Sacred Space Inside and Out: Your sanctuary for self-care
Ever noticed how when you are on holiday you feel drawn to discover an ancient temple or marvel at a 16th century church? Places that ordinarily you might dismiss at home seem to glow with appeal. These beautiful and sacred spaces invoke a sense of grounded calm as we enter their domain and sensing their sovereignty, our everyday ruckus becomes reduced to hushed tones. Encouraged by the peace inside, we might even feel inspired to spend a few moments in quiet contemplation if the space feels truly safe. Yet as soon as we are home, most of us throw ourselves right back into the arena to battle our daily routine without giving ourselves this restorative time out for peaceful contemplation.
For many of us the couch or bed at the end of the day becomes our only resting place and as such we are missing out on an essential part of our own self-care that our inner spirit needs in order to shine. Sacred space can be easily created in your home or workplace for daily reflection, connection and renewal and it doesn't need to be a whole room dedicated to a spiritual practice.
Why do we need Sacred Space?
A sacred space is a place in which you can retreat, rest, reflect on life and realign with your feelings and true sense of self. I go to my sacred space to connect with the real me and seek guidance for the challenges that I face. I like to use my sacred space for meditation, ritual, journaling, shamanic journeying to meet my guides, pulling oracle cards, reading inspirational books, listening to music or yoga. It's become an important space for me to find balance when life tries to throw me off course and a firm anchor from which I can nourish my dreams, which can sometimes get side-lined.
By allocating an area in your home as a sacred space, you create for yourself a place for quiet reflection, like a centre point that is separate from all of the business of your normal day. Here in your sacred space you can honour whatever you like. If you have a garden, then you may choose to create an external sacred space to catch the morning or evening sun to help you connect and tune in to the natural world that surround you.
What Does Sacred Space Mean to You?
We tend to associate symbols of religious worship like cathedrals or temples with sacred space but by asking yourself what is truly sacred for you, you can create a space that will lift your spirits and be a powerful container to provide daily inspiration and sanctuary.
For most people, creating a sacred space means setting aside a small space in their living room, bedroom or study. Don't fill your space with Om signs, candles, crystals or religious icons if they don't mean much to you. Seek out the beautiful objects, which are in your favourite colours or styles and words and images that inspire you.
My passion is the natural world and I feel a divine presence in nature so I have a sacred place on a bench at the bottom of the garden. It's not fancy but it's quiet and sheltered so I can visit in all seasons and I find the company of the birch trees and birds peaceful and comforting.
Creating a Sacred Space Energetically
A physical space, set aside for ceremony or contemplation helps anchor your focus, energies and attention when you are beginning your spiritual practice. However, a sacred space is not dependent on the confines of physical space, a simple way to create a sacred space energetically is to visualise a big ball of light encompassing you and the space that surrounds you. This can work really well in the work environment or in public places. You may also want to hold your arm out and draw a circle in the air or walk round in a circle to set the boundary. The focus and visualization involved in creating a space in this way creates a powerful energetic container that will energise whatever takes place within the space.
Cleansing your Space
Before you use your space it is a good idea to clear away any unwanted energies that may have built up. Make sure you keep your space physically clean, tidy and fresh so that you are not encouraging energy to stagnate and hold you back. Hold the intention to clear your space of negative energies and stagnant energy that is no longer needed. Try some of the following and see what works for you:
· Light a candle (to bring in the light and banish darkness)
· Burn incense, or other traditional cleansing herbs
· Play a drum loudly, clap your hands or play loud music
· Open windows
· Use essential oils, in a spray or a diffuser. I love to use lavender to encourage relaxation or rosemary, which acts as a spiritual protector and promotes clarity
· Visualize divine light filling your space, taking away shadows and protecting you
· If you already work with spirit guides, angels or other beings of light or are open to the possibility of connecting with them, then invite them into your space to cleanse negative energies and protect you
Create a centrepiece
Within your sacred space you may also wish to create a special centrepiece or altar, where you can place objects that have special meaning for you. Think of it like a focal point that can carry a specific theme depending on what you are going through or hoping to manifest. You may like to use a windowsill, a small table, an area on your desk, a chair or even a tray that you can carry around and move from place to place. My centrepieces are always themed around nature to bring in the energy of the elements. I like to use flowers, leaves, plants, seeds, feathers, crystals, rocks, holy water, aromatherapy oils or candles and it changes depending on the seasons. You may also like to place images of loved ones, or display an oracle card from your favourite deck or an inspirational quote. Start with the basics and then you will find you naturally add elements and adjust your space to suit your style.
The more you spend time in your physical space the more sacred and special it will feel. Now that you have your physical space sorted, how about turning your attention inside?
Personally I have found that having a regular meditation practice to cultivate my inner sacred space is essential for maintaining my sanity in today’s world of total overwhelm. There are many apps that can provide basic instruction. If you are new to meditation, start with 5 minutes a day and build upwards to get into a regular habit. Remember that sitting reading inspirational writing or listening to calming or uplifting music can often have a similar calming effect.
One of the reasons I seek out sacred space is to relax and be still in order to connect with my inner knowing, I refer to this place of authenticity as my heart space, as opposed to our head-space, the space in which we are most used to spending time. I connect with my heart space by moving my awareness down from my head into my heart so that I can check in with how I am feeling. From this space we can get in touch with our desires and feel our way to make decisions rather than think our way, which is what the head will do. Try this exercise to connect with your heart space.
Heart Space Connection
· Sit comfortably with your eyes closed, breathe normally and focus on the breath leaving and entering your body.
· Allow yourself to relax a little more with each breath, relax your face and drop your shoulders. You will find that your breath naturally slows down as you feel calmer.
· After 5 breaths, place your hands on your heart centre. Lower your attention from your head into your heart. As you breathe, visualize each breath entering and leaving from your heart as you breathe out and in.
· Take 5 breaths here and imagine your heart opening a little more and filling up with each breath that you take.
· Maintain your focus on your breath and on your hands to keep your attention on your heart space. Feel your way into that space and notice what is there. Put your judgement aside and ask yourself how are you feeling today? Notice what comes up.
· As you breathe in, imagine you are receiving love. Say the word "Love" to yourself as you breathe in.
· As you breath out, imagine you are breathing out peace. Say the word "Peace" to yourself as you breathe out.
· Continue this cycle for at least 10 breaths, breathing in as much love as you need and radiating out peace for as long as you feel comfortable. Then put a smile on your face (if you haven't already) and release your hands, open your eyes and end the practice.
· If you have a journal handy, note down how you are feeling and any insight that comes to you. It is often the smallest things which contain the most power.
Even if you just take 5 minutes out of your day everyday to sit in your favourite chair, with a cup of your favourite tea to sit peacefully with no company other than your beautiful spirit, you will feel the benefit of sanctuary in all areas of your life. It's from this still point, this calm place of power that the light that you are, your true self-purpose can fully emerge. Go inside to let it out!