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Creating sacred spaces

In Insight and Experience by LivingNowLeave a Comment

Sometimes we discover ourselves by chance in a place in which we feel transformed. This place may be in our hearts, our homes, in Nature, with loved ones, with friends. It can seem an almost mystical experience… we feel an overwhelming sense of safety, love and inspiration. Anything and everything seems possible.

Traditionally, the word ‘sacred’ belonged to the religious, the divine, the revered and the holy. That which is sacred is regarded as most precious and meaningful.

Rituals, invocations, mantras, blessings and prayer have invoked the sense of the sacred since the beginning of time. Ancient cultures set aside holy places for ceremonies of initiation and transition, and their rituals symbolised the meaning of their lives and their aspirations. The sacred spaces in which these rites took place were imbued with a potent energy that empowered the whole community.

The ancient Egyptians practised a sacred science which enabled them to think with their hearts and feel with their heads, and in applying these practices they created the most famous of sacred spaces –– the Pyramids. These incredible structures were, and still are, a testimony to the power of combining science with spirituality. Candlelight illuminated the sacred chambers, and infusions of burning herbs and spices invoked mystical experiences which brought the spirit world alive and nurtured the soul.

In India today, many of the simple practices of everyday life are still meaningful rituals that nourish the soul. Amongst the hustle and bustle of crowded streets, people take a moment to create reminders of a deeper meaning to life – burning incense as an act of devotion, visiting sidewalk temples to pray, purchasing flowers to bless their homes and offices. The presence of statues of gods and goddesses are symbolic reminders of a higher purpose.

In Western society, the sense of the sacred has become less evident as the influence of the Traditional Western religions rituals has diminished over time. Computers and technology seem to have become sacred in this world of rapid change, where speed and efficiency are revered. Urban living places us geographically closer to one another, yet we often seem even more remote from each other’s lives and detached from the deeper meaning of our own.

Many people yearn to find solace from the pain of loss and the difficulty of the challenges that confront us daily. The need for emotional comfort and spiritual nourishment is greater in our society than ever before, but in the ‘busyness’ of life, little time or attention is given to creating the havens of peace – the sacred spaces – we so badly need.

Nurturing spaces to replenish us

When the pace of life is slowed for a moment and we take time to cherish each other, celebrate our lives and make meaning of it all, we create a sacred space – a place that can heal, nurture, replenish, rejuvenate and give us strength.

We can consciously create special places for ourselves and for those around us by becoming aware of the importance of the places in which we spend our time, and how we relate to them.

In order to live our lives fully, we need to ‘set the stage’ We can do this by infusing the space around us with what matters most to us and what we intend for our life – as well as whatever we need to nourish our soul. We may choose to place a photograph of a loved one on a mantelpiece, tell a story to a child, light a candle with conscious dedication, or fill the air with a favourite fragrance. Every act represents something important to us, and carries with it the intention to make our lives a little more special.

We feel inspired and vitally alive when our senses are stimulated, our feelings nurtured and our bodies cared for. The gentle flickering of a candle, the fragrant aura of a rose, the memories stirred by a treasured photograph these sorts of small items add richness and meaning to our lives. When out surroundings reflect what deeply matters to us we have indeed created a sacred space in which to find constant replenishment – physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Sacred spaces may be created alone or amongst kindred spirits. They can be very special places that have a range of different meanings and activities. Our sacred spaces may be places to enjoy times of great celebration and happiness; to mourn great loss; to heal intense grief; or to simply bring rhythm and magic back into otherwise seemingly ordinary moments of everyday life.

My invitation to you is to consciously create a sacred space wherever you are, and have it as a reminder of what you most value. It takes a little time, but it’s easy to do. In taking the time to honour yourself in this way, your self-esteem is elevated and your self-worth expands. This in itself will transform the way you live your life.

Adapted from ‘Sacred Spaces: Restoring Harmony’ by Karen Downes. Published by Lifetime Publications, Melbourne, 2000.

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