Taking Refuge to Stay Peaceful, Calm, Loving, and Resilient. How are you taking refuge right now?

Refuge for me can be found in many ways.

Going for a run or walk. Focussing on the good things that ARE present in my life. Meditation practise. Reading a great book, having a heavenly sweet scented bath. Preparing a lovingly made meal for myself and those i love. Gardening or tending to my houseplants. Sending compassion and good wishes to my community and the world of sentient beings.

BUT We can also take FALSE REFUGE in things which at first appear to be helpful but actually do us harm.

Tara Brach speaks of False Refuge most eloquently. How might you be taking false refuge? Over-working. Over-eating. Obsessively watching news channels, to stay appraised of the situation. Sleeping too much. Taking too much exercise, constantly needing to be on the go. Binge watching TV shows day after day.

It is so easy to fall into the trap of False Refuge in the guise of self care. “I took the weekend off and lay on the sofa with take outs and netflix.” “I plan to run a marathon every week until the end of lockdown.” “I have just decided to work extra hard so i don’t have time to think about what might happen.” “I am writing that novel I always fancied doing.”

When we avoid dealing with our inner experience, our thoughts, feelings, concerns, we find that we build up feelings of anxiety, overwhelm and perhaps frustration and anger. Which bubble away under the false facade of capability, busyness, industry total withdrawal disguised as so called self care. A take out and netflix sounds blooming lovely, mines an Indian thanks, hold the rice.

But spending a high majority of your time lost in a virtual world, and eating food that places your wellbeing at risk if over indulged in is another form of self abuse and hiding from the reality of your experience.

We slip into this so easily, we know these coping strategies, and for the moment they may even seem to work.

“Whilst i am running I can’t think of anything else.” Great run, love it, embrace it. But check in to ensure that your run hasn’t become a form of self punishment, and avoidance. Run yes but feel also. Make the time to really BE in your body, to take care of all the arising sensations and emotions.

Tara Brach uses this formula… RAIN R – recognise how you are feeling A – accept your feelings fully I – investigate why you are feeling this way, whats it really about N – nurture that feeling, take care of it, give it voice, place a hand on your body, hug yourself, use comforting soothing language.

Taking refuge in healthy practises and life choices offers us the capacity to walk through these challenging times without doing ourselves further damage. The Buddha taught us that the way to inner peace and happiness, to freedom from mental suffering was the Middle Way. Not too much excess, not too much scarcity. If the body and mind are under stress then we are not able to rest in peace.

Surrendering to the truth of each moment and tending with care and kindness to those feelings, thereby allowing them space to be expressed, felt, heard and nurtured is the key to walking this life, and our path with ease, joy and resilience. YES you are going to have challenging feelings and emotions. YES you may want to lay on the sofa with a pizza and Netflix. YES you may want to run and exercise until you literally can’t feel anything else. YES you may have a cry and feel afraid. YES you may have genuine worries about your health and financies and how the future may look.

This is totally understandable, pain and fear, suffering is part of the human experience, but lets try to take refuge in things which support us whilst we walk through this pandemic day by day. Let’s walk metaphorically speaking arm in arm with each other. Let’s rest our trust in those choices which will enhance and support us versus add in the end, another layer of suffering.

Listen to this excerpt from Dawn Lister on our IGTV.

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And most importantly stay peaceful, stay loving, stay present.