Like the sign of the zodiac Cancer the crab, there is a part of each of us that looks out at the world from within a “shell” or layers of protection, ever vigilant of safety in the environment.
“In public settings,” Jeff Baugher, professional astrologer and Shadow Work® coach at ArchetypalArts.com says, “we generally stay within in our shell. But in private settings—whether in our home, healing spaces or other places that feel safe and comfortable—we gradually let down our guard and lower our defenses.”
It takes an enormous amount of energy, however, to maintain these layers of protection. It is vital—for our healing, energy and personal growth—to have an environment where we can take the layers of protection off and relax. And it is much easier to take off our deepest inner defenses if we can substitute them for outer defenses: a familiar space with walls, few windows and closed doors, with the agreement that the people therein are not to be disturbed.
Because when we hear voices nearby or sense a disturbance is near, in a flash—and quite unconsciously—we will put those layers of protection back on.
In a special healing space that Baugher knows, he enters through the outside door, goes up several stairs, passes through a second door, turns, and then goes through a third door into the healing space. There is something very important, he says, about those layers of separation: outer, intermediate and inner. And as each door closes behind him, he feels himself gradually letting down his guard, sensing that he is one more door removed from disturbances in the outside world.
Baugher calls that type of space a “container:” a physical space that is safe enough to access one’s inner life. To some degree, we all have an instinctive awareness of “container” and the impact that physical spaces have on us. Loud, bright, public areas are not the ideal setting for letting down one’s guard. There is something about having your back to people and to open doors that both gangsters and feng shui lovers are sensitive to.
Generally speaking, the more people there are in the space, the more “force” is diverted to the “shields.” People gathered in circles have a very different energy and power differential than linear classroom settings, because in circles we can generally see everyone and are less vulnerable to who or what is behind us.
So whether it is a meeting room or a healing space, the familiarity we have with the space, its shape, the seating, standing or reclining arrangements and placement of doors and the amount of light also affect our perception of safety, as well as the amount of noise and the sense of separation from the outer world.
It is often better to have two or three closed doors between us and the outside world.
Baugher believes that privacy and separation enhance healing potential. “So when we move from an outer area to an ante room to an inner room,” he says, “we can feel that we are crossing a threshold into a space with more potential for relaxation, healing and a deep experience of the inner life.”
So with these ideas in mind, I invite you to go into the healing space of your choice in a state of mindfulness:
Be aware of the degree of container that you have by noticing how many corridors, closed doors, windows, screens, curtains and other barriers lay between you and the outside world, and how your body feels in response to those layers of safety.
Notice how private and sound proof the space is, and how relaxed and open you feel in it, and notice if any adjustments are needed to take your healing to a deeper level. And with the healing practitioner that feels safe and deeply nurturing to you, notice if you are willing to close your eyes and relax into that deep state of being where you can heal and just breathe.