So, mostly here I’ve been talking about how to actually practice True Beauty; how to incorporate it into everyday life. Remember why? To accentuate harmony, water down discordant aspects of life…create and add to the dynamics of the True Beauty that surrounds us. While I sometimes go off on tangents (which I hope are of interest), and will again next week, this week again I bring you another Beauty Practice:
It is in deep solitude that I find the gentleness with which I can truly love my brothers. The more solitary I am the more affection I have for them…. Solitude and silence teach me to love my brothers for what they are, not for what they say.
~ Thomas Merton
Once the purview of the somehow nefarious, the religious or those seeking political asylum, the concept of having, taking sanctuary is one that is worthy of bringing into our daily consciousness and practice. I am speaking here of a physical place, not merely cognitive/meditative. One’s Sanctuary is a material manifestation of the Beauty state of mind. As without, so within.
Everyone needs their own safe haven from busy-ness. A place whose sole function is to nurture serenity. For this reason: Create and sustain your place of sanctuary.
A conscious practitioner of True Beauty must have a place to refresh, be nourished and even, sometimes, to be appreciated. Sanctuary is a place to be still; a place where harmony may be taken for granted, ultimately a place of serenity.
Sanctuary can, sometimes, be a chancy practice, or so History and Mythology would have us believe. Avalon was invaded; Eden was lost, and Atlantis sank. It seems virtually all the sanctuaries of old ended in cataclysm. Yet perhaps that is fitting. Perhaps it, too, is inevitable and even necessary (given the Practice of Honoring Entropy) the reality that all physical places are prone ultimately to dissolution. Transition is a necessary part of transformation. But the reward is worth the risk.
The point of creating Sanctuary is to have an intentionally nurturing retreat that is readily at hand. It may be your home, or a room in your home. Or a studio. It can be a garden, or even an area in a garden. It must be beautiful, pleasing to its occupant. Virginia Woolf articulated this concept among modern women with her declaration that one must have “a room of one’s own.” I am merely underscoring the sanctity aspect of that “room;” that it must have the quality of feeling safe, comfortable and beautiful. A place where the field of potentialities opens up to you. You.
Thomas Moore, in “Care of the Soul,” speaks to this need. He points out that the root of “eco” is from the Greek oikos, meaning “home,” and that ecology is really home science, not earth science. “Care for our actual houses, then, however humble, is also care of the soul. No matter how little money we have, we can be mindful of the importance of beauty in our homes. ” He goes on to include the earth as our home-place as well, of course; but that is not what we are focusing on here in this aspect of our “Sanctuary” practice.
Sanctuary is often, simply, our home — no matter whether we consciously practice and nurture this fact or not. And be aware that we can create degrees of sanctuary. Your home may be one degree, then a (private) room in it a higher degree. Ideally, there are members of our family that support our Sanctuary. When there is a safe place, full of supportive and known (not perfect!) people we consider family, we are truly blessed with a key Beauty component. But this takes work. And place, a sacred place – sanctuary – is a part of that work.
To create your sanctuary and practice seeking serenity within it:
- Look around you. Is there a place in your life already that is serving as your Sanctuary and you didn’t fully realize it? If so, recognize this, and use it as such with greater mindfulness. Put up artwork or fresh flowers – intentionally add Beauty, comfort.
- If you’re starting fresh: think about where you like to sit (or walk) and relax. Identify the quiet times and places available to you in your world. Think with your heart as well as your mind’s eye. Name it “Sanctuary”.
- Go to your sanctuary (as sanctuary) regularly. Once a day? At least once a week. If it is home or within your home, this may make it easier. Go “into retreat” regularly – meaning, for instance, go home for lunch! Go sit outside. Take an opportunity to sit quietly between one project or task and another. Observe small things. Listen. Meditate if you like, but not necessary. This is your time, your place. Time for you, with you. It is in sanctuary that Beauty most readily seeps into us, from us.
- Allow what “sanctuary” means to you to blossom and change with you over time. Sometimes it may include others; sometimes not.
The Practice of seeking and keeping a Sanctuary is important to the sustainability of the Way of Beauty. In order to sustain and nurture a cohesive Beauty awareness, in order to be a “cultural creative” and an agent for change in our turbulent times, it is very helpful to have a safe haven.
So: get moving, have fun, and use the K.I.S.S method in creating your sanctuary!
I love my family, my children..but inside myself is a place where I live all alone and that’s where you renew your springs that never dry up.
~ Pearl S. Buck