A sacred space can mean so many things to so many people. It can be a prayer room, an altar, a place on a shelf, or a closet. It’s a space where you can find your center and be around or reminded of what makes you happy. I haven’t really had one of these until recently. In this post I’m going to show my space, and how it happened and how you can make your own.
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While I was in California for my Spiritual Retreat, my hosts pointed out this beautiful place called Sacred Space. It offered all kinds of things that would satisfy the spiritually curious. There were wonderfully selected books, crystals, and statues. Everything was organized by chakra color, so if you wanted to focus on a specific chakra, you could go to that station.
They even had a chair that the 14th Dalai Lama had used while he was teaching in the area!
The highpoint for me, however, had to be the garden in the back. I remember walking through it and looking at the lush plants, little fountains, and tons of religious statues and thinking of the Hero of a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell. He talks about the journey a person takes in a story to either become or realize their heroism. Usually, at some point, the hero descends to the underworld only to come back stronger or with some knowledge that can help him on his journey. I remember thinking, that perhaps the afterlife wouldn’t be as scary as people make it out to be, but much like this garden I was in, peaceful, serene, a place where you can hear your own spirit ask you what you need to return to life stronger. It was beautiful and I loved it. They also had these absolutely gorgeous pagodas where you could sit, read or meditate and they would bring you some complimentary tea.
So as I sat there I thought about the question that my mind had asked me. What did I need to return to life with me? I also really thought about what that garden brought to me that was opening my mind to ask such a question.
Life can be so busy! I can quickly fill up my schedule with back to back things to do, and there was a time when I happily did that. However, the result was that I was always stressed; I had issues with anxiety and depression and overeating. I also had a tough time slowing down because my home and my spaces reflected the level of chaos I was experiencing. Then I started therapy. There, I began to learn about the deeper meanings of my thoughts, fears, and my drive to do and my inability to really rest.
What I’ve found is that we as people, create our sacred spaces. Our relationship with the Divine comes from “us.” Not a book, not a location, but from what we bring to that space. A good example was when my mother was dying. I grew up in a church, and my mother had worked there, but that church got really into becoming wealthy and building a new and rather massive sanctuary. It turned abusive, and eventually, my mother was “let go” because she couldn’t give any more financially. So the idea of going to a church to “pray” really didn’t make me feel good. Instead, I went to a park near my home. This Floridian park was quiet, with wooden paths that lead into swampy areas and places to sit to watch alligators. I remember thinking that the park was the sanctuary that God created.
* It should be noted in this post that while I refer to “God,” I’m referring to how I see God in MY head, which might be really different to the God in your head. If you worship a different God, Goddess, Universal Energy, or any other diety, please know I’m talking about “God” as a general thing.
I use to struggle immensely with how to reach God. I didn’t want to go back to a church lead by someone who may or may not have my soul in mind, but I also didn’t know how else to commune with God if NOT by going to church. So for years, I prayed and felt terrible on Sundays.
In the last two years, I’ve been in therapy, and my therapist believes in a very holistic concept of healing, meaning she sees healing as a “mind, body, and SPIRIT” kind of thing. So we started to address what being “Spiritual” meant to me. I told her about the fallout with the church and how I didn’t really want to change my God because of something some people in a building did to me. She asked that I explore what connecting with God meant to me. Not that I had to pick a new religion, but more like if there was no church or book or person telling me how to talk to God, how would that look? I instantly thought back to that moment of safety in the park in Florida.
You can be Christian and spiritual. You can be Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, or Zoroastrian and still be spiritual. It’s not about WHO you worship. It’s about HOW you worship. Even in the Christian faith, we are told that we are to have a “Personal” relationship with God. Yet, we are also advised to go to a church and pray when they tell us to pray and do what they ask us to do, instead of us connecting with God for guidance. Unfortunately, when that system fails us….we’re left broken with a deep distrust in religion as a whole or worse, thinking that God is the one to blame.
This concept started me on an entirely new way of thinking about God. I began to look into things that I felt connected me to God better. So here is my “Sacred Space”.
* I use sage because it’s my way of marking a moment as sacred (churches will at times burn incense or use anointing oil the same way).
* I do have a crystal collection because my way of thinking is that if God has embued a rock or crystal with something that can help me feel better, then that’s great.
* I don’t have a statue of Jesus because God is all around us and is something much bigger than a figure can represent. I do, however, have a statue of Buddha, not because I am a devout Buddhist, but because it reminds me to have a calm mind and do things with love and compassion. Also, the Bible was often used as a way to manipulate me growing up, and I’ve found that a lot of Buddhist teachings say basically the same things as the Bible without triggering how those same concepts were used to hurt me.
* I have a vase full of sand from Coogee beach Australia because that was a place that brought me a lot of happiness, and I have a seagull feather from a time I went to the beach by myself and asked God for a sign and saw that.
* I have a singing bowl that I like to use to again mark a sacred moment like right before I go to pray and meditate.
* I have a meditation cushion I got while visiting Floating Lotus in Rockport Massachusetts.
* I also have my round Himalayan salt lamp that I got at the SALT spa in Santa Barbara.
If you want to look really hard at all this, I have candles, sand, a feather, and a little water display, so I have all four elements (earth, wind, fire, and water) represented…To be honest, this was just by happy coincidence. I hadn’t planned for my sacred space to have that, but it does.
This space belongs to God and me. I pray. I meditate on all kinds of things. I connect in a way that is thoughtful and uniquely mine, and no one can take that away.
If you’re looking to start a sacred space of your own, I would encourage you to take a moment and think about what that really means. You’re not adopting another religion (necessarily), but you are taking your connection with the Divine into your own hands. Do you do that by going to the beach? Do you not use incense because it makes you cough? Do you have statues? What do those statues REALLY mean to you? Do you use crystals, or do you like to collect things from nature that mean something to you? This is profoundly meaningful. If you wanted to have a stuffed animal of Hello Kitty as part of your altar, that’s FINE!!!! So long as it MEANS SOMETHING to you. Perhaps Hello Kitty reminds you to be kind or compassionate, or fun-loving?
The next thing you should do is, read read read. Read the Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell, the Bhagavad Gita, The Tibetan Book of the Dead, and / or The House Witch, not because you are considering necessarily becoming Hindu, Buddhist, or Wiccan / Pagan, but to understand how they connect with their version of God. Reading about other beliefs can give you ideas on how you can connect yourself. Think of it like looking through a home design book and taking the rug from one photo and the wall color from another. If you don’t agree with a concept that you reading about, ask yourself why and if that answer resonates with you, then leave that concept behind.
Also, this space can be as large or as small as you would like. For me, my sacred space encompasses my office since it’s where I meditate, and I also engage in creative arts. However, when I went on this Spiritual Retreat, one of my guides said that she had a shelf in the RV that was her sacred space when she and her husband traveled. Look around your home. You might find that you have a closet you can use, or a corner, or a shelf. The size of this space doesn’t matter.
Lastly, I want to leave you with this concept. I got this from reading and watching Eat, Pray Love. The main character is in India and having trouble meditating. Her friend Richard (who had nicknamed her “Groceries” because of how much she ate) asked her how her meditation went. She explains that it sucked because she got distracted thinking about how she was going to decorate her meditation room when she returned home. He looks at her and says, “The meditation room is within, Groceries. Decorate that.” The truth is, while it’s nice to have a sacred space, please don’t think you need to have one to connect with God. God is everywhere. God is with you when you take a quiet walk in the woods. God is with you as you watch the waves on a beach. God is with you in your car stuck in rush hour. All you have to do is reach out, and how you chose to do that is all up to you.
I hope you liked this post. It was a little scary for me to write about something so personal, but I felt like the time to talk about it was right. If you would like to talk about this further, please leave a message below. If you REALLY like this post and you wanna Buy Me a Coffee, I appreciate that! If you’d like to be notified of future posts, this blog will be putting out; please SIGN UP HERE to be notified! Lastly, regardless if you completely disagreed with this post or not, you as a person are beautiful, sacred, and special, and I appreciate you taking the time to read all this. I wish you a beautiful day. -Heather Astaneh