At the Level II iRest Training with Richard Miller I attended this Fall, one of the topics that really resonated with me was the idea of feeling safe with yourself. This was presented by Dr. Miller as one of the valuable fruits of the iRest meditation practice and as being of great importance considering that the world itself is not always safe. The ability to feel a sense of inner security and safety can provide us with an always-available refuge and source of comfort.
One of the key ways to create this feeling of safety is by developing your inner resource. This is one of the primary features of the iRest practice. Your inner resource is a place of refuge within you that you can turn to whenever you feel a need to take a time out or feel secure and at ease. It is a felt sense in the body of safety and well-being.
In order to access the inner resource, it can be helpful to visualize a place, real or imagined, that conjures feelings of well-being. Involving the senses, by imagining sights, smells, tactile sensations, and even tastes, can enhance the experience. In addition, you can think of people (loved ones or wisdom figures), animals (a pet or power animal), or special objects.
During my iRest practice, I often bring to mind the memory of being at a bed and breakfast in Boquete, Panama, on a trip with my husband. We had arrived in Boquete after a few days in Panama City, where we stayed in a very loud hotel and experienced some scary traffic and just a hectic time in general. At the bed and breakfast in Panama, we often had the place all to ourselves, and one particular afternoon, we played a board game in the empty sitting room and enjoyed the sounds of the rain and a beautiful view of rain in the tree-covered mountains outside the large windows. I felt peaceful, cozy, and connected with my husband, and this memory is very effective at creating a felt sense of my inner resource.
One of the teaching points at the Level II iRest training was to clarify that while the use of a place, real or imagined, and all of its features (particularly sense-related ones) can be very useful for evoking the feeling of security and well-being associated with the inner resource, the felt sense in the body that is created is the actual inner resource. The state or feeling of pure awareness, or pure being, is our most fundamental inner resource.
Keeping Agreements You Make with Yourself
Another important teaching about feeling safe with yourself was the idea of keeping the agreements you make with yourself. Being able to trust yourself, by knowing that you will keep agreements you make, is essential for being able to truly feel safe with yourself.
One of the assistant teachers at the training, who works as a therapist, talked about counseling clients to make very small, easily achievable agreements with themselves as a way to build trust and self-confidence. I think the concept of making fewer and more realistic agreements and expectations of ourselves, and honoring them, can be very helpful.
This lesson has encouraged me to make fewer grand resolutions and to be more careful about not overestimating what I will be able to get done in a given amount of time. Basically, it feels better to under-promise and over-perform than to fall short time after time. In addition, with continued practice of iRest, I am coming to more deeply appreciate that my self-worth can come from just being, rather than being based on what I accomplish.
The principle of welcoming, which is a basic tenet of iRest practice, can also contribute to us feeling safe with ourselves. In the practice of iRest, and in everyday life, we are encouraged to have a nonjudgmental, welcoming, and curious attitude toward all of our thoughts, feelings, emotions, and beliefs, seeing them as messengers. Unlike resistance and judgment, which can be like disowning or attacking aspects of ourselves, an attitude of welcoming helps us feel safe in knowing that we can experience, work with, and, in time, release whatever arises.
Meditation teacher Tara Brach teaches about the “practice of saying yes” or “this too,” which is a practice of welcoming the present moment. She has said: “There is something wonderfully bold and liberating about saying Yes to our entire imperfect and messy life,” and she also encourages “holding our life with an unconditionally friendly heart.” Similarly, Eckhart Tolle has stated: “Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it. This will miraculously transform your whole life.”