The Being & The Doing EPISODE 10:
Creating a Home Sanctuary
Life is busy and can feel overwhelming or exhausting. We all need a calm and inspiring place to go to be able to recharge. Creating a DIY home sanctuary or meditation room doesn’t have to be complicated. In this episode Laurel shares ideas for choosing a space, decorating ideas and tips for mindfulness activities, books and a meditation guide.
*A full transcript can be found at the bottom of this page.
How to Create Your Own Meditation Space
Here’s a blog article I wrote about how to create your own meditation space.
Meditation Space Books I mentioned:
The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer
The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo
Meditations on Intention and Being by Rolf Gates
Peace is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh
An Open Heart by The Dalai Lama
Spontaneous Combustion by Laurel Vespi
Meditation Guide for Beginners [Free Download]
Click Here for the free download.
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THIS EPISODE’S HOMEWORK
Something to think about:
What does sanctuary mean to me?
Something to try:
Create a sanctuary space in your home – keep it simple. If you already have a sanctuary space…think about how you can incorporate an element of nature.
You can grab your FREE homework Awareness & Action guide HERE.
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CREDITS: The Being & The Doing podcast is produced by Neela Bell. Voiceovers by Jason Harris. Music is GoodMorning Sunshine by Yoav Alyagon and Firefly by Scott Buckley.
Full Transcript of the Show
Intro: Welcome to The Being and The Doing, a podcast about well-being and the practices that help us have more calm, focus, purpose, and presence in our busy lives. Here’s your host, author and life coach, Laurel Vespi.
Laurel: Hey, lovely ones, welcome to Episode 10 of The Being and The Doing. In today’s show, we are going to look at creating a home sanctuary.
Now, sanctuary; that word might conjure up Quasimodo running around Notre Dame Cathedral, but you might be surprised that you and the Hunchback have something in common, you both need Sanctuary. Which simply means a place of refuge or a place of safety. Today, let’s start with a quote from the wonderful Maya Angelou. She said: “The ache for home lives in all of us; the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”
Let me say that again for you: “The ache for home lives in all of us; the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”
You know, as much as I love to travel and I do love to travel, there is nothing like coming home; returning back to my house and sleeping in my bed and being surrounded by things that make me feel comfortable and familiar.
Now every day you go out there in the world and life is busy and sometimes life is overwhelming and you need to have a place where you can go to be able to recharge. So here’s a question, is your home a sanctuary? When you open that door, at the end of the day and you come back home, do you enter and exhale and feel? Is it a place of comfort, a haven, a refuge, a soft place for you to fall at the end of a long day?
Is that what home feels like to you or is your home just another source of stress? Are there piles of undone stuff? When you walk in that door, is it just a representation of all the things that you still have to do, all the things that are not yet finished?
Now, I’m not talking about some kind of Martha Stewart moment here. I get it, you have maybe dogs or kids or a significant other so we’re not talking about, is your home this Pinterest perfect picture but is it a place of sanctuary? And clutter, the big presence of clutter does play an important role in whether you feel like your home is a refuge.
Heads-up- decluttering; that whole clutter conversation is coming up in episode 14, just a note for you.
So yes, in general, your home should have the feel of a sanctuary. Let’s focus on creating a specific sanctuary space within your home; a spot that invites you to return to yourself, a spot that is your place of refuge, a place where you can seek awareness and reflection.
When I wrote my book called ‘Spontaneous Combustion: Setting Your Life on Fire’, which is a book about the why and the how of how we put the most important things on life and hold; like, why we do that and how to stop doing that, I actually included a section about being able to continually refuel yourself. Because in order to stay engaged with life, you have to keep that internal fire burning, you have to have excitement and enthusiasm, you have to have the energy to be able to keep going every day.
Actually, if you’re interested in Reading Spontaneous Combustion, I’m going to leave a link in the show notes for how you can get a copy. One of the things that people tell me all the time is that it’s one of the few books that they’ve read from beginning to end so it’s not a long read but it’s a powerful read.
So in the book, in Spontaneous Combustion, I use the analogy of keeping an actual fire going that applies to this internal fire that we have because the truth is, it’s difficult to light a log with a match, right? You can’t just take a log and throw a match on it and hope that the fire is going to catch; you need to step it up. Like, step up the fire, consistently add little bits of fuel to keep the fire going. It’s not just one big surge every now and again if you’re trying to keep an actual fire going.
So that’s also true about this internal fire or passion or energy that we have for Life. The fuel that keeps us going, this fire, you have to continually feed it; it takes too much effort to sort of let that fire dwindle, that internal passion and enthusiasm for life and then try to start it up again. Because when you feel fueled, it seems so much easier to be able to go after your dreams and keep your priorities in line and withstand distractions and overcome obstacles.keep yourself fueled up so that you can go back out the next day and really engage with life.
And in order to do that, you need a sanctuary; a space that lets you reset from the stress and busyness of the world. Because here’s the thing, even if things are hunky-dory right now, everything is going great, there will come a time when you were feeling worn down when there are greater stressors. So we want to build that sanctuary space now and create a habit of returning to that sanctuary in order to be able to restore ourselves.
So it’s kind of the ultimate act of self-care, taking on this sanctuary space because it’s not only just a place where you restore yourself, but it’s also a spot or a space where you can have reflection and self-awareness. A space that has calm, positive energy, it’s kind of tranquil. So how do you get started doing that?
We’re thinking about creating a sanctuary space within your home. Well, there’s two things that you need to do; you have to choose the space, a place in your home, and then you have to choose the activities or rituals that you’re going to perform in that space.
So let’s talk about the space first. You want to think about creating a special corner in your home that is just for you. Maybe you have a whole room, maybe it’s just the bathtub but thinking about, where is the space that is my sanctuary space?
Now, you might be thinking I have no idea where that is. It’s okay, I want you to be able to walk around your house and just look for, where is that corner? And you’re going to claim it. And once you’ve claimed that space, you’re going to surround yourself with things or images of things that you love and that really feed your soul.
Here’s an important thing for you to consider; let’s not think about your home for a minute, I want you to think about another place somewhere that you have gone to that really energizes you, somewhere outside of your home. So for me, it’s the ocean; I always feel re-energized whenever I’m near the water. There’s something about the sound of the waves and kind of that rhythmic pattern of the tide that makes me feel more connected to myself and the world when I am by the ocean.
So where is that for you? Where is the place where you’ve been that you feel refueled and grounded and connected? And typically, there’s some element of nature present in this space for when we go to that place, some aspect of nature that speaks to you.
So maybe you’re like me; maybe it’s the ocean, maybe it’s mountains, maybe it’s not the ocean but it’s some kind of water place. Maybe it’s in the forest, maybe it’s open spaces, maybe you’re like a prairie person, maybe it’s a bench in a park so it’s kind of a park-like setting.
Now, when you can go there that’s great, but you’re not going to go there every day unless you live in that place and that’s because you’re going to work and you’re taking the kids to soccer practice and you’re going to the grocery store, but you can actually bring the essence of that place into your home sanctuary space.
Mementos or photos; for me, I have some flat stones. Like what you would think of as probably river rock polished stones that I’ve picked up at the beach. And these are the kind of items that you want to include in your sanctuary space at home because they’re part of creating it as a sacred space.
Now when I say the word sacred, I don’t necessarily mean that in a religious way. But more sort of in the original sense of the world, which is sacred, meaning set apart for a special use. This sanctuary space in your home might be as simple as a chair and a small table beside it and on that table, you place things of meaning. Sometimes this is referred to as an altar and again that doesn’t have to have a religious context unless that’s meaningful to you. This altar, sometimes also called a prayer table, is something that expresses what is sacred or important to you and it should also kind of reflect the tranquil interstate that you’re seeking.
I’m going to leave a link in the show notes to a Blog that I wrote about tips for creating your own meditation space and whether you’re meditating there or not. These ideas all apply to you creating your home sanctuary spaces.
So once you’ve identified your sanctuary space whether it’s, yes, it’s that particular corner in my house, it’s that particular chair with a little table beside it, maybe it’s actually a closet, maybe there’s a closet somewhere where you can kind of reclaim that space because there’s junk in the closet. You can clear out the closet and use it to when you open the doors that opens your sanctuary, it doesn’t really matter, wherever that spot is.
Once you’ve identified that space, then you want to consider the daily rituals that you’re going to do there because it’s not enough to just have a space, you have to go into. Think for a moment about the last time that you allowed yourself to run on empty for a while, maybe that’s right now. So chances are, you aren’t feeling energetic when that happens or inspired or maybe even capable. And when we’re feeling that way, not energetic, not inspired, not capable, then we just switch into survival mode.
So refueling yourself, every once in a while, is not enough; you have to consistently do it in order to be able to restore yourself,the space, sit in the chair; enter the room, open the doors of the closet and use it. So when I use the word ritual, a ritual is just something that you do regularly and consistently; it’s a practice of some kind, a practice that restores you and reconnects you and serves to bring you back to what’s important to you. And it honors the commitment of you taking time for you.
So your particular rituals are going to be unique to you; what refuels one person does not necessarily refuel someone else or work for them. So you want to experiment a little bit to find what’s right for you. Here are some ideas of the kinds of rituals are activities that you might do in the sanctuary space that you’re creating in your home.
It might be that you simply sit in your sanctuary space and breathe because the breath is the best place to begin when you want to refuel. The word Spirit comes from the Latin spiritus, meaning breath. So think of that active conscious breathing as a way of reconnecting with your spirit. There’s a little more Latin; the word inspire comes from the Latin root, meaning to breathe. So we’re talking about inspiring yourself that refueling is about continually inspiring yourself.
So if you did nothing else except sit in your sanctuary space every day for a few minutes and breathed, that would be a good thing. You’re just taking refuge from the busyness of the world and everything else and sitting in this space that you have created as meaningful to you with whatever little objects around you that remind you of what’s important and you just sit there and breathe.
There are some other things that you could do. Another thing that you could do is meditate, which is let’s think of taking breathing to another level. So when I was talking about breathing before, I just mean, you’re not worrying about meditating or anything else; you’re actually just sitting there and breathing and not having to worry about anything else, just breathing.
But meditating is another activity that fits really well with having a sanctuary space. Mindfulness Master, Thich Nhat Hanh, he said that the key to creating a home meditation practice is to create a space where the busyness stops. Because when we stop and bring back our mind to our body, we can pay full attention to everything that’s happening in the present moment. That sounds like a pretty good reason.
So meditation is a really good thing to do in your sanctuary space. And if you’re a beginner, you might be thinking, well, okay, I’d like to, I don’t know how to do that. So I’m going to leave a link in the show notes to a little guide book that you can download. It’s a meditation for beginners’ guide book. It provides all the information that you’re going to need to get started right now on a really, simple meditation practice that anyone can do so check that out.
Okay, so you might just sit in breathe, maybe you’re going to actually do some meditation. Other things, other rituals that you can do in your Sanctuary space, you can journal. Again, journaling doesn’t have to be a complicated thing; you might just have a beautiful book and you sit for a few minutes in your sanctuary space and do a little bit of journaling. And whether that’s writing down things that you are grateful for or writing down some kind of inspiring quotes or thoughts that you have, whatever it is, just the act of sitting and doing some journaling, is a terrific ritual in your sanctuary spaces.
Another thing you could do; you can sit for a little bit and read something inspiring. So in your sanctuary space, you’re not reading the latest Stephen King novel, right? This is the space that you go to refuel yourself, ground yourself, feel more connected to what’s important. So it’s not about that kind of book, it’s about something that’s inspiring or perhaps encouraging you to have a little bit of self-reflection.
So here are a few of my favorites. There’s a book called The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer, terrific book or The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo; It’s like a daily reading so there’s a short passage to read every day. Another one that has kind of like a daily reading is called Meditations on Intention and Being by Rolf Gates or Thich Nhat Hanh, who I mentioned before, a lovely little book called Pieces Every Step. And last one that I’ll mention is a book by the Dalai Lama. Of course, the Dalai Lama has written many, many books, but there’s a lovely book he wrote called An Open Heart; that would be a nice read in your sanctuary space. And I’m going to leave the list of those names in the show notes so that maybe you want to check some of them out or maybe there’s something else, some other daily readings that you have, some book that you like that helps to reconnect you.
Or another thing that you could do in your sanctuary space is to sit there at the start of the day and set an intention for the day. So you’re going to sit there for a few minutes and really think about, what is your intention for the day which isn’t about, what is on my to-do list for today but it’s what is most important today? What is the quality that I want to bring to the day? In conjunction with that or even as a separate activity, there are all kinds of decks of like inspirational cards that you can use to help you do that or help you just focus for the day.
And I would love to hear your ideas about things to do in a sanctuary space. So, please feel free to leave your comments on the episode page and share some ideas with us. Here are the important takeaways; you need to have a sanctuary space. It’s not a nice-to-have thing, it’s an actual need to have because the busyness and stress of our days require us to have a place where we can go and restore ourselves.
You need to choose a spot that works for you in your home. You need to bring items into that space that inspire you, calm you, reconnect you. You have to figure out what rituals can restore and refuel you and then you have to do it every day. Now, you might think, okay, that was a great idea but, aah! I need some help.
So if you do need some help, maybe you need some help actually visualizing what your sanctuary space would look like or maybe there’s some kind of obstacles that you have, oh, I’d really like to do that; yes, but I can’t because or maybe you want to get started on a meditation practice or even maybe get going on that decluttering project in your house.
All you have to do is go to my website StoneCirclecoaching.com/Kickstart and you can find out everything that you need to know about how to set up a one-hour Kickstart coaching call with me because I would love to be able to help you kick start your project in this area; get over the obstacles, get out of the way of how to get doing that.
But for now, let me leave you with a little ‘being and doing’ homework as always something to think about and something to try. If you can’t write it down now because you’re driving or doing something else, you’ll always find the homework in the show notes.
So here goes, something to think about; what does sanctuary mean to me?
That’s a great reflection question about just getting that feel of what would your sanctuary feel like and that helps to then point you towards things that you might want to bring into your space.
Something to try. Well, guess what? Create a sanctuary and I don’t want you to overthink this one. I bet you’ve got a chair in your house, somewhere there’s a chair so begin there. And if you already have a sanctuary space, think about how you can incorporate those elements of nature because that makes it even more powerful.
Now back in Episode 3, on the essential habit of well-being, I said I was going to share some ideas about how to create pauses in your day. So next time, we’re going to focus on that, pausing; it’s a game-changer so be sure to tune in. And until then lovely ones, pause, breathe and enjoy your day.
Outro: You’ve been listening to The Being and The Doing with your host, Laurel Vespi. If you liked this episode and think other people would, please subscribe, rate, and give a review on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Be sure to tune in next week for another conversation about The Being and The Doing. Thanks for listening.