Inner and Outer Sacred Space

Flowering Autumn Maple with Poem Slips by Tosa Mitsuoki (c. 1617-1691)  six-panel screen in ink, color, gold, and silver on silk

Flowering Autumn Maple with Poem Slips by Tosa Mitsuoki (1617-1691)
Six-panel screen in ink, color, gold, and silver on silk

We live, play, create and work in spaces. Just like our body or mind, our family, cars, finances and anything we possess or are involved with, the spaces we occupy also need attention.

We may think space is inert. When it comes to our home, obviously we have a different relationship to it. We may feel just fine leaving our workplace to the night crew to keep orderly and clean. But space isn’t inert and even our homes require care beyond mere maintenance, decorating and beautifying.

Caring for a thing or a space sacralizes it just by the mere act of caring. This is true of living things as well. Even everyday tidying and cleaning allows space to be rid of stagnation and staleness.

The truest sacred space is created intentionally, with ritual and invocation. Sacred spaces are empowering and contemplative places that inspire us to journey inward. They can be ordinary places made extraordinary through ritual. They can also be architectural spaces were a lot of ritual has already been conducted, or natural environments that have a special vibratory quality.

The forest is not merely an expression or representation of sacredness, nor a place to invoke the sacred; the forest is sacredness itself. Nature is not merely created by God; nature is God.

 

— Richard Nelson

Even a simple backyard garden with a little pond can be sacred, because again it’s space that’s created with purpose.

While sacred space is specifically about getting in touch with our essence and our own divinity, as well as experiencing the Divine, we also need to take sacred pauses throughout each day, especially during work. These pauses nourish and rebalance us and keep us emotionally clear.

The sacred spaces we create in the places of our lives can only come from the sacred space we carry inside. How do we awaken to the sacred within us, locate and refine it? The most direct way is by a time-honored spiritual practice such as meditation.

To meditate means to go home to yourself. Then you know how to take care of the things that are happening inside you, and you know how to take care of the things that happen around you.

 

— Thich Nhat Hanh

If we’re truly living from the spiritual essence within, it travels everywhere we are and radiates first to the space immediately around our body, and from there out into the spaces we find ourselves in.

When the drama, negativity, rushing, incivility, competition and pettiness around us gets to be just too much, we can either retreat to the sacred space within or project it outward even more powerfully.

Sacred space begins at home, first inwardly then outwardly. It’s a natural extension of our spiritual practice. The inner-outer dynamic is a two-way street. Physical orderliness and cleanliness is conducive to meditation, and meditation organizes us spiritually and practically.

Clutter, disorganization and procrastinated household chores create disharmony in our home. Meditation and similar practices fill our homes with harmonious vibrations. One needs the aid of the other and we need to attend to both. We have a foot both in a spiritual reality and a physical reality. They are mutually inclusive and they coexist.

To be sacred, a place must be honored, treated with respect. It must gather and hold energy; be alive with the seen and unseen. Above all, a sacred place must be safe — for cells to open, boundaries to expand, what is normally hidden to come forth.

 

— Meg Beeler

When it comes to the discordant energies often found in the workplace, our being cultivated and empowered at home is our protection. We can have a positive influence in the general workplace, to varying degrees. Our immediate workspace is where we can be most effective in establishing a creative, productive and stress-free environment.

Sacred space sourced and claimed within is portable. It’s with us on vacation, at the PTA meeting, doctor’s office or in traffic. It’s shareable with our kids, partners, neighbors and coworkers. It’s also shareable with the world at large as healing, support and empowerment.

It’s also already inside us. We just have to learn to journey there, get to know it, keep visiting and become very familiar with it. With our presence we have to give it life and energy so that it can fully reveal itself.

Sacred space is by definition liminal space. Because we are not in control and not the center, something genuinely new can happen. Here we are capable of seeing something beyond self-interest, self-will, and security concerns. True sacred space allows alternative consciousness to emerge.

 

— Richard Rohr


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