Monday, March 10, 2008

Self-Love Ritual #3: Create a Personal Refuge

When my dog gets frightened, she runs to her bed and huddles there. Animals naturally seek refuge when stressed, and perhaps we can take a lesson from their wisdom.

Remember playing "tag" as a kid--and having "home base" as a designated safe place? Without home base, the game would have been too stressful. Likewise, when the adult game of life gets too tense and difficult, it helps to have a home base--a protected sanctuary where nobody can disturb you, where you can take a breather away from the bills, the emails, the phone calls, the problems and conflicts. And this home base--this refuge--can be your own safe place to retreat to whenever problems assail you -- a place for regeneration, self-nurturing, protection.

How to Create Your Own Refuge

1. SET YOUR INTENT. Your refuge is your place. It should not be shared with anyone else. So first, if you share your home with others, you must give yourself permission to have a special place just for you--just for your own comfort and nurturing. As you design your refuge, remind yourself that you are creating this space for your own growth and care.

2. LOCATION. If possible, choose a permanent location in your home for your refuge. It can be as grand as an entire room, or as modest as a carboard box covered with beautiful cloth in a corner. I once knew a man who lived in such a tiny apartment that his only option was to open his oven door and put a cloth over it whenever he needed refuge. Outdoor refuges also can work well.

3. OBJECTS TO CREATE THE REFUGE. Decorate your refuge with any objects that uplift, inspire, and comfort you. Possibilities include candles, fresh flowers, crystals, favorite rocks or seashells, photographs of people who fill you with joy or inspiration, photos of yourself at your best, reminders of things you're proud of, objects from nature or pictures that inspire you, a favorite blanket, a cozy pillow, aphorisms you love, music that relaxes you, paints, keyboards, drums, and so on.

4. INAUGURATING YOUR REFUGE. It's nice to have a special ceremony to initiate your refuge. Design your own inauguration, drawing from whatever traditions resonate for you. Some people like to burn sage or incense, which does set a tone of sanctity. You can write out your intent and read it, or scatter rose petals or recite chants of blessing--whatever cements in your consciousness the idea that you're creating a sacred space for yourself.

5. USING YOUR REFUGE. Use your refuge to contemplate, to journal, to wrap yourself in cozy warmth until you feel better--as a place to retreat to anytime you need to feel safe, centered, and nurtured.

I welcome photos of your refuges to inspire other readers, as well as your ideas on how to create a wonderful sacred space for self-care.


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