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Lions Roar : September 2017
MY BEAGLE, LITTLE BIT, can sense a storm gathering. The reason I know this is because Little Bit uses the language of her body to communicate her fear. From just the slightest shift in air pressure, her chunky little body starts quivering. Then, at the first clap of thunder, she springs off her stubby legs and torpedoes herself through the air, taking aim for the familiar protec- tion of my arms. I am her port in a storm. All beings feel a need for refuge or sanctuary at various moments in our HEART & MIND Take Refuge in Your Body When the storms of life hit, your body can be a place of refuge and healing. CYNDI LEE says it starts with making friends with your body. CYNDI LEE teaches vinyasa yoga grounded in the Buddhist teachings on mindfulness and compassion. Her most recent book is May I Be Happy: A Memoir of Love, Yoga, and Chang- ing My Mind. ©BORISLAVZHUYKOV/STOCKSYUNITED life. Some of us look for protection in material belongings, career prestige, or financial investments, or we might look for escape in alcohol, food, or even over-exercising. An authentic spiritual path offers a different kind of safe haven. Instead of the temporary relief of an aspirin or a place to hide from yourself, spiritual refuge offers a path toward feeling one’s own basic goodness. But first, like Little Bit, we have to start by feeling our mental and emotional dis- comfort: fear, frustration, anger, hatred, jealousy, pride, or any kind of negative emotion. When we’re doing this, our own body is a perfect vehicle in which to take refuge. When we humans feel an emotional storm brewing, the adrenaline rush of powerful feelings often renders us unable to control our body, speech, or mind. Holding our breath and quivering, we might find ourselves meeting heat with anger, anger with angry words. Or we keep our afflictive emotions inside where they fester. Grief in our chest, anger in our jaw, fear in our knees, all eventually reveal themselves via pain in our joints or reduced movement capacity. Instead of trying to deny these feel- ings, taking refuge in the body means that we begin to make friends with our body. We listen to our body and treat it the way we would treat someone we care about. Instead of pushing it too hard LION’S ROAR | SEPTEMBER 2017 17 CULTURE • LIFE • PRACTICE