I've recently gotten feedback on podcast episode #23 where I talk about different ways of understanding what refuge means and what it offers, and particularly thinking about refuge as an opportunity for calm reflection rather than a space to hide from what we find threatening or intimidating.
The question that quickly arises is, when we're craving the comfort of refuge, what's the root of that desire? Are we looking for space to think and feel through where we are, or are we ducking from challenges we ought to face? How can we tell the difference?
So this morning I was wondering, can we distinguish these two states based on how we're feeling in the moment? Now, that's a funny idea for me. I've been struggling for years to get better insight into how I feel. How I think? No problem. How I feel? Not so much, although better than before.
If I consider refuge from the perspective of avoiding what scares me and imagine myself in that state, my heart thumps. Racing, ducking, jumping under cover to hide from what chases me. That may be peculiar to me. But I know that in the choice between fight and flight, I am a runner.
Compare that to what I feel when I take refuge to slow my world down and pay attention to where I've been and where I may be heading. That's not always so easy to do. Running can become a bit of a dangerous habit. It's quite new for me to recognize when I need refuge of this kind and how to make it happen.
I'm pretty sure the feelings associated with taking refuge in this sense are different than when we are hiding out of fear. It's not about feeling scared so much as, maybe, uneasy? Anxious, uncertain? Because this kind of refuge is what is needed when we are making a shift from what we thought and felt - where we 'were' - to some new place, a new way of being. This refuge is the natural step to follow an act of creation, when we pause to take stock, reflect on how we have evolved, and how this will direct our understanding and effort moving forward.
I may be overthinking (and underfeeling?) all this. But there's something about how the process of creating causes shifts in us, resulting in feelings of uncertainty or uneasiness, which in turn require reflective moments in refuge to move us along, the only way to prepare us to create what's next.