• Tiger Lily Raphael

Sanctuary in the Self #1: Spring Clean

Updated: Oct 27, 2020

A piece for the Balance Garden blog adapted for these strange times, with a spin on the regular 'Sanctuary in the City' column.

Artwork by Mahla Bess Raphael

Words by me :)


Spring! Usually the time when we re-emerge from our winter hibernations into the world, having reflected on the year before, refined our ideas for the year ahead, ready for a rebirth. The time when we can gather once again with our friends under the sun and the moon, with fresh energy for the longer days.


Many of us live fast lives, full of plans that keep us running to keep up with a relentless social and work schedule. The winter is probably no different. Awareness of seasonal shifts that affect us as much as the birds, is often lost in our 24/7 society, reduced to a cold or the flu perhaps… This time though, something more serious has stopped us in our tracks. Now we are forced to look inwards, at what really matters to us as both individuals and as a species; Life and Death, Love and fear. How we emerge from this global lockdown will determine the future of history.


This spiky ball of reckoning is shining a light on all the cracks – the cracks in our society and in our lives. Anything and everything that has been being swept under the carpet is demanding our attention, there’s no escaping it. This is a Spring clean like never before. And we need it. Here’s an unavoidable opportunity to clean out the cobwebs, clear out the clutter, make space, and see what you need, what seeds you want to plant. For some, this might be a gentle process, for some an explosion. Either way, I think it’s a good thing.


Advice on how to manage ourselves through this is coming out of our ears and it’s overwhelming I know. But if you’re someone who hasn’t had that daily practice, a way of feeling the ground under you and the universe around you, of finding calm and inner peace, then the time is now. It’s up to you what a healthy daily routine looks like. I recommend just trying one or two things at a time, rather than stressing yourself out trying to do every exercise video, meditation challenge, talking to everyone you’ve ever known, baking bread, growing potatoes and producing your greatest creative work. More stress is the last thing you need. 


Be patient with yourself, as kind and compassionate as you would be with a child. You yelling at yourself for what you haven’t achieved yet today or in your life isn’t going to help. Not unless you actually listen and break it down gently, with care. And remember to think about what you have achieved and are grateful for.


For now, relish in the fact that we are finally all free of FOMO, at least in the physical sense. The challenge is how to simply exist. The aloneness, fragility and uncertainty of life may be dazzling, but it’s always been that way really. It’s just no longer possible to pretend it isn’t.

What we ‘do’ has become who we are. Now it has to be enough to just be. There’s nowhere else to look but at us, at what really matters, and find sanctuary in ourselves.

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