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We all need “time out” — the personal space to step outside of our routine activity and settle into a quiet healing time alone with ourselves. Whether it is a physical haven or an inner refuge, it is a safety zone to which you can retreat when you feel out of balance, overloaded or stuck; a place where you are not judged, criticized or pressured; a place where you feel supported to let go and to be “you.” We all have this need for sanctuary.

Sanctuary is a safe container — a place where we can be authentic and vulnerable. In a world that appears increasingly unsafe, we need this. Whether we are weary in body, mind or spirit, or we are feeling in some way wounded or afflicted by anger, grief, fear or despair, sanctuary is a womb we can retreat to for support and rest. It can be restorative, helping us to once again find renewed balance within ourselves and our world.

Sanctuary is a place of sacredness. In it, we reconnect with the vibrancy, the beauty and the wonder of life. It can inspire deep communion, a celebration of relationship with nature or another being. In sanctuary, we remember our interconnectedness.

Sanctuary is a place of healing. Here we attune to truth, to wholeness. We are able to turn inward for reflection and insight, spiritual renewal and creative regeneration.

An important criterion is the feeling of emotional safety. This is an emotional, somatic and spiritual experience. When we feel emotional safety, we open. There is a sense of peace and of connection, as well as the ability to let go and breathe freely. Feelings of warmth, joy, trust and belonging are common. When we do not feel emotional safety, typical experiences include feelings of isolation, hopelessness, wanting to hide or disappear, a sense of impending doom or threat, physical tension and the inability to relax, a visceral sense of unease or distress, feeling overwhelmed by dark emotions, and a mind that works overtime. For these latter symptoms, we often turn to pharmaceuticals, psychotherapy, medical treatments or immersion in activity in our search for relief.

Massage is one way we can experience sanctuary. Clearly, not all bodywork has the intention of creating a container for emotional safety, but when so desired, massage therapy can be an invaluable sanctum in the midst of a spirit-eroding environment of conflict and turmoil.

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