How To Create 'Sacred' Space At Home Where You Can Actually Relax

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How To Relieve Stress, Declutter & Create A Relaxing 'Sacred Space' At Home
Self, Health And Wellness

Is your kitchen table covered with kids’ homework and art projects? Or is your own home office an ungodly mess? Maybe you can’t open the door to your son’s room with all the stuff piled against it.

It’s definitely hard to imagine a relaxing spot for yourself, much less “sacred space” in your house, if the clutter and chaos has reached gargantuan proportions. But taking steps to declutter and carve out a special, soothing space at home, all for yourself, might be just what you need to learn how to relieve stress and regroup when you're feeling overwhelmed.

However, before you tackle the logistics of bringing order to the chaos and figuring out how to declutter your life, step back for a moment and consider what “sacred” means to you and if creating a little pocket of sacred space at home is even important to you.

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Did you grow up practicing a particular religious tradition: Catholic, Jewish, Protestant, Hindu, Muslim, to name some of the biggies? If so, chances are you have some pretty deeply embedded ideas about what or who is considered “sacred.” And, just as likely, those ideas were instilled early on by your parents, your church or temple, your rabbi or priest.

How many of them still resonate with you today? Maybe all of them. Maybe none. Even if you didn’t grow up with that foundation, though, you’ve definitely absorbed the symbolism of the dominant religions that surrounded you.

Regardless of how close you remain to, or how far you’ve strayed from, your earliest religious connections, I suspect you can also name some unique and personal places and things that evoke a sense of the sacredness for you.

For example, I have two different trees in the parks of New York City — a cypress tree in the middle of Central Park and a big oak tree near the Hudson River in Riverside Park — that have become my own special “temples”.

Maybe watching the sunrise is a religious experience for you. Or perhaps holding a beautiful shell takes you to a place of serenity and centeredness. It doesn’t have to be complicated. In each of these cases, you’ve discovered what helps you to connect with your deepest self. You have, in essence, named your own experience as sacred.

So clearly, the concept of sacred space isn’t exclusively a religious one, and once you understand that, you can create a sacred space for yourself anytime, anywhere.

And now, you can address the barriers that are keeping you from creating a relaxing, sacred space for yourself ;at home.

Here's how to relieve stress, declutter and create a relaxing "sacred" space at home in 10 steps:

1. Create a clear intention.

With any new habit or goal, it’s important to define exactly what you want to achieve. The first step to manifesting anything is to write it down — to get it out of your head and on paper. It could be as simple as writing: “Clear out the magazines in the corner, so I can put a meditation pillow there.”

Or maybe it’s a whole family project: “Clean out the garage so we can move more stuff there and open up space in the house.”

Then, declare it out loud, to yourself and your family. Put Post-its on the bathroom mirror, a chart in the kitchen with assignments, and create a reward system — for you and them! Maybe you’ll be able to design a new little play area for the kids in that newfound space … and of course, your own special sacred space.

2. Plan a massive decluttering day.

Make it a joint effort. Your private end goal may be to create sacred space for yourself, but clearly, everyone else benefits from a decline in the chaos, too. Get together the night before and create a playlist of everyone’s favorite tunes to play while you clean.

Schedule breaks throughout the day and have a chart where everyone can check-off their projects as they’re completed. Then, plan a special dinner out at a fun place to celebrate your newly organized nest.

3. Activate all your senses.

To fully embody a new intention, it really helps to get your whole being actively engaged, and it just makes the process more fun, too.

Post pictures or drawings of what your finished play area or sacred space will look like. Put on some lively music while you’re all working, along with some yummy snacks to keep your energy up. Have a warm, fuzzy blanket or chair nearby when you need to take a break.

But the most evocative of all our senses is our sense of smell. That’s because the olfactory receptors in the nose are directly connected to our limbic system, the part of the brain that holds our memories and emotions. So, put out a bowl of suntan lotion while you’re working and make believe you’re at the beach!

4. Use essential oils.

Now that you’ve cleared the way, literally and figuratively, to just be in your special space, what do you want to fill it with? Revisiting that most “evocative” of your senses, aromatherapy can be a powerful addition to your beautiful little sanctuary space. Find an aromatherapy lamp that fits your style — an electric diffuser, or a simple one with a tealight under a bowl.

Collect some of the basic essential oils: Sandalwood for meditation, basil oil to do some focused writing, geranium to lift your spirits, or marjoram oil to energize you.

Do some research and learn how to fill your space with sacred smells!

RELATED: 5 Easy Ways To Declutter Your Home & Stop Feeling So Overwhelmed

5. Use evocative symbols.

Like your sense of smell, symbols also activate your brain — they really are the language of the subconscious mind, which is like a huge memory bank that stores all of your beliefs, memories and life experiences.

So, if the goddess Athena or Mother Mary have meaning to you, maybe a picture of them can inspire you in your decluttering process. Or for the kids, bring out some of their favorite action figures to cheer them on!

Likewise, begin to collect special objects you want to include in your finished space. Family photos, a shell from your favorite beach vacation, the ribbon from your wedding bouquet. For your kids, it might be a beloved stuffed animal they no longer sleep with, or a beautiful gift from grandpa. Encourage them to think of their new play area as sacred space, too. It might inspire them to keep it clean later on!

Whether you’ve managed to carve out your special space in a plush chair that’s just yours, in a corner of the living room with a pretty separating screen, or even a whole room to yourself, it’s time now to make your vision complete.

6. Create an altar of meaningful images and objects.

Just as symbols can be motivating in the clearing-out process to prepare your sacred space, they can also deepen your experience once you’re finally there. Create an altar that reflects your spiritual beliefs, your special memories, and your intentions for this space. Set up a small water fountain, place your aromatherapy lamp there, and maybe some crystals to meditate with.

The idea is to design a space that’s separate, if not physically, then psychologically, from your everyday mindset. An altar establishes a sacred center and can magically imbue the space with a sense of the holy, a lovely cocoon in the middle of your home.

7. Play music to fit your mood.

Music is a right-brain stimulator; that’s the side of your brain that governs your intuition, your emotions, and your imagination.

So, depending on your intentions for your little sanctuary, choose music that enhances what you’re doing there, much like your conscious selection of essential oils. There is audio that can help with stress management, focus, relaxation and much more.

8. Bring little pieces of nature to your space.

If you can’t sit in your favorite sacred space outside, then bring some of nature's goodness inside! I actually have an acorn from my oak tree in Riverside Park on my altar, as well as small indoor trees to sit under if I’m missing that outdoor connection when the weather’s bad.

If you want to be really thorough, think about placing personal symbols of the four classical elements on your altar. Fire, water, air, and earth were defined by the ancient Greeks as being the building blocks of nature. That could be a beautiful candle, a shell from a favorite beach, a rock and feather you picked up on a recent hike. Use your imagination and think elementally.

9. Close the door on the mess.

This one can be a toughie, mostly because it requires you to not do anything, but to simply to shift your attitude. It means not taking on everyone else’s mess as yours. If you haven’t seen the floor of your teenager’s room for weeks, stop nagging and express — without judgment (that’s a key component) — that s/he might have more clothes to wear if they were put in the hamper.

Then, close the door and let that sink in. You might notice a change but, more importantly, you’ll (hopefully) be able to sit in your newly-created sacred space without stewing about that particular disaster area.

10. Carve out time to meditate or journal.

Now that you’ve created this beautiful, nurturing space, what do you want to do there? Certainly, it’s the ideal spot for any of the activities on your spiritual self-care or stress relief list. Listening to guided meditations, singing sacred chants, praying, practicing mindfulness or breathing exercises. Or you can retreat there just to read or write in your journal.

Remember, it’s all about your intention. You get to do exactly what you want in your sacred space to relieve stress and stop feeling overwhelmed.

Creating sacred space in the midst of your busy, sometimes chaotic life is the ultimate act of self-care. The idea is to declutter and personalize your space, so it feels both nurturing and empowering, depending on what you need on any particular day.

As the spiritual teacher, Denise Linn wrote, “When you are enveloped in sacred space, you reconnect with your own energy sources. […] You open new channels for energy to flow in and radiate outwards.”

Isn’t that what you most want for yourself and those you love?

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Deborah Roth is a life transition guide, relationship coach, and interfaith minister who founded Spirited Living™ to help overwhelmed, under-nurtured women reclaim their sanity and their soul-selves. You can read about simple but powerful ways to do that when you download her e-book, Circle of One: The Art of Becoming a SELF-Centered Woman, or email her to schedule a free 30-minute introductory coaching session.