Monday, February 4, 2008

Creating Sacred Place Internally

There’s a traditional relaxation technique known as the safe place exercise. An individual creates, in her imagination, a peaceful and secure refuge into which to retreat when harried. This technique can be more than just a relaxing exercise; it can be a potent resource in the spiritual quest.

We often use the term ‘imagination’ dismissively, as in “Oh, it’s just your imagination”. Well, the evidence that our imaginations can be quite real abounds! All of us are well aware of times when we’ve responded viscerally, simply by recalling an upsetting event or projecting ourselves into an unwanted future. These moments may exist only in our imagination, but they certainly have the power to consume our attention, even to cause a physical response.

Creating an internal sacred space builds on this capacity of the human mind, but takes it quite consciously in a positive direction. One creates, using all the powers of imagination, a spiritual refuge. This becomes, then, another method of invoking awareness of the Infinite and our place within It.

Now, there are some folks (not me!), who can visualize in exquisite detail. However, this capacity is not necessary to create an internal sacred space. I may not be able to see my childhood home as I would in a photograph held in my hand, but I can tell you what it looks like and can remember what it felt like. I can imagine it, even if I cannot fully see it.

A spiritual refuge is most effective when imagined in as much detail as possible, utilizing all the senses. Begin by becoming quiet. Then, imagine a spot on this earth (or some other!) that epitomizes the state you would like to induce. Some old standards are a beach with gentle surf, a stream in an autumn forest, a mountaintop beneath a starry sky--but truly, there are no limits. And of course, no two imagined groves of golden aspen will be identical.

After you have your spot, really imagine it. Give it life. Place yourself there and experience this place from within it. What shapes and colors greet your eyes? What sounds do you hear? Inhale the scents of this spot. Notice the textures of this place and the feel of the air touching your skin. Yes, your particular place may even give you something to taste.

And yet, more than any of these lovely sensual details, experience the Spirit of this place, its vivid peace, its aliveness, its essence. Drink it in through the very pores of your skin. Feel yourself enveloped by Spirit, suffused with Spirit. Open to it. BE it.

A sacred space is born.

Now that you have a space created, what do you do with it? BE THERE! You can use it to anchor yourself at the start of meditation or as your mind begins to wander; in this way, your sacred space can serve as an experiential mantra. This refuge can act as a touchstone at various times throughout your day, helping to right you when you feel yourself slipping off center. You can return there just before sleep, as you let go the details that have consumed your awareness. The more you experience yourself there, the stronger the connection and the more available your sacred space will be when you need it.

And you can go further, if it feels right. Your place may evolve, revealing other dimensions or vistas; things may happen there. At times, you may become aware of a benevolent Presence, possibly one with shape and substance. You can conceive of this Presence as your wiser Self or as an angel or guide. You can ask for direction on an issue that troubles you; answers may not come to your earth ears, but your intuitive Self might gain insight.

An internal sacred space can be a valuable tool--a gift for the spiritual journey. If you decide to give it a try, I wish you well! I’d love to hear about your experience.

Until next week,

Loanne Marie

PS. On a related issue, see Creating Sacred Space Externally.


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