Creating Sanctuary – Mindfulness Focus Words

Posted by on Jul 26, 2017 in Mindfulness | 2 Comments
Sanctuary Erie Garden

Cheryl and Eric’s Sanctuary Garden




Grief is like a river. Sometimes it is just meandering, and quietly tugging at your heart.  At other times it is a raging river threatening to capsize the boat. But it seems to me that even in the worst of it, there are places of refuge.  I am so grateful for the family, friends, and places that have provided sanctuary during a difficult time.

My garden, always a safe haven for me, was over 1,000 miles away. However, I was able to sit for hours near my friends Cheryl and Eric’s beautiful garden, complete with a fish pond, and the sound of running water. It’s a magical place.  I’m thankful they could provide that for me.

Gardens by their very nature are places of sanctuary. They radiate calm and healing with color, scent, sounds, and I think an energy that is below our conscious level.  There is of course now science about why gardens make us feel good and I might include that in a future post, but we don’t need data to figure out what provides emotional safety.

Creating Sanctuary as Mindfulness Practice

Sanctuary is the mindfulness focus word for the week.  I realize that many people stepped up to help me find safe emotional space, but I also know that I chose to seek out sanctuary in a variety of ways. When we lose some one we love,  it is easy to surrender and feel that we can’t control anything. But we can intentionally seek out and create sanctuary for ourselves in innumerable ways.

The practice this week is about being aware of the things that provide sanctuary and intentionally making them part of our lives. It doesn’t have to be complicated.  We just begin by identifying the things  that create calm in the midst of chaos and then make a plan for doing them.  It could be being in the garden, working with breath, meditation, writing, energy work or connecting with others.

One very intentional practice I have whenever I am near Lake Erie is to look for heart shaped stones.  It’s not easy for the lake to make a heart shaped stone.  The waves have to wear away only a part of the stone in a very specific way.  Each one is unique and it always makes me happy when I find one.  Usually I can find a few on each trip, but this time,  my grandson and I found a plethora of heart shaped stones. They were everywhere we set our eyes.  Sometimes the universe provides what we need.

My Sanctuary Garden


Sanctuary Garden Denver

For more information on my Mindfulness Focus Word Experiment click here


  1. Brook
    July 27, 2017

    Miss Joann, I so appreciate your analogy of grief and a river. This has been my experience this past year-losing grandma and Phoebe. I must say I do find sanctuary in your posts. A moment to be, read, think, contemplate and take these thoughts with me as I move about the world. Thank you.

    • Joann Calabrese
      July 27, 2017

      Thank you Brook. I had not idea when I started working with the focus words in January how important it would be for me. They are a kind of anchor in difficult times.


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