I suffer from anxiety. That was true before the pandemic, but this experience, compounded by an unlucky string of health scares and losses, has brought this truth to a head: when it comes to my body, I have trust issues. I increasingly operate from a place of fear, so fixated on how it will betray me, never on how it serves me. Being part of pole and aerial communities were a great salve for this, when I had access to them, but for now, I have to figure out alternate ways of coping. Seeing these patterns at all is an important first step, but breaking them is a whole other kind of work.
Late last year I had a conversation with someone about how, when trying to rewire our ways of thinking, it can be helpful to find yourself an affirmation: something you can repeat to yourself over time, even if it feels awkward and foreign, until eventually, you learn to believe it. This made a kind of sense, but for the longest time I couldn't find or think of anything that felt helpful. I still haven't found something quite as pithy as an affirmation, but these are the thoughts I try to focus on:
My body's sole purpose is to keep me alive and healthy. It is always caring for me in the best way it knows how. Sometimes this doesn't go perfectly, and that's ok. It doesn't mean my body has stopped working for me, only that it needs support.
I try to meet my body with gratitude, and promise to support it right back.
I won't lie, this all still feels kind of awkward and hokey. But I have this image in my head of my mind as a forest. There is already a well-worn path that leads me to dark and familiar places. It's easy to travel so I follow it without thinking, even knowing how much I hate where it takes me. All around me there's nothing else but this path and the wild woods. But each time I try to think in this new way, I'm choosing to go off course. Retracing those steps is hard, but every time I make the effort it gets a little easier to find again. Plants learn to avoid the places I've tread. The dirt becomes more compacted underneath my feet. Eventually, maybe, this new pathway will be as easy to follow as my old one. And maybe, over time, the other one will become overgrown from disuse. Then trusting my body will become as easy and thoughtless as distrusting it is now.
This is what was on my mind as I made this new coloring page. Making and coloring it has helped me stay focused on appreciating the internal processes of my body and how they support me. I can't help feeling good things when I associate it with the beauty of nature and remember that I am part of nature, too. If any of this resonates with you I hope it serves you too. There's a printable version up in my shop so it's easy to get to any time you need a little coloring meditation.
Wishing you all well and happy coloring!