Finding Sanctuary

“It was in leaving that I realized my truest sanctuary is within.”

I spent my final weeks of August 2018 in yogic study with a group of like-minded souls at the Himalayan Institute in Pennsylvania. It was a full 10 day segment which took four of us to graduation of our 500 hour yoga teacher training and the rest on their continued journey towards their own goals in yoga training.

The essence of the Himalayan Institute (HI), as I have shared before, is a supportive community where residents and visitors can embrace their own path through study of various practices such as yoga and ayurveda, or simply retreat from the everyday. Every time I visit here I fall in love a little bit more. It could be the inviting community, the seclusion in the forests and rolling hills of northern Pennsylvania, the nourishing meals, or simply that time spent in practice.

Going into this trip, I was coming out of a busy summer, full of change and adventure. My partner and I upgraded our sailboat to one that will take us on more comfortable and grand sea-adventures. Then spent two weeks cleaning and preparing it for our anticipated use. I was spending less time in practice and more time desiring our fun summer activities. I could feel the influence in my state of mind, somewhat carefree and not very disciplined. I’m not saying this was “bad”, but it did leave me feeling a little anxious as I left for my training.

Arriving at HI, I noticed my thoughts of not “being more ready” for the training taking hold. I could feel the tension in my body, my mind was a little unsettled, and emotions were stirring. This segment focused on the journey inward and I could certainly feel my resistance. So at the hand of a dear friend I met there, I stopped and allowed myself to feel the anguish I noticed inside. Over the coming days I felt held by the Institute, my peers, the teachings, and came to settle nicely into my self. The remaining of the training I allowed myself to just be in it.

As graduation day approached, I could feel everything coming together, stable in all I had studied here and comfortable in my wholeness of self. Though, it all felt so good I was a little scared and sad about leaving; scared that I would lose this inner awareness of self when re-engaging with the outside world and sad as I was unsure of when I’d return to this amazing sanctuary. Would I retain this practice and awareness on my own?

I graduated with excitement and gratitude in my heart, embracing the effort it took to complete the journey and holding dear the teachings of the amazing instructors and ancient texts.

As it all completed, most of my classmates left soon after. I stayed one more night, preparing to depart in the morning. I watched myself saying good-bye to people and places within the Institute, my gratitude at a high for my experiences in this place and perhaps a little attached. Bubbling within was that curiosity of how to stay true to my heart and soul when I left, to carry ALL I had received with me; trying to embrace my instructor Shari’s advice, “you will retain exactly what you need”.

Over the last few days of our training, we talked a lot about maintaining a MDR, a minimum daily requirement, to nurture and support us in our home practice. This means committing to do a practice, full or partial, but always something, with the intention of connecting to your self.

The day I traveled home I did a short MDR while I waited for my cab, this felt like a positive send-off. I settled into a relaxing and reflective bus ride, eventually arriving in Manhattan, where I felt the expected shift of environments. Thankfully a dear friend I had studied life coaching with greeted me. She was a delight to my heart; a transitioning support on my journey home. After our lovely brunch together, I wandered the busy streets of New York, finally sitting down in a beautiful inner city park watching the diversity in people go by. New York is one of those places where you can truly experience the sense of “I”ness that the Yoga Sutras discuss. Amongst the people of the city you do feel like a single drop of water in a vast ocean of souls, each soul unique, yet I believe… connected to one Source.

Finding-sanctuaryIt was here that I remembered…my source of energy, love, and devotion comes from within. That it doesn’t really matter where I am, I can always come home to my heart, my ever-lasting inner sanctuary. Finding sanctuary is not about the place that holds you, but in how you hold yourself, wherever you are.

So, as I sit at home today, my personal sanctuary supporting me in my daily practices. I recognize, I can take my practice anywhere and still connect deeply to my inner sanctuary. I chose to stop compromising on this valuable time for myself just because I am not in “that expected place”. All it takes is turning my attention inward and taking time for my practice, and when needed, that minimum daily practice.

And if for some reason I fall off this daily practice, I commit to getting back on.

I hope my story helps you connect to this final thought… While starting with a physical sanctuary is helpful for exploring practices that lead you inward, take time to discover how your daily practices (even modifications of your practices) can happen anytime and anywhere.

So please take time for you.❤️ What daily practices help you find sanctuary within?

If you don’t currently have daily practices, explore options to find your way into self-nurturing, soul-connecting practices that serve you.

Love and light,

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