Sacred Spaces: How To Create Yours
Why Make a Sacred Space?
I don’t know about you, but some of the first images that come to mind when I think to myself “Sacred Spaces” is the cold marble of an ancient, intricately decorated church, perfumed with frankincense and rich with the history of several thousand years’ worth of religious observation and mystery. Some place where, the moment you walk in, you know that reverence and hushed tones are the only appropriate manners.
What doesn’t come to mind is my bedroom, or guest room, or home office. These places that serve as the backdrop to everyday human life seem too ordinary, and seem inadequate to the task of providing spiritual nourishment. At first.
However, we all deserve a place to recharge our batteries. Note: this does not necessarily mean a place for spiritual devotion, personal worship, or prayer. If you are not of the religious inclination, then perhaps a place to mediate and rediscover yourself and your purpose is more suitable for your needs. The point is, as C.S. Lewis puts it, “You don’t have a soul, you are a soul. You have a body.” I believe much of the existential ennui and general dissatisfaction that Americans face today is a result of many things (disconnection from nature being among the top factors), but primarily that we’ve forgotten the importance of our soul and how to take care of it.
And so, how do we bridge this trench between problem and solution? One of those ways is through regular energy work, which I am always thrilled to provide for you. Another way is to find a church community that truly feels like your tribe, that fits your sacred views of the world and informs the part of yourself that constantly seeks toward the elusive Divine. But when our lives get busy (and boy, do they), how can we take care of ourselves when seeing an energy practitioner or a bodywork professional (like a masseuse, chiropractor, acupuncturist, ect.), or your pastor/priest/rabbi/etc. is not an option?
Answer: Bring the Zen to you.
How To Make A Sacred Space:
To keep this list as simple as possible we are going to narrow it down to the basics, and you’ll find they all have a common theme: Find what makes you comfortable and happy. As in most things in life, the K.I.S.S. method is a tried and true approach: Keep It Simple Silly (some replace the last S with Stupid, but I try to discourage negative self-talk whenever possible, even when we are being self-deprecating).
1. Recognize Your Worth: You are a divinely-created and sacred soul who deserves the opportunity for the self-care and nourishment that everyone needs to remain balanced, whole, and a functioning member of this planet. Worthiness isn’t the question here, it’s whether or not you are willing to carve out this place for your own spiritual health and wellness.
2. Location: Find a quiet place free of distraction, loud/incessant noise, and is generally pleasant to spend time in. This can be your living room at the end of a long day, or a spare bedroom where you can actually close the door behind yourself. If you have roommates or a family and it is a shared space, be clear and set boundaries that at x time on x day (though, shoot for every day or every other day if possible), this space is yours and yours alone for x amount of time. This isn’t being pushy or selfish, this is being respectful of your needs and may actually set a positive example for self-care to those you live with.
3. Aim For Comfort: I find that the most important thing to making a Sacred Space inviting is to actually FEEL like I want to settle down and unwind there. Find some comfortable pillows (for either leaning on or sitting on), wear comfortable clothing (read: pajamas are always “me-time” attire), and/or find the most obnoxiously foo-foo throw blanket you can afford. If your cat or dog wants to make a bed out of your Sacred Space, then you are going in the right direction.
4. Incorporate Nature: Our connection to nature, for the most part, is often (desperately) insufficient. We spend most of our time in our homes, cars, workplaces, and even when we get outside to do errands our main objective is to spend time inside of a store. We can balance this by incorporating elements of nature into our Sacred Space.
Earth – I am a huge lover of crystals, and their naturally high state of vibration is a no-brainier addition to any space where soul-nourishment is taking place. Don’t know which ones to use? Take some time to research online before walking into your next geode shop, or simply buy the ones you gravitate towards first! Spirit speaks to us in the form of intuition, listen to yours 😊 Another way to introduce this element is with a zen rock garden, complete with miniature comb and sand.
Air – If you live in a warmer climate, you have the option to open or crack a window and breathe in some fresh air. If you are in the frozen Northeast (as I am), a gentle fan in the room can serve two purposes: air circulation and pleasant white noise. Humidifiers (Air + Water) work here, if you are in a dry climate. Oddly enough, I’d add plants (Earth + Air) to this list for their air-purifying qualities.
Water – This can be as easy as bringing a drinking glass with you. Hydration is nothing if not important to our physical well-being. A miniature water fountain or bubbler in your space would be an excellent way to reign in the Zen. Seashells work as a lovely decoration, too!
Fire – Always exercise caution when introducing this element, as unattended candles have a way of quickly becoming unsafe. However, this can more easily be solved by burning incense instead (Fire + Air). Either way, keep pets out of the room if you choose to incorporate this element. Paws and tails can create unnecessary problems!
Spirit/Ether/Light – This fifth element differs depending on who you ask or what you have read. If Spirit is your chosen element, perhaps start with addressing God, or your Higher Self, with the prayerful intention of devoting time to balance and energize your soul. Keeping sacred items in your space also helps to highlight Spirit. If Ether is your element, try closing your eyes and picturing the energy of your space being cleared out by the brightest light you can imagine, purifying your space of energy that no longer serves your highest good. This will prepare your space for optimal healing work. If Light is your element, Himalayan Salt Lamps (a great Earth + Light combo) are a lovely addition to any space, and some even come with a dimmer switch (aka: mood lighting!). You can also change the lighting in your space by buying LED lights in any color you wish (or one that is color-changing), or by buying Sun Lamps to increase the UV light around you. Or, simply, turn off one or all of your lights (depending on the activity).
5. Use Your Senses: By this I mean use your 5 senses – touch, taste, sight, sound, and smell. This list of 5 can be used in place of the Elements listed above, if you wish.
Touch – Create a space that is pleasing to touch - a space that screams “comfort!” and invites you to return again and again. Blankets, pillows, chairs, a chaise lounge, whatever floats your boat!
Taste – This one can be a bit harder to achieve, since a space isn’t really something you can sample with your palate. I do, however, think that part of creating a pleasurable space is what you bring to it as well as what you find there. Bring something that is a creature-comfort for you – lately mine has been an afternoon tea and cookie. Just the aromatic mixture of the two make me want to curl up and the couch and start my next Netflix binge.
Sight – Whether it is a collage of sentimental family photos, gorgeously-colored mandala tapestries, or inspirational décor, you want your space to say “This is a sacred room, come here and find peace”. The only requirement here: hang or place things that make you smile.
Sound – Find an artist, radio station, Pandora station, or YouTube playlist that really touches your soul. Tibetan sound bowls, chimes, gongs, and tuning forks are also fantastic. The object of soul work is that rejuvenation takes place, and sound can be a powerful catalyst for this. I would also add that the absence of sound can be powerful, too. Learning how to be quiet with our minds and bodies is surprisingly hard to do, but is a great meditation and spiritual practice.
Smell – Candles, incense, and essential oil diffusers are A+ additions for achieving the right smell in this type of space. Again, practice caution if using something requiring combustion, and make sure that if you use essential oils, you store them away from tiny hands and furry companions.
What Is It Used For?
Now that we’ve laid the groundwork for our Sacred Space/“Happy Place”, what the heck do we use it for? Well, fortunately, the possibilities are endless. Perhaps you want to start by asking yourself a few questions: “What would I do if I knew I didn’t have to see/speak to/interact with anyone today?” “What did I do before kids/work/adult life/'the grind' that made me truly smile?” “What is my favorite way to relax?” Let questions like these inform your answers, and don’t be afraid to spend some time figuring it out, either. Journal for about 5-10 minutes on what you hope to achieve and a list of priorities for what parts of yourself you want to nourish most.
The ideal time you want to spend on your chosen activity depends entirely on your schedule. Aim to give adequate time for your mind to quiet the “hamster ball” thought-wheel and focus entirely on the relaxing, nourishing practice that will fill your cup back up, recharge your batteries, and return your life to neutral. If you are able to use your space daily, 15-30 minutes may be more appropriate. If you are able to use your space weekly or a couple of times a week, then a bigger chunk of time like 30-60 minutes would be the goal.
Here is a short list of some of the more popular “me-time” activities:
1. Meditation/Yoga/Tai-Chi/Reiki/Energy Work!
2. Prayer/Daily Devotion/Bible Study
4. Reading (for pleasure, self-exploration, or the joy of learning)
5. Quiet Time (the art of doing nothing!)
6. Creative Arts: Knitting/Crocheting, Painting, Drawing/Sketching, Scrap-booking, etc.
7. Music Therapy
You are special and deserve time to yourself for personal care, growth, and peace. If you start treating yourself as you would like to be treated, as someone worthy of rest, relaxation, and pampering, then you will more easily carry that attitude of calm and groundedness into your everyday life. Wouldn’t it be nice to act instead of react to the craziness of everyday life? To the jerk who cuts you off on your way to work in the morning, wouldn’t it be nice to send thoughts of compassion and patience instead of imagining the various ways you’d love to tell him/her off? Wouldn’t it be nice to feel whole and at home in your body instead of stacking up your imagined shortcomings for constant evaluation?
Soul work is the most important work we can do. When we have the appropriate space in which to explore what this looks like, as well as the opportunity to continually work on balancing and restoring our vital energy, our entire life and those in it benefit. So go on, what are you waiting for?