When you recover or discover something that nourishes your soul and brings joy, care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life. “ – Jean Shinoda Bolen
You’re finally home after a long day. You’re tired and you want to rest but when you open the front door, you see that you need to tidy your house. You pick up a few things and see the kitchen in your periphery reminding you that you have to get dinner started. You feel stressed and think of the yoga class you’re going to miss tonight because you don’t have time to get there. The yogi inside of you starts to feel stressed, and you realize…this isn’t very yoga-like.
At the end of your hectic day, if your spare moments go towards watching TV instead of a little self-care, you don’t give your mind the break it probably needs. This can lead to restless sleeping, which leaves you feeling exhausted and empty the next day, only to start the karmic cycle again. You know you need to nurture yourself but there’s nowhere to retreat to.
Every room in your home has its purpose. When you’re in your kitchen, you think of eating or in your bedroom you think about sleeping. Is there a place that reminds you to look within yourself and nurture your soul? What if you created this special space dedicated to you in your home? When you have spare moments, you could just step into your own special sanctuary. You can utilize it to be creative, do yoga, meditate, or just read a book. Creating your own sanctuary can give you room to develop tapas, which means discipline, to become devoted to your own ritual of self-care.
The word sanctuary is a Latin word deriving from sanctuarium, which means a container for keeping something in. In the case of spirituality, it means encasing yourself in a place of holiness or safety. Do you want to create a quiet space to feel more connected to the meaningful things in your life?
Here are six simple principles you might consider following in creating your own sanctuary space:
1. Consider what your sanctuary will provide
Think about what your needs are when it comes to your own sacred space. Maybe you’ve been seeking a place where you can be still and meditate. Perhaps you want to have a convenient spot to do yoga when time allows. If you’re artistic, you may want to create a space that brings out your creative side. Do you need to relax and let go? Do you need to get your creative juices flowing?
Know that your needs and desires may change over time, but the initial intention–to create your own personal space–will always be there. Whatever your interests may be, create this space from a place of purity within. The energy of the external world and everything you do day-to-day can be left outside of this space you create. Make it a place you want to be.
2. Seek out the perfect spot
Don’t let a lack of space deter you. The priority is to have a refuge for your mind, body, and soul to rejuvenate itself. You probably have an area of your home where you feel safe and relaxed. If you’ve never noticed, take a walk around and sense what place feels good. Trust your intuition as you seek out the right spot. This aspect is more important than any other detail.
An ideal space is near a window that lets light in and has a good flow of energy. If that’s not possible, your sanctuary can be as simple as being at the end of the kitchen table. It doesn’t even have to be an entire room. You can create a space outside in your garden or even a larger closet that isn’t being utilized. You may want privacy but having your sanctuary exposed allows you to notice it. Even if you can’t enter your space, seeing it will remind you of stillness, peace, and safety.
3. Create your space with intention
If you’ve thought about what you want out of your sanctuary and where it will be, it’s now time to create your space. You know what your emotional, mental, and spiritual needs are so you can incorporate objects to support those needs. Remove anything from the room that is not going to serve a purpose. Knowing what you need most out of your sanctuary will allow you to add objects that will aid those needs. You can incorporate objects that heighten all your senses, giving you the thoughts and feelings you require from your sanctuary. Below is a list of items that help deepen your desired experience.
Items for Relaxation
- A lavender eye pillow
- A cozy chair or a stack of pillows
- Soothing music
- Stones for promoting relaxation: blue chalcedony, amethyst, or abalone
Items for Meditation
- Stones that assist a meditative state: clear quartz, blue calcite, and turquoise
- A “zafu” or meditation cushion. If you have a bad back, a comfortable chair is recommended
- A small object to focus on. This could be the statue of a deity you have chosen to honor
- Incense sticks
Items for Creativity
- Stones that allow you tap into your creativity: citrine, carnelian, and tiger’s eye
- Plants (proven to boost creativity)
- A vision board full of creative ideas (alternatively, take a quick peek on Pinterest)
- Scents like cinnamon and vanilla boost creative levels
Items for Energizing
- Stones for energizing: tourmaline and fluorite
- Citrus scents or a coffee bean candle
- Based on color therapy, violet and red boost your energy levels
- A sunrise-simulating light especially in the winter months
4. …but keep it simple
Keeping your space simple prevents mind clutter. Consider the feng shui of your space. Does it allow for energy to flow in and out? Does it make you feel spacious? An open space will reflect an open mind. It will provide room for a yoga or movement practice, too. This container provides a safe space to practice and try new things on your own, where there is no judgment from the outside. You may want to keep the walls free and clear so you can use it during a yoga practice, or even seated meditation for back support.
You can create more simplicity by choosing to rub whatever essential oil suits you best on your favorite pillow. This eliminates the need for candles or an infuser. Having a deck of inspirational cards can reduce clutter too. Instead of displaying inspirational quotes, you can just choose a quote daily. Include objects that give you the energy you need, help inspire you or get you into the mind frame for meditation, yoga, or another sacred ritual.
5. Create a boundary for your sacred space
What your boundaries are for your sacred space is personal for you. Most people that create a sanctuary choose to have it for themselves. Your space may be a welcome area for friends and family. If not, let your family or roommates know that when you’re in your space, you don’t want to be disturbed. For example, you may immediately get out of bed in the morning and practice yoga in your space. If you share a house with roommates or a partner, ensure you will not be bothered. Ask those around you to respect your sanctuary and “me” time.
However, you may be interested in sharing your space with close friends or relatives. If you desire to inspire others to create their own sacred spaces, you can invite them to experience yours first. You could try a few yoga poses or a ritual for the full moon together. But whatever your flow is, always ensure the respect for the sanctuary is there first and foremost.
6. Use your space often
There’s nothing more tragic than creating a sublime sanctuary only to ignore it because you don’t make time. If you allow it, you can be healed of daily stress and negative events. At the core of it, you know what you need. You created a place you should want to make time for. Listen to your heart and when life gets to be too much, retreat. You need to take care of yourself first, otherwise, you’re not your best self for others. Make a ritual out of it daily if you can. Very quickly it will become one of your favorite moments of the day that you can’t live without. Remember that this sacred spot was created by you, for you. It was your heart’s desire, so honor its intention.
The art of creating this sanctuary will help you make nurturing self-care a daily ritual. Even if your time is limited, walk into your space and give yourself five minutes. Whether you light a candle in honor of your intentions for the day or move through a few Sun Salutations, your body and mind will thank you for this continued reverence for yourself.
Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Meera Watts, a yoga teacher, entrepreneur, and mom. Her writing on yoga and holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, Yoganonymous, OMtimes and others. She’s also the founder and owner of Siddhi Yoga International, a yoga teacher training school based in Singapore. Siddhi Yoga runs intensive, residential trainings in India (Rishikesh, Goa, and Dharamshala), Indonesia (Bali) and Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur).