Focus of the Month: May 2020

Refuge – Finding hOMe within

Stillness • Silence • Spaciousness

written by Amanday Day Vance


“At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.” Lao Tzu

Wow, what a wild and crazy historical time of complete changes in our lives. It has been a time of challenges, for some, anxiety and fear, for others, new experiences, and, I believe for all, new feelings.

Photo by Elizabeth Dondis

Recently as I was practicing yoga on my back porch, I noticed the silence of the city and the beautiful songs of the birds, and gazing up through the trees to the blue skies, feeling the spaciousness and openness in my movement, I noticed a sense of peace within my heart, a feeling of calmness. I felt safe, a space of refuge right within my heart. Talking with my son, Vance, I asked him to be still for a moment and take a look around and listen to the silence, maybe feel the stillness in the air, all around in our neighborhood and the city. It was actually so calming and serene. We sat there for a while, just being.

Samsara is a place of suffering, pains, confusion. It is the continuous cycle of life, death, and re-birth envisioned in Hinduism and other Indian religions. Samsara is the endless cycle of life and death from which one seeks liberation, release or freedom. The prominent belief is that samsara is a feature of a life based on illusion or Maya. Illusion enables a person to think they are an autonomous being instead of recognizing the connection between one’s self and the rest of reality. It is during these times of confusion, maybe of fear and suffering, we must begin to use our practices more than ever. Change, or really it is our relationship with change, in many ways can be a part of suffering in our lives, and we have all been going through changes literally every moment right now. It is then that we have the opportunity to feel, to be able to find and connect to that place of wisdom within ourselves. When we create our space, we are open to connect to ourselves and feel what we are feeling, we have to learn to realize it, to fully recognize it and this is where we will find enlightenment. We release and feel freedom, the liberation of Samsara.

When we are faced with these challenges in our lives, the disconnections and fears, we begin to feel the need to search for that much needed support. Many of us search outside, to family, friends or whatever that comfort may be. However, to truly find safety and protection, we must turn inward to our soul, towards that deep place of stillness, the deep place of silence, the deep place of spaciousness. The place where the true nature of our Soul is boundless. It is the same for everybody. Once you are able to dig into that place, you may find the sense of peace and healing begins to surround you and comfort you.

My angel card Wisdom: (please feel free to share)
Knowledge is learnt, but wisdom is the divine prompting within you. Your able guidance is to connect to your still, quiet centre and listen to the wisdom of your soul. Then you will take decisions and act from your own infinite self. With wisdom life takes on a new perspective, as dramas and fears become insignificant in comparison with the magnificence of the overall picture. Walk your path in life as one of the Wise Ones and all will revere and respect you. Affirmation: I listen to my wisdom.
(Angels of Light Cards, Diana Cooper)

Right now, we have this opportunity to slow down, to work through our energy, to lean into our practices. We can’t change our experiences around us, but we can change them within us. I believe, just as a beautiful practice in your backyard, connecting to the Earth or sitting still feeling yourself listening, we find refuge within our Self.

The 3 S’s of refuge:
Stillness • Silence • Spaciousness

These are the ultimate refuge of One’s Self, our body, our speech, our mind, it is ONE. Going inward and trusting our inner guide for strength and guidance, brings peace and understanding. Turn your attention inward, be open, be aware. When drawing your attention to your pain, your challenges, your suffering, you are bringing awareness to those feelings and allowing yourself to be open. The only true way to feel these sufferings is to connect to your inner self. We must be able to feel to be able to heal. Remember, you are never alone, we are always connected. Connected to God, to guardian angels, guides, whomever it is. If you are aware of your own inner refuge, you are feeling it, you are connected – you are at hOMe within. hOMe is where you feel free, safe, a place you can be yourSelf. That comes only when you feel connected to your source – your inner Self.

The Buddhist has a saying or a thought: “The sky is allowing the clouds to be there.” Think about that for a moment.
Are you allowing your feelings to be there?

I will be totally honest with you… fear took over me very recently. I was living a couple of days in a panic, so much I had an immense scare of worry and concern… anxiety took over me. I realized I wasn’t using my practices as I knew I should have. I took a moment to create stillness, settled down into my breath, quieted my mind, drew my attention inward and meditated. I connected back to me and my inner peace. The inner stillness is indestructible and once arrived, you begin to feel this beautiful sense of complete protection. I found myself in that space of truth, the place I trusted… connecting back to my wisdom of the divine. So much of our lives takes place in our minds. Once we learn to look at it differently, we begin to grow. When we ground our energy in the body, when we can deepen the mind, our emotions are quiet. I took the time to feel. To really sit down, connect to my Self and to find refuge within.

“Sitting still as a way of falling in love with the world and everything in it; I’d seldom thought of it like that. Going nowhere as a way of cutting through the noise and finding fresh time and energy to share with others; I’s sometimes moved toward the idea, but it had never come home to me so powerfully as in the example of this man who seemed to have everything, yet found his happiness, his freedom, in giving everything up.” – Pico Iyer, The Art of Stillness

This is a time to be vulnerable–allow yourself. The idea of opening up is a scary thing at times. Letting yourself be vulnerable is so liberating and freeing. While it can seem we are protecting ourselves by hiding our feelings, it can become very damaging. Rather than teaching yourself to become comfortable with hiding, begin to really feel those feelings. By not being vulnerable, you are giving away the power to hurt you. So, allowing yourself to be vulnerable you are making yourself safe from harm, because you already know on the inside how strong you are. It’s when we close our hearts and put up these protective boundaries that we are at the mercy of every circumstance around us, and from this we become victims of our circumstances and give away our power. Be vulnerable to allow protecting, beginning with your feelings in your soul.

“I think we lose sight of the beauty. The most beautiful things I look back on in my life are coming out from underneath things I didn’t know I could get out from underneath. You know, the moments I look back in my life, and think, those were the moments that made me — were moments of struggle.” – Brené Brown

So, we have our practices of meditation, stillness, pranayama, breathing, pratayhara, going inward, yoga, keeping the energy flowing, find refuge in them during these times of uncertainty, of challenges, loss, anxiety, grief, feel your feelings and feel the sense of openness from within. Once you’ve found that stillness, you take refuge within, you feel unsoundness, full, limitless… bring that attention inward. The support you need, you will find it in refuge within your own Self.

Draw attention to the body, be still and feel the stillness, listen to the silence, and be open to the spaciousness from within. The body is an experience as one, it is a place of the divine.

As Michelle stated in class, “It’s like this right now” – Lama Marut
and it is…

The Universe is telling us so much right now. Trust her, trust yourSelf. Trust yourSelf to provide the strength and courage to get through whatever it is you need to get through in life. We have these beautiful practices and now the time to find refuge within them. Slow down, just be and find yourSelf hOMe.

Take a moment to fully wrap yourSelf with your loving arms, hold your heart tight, knowing you are not alone. We are all in this together, and will get through this brighter and stronger than ever, so let your light shine bright from within and hold your space well!

Bright blessings and love to all –


Teacher Tools

Use mantras during your practice

“I am loving awareness.”
“Breathe in peace. Breath out fear,”
“I am loved. There is nothing to fear.”
“Breathe in. Breathe out.”
“Be vulnerable. Be uncomfortable.”
“Release fear and negativity.”
“Go within.”
“Silence. Stillness. Spaciousness.”

Asana practice

Use blocks to connect all parts of the body to the Earth
End in restorative, setting inward

Pratyahara, going inward.
“Withdrawing the senses, mind and consciousness from contact with external objects, and then drawing them inwards towards the seer, is pratyahara.” – Yoga Sutras

Heart – opening asanas, getting to know yourSelf, become more comfortable with you. Heart openers help you open your heart to truth, peace and calmness. Grounding. Being close to Mother Earth.

Grounding poses
Mountain Pose, Tadasana
Child’s Pose, Balasana
Standing Forward Fold, Uttanasana
Tree Pose, Vriksasana, for stress
Legs up the Wall, Viparita Karani
Cobra Pose, opening the chest and releasing anxiety and fear from the heart
Plank Pose
Bridge Pose, Setu Bandha Sarvangasana

(Remember, breath is everything)

Yogic deep breathing releases fear and anxiety.
Relaxing breath, breathing in through the nose, and exhaling through the mouth. Inhale 4 seconds, retain the breath for seven seconds, exhale for eight seconds. Repeat.

Meditate, oh Meditation!
(Stillness, Silence, Spaciousness)

Sit quietly in a comfortable position. Breathe deeply and slowly, releasing all thoughts as they pass into the mind.
Repeat OM over and over, feel the vibration of the voice all the way to the lower part of the belly, the vibration on the lips, listen and feel.

(A few of my favorite teachers…)

“As you breathe in, cherish yourself. As you breathe out, cherish all beings.” – Dalai Lama

“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” – Leonard Cohen

“The universe is not outside of you. Look inside yourself; everything that you want, you already are.” – Rumi
“We come into relationships often very much identified with our needs. I need this, I need security, I need refuge, I need friendship. And all of relationships are symbiotic in that sense. We come together because we fulfill each others’ needs at some level or other.” – Ram Dass
“Listen to silence. It has so much to say.” – Rumi

“With our thoughts, we make the world.” – Buddha

“We can find true refuge within our own hearts and minds – right here, right now, in the midst of our moment-to-moment lives.” – Tara Brach

“There is sunshine on the other side, hunny, you just have to get through this dark cloud.” – my personal energy healer

“Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” – Brené Brown

“You gotta go inward to experience the outer space that was built for you.” – Pharrell Williams

“The inward journey is about finding your own fullness, something that no one else can take away.” – Deepak Chopra

“True belonging is the spiritual practice of believing in and belonging to yourself so deeply that you can share your most authentic self with the world and find sacredness in both being a part of something and standing alone in the wilderness. True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are.” – Brené Brown

“healing yourself will ask more of you
more rest
more self-love
more letting go
more time for learning
more space for transformation
more honesty about about how you feel
more time developing good habits
more courage to try new practices
more faith in yourself and the process
more time cultivating your inner peace” – yung pueblo

(A few of my favorite books, I find myself coming back to them very often to find refuge. I love to purchase the book itself and take notes all throughout. I also love to gift books to others out of the blue. We are always learning, be open)

The Art of Stillness – Pico Iyer

When Things Fall Apart – Pema Chödrön

Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life with the Heart of a Buddha – Tara Brach

Super Attractor – Gabrielle Bernstein

The Universe Has Your Back – Gabrielle Bernstein

Rising Strong – Brené Brown

Daring Greatly – Brené Brown


May 2020