“The key to creating a home meditation practice is to create a space where the busyness stops.”
-Thich Nhat Hanh
Many things changed with the arrival of the novel Corona virus. We have all had to make adjustments to the familiar ways we went about our day. Our yoga practice has been no exception.
One of the things I most miss about what is now so aptly being called “the before times” is sharing sacred space with my community at Eternal Health Yoga. I’m grateful that we have been able to stay connected via the web conferencing platform Zoom these past months. I’m ecstatic that we are slowly but surely offering in-studio classes to those who would like to join, all the while ensuring the health and safety of our beloved members is protected by observing guidelines from the Center for Disease Control.
What is it about being in our studio that feels so special? Eternal Health Yoga is a sacred space. I feel different when I walk through the door. Many of our yoga students have shared that they feel the same way. There is something magical about walking into a sacred space, but what makes it sacred isn’t magical at all! What makes a space sacred is the person or people doing the practice.
Sacred space from home.
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is our oldest known collection of writings about practicing yoga. It was not written for monks in a monastery, but rather for householders like you and me. Yoga practitioners have a long history of creating sacred space in their own homes! As we navigate these uncertain times, it is important that we take our cue from yogis past and build physical and mental space in our lives as-is for our spiritual practice.
Sacred space is space we set aside for a special purpose. The word “sacred” denotes something that is dedicated to a particular religious or spiritual purpose and should therefore be treated with honor and respect. The space need not be used exclusively for spiritual practice, although it certainly could be if one has the means and desire. More important is our awareness that when we enter that space for practice it becomes sacred.
When we enter our sacred space for our practice, we send our psyche a signal that something transformational is about to happen. Sacred space inspires higher psychological and spiritual states such as awe, calm, comfort, wonder, and gratitude. Our sacred space is a place that we can go to fortify ourselves and take refuge from the world’s chaos.
Creating sacred space in our homes.
There are a few things we may want to consider when creating our sacred space. Our space should be quiet and undisturbed, at least for the duration of our practice. This may mean negotiating with housemates and the needs of non-human companions. We may also want to take into consideration what technology we allow and do not allow in our space. The use of technology is a personal decision. We may elect to use no electronics at all during our practice. Or, perhaps we would like to have our phone at the ready to keep a timer for our meditation practice, but nothing else. Maybe we use music downloaded to our laptop, but silence all other devices. We can be flexible around our use or disuse of technology. We may find somedays we need it and others not.
Being in our sacred space in a sensual experience. When deciding what to include in our sacred space we can take into consideration what we would like it to look like, feel like, sound like, and even smell like. We can have instruments or devices for playing music at the ready. Perhaps we would like to include incense or a scented candle. It may be helpful to have a chair, blanket, or meditation cushion to sit on when we are in our space.
A personal altar is a popular focal point for sacred spaces. The items placed on altars are varied and unique to the person who created the altar. They may include statues or pictures of deities or other inspirational figures, natural elements such as flowers or dried leaves, and mystical tools like crystals and tarot or oracle cards. The items on our altar have special meaning and are sacred to us.
Caring for our sacred space.
Depending on our living situation, our sacred space may serve other purposes. Perhaps our space is in our living room, bedroom, or kitchen. Our altar could even be a small shelf on a bookcase. When choosing an area for our sacred space it is important to consider what we will be doing there. For example, if we plan on doing an asana-based yoga practice in our sacred space, it will have to be big enough to roll out our yoga mat. We also want to consider the accessibility of our space. If live with other people and our sacred space is in a common area, will we be able to schedule time when we can do our practice undisturbed.
Our sacred space nourishes us. We care for our space in return by keeping it neat and tidy. Obviously, we want our practice area to be free of distracting clutter. When we have done our practice, we turn off our music, snuff our candles or incense, and put away our sacred items. We keep our space physically and energetically clean. We can cleanse the energy of our space by sprinkling blessed salt water, purifying our crystals at the full moon, and smudging environmentally friendly sage bought from indigenous communities.
Ordinary life, extraordinary living.
Invoking the sacred in our daily lives acknowledges that the mundane is itself magical. Our homes are our churches; our altars are our kitchen tables. We are the ministers in service to our community. Humans need to be in sacred space. We need to be in awe, wonder, and appreciation of the cosmos. It inspires us, uplifts us, and reminds us that we are living candles lighting up the world with our flame. Although we may not be able to be in the physical presence of one another at this time, we each carry a piece of our Eternal Health Yoga Satsang within us. Every time we do our practice, whether in the sacred space of our studio or our own homes, we forge and ever more deepening connection to ourselves, each other, and the Numinous.