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Wellness

Do: Sanctuary and Refuge

January 20, 2014

Written by guest editor and milk + honey licensed massage therapist, Matt W.
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With the holiday season behind us and February in our sights, let’s review our efforts and the fruits of our labors.

Consider taking a moment of refuge and asking for sanctuary.

Where does the idea of “sanctuary” come from?
Sanctuary as a Western concept arose from an older (ancient Greek and Roman) recognition of sacred spaces, and the right to use these spaces to make contact with the divine, or at least to seek refuge within that holiness. They chose places of natural beauty, quietude, and awe to represent their sanctuaries. The Catholic church later adopted the notion of sanctuary, the dominant characteristic of which was protection from civic and criminal persecution. It was meant as an opportunity to repent, and to take refuge in the higher laws of God, thusly enjoying a reprieve from the sometimes unjust lower laws of society. A similar concept of higher law pervaded serious Buddhist concepts. To take refuge in Buddhism ultimately means making a commitment to practices of wakefulness, thereby taking refuge in ultimate truth.

What does sanctuary or refuge mean now?
When I turn the words, “sanctuary” or “refuge,” over in my mind, notions of security, protection, but also humility and sacredness arise. This doesn’t have to have religious connotations my scientific friends. The sick day is a perfect example of taking refuge from ordinary life. To take refuge is to remove oneself from outside influences, and sometimes to remove oneself as an influence to others. It is to temporarily escape the laws of noise by taking refuge in the laws of quiet.

So, how do we do it?

For many of us, the refuge we enter must be a place whereby we can drop off our preoccupations before entering. We must access provisions that separate us from the storm. A powerful refuge, one worthy of being called a sanctuary, will take this to the next level. It will provide refuge from the the more aggressive aspects of our own personalities.

You need to recognize the need to step back. Set aside time to do so. Find a place to go, and go alone. Don’t make demands on any sanctuary or refuge, but give thanks and be respectful to it. Make agreements and allowances. If you seek refuge in nature — say, on the Green Belt in Austin — take water and put your phone on airplane mode. Refuge can be portable. A yogini takes refuge in her breath. A child takes refuge in play and imagination, or in the arms of a parent. We all need refuge, and the good news is that most of us can access it somehow.

We need pauses and rests, and we do so by taking refuge.

Source: zug55/Flickr

Living, News

How to Keep Calm and Carry On This Holiday Season

December 21, 2013

three stooges turkey edit useWritten by guest editor and milk + honey licensed massage therapist, Matt Walker

I love the holidays, but let’s face it, they can be pretty overwhelming. With the trifecta of Thanksgiving, Yuletide festivities, and New Year’s Eve in our midst, it’s inevitable that we get sucked in, overrun, depleted, lifted, and celebrated. Regardless of where you’re at in this spirited procession, you’ll want to take care of the “basics,” as in, first and foremost, take care of yourself. This also means that it’s a really good idea to keep things in perspective, and when all else fails, take refuge (or you know, a night off).

Here are some other life reminders — trust me, we all need a little call to action, and this is mine to you.

Have a self-care plan, one that embraces moderation:

  • Try hard to get in about eight hours of sleep — here’s what’s in it for you.
  • Daily movement is key. Or if an everyday schedule doesn’t work, try for 30 minutes of intense exercise a couple times a week.
  • Whole, nutritiously dense foods with a minimum of ingredients, such as vegetables and meats present the most reliable pre-prescription for health.
  • Be merry. That’s a given.
  • Always get home safely.

And when you know “moderation” might not be in the cards for your night out, be honest with yourself.

  • Know when you intend on pushing past your limits, and under which conditions.
  • Avoid sugary treats and alcohol until sundown.
  • Try to clear part of your day after the company party.
  • Carpool or take a cab home on the nights you plan on over-indulging.

We can all lose a grip on things, especially when the holiday energy is high. Remember: a little perspective goes a long way. No holiday — no day, for that matter — has to be perfect. So, be thankful for the time you’re spending with family and friends. Count your blessings.

When all else fails, it’s time to take refuge:

  • Move a little slower.
  • Savor quiet time.
  • Go outside.
  • Cross something off your list without doing it, and go do something for yourself instead.
  • Stay home.
  • Schedule a massage.
  • Visit a sauna.
  • Meditate.
  • Pray.

In the grand scheme of things, the holidays punctuate our daily lives, helping us to reaffirm those very things we would cherish everyday if the ideal were actual. It’s the best time of year to reflect, rejoice, and recharge for the year ahead.

Happy holidays, everyone!

 

Image: ABC Studios

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