Sometimes we need to retreat. Exit. Run. Hide. Let go. We want to feel protection, safety and comfort.
Something that will nurture our broken hearts, souls, or validate our inescapable challenges or toxic experiences. A place to heal our wounds, and to recharge our cells to feel rejuvenated again, or at least, a little less broken.
Finding this place can be confusing when we feel lost. All we know is that we are lost, exposed to the sheer craziness of a storm we can’t control. But we recognize we need something to help us navigate the storm, protecting ourselves from further damage.
That’s why it’s important to recognize what it is that we can go to, when we need it. Giving us light and refuge during those dark times, trials and suffocating traps.
Getting ourselves to our own personal refuge takes some exploration. But if we identify it, and know what we need, when we need it, we can more easily flow through the shackling craziness of life.
For me, coming to my Yoga mat is a refuge. It can be simple, the sight and even smell of my mat evoke an emotion, a representation of something soothing, an attachment to my soul that is like a companion on a long journey through breathtaking landscapes or deathly deserts.
I may be teaching a class, or taking the class, but whenever I’m on my mat, that familiar place that symbolizes so much to me, I am at home in My sanctuary. It’s a feeling that cleanses me.
I’m choosing to retreat from the world, exit, run, intentionally stop what I’m doing, and take a time-out to nurture my body and soul.
My mat reminds me of the dedication I have towards my practice (even if it’s not everyday), the journey I am on as a lifelong student of Yoga and as an instructor, the fearless commitment I’ve made to self-acceptance and growth, and the belief that it is possible to improve my well-being by being there. I let these feelings wash over me.
I have been on my mat so stressed out, battling severe anxiety, rapid heartbeat with shallow breathing, that it was merely impossible to focus. I have been on my mat feeling listless, tired, and exhausted, wondering how in the world I would be able to hold Warrior Two for two breaths.
I have been on my mat severely hungover from a night of partying, and simply showing up for the Yoga class was a heroic event of determination. I have been on my mat holding back tears from a broken heart, soul, grieving intoxicating loss or shattered dreams gone awry (and yes, those tears always find their release in Savasana, whether I like it or not).
The most challenging… coming to my mat, but as the instructor.
I have taught Yoga classes where moments and hours before I was crying, battling a severe state of depression, but couldn’t bear the thought of canceling my class because my students needed me, and being there for them helped to ground me back into the present moment, and that everything would be okay.
I could rely on the fact that serving others, and guiding them through a Yoga class, brought relief and a sense of comfort to my soul. Even if my life felt like it was falling apart, I could at least bring light to others. My mat then seemed to validate a purpose I had in this world.
No matter what is going on or wherever I’m at, the common outcome I get from coming to my mat is an improved sense of well-being. A do-over and restart. I get lost in the flow, my mind is fully engaged, and I am transformed. A state of renewal and rejuvenation.
Even if it’s short-lived, I get my moment of bliss, and I am reminded that feeling is still possible to feel. Sometimes easier to access than others. Even if I can’t find a small moment of bliss, so what? I tried, and for that effort I am pleased. Yoga has consistently proven itself to be a refuge I can depend on.
“Refuges include people, places, memories, and ideas — anyone or anything that provides reliable sanctuary and protection, that’s reassuring, comforting, and supportive, so you can let down your guard and gather strength and wisdom.” ~ Rick Hanson
We train our brains through remembering experiences, and feeling them with all of our senses. Finding your own personal refuge can be a life-changer. Take time throughout your day, to notice what brings you a sense of peace, a moment of joy, a glimmer of inspiring hope.
What is it that brings a smile to your heart? Find it.
It exists, and the more you can make space for this refuge in your life, the more you saturate yourself with warm comforting feelings, and the easier it will become to let yourself be guided by what you need.
By taking refuge, you are taking care of yourself, courageously saving yourself, and by doing so you are bringing your best light and energy to your heart and the world.
Trisha Lee is a Yoga instructor, academic and life coach for college students, mindfulness and meditation advocate, personal development maximizer, aspiring writer, and believer in impacting individuals to become their best authentic self. You could contact her via her website, Facebook or email.