This is post nine in a series about spirituality, time, and place. Find the previous posts here:
You Are Your Stories
Own Your Story
Is Now Really All We Have?
Where Did You Come From?
Where Are You Going?
A Bigger Story
Where Are You Now?
Healing Sick Spaces
Where are the places that make you feel most grounded and at peace? The wilderness where wild animals roam? Mountains, forests, the beach? Maybe for you it’s a particular spot in the garden or a special corner of a room.
We all need sanctuaries where our hearts feel safe, our souls are fed, and we have a sense of connecting more deeply with a reality beyond ourselves. Without them we may find ourselves becoming agitated, unsettled, and ungrounded. We lose ourselves and drift through the world, existing but not thriving. But when we have regular access to places of refuge we find ourselves again, we become calm and grounded, and we feel more alive and connected.
The ancient Celts believed that in some locations, which they called “thin places,” the veil between the material and spiritual worlds seems especially thin and permeable. Similarly, every human culture on the planet has revered certain designated buildings, pieces of ground, or environments as sacred.
WHY WE NEED SACRED SPACE
Access to sacred space is a basic human need. But we don’t all have access to recognised sites and they may not be helpful for us. This is why we may want to create our own thin place.
Life isn’t easy. When we have too many responsibilities, difficulties, setbacks, or tragedies our mental and physical health is compromised. For some of us time in our garden or retreating to our bedroom may be sufficient. But having a well-prepared space of refuge that holds special meaning and meets our unique spiritual needs can transform our quality of life.
A few years ago, after an extremely busy and exhausting season, my family and I moved into a new home. At the back of the house was a small paved patio onto which we taped a tiny labyrinth. It was a simple, almost make-shift attempt to create a sacred space for myself, but it brought me much comfort, peace, and healing when I most needed it.
CREATING SACRED SPACES
So how do we create our own sacred spaces? The details will differ from person to person, but here are a few suggestions that will hopefully stir your creativity:
Identify what makes a space feel sacred to you.
Which of your senses most connect you to the sacred? Do you need space to move physically or do you need objects to touch? Does it need to be open, or enclosed and protected?
Locate your preferred space.
Would you want your sanctuary to be outside or indoors? Can your space be set aside, or will it need to be used for other things as well? How important is privacy?
Clear the space to make room for special furniture and objects.
Even if there is little that can be moved, cleaning and decluttering can transform how a space feels. Creating a boundary or threshold which designates the entrance to your space is also important.
Populate your space.
Bring meaningful symbols, art, music, incense burners, and furniture (like a prayer stool or mat, perhaps) into your space. Work with the light and arrange the elements until you find what feels best for you.
Dedicate your space.
Intentionally dedicating your space as a sanctuary will help to set your intention each time you enter. You could pray a blessing over it, or spend time just connecting with the space, touching each object, and making yourself at home.
THE VALUE OF SACRED SPACE
When so much of our environment is purely functional, setting aside certain spaces as sacred can be transforming. When we are regularly able to retreat and reconnect with ourselves and our spirituality we nurture our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. And, God knows, we all need that.
- What is your experience of creating sacred spaces?
- What makes a space sacred for you?
I’d love to hear your ideas of personal sanctuaries so that we can help one another create thin places that heal and inspire us. Please leave your ideas in the comments below.
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