Sanctuary is defined as a “place of refuge or protection”. We hear it referenced a lot in yoga and wellness spaces, where many are seeking an oasis from the daily grind, a place to find one’s self. We move, we breath, we contemplate, we chant. We say things like “Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu” which translates to “may all beings be happy and free and may the thoughts, words and actions of my own life contribute in someway to that happiness and to that freedom for all“. And then we go back to our busy lives and lose ourselves again. It’s not a sanctuary, it’s an escape.
Because the “sanctuary” experience in white-dominated wellness spaces looks more like comfort, entitlement and status quo. We prefer neutralized, “positive vibe” environments that bypass the truth of who we are and what’s happening outside our gilded doors.
And here’s the thing, there is no transformational pathway that excludes and denies the experience of so many. White silence is violence. Inaction is oppression. And complicity is harm.
If we are serious about our spirituality and wellbeing, we need to practice sanctuary. Practicing sanctuary calls on our best selves to show up for one another. We call it practice, because this is not about being perfect or getting it exactly right, but about being rigorous in our commitment and courageous in our actions. As we resist, we will confront conflict and face fear. Our resilience comes in remembering who we are and who we are to one another.