09th March, 2023
“Within you there is a stillness and sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself.”
Querencia, A Spanish word, it means the place where your strength is drawn from; where you feel at home; the place where you are your most authentic self.
Author Rachel Naomi Remen, introduced the concept of querencia, It is a word that has many meanings.
She describes how her cat, Charles, finds querencia in certain favorite places in the house they share—behind the drapes, under the stairs, even in one particular spot in plain sight on the living room rug. There, Charles is fearless, he is calm and relaxed. He casts off his usual wariness and basks in serenity.
Remen herself finds querencia walking through Muir Woods in early morning before the tourists arrive. She also describes how when the cancer patients she works with find their querencia it begets in them a new strength and peace.
What is this marvelous and magical place?
Most commonly, querencia is used to describe the place in a bull ring (“corrida”) where the bull goes to feel safe and to gather his strength. For each bull it is a different place, so it is the job of the matador to recognize where querencia is for each bull, and keep him out of that spot.
How wonderful it would have been at age 8 or 18 to know such a word, to know that there is a place of security and refuge that is ours alone, a place to go to gather strength and be exactly who we are, with no pressure to conform to norms or expectations imposed by others.
There are always times when we look for safe haven, or when we seek the confidence to speak from the depths of our heart, or when we recognize the place where we come face-to-face with our most authentic self and know that we have found something precious.
Querencia can be a physical place: at the foot of a favorite tree, a cozy window seat, a forest path. Or it can be a place inside us where we breathe into our own strength and feel our own certainty, a certainty that we don’t need to share with anyone else or proselytize to others to convince ourselves.
Querencia might be the sense of transport we feel when we read a book, knowing as we do so that it is changing our life. And it might be that sense of oneness with nature that occurs when a place takes our breath away and replaces it—if only for an instant—with its own essence.
Or it might be what we feel when we listen to a symphony.
For each of us it will be different.
But the ideal is to find Querencia within your own self through meditation so that no matter where you are, querencia will be a part of you in one way or another.
As I get older and shed some of the excesses from my life, I see that my inner Querencia is much less elusive than it once was.
I have cleared a space for it. That matador whose job it has been to keep me away from my querencia has also become less vigilant.
There is a Querencia for each of us.
Find yours & stay blessed forever.