March 18, 2020
Imagery has healing powers. In the midst of the most traumatizing, terrorizing and terrifying situations — whether global, communal, internal, PTSD — I've learned to concentrate on and tap into the safety, reassurance and peace of happy memories to reduce pain, anxiety and other biological and psychological symptoms. For me, one of those places has always been the beach. I called up this very image countless times in the depths of darkest throughout recovery, and will surely summon it more. But for the first time since my accident in early September, I actually went to that beach (this past weekend, prior to the shelter-in-place order… though contemplating returning to this slice of nature, so long as it’s permitted). What a divine miracle to feel the restorative salt air, the refreshing ocean breeze, the reality of the visual I regularly draw upon from afar to derive strength, grounding and calm.
For me, calling back and pulling up concrete memories is most useful, rather than hypotheticals or dreams yet actualized. This sacred place is a short ride from my home, a craggy coastline I cherish, a sandy beach where I have passed the years, a river flowing to the sea, a safe respite from the universe. Amid anxiety, upheaval or chaos, I need to transport my mind to a comfortable, secure space that actually exists — with the sights, sounds, tastes, textures, people, places in which I found (and will again) find true joy, potent as ever — for a sense of control, stability, relaxation, even rejuvenation mentally and emotionally. I can reduce the intensity of trauma, panic and stress by contrasting and putting it in perspective through potent mental recall of positive imagery, of natural surroundings, of earthly freedom.
I knew this beach awaited me, and I know that to be true once more.