The Marshall Fire approaching our home.

The fire approaching our house.

When a Fire Burned Through our Town, I Leaned in To Rise Up

This past January, I silently drove past burned ruins that were, less than a week ago, houses filled with families preparing to ring in the new year. A charred Christmas wreath lay abandoned on the sidewalk. A half-melted basketball hoop stood next to a foundation of rubble. I pulled up to my house. Soot covered the exterior. Ember burns marked black holes in the outdoor furniture. Visible ash coated the inside.

Overwhelm pushed at the boundaries of my skin. Tension pulled at my neck and shoulders. Worry consumed my sleep and focus as I struggled to accept that The Marshall Fire, deemed the worst in Colorado’s history, had reduced over 1000 homes in my community to nothingness.

Eventually, my eyes closed. My breath slowed. Inhale. Exhale. I am safe. My body began to tremble. I am safe. A sense of letting go trickled through my nervous system. I am safe. Softness permeated my shoulders, thoughts, and heart. Soothed my inner landscape. I am safe. A tiny, tender bud of hope began to blossom. And we will rise up through the ashes.

Even as a wellbeing pathfinder of two decades, I’m not immune to uneasy times. I’m not immune to unease, but I am aware of it. And that awareness—and a curated collection of healing tools—tilts me back toward ease, even in the aftermath of trauma.

Experiment with the I Am mantra below as a daily practice, when your mind is spinning, and if you’re seeking a feeling of safety and unconditional support.

I Am Mantra

A mantra is essentially training your mind to repeat a simple word (or phrase) until it gets cozy in there. Mantras are a soft, safe place to rest in the mind. The I Am mantra is inspired by So Hum, a yogic technique and Sanskrit mantra.

  • Lay your attention on your breath, and settle in with a few soft and slow inhales and exhales.
  • Sprinkle in the mantra I Am. In your mind, silently to yourself, say I on the inhale and Am on the exhale.
  • Let I ride the length of the inhale, and Am ride the length of the exhale.
  • Repeat I Am for at least two minutes. The time you spend in this settling space will naturally expand with practice.
  • By inhaling I, and exhaling Am, we also remember: “I am that.” I am one with the universe, and that universal essence is always nourishing and supporting me.
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