee). She said something like perhaps I have really learned to breathe through whatever challenges I face (and believe me, these past six months have been SOOOO very challenging, at times so difficult I’d feel like I’d be at my wits end) and that I no longer need to run away or escape to the beach to feel safe.
Perhaps she was a bit right….that maybe I have learned really how to be still and steady in the midst of a storm, no longer needing to run to a safe haven because I have found some strength in me somewhere. And that perhaps, I have that in me to begin with. As my yoga teachers always put it, it’s finding that “back body” to fall into and retreat to to find more space to just breathe (while yes, they may mean that in a more physical realm but as I have learned to appreciate in this whole yoga practice, it’s more than just the physical).
Today it dawned on me even further that I really have slowly began to really understand and appreciate the value of silence. In the quiet solitude filled with nothing but the sound of my own breathing, I have found comfort and stillness. No, I haven’t decided to live a life of seclusion or have I opted to withdraw to a quiet little bubble where only I exist. All I mean is that now I have learned to speak when necessary and shut up when it’s more appropriate to do so. I will admit that I’m still working on the whole “just trusting in things even when they’re not said or seen or felt” as I still find myself questioning my place and purpose from time to time, but in a small way, I can feel more sure about where I stand more often than not. I do still crave affirmation and reassurance, mind you, but I’m beginning to know how to settle myself and just remember that sometimes the best things are said with no words at all.
I guess in essence I can say I have begun to grow up
And so while I still love the beach, and that will always be my shelter and home, I have learned what it means to be silent, still and steady, even right smack in the eye of a storm. I can take a step back, so it seems, even without moving and it’s so safe in there, but by stepping back, it doesn’t mean I run away.
Most importantly, in this silence, I have found clarity.