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Finding Personal Sanctuary
Where do you go when the burdens of daily life seem overwhelming? Do you have a sanctuary for retreat and renewal?
I believe that we all should have at least three distinct sanctuaries where we can seek shelter from all manner of stresses. The first is an inner sanctuary one that exists only in our minds. The second is a sanctuary in our homes, and the third, an outer sanctuary. Each has a specific role in personal stress relief.
Our inner sanctuary exists in our minds, and therefore, remains with us at all times, ready at our command. But first, we have to build it. Sit back in a quiet place and time where you can be undisturbed for about half an hour. Close your eyes and relax. Now bring up the image of your idea spot for a retreat perhaps a natural area but it could be a fictional place or the Cathedral at Chartres or the Oval Office of the White House. In any case, it is yours, and you are alone here. Enter the retreat and see your particular spot there. Imagine how that spot will be furnished and decorated. Pick whatever you need to feel totally in comfort and stress-free. Are there particular sounds surf, chant, music or pictures? Do certain colours dominate? Will you sit or lie or stand? Perhaps you want room to dance or run. Imagine all the details.
Would you like someone to talk to about your worries, fears and concerns? The person can be anyone living, dead, or fictional Mom or Dad, Lao Tse, Merlin, Mother Theresa, Saint Francis, Gail Sheehy, or Ben Franklin all are real in your mind. Finally add a means to summon them when you wish their presence.
Having completed the inner sanctuary, take some time to relax there before returning to the unreal world. Make changes if things are not right. Upon leaving, lock the door and store the key in your memory for later.
Your home sanctuary is a place you go to and, for a time, be undisturbed and in comfort. It can be a room I once made a sanctuary in a 4-foot by 6-foot storage closet where I placed a comfy chair and some uplifting books. Or it can be a corner of a room a comfortable chair or the bathtub. Ask your family or roommates to honour your privacy when in retreat there. While in your sanctuary, you may enter your inner sanctuary, read, listen to music, or meditate. Do whatever brings you inner peace.
Finally, have an outer sanctuary. Some place in the world outside your home where you can find peace. The two most popular choices are natural areas and houses of worship. Your favourite place may be a corner of the public or university library. As with other sanctuaries, it is your personal choice, a place where you feel at peace and can shed the stresses and burdens of life for even a few minutes.
Finding time to visit these sanctuaries is critical in balancing the demands on your life with renewing life energy. Times of solitude are as important as food, water, sleep and breathing in maintaining a healthy mind and body. Use them often.
Finding Personal Sanctuary by Keith C. Heidorn, PhD . ©2002, All Rights Reserved.
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