Sanctuary as a State of Mind

“Remember…the entrance to the sanctuary is inside you.” ~ Rumi

I remember feeling, for a long time in my life, that no place was safe. I did not feel safe at work, out in public, and sadly, not at home. We’ve often heard that our home is our sanctuary. It is our place of refuge, respite, and renewal. For survivors of trauma, our sense of sanctuary can disappear. And now, in this startling age of staying “safe-at-home” it can be a challenge for some to truly feel safe at home.

Home may be a safe refuge, or a place that reminds us of trauma, or a place where trauma still happens. How can home become a sanctuary? How can we feel safe in our homes with the virus spreading outside? We must shift our concept of sanctuary being a physical place.

Sanctuary comes from the Latin word Sanctus, meaning “holy.” Interestingly, when you follow the word “holy” back to its Old English roots, it means to be whole. Its cousin is the word “hale” meaning to be in good health, happiness, and wholeness.

No wonder we cannot find sanctuary when we have been traumatized. We feel the opposite of holy. We feel fragmented, damaged, and overly vigilant at all times. How can we ever find our way to safety?

“Within you is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time.” ~Hermann Hesse

Your soul and mine are constantly being drawn toward sanctuary. Not a building, or even a gathering, but that place within us where we are absolutely safe and at peace. The place where we are one with God and doubt gives way to grace. It is a place of light within us that is always available, however diminished we may think it has grown.

You know it is there. In the midst of all the scattered thoughts, the shoulds, and the dark spiral of our splintered soul, we know the light is still in there. Why else would we have the courage to get up and try again each day until we are healed? The light is God in us, and it waits patiently for our awareness.

How do we get to it? How do we find that sanctuary within?

“Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

Be still. Close your eyes. Turn inward. See the light in your mind’s eye and watch what happens. Breathe. This is your sanctuary. It is God in you. Each time you go there it will be easier, and you‘ll be able to stay longer. Relax in God. Breathe in the safety and sanctuary that is God.

Your sanctuary is as accessible to you as your next thought.

As you attend to this sanctuary more and more often, you will become more “holy.” More whole, and happy, and healthy. It is inevitable. What you focus on grows.

After searching for sanctuary outside of myself for a long time, I began to acknowledge this idea that my safety was inside me. As I focused on that idea, I began to slowly grow more comfortable back in my own skin. With PTSD, the desire to not be in your own body is strong. Sitting with yourself, even closing your eyes, feels risky and unsafe. You have to fight through that resistance and do it. It may only be 10 seconds at first, but it will grow. And it will heal you.

“Nothing outside yourself can save you. Nothing outside yourself can give you peace.” ~ A Course in Miracles

You are your own safe place. You are the sanctuary.

Victoria McGee

I write about the spiritual aspect of healing from trauma. My blog can be found at

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