Early in my earliest days of sobriety, my first sponsor gave me this advice: “It doesn’t matter what your religion, your spiritual affiliation. Create a sacred space, and go to it each and every morning when you wake up. Set your day with sacredness.”
I took that advice very much to heart and have lived the advice each and every day for over 20 years. Each morning, I light a candle. Each morning, I approach my altar, bow to the teachers who guide me, and sit on my cushion to follow a set series of exercises for approximately 20-30 minutes. Some days is is only 15, some days 45 or even a full hour. No matter the schedule, I am there to give myself the gift of touching a sacred space – both within and without.
The importance of this practice is thousands of years old. It is a practice we need now, more than ever. Our present culture is intensely outward focused, and we become swept away easily thanks to the immediacy of our technology. By giving ourselves ten or fifteen minutes a day to turn inward, to breathe, and to touch something profoundly still, is a powerful practice. In recovery, it becomes essential.
Here are three steps to creating a sacred space in your home:
Step 1: Find the Space
It doesn’t have to be an entire room. Find a space in your home that you can clear – the length and width of a yoga mat will do.
A corner of the bedroom near a window will give you morning or evening light.
Use the short wall of your home office to create a sitting area that is also set up as an altar.
If you need privacy, think of using a closet. Empty the contents, remove the rod, and set it up as the place where you can “be” without being disturbed. This is particularly good if you have animals or children who might disrupt the space.
If you have spare bedroom, create an entire makeover and change it to be a sacred room.
If you live in a studio apartment – clear a space on your kitchen counter or put up a shelf on a wall to create a small sacred space.
Step 2: Create the Space
There are no “rules” to creating an altar or sacred space. Make it yours by using what is sacred to you.
Begin with a candle. Scented, unscented, large or small the variety is endless. You can find angel candles, Buddha statues where you can place a candle, Christian candles, a Menorah – any time of representation will do.
Perhaps you have found a feather that is from a meaningful walk. Shells from a special vacation. Stones, crystals, a memento from a loved one, Mala beads.
Use a glass bowl to fill with water and sprinkle fine oils to scent the space.
A picture or representation that will give rise to a sense of divinity. Buddha, Jesus, Mary, Saints, Mother Theresa, the Dalai Lama…..
The base of the altar can be a piece of wood covered in a lovely fabric. You can find many small tables upon which you can place your items. If you are particularly handy, you can make your own!
Step 3: Use the Space
It’s one thing to have a sacred space in your environment. It’s quite another to create the commitment to use it every day. It is the daily practice that gives rise to the sacredness within us.
When you get up each day, light the candle on your altar. Take time to sit quietly for a few minutes and set your intention for the day ahead.
Creating a routine for yourself is important. Reading the same prayer each day, or from a book of prayers each day connects us to words of wisdom and gives us thoughts to carry us through the day.
Breathe. Using a myriad of breathing exercises available (Yoga, Kundalini, Tibetan, etc.) helps to focus our breath and our brains. Sitting quietly for a few moments being aware of our breath is a powerful exercise that engages our parasympathetic system.
Engaging in movement: Yoga sequences, Kundalini, Tibetan Yoga, prostrations – engaging our bodies in sacredness supports our breath, our prayers, and our intentions.
Use your space to journal, reflect, read. To pray, meditate. To connect, and to be connected.
Using the space on a regular basis supports the importance of the placement, the area you have created where you come to “be” and engage in acts of serenity on a daily basis.
Each day, consciously choose your recovery, and all that supports it.