The very nature of your job demands that you take care of your clients and help them improve their health. In your personal life, you may normally be focused on the needs of your significant other, children, friends and family members.
Maybe you want to nurture yourself by quieting down and/or practicing mind-body activities but never seem to have the time or space to do so. By allocating an area in your home as a sacred space, you give yourself a place for quiet reflection and centering. Here’s what a sacred space is, how it can benefit you and where you can put one.
While you may immediately associate “sacred” with religion or religious purposes, it can simply mean “worthy of respect or dedication.” A sacred space is a place dedicated to whatever you choose.
“A sacred space doesn’t have to be religious, although it is for some people,” says Leslie Levine, a life coach in Northbrook, Illinois, and author of Wish It, Dream It, Do It: Turn the Life You’re Living Into the Life You Want. “Sacred means that you are honoring something, whether it’s your religion or you.”
A sacred space is a place put aside from your normal activity, notes Ellen Speert, MEd, registered art therapist and director of the Art Therapy Center of North County in Encinitas, California. “When you go there, you can be separate from all of the business of your normal day.”
All people have a sacred space within themselves, according to Michele Hébert, co-owner of Harmony Ranch in Glen Ellen, California, and master teacher of yoga and meditation. “We can easily get lost from this inner space because of the chaos of the outer world,” she says. “An external sacred space helps you find the sacred space within you.”
Why create a sacred space? As fitness professionals, so much of your time is spent giving out energy, which can be physically and emotionally draining. “Many people think you can recharge by connecting with others, but, ultimately, you recharge by going within,” says Hébert. “A sacred space helps us get grounded, to find that quiet space within ourselves from which we can recharge.”
Speert agrees. “Life can move at such a frenetic pace that it is valuable to set aside a place to honor the inner self and to destress. Many people, especially women, are so programmed to take care of other people. Ultimately we can’t serve as well if we haven’t taken care of our inner selves.”
Levine says that a sacred space helps you slow down. “Healthwise, slowing down can help your body and immune system,” she says. “In addition, people are always looking for permission to take care of themselves. A sacred space helps you do that. It’s an excuse to take time for you, and it’s a place where you can go to shift your mindset.”
The space can be wherever you want. If you happen to have the luxury of an extra room, you may want to use it, but you don’t need to set aside a whole room.
It does, however, need to be in a protected area, says Speert. “It can be a corner of a room or just a small space with a meditation mat,” she says. “Look for a quiet place with little through traffic.”
A Space Inside. A sacred space can be anywhere inside—for example, in an alcove, on or near a bookshelf, in an attic or in the corner of a room.
Hébert and Mehrad Nazari, PhD, co-owner of Harmony Ranch, have created several sacred spaces within their center. “In each room we have a sacred space, a little altar,” she says. “When we look at each one, we remember our inner sacred spaces. For example, in the kitchen we’ve put an altar on a shelf above the sink with items like a Buddha figure, a candle and plants.”
A Space Outside. Speert says that you can also make a wonderful sacred space outside, as she has done in her giant backyard that she uses for retreats. “You don’t need to have a huge yard like mine to create a sacred space,” she says. “You could put a fountain on a patio, place a plant on a balcony or outline a space with a circle of stones.”
Put items into your space that are personally relevant and sacred to you, says Speert. “That’s the key to making the space special for you.”
Levine adds that there are no set rules about what must go into the space. “Anything that calms you down or makes you feel loved is appropriate,” she notes.
“Sacred spaces are about connecting with your inner spirit, whatever that means to you,” says Hébert. “This may change over time, and you might move different items into the space.”
Common Elements. Some people use elements of nature in their spaces. “Going out into nature for many people is a sacred experience,” Speert says. “That’s why bringing photographs or images of places like lakes, mountains and beaches into sacred spaces is popular.”
While you can put anything you want into your space, use these ideas as food for thought:
- photograph(s) of special people, special places, someone you love (alive or dead) or a spiritual teacher
- special cloth
- a fountain
- religious symbols
- worry beads
- statue of Buddha or Quan Yin (the female Buddha)
- a book of quotations
- a written prayer
If you live with a significant other, children or roommates, think about how you want your sacred space to be used, if at all, by others.
Hébert thinks you should talk to people you live with about your sacred space. “You can make requests for how you want people to treat your space,” she says. “Let them know if it’s okay to share it or that you need them to be respectful of it. For example, at Harmony Ranch, we have a special meditation room. We ask that guests not talk in the room, as we are trying to build and create a certain energy in it.”
The writer Joseph Campbell once said, “Your sacred space is where you can find yourself again and again.” Creating an outward sacred space will help you access your inner sacred space, ground you and help you relieve stress. Recharging yourself will benefit you, both personally and professionally, so that you’ll be better able to Inspire the World to FitnessTM.
What can you do in your sacred space? You can just sit and reflect. “Sitting with your legs crossed, back straight, palms facing up, perhaps on a pillow for support, is a great reflecting position,” says Leslie Levine, life coach in Northbrook, Illinois, and author of Wish It, Dream It, Do It: Turn the Life You’re Living
Into the Life You Want.
“Do whatever is sacred to you,” says Ellen Speert, MEd, registered art therapist and director of the Art Therapy Center of North County in Encinitas, California. “It’s up to you.”
- tai chi
- chi kung
- inspirational reading
- listening to music
Skeptical about the benefits of spending quiet time? “Give it a month and see what happens,” suggests Levine. “Spending time in a sacred space is something you can look forward to during a busy day. You don’t need to spend hours in there. Perhaps set a goal of a few minutes and increase that time in the future.”
To learn more about creating a sacred space, see these resources:
Kingston, K. 1997. Creating Sacred Space With Feng Shui: Learn the Art of Space Clearing and Bring New Energy Into Your Life. New York: Broadway Books.
Mitchell, S., & Gunning, S. 2002. Creating Home Sanctuaries With Feng Shui: Sacred Spaces, Altars, and Shrines. New Page Books.
Streep, P., & Glover, J. 2003. Spiritual Gardening: Creating Sacred Space Outdoors. Inner Ocean Publishing.
To view ideas for sacred spaces outside, watch the garden tour at The Art Therapy Center of North County on www.artretreats.com. To see the sacred spaces at Harmony Ranch, see the slide show at www.spaspirit.com.
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