In the last couple of years I have made a conscious effort to find ways of connecting with myself, the heavens, and the universe around me, so that I might be more present in my life. Things got a little crazy there for a minute with all the giant life decisions I was making and the day to day responsibilities that were piling up. Like getting married, starting a family, building a home and the ups and downs of a career I’ve been building since I was eight years old.
As a child I had an easy, effortless connection with the heavens and an unwavering faith that I took for granted. I said my prayers every night without fail, attended church every Sunday and practiced what I believed with a sort of easy grace. In my early twenties I stopped attending church regularly and then completely, my prayers became by rote and then less and less frequent and by the time I was 35 my faith began to take a serious hit. I started feeling kinda alone in it all, well not alone exactly, more on my own. I had stopped asking for the guidance and direction I had always relied so heavily on and found myself rushing into decisions, big ones, without asking the still small voice inside of me if I was making the right choice. And often, I wasn’t. It’s usually when the shit hits the fan that we as humans lean back into our faith and our relationship with God and I am no exception to that rule. I had lost sight of my inner compass, my path and my peace of mind. I was an anxious, high strung, defensive ball of stress who I really didn’t like much.
The good news is that grace is always around us and I was able to recognize it when it came knocking in the form of a script based on the book “The Secret”. I talked a bit about how that simple story changed my thinking and reawakened my need for connection in my post Resetting the Compass, so I won’t repeat myself, though I will say that in the year and a half since I wrote that post my spiritual re-connection and awakening has only strengthened and the journey has been kinda exquisite.
My ways of connecting with and honoring the divine have evolved quite a bit since I was a kid and they continue to evolve as I believe they should. I haven’t found my way back to church just yet, though never say never, but I have come to believe that designating a sacred space in which to pray, think, listen and meditate is a very important part of maintaining a spiritual practice. If religion and spirituality isn’t really your thing I would still highly recommend creating a sacred space where you can go to fill yourself up with peace, stillness, and the quiet pursuit of whatever sets your soul on fire. Based on my life experience so far, I believe there isn’t one among us who doesn’t need time to themselves to draw inspiration, clarity and stillness from. For me, the lack of that time to myself put me in a constant state of stress. I’m a bit of an anxious person by nature with a mind that tends towards worry, fear and self doubt. If left unchecked these negative feelings would take over, dictating my day and leaving me drained, emotionally overwhelmed and often sick.
It became abundantly clear to me that I needed to find a way to instill peace and ease into my daily life. To take a moment or two to remember all I had to be grateful for and to silence the beast of negativity inside of me. Entering into whatever space in my home I have designated as sacred has helped me tremendously in my goal. Creating rituals in that space that please, delight and inspire me have not only made the journey uniquely my own but kinda fun and creative as well. I wanted to share with you the steps I’ve taken to fulfill this soul renewal and what I’ve learned, taken in, spit out, embraced and disregarded along the way to creating my own very unique, incredibly individual sacred space and ritual. I hope my journey brings you some measure of inspiration and a desire of your own to reconnect with your best self and what truly fulfills you. Whether you bring the heavens into that exploration or not doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you deserve to be utterly, truly, deliciously happy and fulfilled as much of the time as possible. Here’s how I manage to do that!
A sacred space can be anywhere you manage to find a bit of peace, quiet, comfort and beauty. I have a gorgeous turret room that we had been using as a bedroom for the nanny, but since at the moment we don’t need a nanny, I took the room over as my own. When I’m traveling and living in rental homes or hotels and don’t have the luxury of taking over an entire space, I’ve managed to carve out a tiny spot for myself in the corner of a bedroom. When the weather turns sunny and warm up here in Utah I utilize the effortless divine of nature and the outdoors. All I need to make the space feel sacred to me is a comfortable spot to sit, an altar of sorts (I’ll get to that in a minute) some scented candles, incense, a journal and pen, and a way to listen to some soothing music, my favorite spiritual guide or an audible book that inspires me.
Ok, about that altar. So three years ago or so I was on a plane headed to LA from Utah by myself and a lovely woman across the aisle leaned over and handed me a beautiful blue iridescent stone on a leather rope and said it was a labradorite crystal. She said she felt I needed it more than she did. I’ve always been a comfortable flyer but after a bad private plane experience that scared the absolute shit out of me I’ve been uneasy in the air ever since. This kind stranger sensed my fear and gave me a gift that has made a tremendous impact on my life. Not only did the crystal ease my tension and fear on that flight but it performed the same miracle on countless others. When I went through a particularly stressful period a few years ago I had an instinct to wear the labradorite every day until the feeling of anxiety passed. Again it worked. I don’t pretend to totally understand the nature of it’s energy or how it worked, I just know that it did. Before this beautiful stone came into my life I had never thought much about healing crystals, in fact I’d never thought about them at all, but the sense of peace and ease that washed over me when I held it sparked an interest that has become a sort of devotion. Now I have tons of gorgeous energetic healing crystals that I use to adorn my altar, and I even place them in beautiful grids around my home, or whatever space I’m in, to not only catch the eye but to bring about the positive, loving, supportive energy I desire. Creating lovely, positively charged crystal grids has become kind of a thing for me and they are the base of whatever altar I’m creating.
While I was working in Los Angeles last year I set about trying to find a way to make myself a portable altar. I was living in one rental house for just a couple of months and then moving the whole family to another for the remainder of our time there. I needed an altar that I could easily move and fit into a small space if necessary. I found a small, low to the ground wooden table at a vintage shop and snatched it right up. I still use that small wooden table at home in Utah. It’s the perfect height and just big enough for my crystal grid of choice, a candle, a statue of the Virgin Mary and one of a Hindu Goddess. I’m kind of eclectic with my spirituality and am interested in and moved by all different kinds of connection to the divine. I’m of the “many paths up the mountain” kind of mind.
For me an altar is any spot devoted to treasures that mean something to you. Like the crystals in my case, or pictures of loved ones, statues of saints or prophets or gods and goddesses. Flowers in vases or petals scattered around. Candles, incense or scented oils. Mementos you’ve collected over the years that hold some positive significance for you. The possibilities go on and on. I first decided I needed a kind of altar when the desire to sit quietly and either pray or meditate somewhere that felt sacred to me arose. I truly love my little altar. Every time I pass by it during my day I’m reminded of that feeling of peace, grace and gratitude that I work to foster and expand within myself. It has a quiet way of calling my attention back to the blessed and away from the negative.
Now for the ritual. Once I have an altar set up that moves me I devote about 20 minutes at least 4 days a week to my sacred practice. I’m still honing in on exactly what feels right to me but so far mornings are best. I start with making myself a cup of coffee or tea taking it to my sacred space, sitting with my journal and writing out a full page of all that I’m grateful for. I include everything from my children’s health and happiness to my perfect cup of coffee (that is if I’ve nailed it that day!) At the bottom of the page I write out my intention for the day. It always includes how I want to think, feel and behave. You know, like happy, good humored, patient, kind. Once or twice a week I’ll include bigger picture intentions for things like my career, my writing, my mothering. Once I’ve done my gratefuls and intentions I move to a comfy floor pillow in front of my altar and light some incense. I really love blending up my own loose powders to burn on a charcoal disk. I use a lot of cleansing sage. If you didn’t know me and happened to walk into the house after my ritual you’d probably think I was up to something very different! After I light the incense I pray. Usually out loud. I’m not sure why, but I’ve found that getting the prayer out of my head and into the air around me makes it feel more potent. I’m also able to stay more focused on the actual prayer instead of getting lost in my drifting mind. If I’m short on time I end the ritual after the prayer. If I have a minute more I sometimes throw in a meditation. Especially if I’m feeling high strung and overwhelmed. And that’s it. That’s my sacred ritual in my sacred space.
It’s really pretty simple but for me it has been life changing. It has helped me to become a much better version of myself. I am more often than not the mother I want to be. The wife I want to be. The friend, sister, daughter I want to be. I experience an intensity of support, love, guidance and enlightenment that I had long forgotten the feel of in the hustle of my life. I can more easily bring about a sense of peace and ease even when I am no where near my altar or in my sacred space. The ritual has encouraged a sort of healthy habit of positivity. The sitting in gratitude, love and grace on a regular basis has created a pathway of positivity in my mind that I can fall back on again and again when I need to.
If you only have time for one sacred act a day, or even a week, or even this month, just start with a journal of gratitude. I swear on everything that’s holy it will change how you see your day, the people in it and even yourself. It may only be slight at first but trust me even a slight shift in perspective can make a monumental change in attitude. I’m living proof of that! And if you only have room for one sacred thing just start with a candle on the windowsill and maybe, just cause they’re so pretty, throw in a crystal for good measure!