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January 28, 2020 5 min read

 

 

sanc·tu·ar·y

/ˈsaNGk(t)SHəˌwerē/

A sanctuary is a refuge, a haven, an oasis, a protective and safe place.

Sacred space, sacred time. 

Your home sanctuary is your place for daily personal retreat into peace and practice.

 

The benefits of yoga and meditation are exponential. The more you practice, the more you will get: more joy, clarity, creativity, better balance in your life, better sleep, more serenity and calm to face your everyday challenges.  

 

So it’s important to find ways and means to come back to your practice every day.

 

I’ve discovered that the best way to be consistent with a home practice is to have a dedicated place in your home for practice, a sanctuary that you can retreat to for yoga and meditation. Where everything you need for your practice is set out before your eyes, accessible and ready to use. 

 

Your sanctuary is so much more than a place to keep your yoga props and meditation cushion. It has the power to greatly enhance and empower your practice. Everything in your sacred space, from the colour of the walls to the furniture and the meaningful items you place in it, can contribute to creating a calming, supportive and inspiring atmosphere. Every choice you make influences the harmony and balance of your sanctuary, your practice, and how you feel.

 

Creating a personal home sanctuary that is your source of inspiration and motivation takes time, love and intention.  But you can get started today with these 4 easy-to-implement ideas.

 

1. DEFINE YOUR SPACE

Where will you create your sanctuary? It doesn’t matter how big or small your sanctuary is. It can be a whole room if you have the space, or a corner of your living room, bedroom or study. What matters is the energy and intention you put into creating that sacred space, how you make it personal, and how you care for it.

Look around your home and define today the space that will become your sanctuary. Gather the props and practice tools you have today, and begin to arrange them in a way that feels practical and peaceful.  

Is there a door you can close to practice in private? Do you want to create a separate zone in a particular room? If so, think about how you can create separation, maybe with screens, draperies, large plants.

 

2. CREATE YOUR ALTAR

Don’t let the word “altar” make you nervous. An altar does not have to be a place of devotion or have any sort of “religious” flavour at all.  In the context of your home practice sanctuary, an altar is simply a personal place to focus your intentions and is essential for any journey involving a spiritual practice such as yoga or meditation. In fact you could call it a “meditation table”. 

Your altar can be a small table, a low chest, a corner of your desk, a shelf, a window sill, a movable tray… anything you can comfortably sit in front of on your meditation cushion or your yoga mat. It is the place to hold objects that are meaningful for your practice and symbolic of your journey.

 

3. GATHER YOUR SYMBOLIC OBJECTS - CREATE BALANCE AND HARMONY THROUGH THE 5 ELEMENTS

Symbolic objects that you place on your altar or in your sanctuary are objects that have meaning and that inspire you, in your practice and in your life. They may be things that have been given to you, they may be things you have found. They could be images of mentors or people you admire, meaningful works of art, deity statues, special things you’ve collected.

You can intentionally create a harmonious and balanced atmosphere by aligning with the 5 ELEMENTS of Tibetan Medicine and Ayurveda (both are similar, and closely linked). They recognize the 5 elements as air, fire, water, earth, ether/space.

The 5 elements are philosophical concepts that are foundational to these two ancient healing practices and considered to be the foundation of the entire world. Every living being and everything around us is made up of combinations of all the same 5 elements. So the elements are a means of connecting symbolically with nature, with other beings and with the world as a whole.

These ancient healing practices teach us that the 5 elements can also be related to our bodies, our wellness and even our 5 senses. 

It's about energy and vibrations.

In any situation, if the elements are well balanced, there will be harmony.  If they are unbalanced there will be disharmony, and this can show up in many ways.  Ayurveda and Tibetan Medicine can help create balance in all areas of your life, including your health and wellness.  They are fascinating life sciences that are worth exploring or consulting with an expert. We are barely even scratching the surface here today.

But we don’t need to be trained in Ayurveda or traditional Tibetan Medicine to appreciate and take inspiration from the power of the 5 elements - we ARE the five elements.

For the practical purposes of our sanctuary, we can use objects that represent the energy of each of the 5 elements to create a sense of balance, harmony and alignment, in our practice and our sanctuary, and it will surely spill over into the rest of our life. And the elements can help us to stay grounded in our practice and yet still open to the heights of inspiration and creativity. 

Here are the 5 elements and how you can bring them symbolically into your sanctuary. It’s quite simple, you probably have a lot of these objects already, and if you don’t they are easy to find in nature.  Choose one (or a few) of each, arranging them in a way that feels balanced and harmonious to you.  There are no rules, no right or wrong way to do it. Just choose things that have meaning for you and do what feels right.

Here's a chance to get creative and make it personal.

 

WATER = cleansing, flowing, letting go, change (sense of taste)
Objects that represent water: vases of flowers, bowls of water, shells
 
FIRE = energy, transformation, creation, purification (sense of sight)
Objects that represent fire: candles are perfect
 
AIR = breath, focus, observation, concentration (sense of touch)
Objects that represent air: incense, feathers
 
EARTH = grounding, foundational, healing, solidity (sense of smell)
Objects that represent earth: crystals, stones, plants, flowers, driftwood, pine cones, acorns, leaves, essential oils…
 
ETHER/SPACE = connection, consciousness, expansiveness, endless possibilities (sense of sound)
Objects that represent ether/space: lovely covered boxes, containers, singing bowls, crystal bowls

 

 If you are feeling out of balance in one of the areas, make that element a particular focus of your concentration until you feel it’s back in balance. You may also wish to change your symbolic objects with the seasons.

 

Note that other ancient healing practices such as Traditional Chinese Medicine are also based on 5 elements but that tradition has slightly different elements: air, fire, water, wood, metal.

 

4. PURIFY YOUR SANCTUARY

Honour yourself and your practice by keeping your sanctuary fresh, clean and uncluttered (clutter = disharmony). Practice regular space clearing rituals with palo santo or wild sage. Treat your sacred space with reverence.

 

For more ideas on how to Create Your Sanctuary, click HERE.

 

 


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