Its a lush green valley, snow covered peaks lined with thick pine and cedar trees surround it from all sides, and i can hear the gushing, fierce sound of water from the river down somewhere but i can’t see it. As far as my vision goes within the valley, i can see corn fields and small huts perched neatly on the terraced slopes of the mountains. there is this scent in the air, its flowery, and misty like the cob of a corn when its torn open. I can also see huge walnut trees and yes i can smell their freshness too, almost ripe deep green walnut fruits.
And among this i see myself, a girl of 6 or 7 years of age, wearing my favorite pink frilly frock. Its a summers afternoon everyone is sitting inside i can hear their voices. I feel the grass under my feet, its warm, i can feel the sun on me and the nice cold wind blowing around me and there is this fuzzy feeling that i can’t exactly explain but i love where i am and i just keep on looking at all this beauty surrounding me. This is Kalam from the Swat valley (Pakistan), i know this scene i have been there yes.
And suddenly it all changes, the mountains grow closer to me, the valley gets smaller, the sun is over taken by clouds and the wind becomes colder. I can feel the air getting moist and the scent it carries is misty now, its of damp cider and i can hear this shrill sound of some insect, not sure what its called though. Oh i am in Nathiagali (this beautiful summer resort in Pakistan) everything is its usual damp self, not that i am complaining. And yes i am there, grown up though, 20 years or so forward from the last images. i do feel the same content and fuzziness it is relaxing. My parents are right there yes i can see them, sitting there in the sun, staring out at nature beauty, i can see contentment on their foreheads, in their eyes.
I hear the word safe place being called somewhere around me, and i start walking up this small track in the mountain to a small bench beneath some low hanging cider branches, yes this could be my safe place I could sit here while the fluffy clouds pass by me, leaving their mist on me as they go. I feel safe yes.
But the image changes again, too soon, I am 6-7 years old, stand by a gushing river this time, holding my father’s hand as i ask him silly little questions about when would we have food? and why is this river so fierce? and can i swim through it? oh can a champion swim through it? ummm can we take a boat? and he smiles his kind smile at me and answers every little bit of my silly questions 🙂 and i see my Mother smiling at us as i run jumping towards her, each jump perfectly calculated so that my ponytails sway around in a rhythm (yes it was a talent) 😀
Oh it all changes again, images pass by me, as i stand face to face to the little me and we smile and kind of merge into each other, its a feeling like something exciting has been infused into me. And suddenly my throat feels very heavy, i am chocking and i can’t take it any more so i just open my eyes.
Its been around 2 years since i was first introduced to the concept of mindfulness, on the very first day of my MS Clinical Psychology class. I have been practicing it religiously since then, and have found the awareness that comes out of mindfulness as an anchor that i tend to hold on to now in the face of stress.
Every time when i sit down to take a deep breath and close my eyes, a very new part of myself comes into my awareness, it is strange yet comforting at the same time. This was the strongest experience that i have had so far, it came to me last week, it was strange and it really made me think the what and the how of it. It took me a long time before i could utter a single word because i felt so shaken. These are all those memories that i love dearly, very dearly and they all came to me in such strong images that i had no idea what to do with them. I just focused on them and let them stay as i continued deep breathing, in a few minutes all that i had in my conscious awareness were the happy, content faces of my parents and that fuzzy feeling and i knew what it all meant to me.
It was my safe place for sure. I hope you all find yours too.