How to Create Your Own Sacred Space - by Bob Crawford
A sacred space is also a great way to keep your attention focused on your spiritual self throughout your day. Each time you pass by your sacred space you’ll be reminded of your intentions. Just walking by your ‘space’ will reinforce whatever thoughts, feelings, or actions you experience, or intend to experience there.
What makes a space sacred? You do! It is your belief that something is sacred that makes it so. All you have to do is stand in the area you choose and say to your SELF, (your higher or inner self,) “This space is sacred to me.” That’s all. If you’re uncomfortable using the word ‘sacred’ you can substitute ‘special’ or some other word that you are comfortable with. The point is to express to your SELF that when you enter this space you will have a certain intention, whether it’s to meditate, to pray, or just to seek stillness.
So let’s get started. First, you need to choose an area of your home that you can set aside for the purpose of creating a comfortable and relaxing atmosphere for yourself. It doesn’t have to be a large space at all. In fact, the only real requirement is that the space you choose feels good to you. It could be an unused corner of your bedroom, a small area in your living room, your kitchen, or anywhere else for that matter. Don’t despair if you don’t have an entire room that you can use. All that matters is that you create a comfortable space for yourself.
Your goal is to create an environment that will allow you to relax with a minimum of outside distractions, so take your time choosing a spot. Whatever space you choose, no matter the size or location, it should be a spot that you can be comfortable in. It is important to be able to relax your physical body when attempting prayer or meditation, and the physical environment you surround yourself with will have a lot to do with your early success. When you become proficient at relaxing and letting your mind become still, it won’t matter at all where you practice, you’ll be able to achieve your desired state of mind regardless of your physical surroundings, but in the early stages of development it helps to make your physical environment as comfortable and as inspiring as possible.
Your sacred space will serve two important functions:
First, and most obvious, is that you will be creating a tranquil place to perform your prayer or meditation. The more physically and mentally relaxed you are when you begin your practice, the easier it will be get into your desired state of mind.
Secondly, by creating a special space where you can feel at ease you’ll find it easier to keep up your practice. Having a spot that you use for meditation on a regular basis will help you build a healthy habit. (As opposed to all the unhealthy habits we’ve all built up over the years.) This will allow your body and mind to come to recognize that when you enter that space you are intending to enter a certain state of mind and body. Over time that repeated act will turn into a habit and you will find it easier and easier to begin your practice in a much more relaxed state.
Where to choose?
It doesn’t matter where you choose to create your sacred space. It can literally be anywhere in your house or apartment. You’ll want a spot that is quiet, comfortable, and relaxing. You can begin by walking through your living space, holding the intention of choosing a sacred space in your mind. Take a moment and ‘feel’ each space you pause at. Close your eyes for a moment and allow yourself to feel the space around you. Are you getting good vibes from this location? If not, then move on...
Sometimes you won’t ‘feel’ anything when you are trying to pick a spot to use for your practice, but that’s okay! Just choose the most comfortable spot you can find. Once you choose a location, your intention and the act of repeated practice will help to create the sacred feeling of your space.
Now that you’ve chosen a location the next step is to make it as special and as purposeful as possible. Your particular method of meditation or prayer practice will influence the next steps, but generally speaking you’ll want to fill your space with objects that contribute to the overall peacefulness of the area. Use your five senses and think for a moment about what would be pleasing to you.
The following suggestions are simply a guide. Let your creativity flow and see what happens. Only you can decide what to include for certain, so have fun with it!
Your sacred space should be as visually appealing as possible. While you probably perform your practice with your eyes closed, you’ll want your space to be pleasing to look at. As you pass your space during the day, and when you enter it to practice, you will have your eyes open, and how things look are almost as important as how they ‘feel’.
You might include some of the following:
Sacred texts – Perhaps there are texts that are sacred to your particular religion. This would be a good place to display them in a prominent position.
Photographs – Pictures of loved ones, friends, spiritual leaders, or simply of people who inspire you, will bring joy and love into your space.
Artwork – Inspirational or spiritual artwork, prints, posters, wall hangings... Anything that adds meaning or feeling to your space will be appropriate. Again, there are no rules here; you’re free to use whatever you choose.
Crystals – Many people place crystals in their sacred space to enhance their meditation and relaxation.
Statuaries & Tokens – Some people like to display small tokens or statues that have deep spiritual meaning to their particular path. For example, Christians might hang a cross on the wall or place statues of saints in their sacred space, while others might place a small Buddha or other sacred item.
Candles – Candles are often used during meditation and prayer. Place them carefully though!
Flowers and Plants – Fresh flowers or attractive plants will always brighten up a space and add an organic feel to it.
Sit quietly in your new sacred space and just listen. What do you hear? Chances are pretty good that any spot you pick in your home will have some kind of background noise. Are you able to relax in spite of the noise? Is the sound level comfortable or disturbing to you?
Some sounds will come from outside your house – traffic, sirens, neighbors, airplanes, lawn mowers, dogs barking, children playing... and so on. Others will come from inside your home. Things like refrigerators, computers, televisions, air conditioners, and your heating system all contribute to a low background noise that surrounds you.
If the noise level in your sacred space is too distracting you might want to consider some of these options:
White Noise Generator – This small machine, often used as a sleep aid, produces ‘white noise’, which is used to mask background sounds.
Music – Playing background music is another way to mask the sounds in your sacred space. From chanting monks to Tibetan meditation bowls to new age bands, you’ll find a wide variety of material available.
Nature Recordings – These reproduce authentic aural, (sound,) environments. Put one of these on, close your eyes, and suddenly you’re in a new world. Transform your sacred space and find yourself meditating on a beach with the waves crashing around you. Oceans, woods, jungles, rainstorms... there are many environments to choose from.
Water Fountains – If you really want to bring the sounds of nature into your sacred space you might try using a small water fountain. These self-contained waterfalls come in many sizes and designs. Their steady trickling of water will provide you with a babbling brook effect
Metronome – A metronome is a device used by musicians to develop and maintain beat. They produce a rhythmic ‘tick’ or beat, and have an adjustable speed. They are used in some meditations to increase or decrease brainwave activity.
Noise Canceling Headphones – These headphones use electronic circuitry to eliminate background noise.
Are there particular fragrances or scents that are relaxing or soothing to you? If so, you might want to consider using something to scent the air in your sacred space. There are an incredible variety of scents available, so a little experimentation will surely find something that will appeal to you.
You can even match a fragrance to the sounds in your space. If, for example, you are using a recording of outdoor sounds, try floral or woodsy fragrances. If you listen to Tibetan or other Eastern type meditation music try some mystical fragrances. Be adventurous!
Here are some ways to add fragrance to your space:
Scented Candles – You can get scented candles in just about every fragrance imaginable. If you have already decided to use candles in your sacred space why not use scented ones? Just use caution with an open flame.
Incense – Often used during meditation and prayer, incense is available in a variety of fragrances and comes in stick, cone, and powder.
Scented Oils, Potpourri – These are another easy way to add fragrance to your space.
Fresh Flowers or Plants – In addition to looking good, fresh flowers or aromatic plants can add pleasurable fragrances to the air.
Air Freshener – You could also use scented air sprays or solid room air fresheners to keep your sacred space smelling nice.
When working with fragrances, remember to keep it light. Your sense of smell will be slightly more acute when you’re sitting there with your eyes closed. You don’t want the scent to be overpowering or distracting.
Most likely, the major part of your body utilizing your sense of touch during your meditation or prayer practice will be your bottom. Depending on your style of meditation you will either be on the floor, in a chair, or lying on your back. A comfortable mat or cushion is a necessity if you plan to sit on a hard floor for an extended period of time.
If you are going to sit in a chair, you’ll want one that is comfortable enough to sit still in for the length of your practice, but not so comfy that you easily fall asleep. The same is true if you are going to practice lying down, be sure that you are able to relax but not drift off.
Your sense of taste doesn’t really come into play in the creation of your sacred space. Taste is tied to our sense of smell though, so it is possible that some fragrances or odors will create a ‘taste in the mouth’ of some people. If this happens try changing the scent you are using, or consider going without.
You’ve used each of your senses and filled your chosen space with inspirational and tranquil items. How does your new space feel? Relax there for a moment or two. Allow yourself to take in the entire space with all your senses. Is there anything you feel is missing? Is there anything you feel shouldn’t be there? Make any adjustments you feel necessary. Move things around until the space ‘feels’ right.
Your sacred space can play an important part in your spiritual life. Treat it as such and you’ll be rewarded in many ways. Not only will you find yourself able to begin your meditation or prayer in a more relaxed manner, you’ll also be more likely to keep a regular schedule, which in turn will enable you to make quicker and more meaningful progress on your particular spiritual path.
Remember, it’s your space, it can be as plain or as elaborate as your desires and/or your wallet will allow. Have fun creating your very own sacred space, and remember – there are no rules!
Bob Crawford is a spiritual teacher, inspirational speaker, and writer. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article may be copied and republished in full as long as this resource box is included in its entirety, and no monetary gain is derived from such use.
Copyright © 2007 by Robert Crawford