Back To My Senses

by Rachel Allyn, Global Seva India Posted on February 26th, 2013

Proprioception. From Latin meaning “one’s own” and perception, it means knowing where your body is in space even if you can’t see it. Without proprioception, we’d need to watch our feet to make sure we stay upright while walking.

It was this innate sense of inner-knowing that led me to join the Seva Challenge even though I couldn’t see the steps ahead of me. I felt confident that Off the Mat, Into the World was the organization, sexual slavery the issue, India the country, and this time in my life the moment.

After all, this path began as a girl raised by a mother who had been an orphan herself. She taught me the importance of connecting to my body, understanding what healthy sexuality means, and that gender equality is imperative. I was sprinting, not walking, to take on this challenge.

Then the hard work began, trying to raise money for the first time in my life. I became detached at times, caught in the minutia of fundraising and questioning myself: “How can I convince people this matters? Who knew fundraising was so hard? Can I really make an impact? Will travel to India happen for me?” I fumbled blindly, my sense of proprioception lost.

Evidently India is happening for me. Now before my own eyes I see the necessity of this hard work and it feels palpable. No longer stuck in my head, my senses are resurrected. Because in India, your senses get assaulted.

This was evident yesterday as I left the trash-lined roads and honking cars and entered the gate for the shelter of Made By Survivors. I am greeted by smiling and curious faces. I smell the mix of trash, curry and cleaning solution. I hold her hand as she guides me to lunch. I taste the warm chai in my mouth. I hear the call of “Auntie!” as she tries to show me the picture she drew. We find common ground in admiring each other’s jewelry. We find rhythm playfully dancing together. I see the bright colors of her outfit, the orange hues of the mendhi she drew on my hand, and the mischievous look on her face as she reaches for my camera.

I also see myself reflected back. While sex trafficking is a pandemic that feels beyond me, it is also about me. And you. It’s about mothers and daughters, fathers too. It’s about the family we’re born into, the choices we are given (or deprived of), and the right to protect ourselves. It’s about having the luxury to connect to your body because you don’t have to detach in order to escape the horrors of being violated daily. She reminds me of the luxury I have to reside in my body safely, perceiving it as my very own. Now cradled in a safe community, I wish for her to return home in her body as well.

Tomorrow I may feel lost, slipping back into my head full of questions about this problem. Tomorrow I may feel grief for the other girls still trapped as sex workers. But for now I’m residing in a space that can see the possibility in our work reducing sexual slavery, a vision shared with all my Seva sisters here, a vision shared with my mother. I close my eyes and sense the girl’s energy vibrate, finding solid ground again in this moment, this body.

Rachel Allyn is a psychologist and yoga teacher in Minneapolis, MN.  She successfully raised more than $20,000 for the 2012 Global Seva Challenge by mobilizing her community and rising up as a leader for a cause she believes in. Funds raised will help support organizations in India that are providing refuge, rehabilitation and economic opportunities to sex trafficking victims, and empower survivors to lead lives with dignity and respect.

*The opinions expressed in this blog are that of the individual author and are not necessarily shared by Off the Mat, Into the World.

Take the 2013 Global Seva Challenge and become part of a powerful community of leaders around the world working to raise $1 million to help protect the Amazon rainforest and the people who live there from the devastation caused by deforestation and oil exploitation.   As part of this year’s Seva Challenge, OTM will also be spearheading a year-long campaign to educate and bring awareness to energy use in the US and our dependence on foreign oil.