Taking Refuge To Restore Balance

woman meditating on dock

There is a saying, or more like an acronym that is used particularly in 12 Step Program circles and it’s HALT. This translates to hungry, angry, lonely tired and is what to become aware of so that you know it’s time to halt. In other words, when you are feeling hungry, angry, lonely and tired, it’s time to slow down, stop, redirect, and step back. It’s a call to rest. This is the perfect time for a reset and it best accomplished by taking refuge.

Taking Refuge

Taking refuge might be a formal retreat practice or it could be to take refuge in the three jewels as it is known in Buddhism. Here one takes refuge in the Buddha, dharma, and spiritual sangha. In could also mean to take refuge in a conscious connection with your wise self or higher power. Finding solace in inspirational reading or teachings. Discovering sanctuary in community, family, congregation, or social network. You may also find refuge in visiting a particular place or nature setting that you hold sacred. Or mindfully sipping your favourite beverage.

When I was studying Buddhism in Nepal, Ani Karen was asked, “How do you know what religion you are if you find truth in many?”. Her answer was, “It’s where you take refuge”. The first thing that came to my mind is nature. Forest, meadows, nature, caves, mountains, and gardens. This is where I find refuge. One of my key spiritual practices was monthly weekend silent solo retreats at a centre that offered space for this in Ontario, Canada. Since not being able to access that, I have found other ways to have the same experience. You can too.

It’s important to know when to put your best foot forward, and when to step back. If you are not at your best and not showing up in the world the way that expresses your true nature, it’s time to step back and regroup. To recover yourself to be yourself.

Finding Sanctuary

meadows and mountains

The key is to find what conditions would give rise for you to experience a deep rest and chance to regroup and reset. This may be a temple or church, a quiet corner in your room, in a busy office environment it can even be a moment in the washroom. Anywhere you can step away for a moment and tune back into yourself and your own natural rhythms. It’s an internal quest and way to replenish your life force.

Retreats invite opportunities to access dreams and visions without intrusions, and away from chaos. You stay in it until you feel fully grounded and solid. Then you re-enter the world with more resilience and resolve. A fresh start and renewed perspective.

In taking refuge you find stillness that quiets the mind and gives you space to breathe into life more deeply. It also feeds the need for rest so you don’t become exhausted or burnout. Just like a car can’t keep moving without gas. You can take the time to fill up the gas tank, and you can stop to fill up your own fuel too.

Taking Refuge in 4 Key Shamanic Practices

The key spiritual practices in Shamanism, also known as the, “Four Powers” is a balanced and conscious way to walk through this life. They are Singing, Dancing, Nature, and Sweet Silence.

In Shamanism, it’s common to ask those who come for healing, when did you stop dancing? Singing? Being in nature? Tuning into your own nature? When did you become uncomfortable with silence? This gives you a clue to what needs healing in your life.

Once you begin to engage in these practices again, your spirit is restored. Your spirit becomes free, your heart opens, and you renew your commitment to living your life in a way that is soul nurturing for you.

I used to love to dance. Much of my teen and university years were spent de-stressing on the dance floor. Emotions were expressed through my body, as I wouldn’t often share the words, and I was able to go deeply within as I found rhythm with the music and the way my body wanted to merge with it. Music moved me through teenage angst, and through celebration. I would do a happy dance whenever I accomplished something or figured out a problem. And of course, I loved to dance with family and friends at weddings.

My deepest meditation happens in dance and I can take sanctuary in it.

Oftentimes too, I would sing along to the music, whether it be in dance, in my car, to songs in my head, in the shower, and just about anywhere else when the sound wanted to come up. It didn’t always sound that great, yet when I could let go of the need to impress or sound a certain way, it just became pure fun.

Making Time For Retreat

Being an Empath, Nature and Sweet Silence are sacred practices I cannot do without. I find I experience both when indoors, and especially outdoors. What are some to the ways you take refuge? How do you experience the four powers of sweet silence, singing, dancing, and nature?

I encourage you today, to spend some time in Nature, in Sweet Silence, and find your voice, your primal sound, Sing, and allow your body the freedom and expression in Dance. Journal about it, or share with me what you were able to experience. I always love hearing from you. I encourage you also to redirect any blame, shame, or judgment, and simply honour where you are right now, as the perfect place to be.

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