“My prayer became, 'May I find peace...May I love this life no matter what.' I was seeking an inner refuge, an experience of presence and wholeness that could carry me through whatever losses might come.”
Tara Brach (True Refuge)
A refuge is a place of safety. We think of it as external; a physical location, a shelter, where we can go to be safe from harm. In Alabama, whenever tornadoes are in the forecast, shelters are set up where people can go to protect themselves. These refuges may not be comfortable, but at least, they're safe. The same can be said for shelters for people who are homeless—safe refuges, but certainly not luxurious.
But what if the danger we experience is not external. What if our greatest enemy is not a tornado, fire, or flood, but an inner critic. A voice inside our head that tells us how unworthy we are; sometimes, even how disgusting we are. Our inner critic may speak in the voice of our mother, who said such things as, “Oh, my dear, you would be so pretty if you just lost ten pounds,” or perhaps, “Son, you would be such a catch if only you didn't slouch, and please, get a haircut!” Or, our father, whose face may have shown genuine disappointment that we were not the beauty queen, or the football star, or the smartest card in the deck. A seed of love, and a seed of hate are sown together, and we have trouble perceiving the love. Instead, we internalize the hate, and then feed it to ourselves like grain through a hopper.
We must create our own inner refuge—our place of safety, where those messages are not allowed. It's not easy. It takes some digging. It may feel uncomfortable at first—like we're lying to ourselves. But if we cushion it with affirmation, light a few candles of love and hope, throw in some prayers for health and peace, we can get used to it. In fact, we may even feel happy going there often. We may learn to love life, no matter what it brings, because within us there is refuge.
In the Spirit,