Having a place to call home is meaningful to most of us. As a poetic ideal, it’s a welcoming environment where we can slip into baggy pants at the end of the day and leave the mad world behind to “just be” without pretense. It’s a place where we can rest, recover and recharge ourselves, as well as our smart phones.
In actuality, home tends to be a lot less serene than that. The commitments we make on every front clamor day and night for our attention. Our addictions to noise and technologies combined with our go-go-go lifestyles take a significant toll. Unless we deliberately cultivate a special environment within it, our homes become an extension of our outside world—a kaleidoscope of physical and mental busyness.
Home as a sanctuary
“If we recognize the benefits of having home serve as a personal sanctuary and refuge, then we need a strong intention to claim it as such,” says Laury Naron, psychotherapist and Andian energy healer. “We give ourselves a special gift, if we know we can regain equilibrium and reconnect with our true selves once we walk through our front door.”
Creating a designated place at home to soothe our body, mind and soul doesn’t require a big financial investment or the help of an architect or interior designer. There is no need for our restorative area to be elaborate, expensive or grand.
“My sacred space is a corner area of my bedroom near a window, where I can see nature—the changing sky, trees, a hawk soaring. Most importantly, I have an agreement with myself that I do not do head work there, and I stick with it,” Laury shares.
Other than feeling good to us, there is no right or wrong way to design a contemplative corner, personal altar, or cozy nook at home. Inspiring personal spaces, small and large, come into existence easily when we simply connect from the heart with the things that give us joy.
“Avoid the trap of holding off to make an honored space in your home until it is perfect—forget it!” Laury laughs. “Gather a few things together that you love and call that your beginning. Then add and revise as objects speak to you,” she said. As an intimate expression of our inner self, our special space can be expected to evolve as we do.
Inspiration for our special space
So what might we feel drawn to include in our personal refuge? Consider a cozy chair and small shelf or table for starters. Add a pretty light, symbolic of the illuminated self. Be generous with creature comforts, like soft throws and pillows. A sketchpad, books of poetry or religion, knitting basket, soothing music source and natural objects that celebrate beauty, spirituality and nature can help direct us inward.
We may also wish to include a statue or art image of a religious figure, or a photo of someone we see as a teacher or guide in our space, wanting to be informed by them on some level. Following Eastern practices, we could incorporate offerings—water bowls, incense, candies, flowers and crystals are traditional. Lighting a candle or ringing a soft bell when we enter and leave our sanctuary could signal us to be fully present to receive the gifts it has to offer us.
By designating a supportive environment where we can engage in whatever quiet activities our heart knows we need, we take steps to connect with our highest selves and our inner treasury of wisdom, love and joy.
Remembering who we are
“Daily quiet time is so important for our personal journey and our relationships,” said Rev. Pat Filiault, a retired Unity minister. “The Gospel of Mark includes one of my favorite verses, ‘Come ye apart awhile and rest.’ It’s special advice, even if all you can find are a few meditative minutes in your favorite chair.”
As opposed to one designated space, Tammy Sola, master Reiki practitioner and spiritual counselor, places objects and assemblages for contemplation throughout her home, “to catch the eye and call to the soul.”
“I have lots around to speak to me, and they tend to be simple,” she says. “At times, I make more permanent altars for special prayer work, but big always gets complicated. I generally create arrangements without much fuss, and follow the seasons. A bowl of lemons and a sprig of mint. A seedling I can watch grow. A collection of found objects—beach sand, shells and a child’s ball; a photo of the hospital I was born in and my husband’s baby shoes; anything that grabs me, brings a smile and calls me to remember, ‘Ah, what a gift to be alive!’ or, ‘Yes, this is who I really am.’”
Sharing our peace
Native American spiritual leader Jimi Castillo asks us to think broadly, and, while we may have one area that we use for prayer or contemplation, declare our entire home to be a sacred, healing space. “We can turn our house, which is just a structure, into a home by making it always welcoming, nurturing and respectful. One of my favorite expressions is, ‘If you see a person without a smile, give him one.’ I want my home to feel like a hug whenever someone walks in the door.”
Following Native American ritual practices, Jimi suggests that four times a year, perhaps solstices and equinoxes, we engage in a small ceremony to “clean our homes of negativity that may have entered and invite in loving energy for a fresh start.” Smudging doors, windows and drains with sage or sprinkling water are traditional rituals for cleansing, but, since “sacred” and “special” are personal concepts after all, designing a ceremony that resonates in our hearts for this purpose is appropriate, too.
It’s a fact we may not often consider, but the most important work we ever do happens within us. Creating a sacred area—and attitude—at home can be the foundation for a beautiful and peaceful life.