Yoga Journal

Soul asylum

WHEN MY STUDENTS TELL ME they feel frazzled or overwhelmed, I often ask, “Is there a place you go to in order to take refuge? A safe space to sort yourself out?” Some people look at me blankly. Occasionally, one bursts into tears. Others admit that their antidote to stress is turning on the TV, having a few glasses of wine, or tearing into a bag of chips. Sometimes, even trying to find a more creative way to relax can feel like one more demand.

I was considering this as I listened to Dennis, a 40-year-old who is trying to run a consulting business and feels uncertain about his future. What grounds him, he says, is spending time in the woods on a Saturday afternoon. He’ll sit on a fallen log or beside a creek and let his mind quiet down, noticing a beetle crawling up a tree or the texture of the moss on the rocks beside him. After an hour in the forest, his senses open to the natural energy around him. It’s that energy, he says, that keeps him going.

Dennis has found a way to take refuge. For him, it’s nature. For me, it’s meditation. When

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