• Nathalie Bonafé

Creating Safe Spaces In Times Of Turmoil: An Invitation To Open Up to New Dimensions

Updated: Sep 10


Dear Readers,


I’d like to start by saying that I am sorry I have not been in touch for a couple of months now. Like many of you, I’ve had a hard time getting anything done. This year has forced us all into a space of reflection.


If you’re new to my blog, welcome!









Photo by Karim Ben on Unsplash

Co-author: Samantha Paternoster.


In times of uncertainty, we should be able to find a place where we feel safe. But what does that really mean? ‘Safe’ can have many meanings, as it exists differently for us all.

Perhaps true places of safety don’t physically exist for some of us at this time. If that’s the case for you, dear reader, I hope you will find encouragement and hope in this letter. Above all else: be mindful and let go of internal fears so you can create your own safe spaces when none seem to exist.

Safety Begins With A Feeling

Safe spaces have less to do with the physical than the term would imply. It’s about feeling heard, seen, and free to express yourself without judgement.

Everyone has a story to tell.

I believe in Agape - a universal love that comes from within, without judgement or expectations of others. Agape does not require filiation or familiarity. It is closely aligned with charitable acts and altruism, helping to build and maintain “the psychological, social, and indeed, environmental fabric that shields, sustains, and enriches us.”

Understanding the meaning and intent behind Agape has changed me for the better. It encourages me to say, whether in words or in silence, “I see you. I hear you. I feel you.” Whatever your walk of life, your religious belief, your skin tone, I believe those words have the ability to heal and empower us all. I may not know what it’s like to walk in your shoes, I may not even know you, but nevertheless I believe that we all matter to each other.

This belief encourages me to ask others: Where are you comfortable sharing your story? Especially when times are rough?

I ask those around me: have you felt loved lately? With whom do you connect with?

“I see you. I hear you. I feel you.” Those simple words have changed my life. Being able to hear them myself, and use them in return has healed and empowered me, as I hope it will for you as well.

Safety, Love and Empowerment Can Be Found In The Most Unusual Places

Part of my mission is to help others connect with themselves so they may attract the energy they most desire.

We all have the ability to transform restraining circumstances, creating a beautiful interwoven sense of humanity in a time of uncertainty. I call it The Other Dimension. Once you open your eyes, you will see that it was right in front of you all along.

Here are some of my recent magical encounters with The Other Dimension. Even under Covid-19 restraints, I hope you will feel inspired to look for and create your own.

My Neighborhood

I live in a diverse neighborhood in a university town. The Quinnipiac River flows through it; Native Americans had settled here long before the settlers arrived by the seas.

This neighborhood is home to people of various faiths, skin tones, origins, accents, music preferences, intellectual and physical abilities, etc. And yet, we all have something in common: our humanity. I love that about my neighborhood, and I choose not to be afraid of others who look or think differently than me.

Every day, I try to go out and breathe. I walk my dogs and log my steps. And every day, I run into people from a distance - neighbors, or those passing through. We wave, smile, comment about the weather or our health. Strangers say hello, tickled by my dogs’ cuteness or naughtiness (they are rescue dogs and are not always on their best behavior as they too learn to accept perceived challenges).

I feel safe because I acknowledge myself and others as they are: vulnerable, strong, beautiful, scared, healthy, sick, happy, sad. I feel safe because I see birds or insects I have never seen before and I feel so lucky to be alive and experience such an ecosystem.

Mostly, I feel safe because I am not alone.

Gardens

I have a small backyard garden that I call my secret garden. It has a couple of trees and flowers, bird feeders, and plenty of uninvited weeds too. There I watch the seasons pass with their buds and blooms, annuals and perennials, birds and butterflies; and also its deaths as leaves and plants succumb to snow and ice.

Several years ago, I created a shared garden space at a rental property I manage. I wanted to bring the same sense of peace and magic to those who were just passing by.

Among the fruit trees and other bushes, there is a bed where tenants can plant their own veggies. I love encouraging them to work together to collect rain water, compost, and share responsibly.

This Spring in particular, gardens have been such a blessing. I am so happy to be able to provide such a safe space for our tenants to be outside. A place where they can comfortably enjoy the sunshine and play in the dirt, experiment with life and meditating as they watch their seedlings grow into edible goods.

Last week, they all worked together to find a humane situation for an injured squirrel. It was amazing to watch the collaboration develop with confidence, compassion, kindness and respect for life and death - and one another. My heart melted in gratitude.

Meetings

For the past several years I have been hosting live discussions around end-of-life education and planning in town. For the past two years, I have had the privilege of hosting Death Cafes, where people can safely share their experiences, fears, beliefs and questions associated with life and death.

There is no agenda. During each meeting, we wind up feeling happy together around such an unsettling topic.

This article shares a young woman’s point of view after she experienced her first Death Cafe.


I welcome you to attend one, especially now that they are held online due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We are now meeting with people from all over the country. I’ve even had the fortune of attending Death Cafes in my native tongue in both France and Canada.

The magic in those gatherings has come from the willingness to facilitate and be present, sharing respectfully and exchanging in thoughtful and meaningful ways. The most surprising thing has been the incredible feeling of safety in our intended silences together. It is the most novel form of safety and peace I have ever felt in the presence of others - even more so than at church or a wonderful concert. Thoughts are clear and fair in the midst of chaos, pain and loneliness, as we lift each other up.

In Summary

I encourage you to look for what makes you feel good. Find the places that reassure you. The process starts with self-awareness. Slowly, you will find people who are like-minded who will become part of your tribe. You may even be surprised at your own discoveries!

Agape is there, at your fingertips. You are not alone, and can feel seen and heard in the most unexpected places - starting with your own heart. Over time, you will be able to share with others. I am a strong believer in synergy, and I believe this is how we will change this world.

I see you, I hear you, I feel you. Now go, and if you feel like it, come back and share what has worked for you.



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