taking refuge

This concept came to me first from our couple’s therapist—in our first year of living together, Bob suggested we learn to take refuge in each other. We yearned to be able to do this, but it was so hard when we were pushing each other’s buttons all the time…

(Taking refuge is also a central concept in Buddhism—one takes refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha, a commitment to dedicate one’s practice to the Buddhist path of awakening.)

I felt drawn to begin this collage when I saw the image of the woman so clearly taking refuge in the physical presence of her man. This is a practice we taught in a recent Enneagram Couple’s Retreat. I loved watching the participants taking refuge in each other physically. I have recently recommitted to practicing this with Dave—giving and receiving mindful, physical attention as a form of taking and offering refuge.

The rest of the collage reflects other ways that I take refuge. In the beauty, strength, solidity, and awesomeness of nature, in which nothing is asked of me except an invitation to be present. In the presence of dogs—in their curiosity, their playfulness, their love of and commitment to the now that they are in—right now and right now and right now. In the innocence and openness of children. In good, wholesome food that nourishes and sustains me. In the intimate and mysterious and ever-deepening connection I feel with my embodied Self, which reminds me that all are good and “all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”

I am One who knows how to take refuge in rest, in savoring, in remembering “to admire, admire, admire the things of this world” (from Mary Oliver’s Heavy). I am One who loves beauty and connection and openness. I am One who takes refuge in her own life.

In what do you take refuge?

Author: Katy Taylor

I am a regular person, like you. I am an earth lover, a seeker, a singer, a gardener, a partner and friend. I have attended a lot of trainings and continue to do my work to grow and deepen and become a more loving person. If you're interested, you can read more about me on the About page.

3 thoughts on “taking refuge”

  1. The older I get, the more I pay attention to life’s little synchronicities. I have flirted around the edges of Buddhism since I was a child, have done Zen and Tibetan sitting, but never took refuge, and this thought occurred to be recently, that it was time. I dusted off my little pewter Buddha and put him in a special place, with a rose and a reading, and now I meditate there daily in the morning with tea. Not really knowing where to find a Buddhist monk where I am, I simply recited to myself three times, “I take refuge in the Buddha.”
    As far as taking refuge in another person, this is a new notion for me, but someone has showed up. I will let it at that for now. Thank you for this post and the blog, which I found by accident just moments after reading and replying to your email response to me about the Institute. I was not sure at first you were the same person when I found the blog and the website; I had to double check the last name on the email. This is interesting. I am looking forward to more of this.
    Best Wishes,
    Miles White


  2. A woman told me once that I needed to melt. Then she left me. I never got a chance to ask her: “how do you melt?” I think it must be something like taking refuge in another person. I have never been able to do it; part of me I think, is afraid of losing myself. I will disintegrate (typical 4 thinking). Part of me never saw this modeled in my parents. But the original posting has been thinking about it. I looked at the picture again of the woman taking refuge in her man. How is taking refuge different from hiding out? How can it be empowering? Am I emotionally strong enough to let somebody in there who needs to take refuge? Am I strong enough now to let myself take refuge in another, to melt without losing myself? Maybe Buddha is the model.


  3. great questions, miles! melting can mean a lot of different things–i just explored one aspect in my blogpost yesterday. melting has been huge for me, too, and continues to be…i think we can only explore it as it pertains to us in the moment. how am i holding right now? in my jaw? in my calives? in my heart? in my self-images? how am i seeing myself as separate from others? how is melting about losing ego vs. melting into a deeper sense of Self? how can i tell the difference?


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