Today I’m happy to share ‘Safe Spaces’ – an extract from Just As You Are: Buddhism for Foolish Beings.
Satya Robyn is a Buddhist Priest & runs a Pureland temple in Malvern in the UK with her husband Kaspa. She’s also a novelist & psychotherapist. Find out more about Satya on her website – SatyaRobyn.com and about the temple here.
My first connection with Satya and Kaspa was via their lovely website : Writing Our Way Home – Engage The World Through Mindful Writing. When they announced that they would be moving on to set up a Buddhist Temple I was intrigued.
Then recently an update from them spoke of their new book, ‘Just As You Are: Buddhism for Foolish Beings’. I wrote to Satya asking to feature the book here. She very kindly allowed me to share an extract of the book with you.
Just As You Are: Buddhism for Foolish Beings is for anyone who wants to live a good life but is tired of endlessly trying to perfect themselves.
Pureland Buddhism takes a realistic view of our foolish natures as human beings, and offers us an alternative to the ‘do it yourself’ self-help movement. With anecdotes of temple life and instructions for simple Pureland practices, the authors introduce us to this ancient and unique tradition of Buddhism and show us how it can make a powerful difference to our everyday lives.
Covering topics such as trust, overcoming suffering, grace, being kind and self-care, the book also contains the voices of different Pureland Buddhists speaking of their own diverse experiences. This book shows us how we are all lovable just as we are, and that understanding this is the key to deep and lasting change.
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Safe Spaces by Satyavani
Last night I sat in a circle with four people I’m close to and lied to them.
Every Sunday evening in the temple we sit in a circle and pass a stone, taking turns to speak and be listened to.
These kinds of spaces are incredibly rare. I’m always amazed at how the stone produces a kind of magic. The words we speak (whatever they are) take on a preciousness as the others all listen quietly. The words of others become tender and wise. The space between us fills up with empathy – we can really begin to understand what it’s like for others at the circle to live their lives. (Much like it is for us to live ours.)
I usually come away from the circle feeling warm and fuzzy. Last night I came away feeling resentful and tired. When I had the stone I talked lightly about my week and what I was doing tomorrow.
My lies were lies of omission. What I should have said was: I really didn’t want to come along to the Listening Circle tonight. I’m tired of people. I’m grumpy. I don’t want to listen to anyone. Now leave me alone.
I don’t know what would have happened next if I’d started with that. I might have felt more angry. I might have cried. I might have realised what the grumpiness was about. But I think it probably would have brought me closer to the people I was sitting with, rather than distancing me further.
“Our society is so fragmented, our family lives so sundered by physical and emotional distance, our friendships so sporadic, our intimacies so ‘in-between’ things and often so utilitarian, that there are few places where we can feel truly safe.” Henri J M Nouwen
Safe spaces are scarce for most of us. Even when we find them, it’s not easy to make use of them. It’s not always appropriate to share what’s in our heart, and often we are too afraid to show others what’s really going on. I didn’t share more honestly because I was scared – of being rejected, of hurting others. That’s okay – that’s how it was last night.
But if you can look again and find somewhere safe, you will find the magic. I can feel it now. The magic that arises in the circle is a warm and accepting tenderness.
Where are your safe spaces? How can you find more of them?