When we struggle with the ever changing demands of life, we all need a “safe place” to retreat to- either physically or in our mind’s eye. This refuge can be seen as an escape, although it does not have to be viewed as avoiding what we need to do or achieve. It can be more like the quote from the poet Rumi, “ Do you make regular visits to yourself?”

You can begin by saying in your mind or out loud, “ I take refuge in…..” If you have trouble deciding, search your past for a memory when you felt safe, nurtured, cared for in a way that lifted your mood or inspired you.

Once you have a source of refuge, take a few minutes and try and feel what it’s like to be in this refuge. Where in your body do you feel it? Is the sensation one of warmth, expansion, light, or some other physical sense? Take some time to breathe into the sensation . Notice how your body moves into the feeling and away from it. Keep letting this sense of refuge sink into you as you sink into it. Give yourself enough time to have this sense of refuge nourish you emotionally.

Once you have practiced this, you are in a better place to recognize when these moments of refuge occur in your life. It may be that you feel refuge in nature, in a religious or spiritual environment, interacting with those you love, or when you are quiet and alone. Make a commitment to creating these moments of refuge for yourself on a daily basis.

Consider taking a few minutes each morning to find this sanctuary inside of you. It will set the tone for the day as you move forward and encounter the challenges of your life.

Finding a place of refuge inside you will not keep the stressors and struggles of life from happening. However, when you develop the ability to bring inner strength and calm refuge to yourself, you can better manage stress physically. You can  step back and be less reactive to the winds of change. The next time you are  challenged and unsure of yourself, take a few deep breaths and try to feel that place of sanctuary inside yourself- that calm solid center inside and within you. This tool helps your physical brain and body to respond with more calm and less agitation. Did you know that the word NIRVANA literally means to cool or to extinguish? Not that we can achieve NIRVANA so easily, but why not move towards that direction? When the stress button gets stuck, we lose our empathy and sense of compassion for ourselves as well as others. Shifting the fight or flight gear to one of tend and befriend starting with your own need for love and refuge is the first step on the road to healing. Create your daily ritual to find refuge and sanctuary.