I went through an entire New York summer where nearly everyday I hopped on the F train and exited Central Park. I would walk through the green humid grass until I found a spot that was sparsely crowded. I would lay down with my ipod (yes, an ipod) close my eyes and let my music carry me away. Once in a while, I would open my eyes and admire the clouds as they gently floated by or the trees as they danced alongside the hot, humid New York wind. Most of the time though, I just laid back, relaxed and I enjoyed the peace around me. On my walks back to the subway, I felt as though I was floating through the sky.
That was a long time ago. It was also my first summer after college graduation. I didn’t have a secure job and I had a lot of decisions to consider. But what I now realize is that sometimes it is during the moments where we think we should be worrying that we can find ourselves most at peace if we just let go. I spent the majority of that summer by myself. No one to answer to, no job to go to, just good music and good books. It was a time in my life that I needed without realizing I needed it. That summer, that park and that music became my sanctuary and sparked my journey toward finding inner peace.
A sanctuary can be very specific, like a park or a tree or your bedroom or it can be really just any space that feels right. As long as when you get there, you feel that you are entering a different place within. Nowadays, as a mom with a much busier life, I’ve found my inner peace at night; after my son is asleep and the wind seems to blow a subtle breeze as if to say, this is your time. I go to my room, turn on my salt lamp and read or attempt to meditate. But sometimes finding that designated “peace time” can be more challenging. People have families and children and work that consume most of their day, but finding that time for yourself is essential, especially if you have a family.
If your children are slightly older it would be beneficial to include them and have them try it with you. Showing your children that you take that time to care for yourself teaches them the importance of tending to one’s own needs. Ask them to find a place within your home where they feel at ease and for ten minutes you can all sit or lay down, turn on your music and just be. If you are at work, you could do this during your lunch break. Instead of eating at your desk, pick a day throughout the week and go outside and dine with yourself in a place that brings you calm.
Eventually finding your sanctuary isn’t necessarily about the spot you choose, it is about your mindset during that time. Once you learn to be at ease in your sanctuary spot you can then learn to be at ease anywhere by getting into that mindset. What begins as a journey to find a sanctuary becomes a journey to finding your own inner peace that naturally will lead to developing a go to zen mindset.
According to psychology today, finding your zen mindset is about seeing the world as though you have never seen it before. When we see something for the first time, we are in awe, we are captivated and we are excited. Think about the first time you saw your baby or the first time you took a photo with your new phone or even the first time you ever kissed someone you really liked. All of these moments had a zen like quality at first. They were new, they were calming and they were fueled with acceptance.
When you develop a zen mindset, you will find that this is something you carry with you. It will present itself to you when you may not expect it. When you are in bumper to bumper traffic, when you see the work gossip crying because something personal has occurred or when your children won’t stop screaming because you dipped their pb and j sandwich in milk and they didn’t want you to do that.
Every now and then we all need a place to call our sanctuary. A place to be at peace with ourselves. A place where we can rest assured knowing that although our life situation may not be ideal, this moment right now is.
Do you have a go to sanctuary? I’d love to hear more about the space you call your own.