Today, whether it’s due to the strain of social distancing, real health crises, or economic uncertainty, we are all in our homes, struggling to get comfortable. So today I am offering you some personal tips for grounding and transforming that heavy feeling into compassion… I find it empowering because it shifts me from the sense of “being a victim” (this is happening to me) to one that is full of compassion (how can I help?)
I’m an empath, which means I tend to feel others’ pain and anxiety as I go through life. I can feel, right now, the extreme trauma and isolation that’s happening across the globe. This pandemic has been especially hard, as it has robbed us all of the ability to physically come together as a community to help, heal and grieve.
It may seem strange that while I am an interior designer, that I would talk about things of the heart. However, that saying, “Home is where the heart is” is more true than we may realize. Not all “helping” happens out in the world. If we don’t have peace and love and wellbeing inside ourselves, we don’t have it to give. A genuinely well-designed home creates the space, the nurturing of that peace and love, and well being. But in times like this, we need something more: a sacred space.
Having a sacred space is essential for several reasons. It’s about having a place for self-care and connection to inner guidance, or higher power, that grounds one’s life. Most important is to set an intention to carve out an area in your home that when you go there, it reminds you of that intention to connect within. So, for instance, my intention is simply to be the love I want to see in the world. And my sacred space is where I go to deepen my connection to that love.
Sacred space can be found or created anywhere. Here is one that grew up organically in the corner of my bathroom: a mosaic-tile laiden jewelry box inherited from my mother, with rocks and shells from my family’s travels, along with animal spirit guides gifted to us from my father. My son’s “lucky stick” from summer camp rounds it out. Call it my “family sacred space”.
Another sacred space for me is the view from the dining room window of our 63-year-old wishbone-shaped dogwood – now being viewed from a stud wall house addition! Spring is here in Nashville in all its native glory! It is happy and uplifting and rejuvenating. I cannot tell you how many times I have sat here to sip a cup of tea and just drink in the tranquility.
But when you are in a time of duress such as we are collectively now, it’s good to create a sacred space that is zoned off and separate from others, where you can center, meditate, and pray if you like. You don’t have to have a whole room closed off from the rest of your home to do this. A corner of the room will do.
My own sacred space, where I meditate, happens to reside at my bedside table.
By day, it is cluttered with books and a clock, with my spiritual reminders peeking out from behind.
When I meditate, I convert it into a shrine for compassion and love, with a candle that represents our inner light of love, and offering bowls that represent me offering all that I have to this path of compassion. The Buddha who personifies compassion looks on from above.
One of my favorite forms of meditation on compassion is called Tonglen. It is a way to connect with the world and remove its suffering while being at home. It is a practice known as exchanging self with others. Breathing in, I take your suffering. Breathing out I give you my wellbeing. The point being, to reduce our self-ish-ness and increase our selflessness by imagining that we are removing the heaviness from others’ lives, one breath at a time. Here is an example: A Tonglen Meditation Practice
My sacred space calms my mind and gives me peace. But even more, I can turn my mind to helping others “virtually” through prayer or, if you prefer, imagination. And we all know that imagination opens up little doors of opportunity we haven’t seen before.
Other forms of sacred space are the prayer corner or prayer nook, and the cozy corner. In the prayer corner, you place a comfortable chair or cushion in a corner with a Bible or other sacred text, a prayer journal, a place for a cup of tea – set your intention, and add your personal touch. A cozy corner is excellent for children but also a great place to center. It could be a palette on the floor adorned by a toile canopy, or it could be a chaise lounge layered with blankets and pillows, peeking out at a window.
Other things to do in a prayer nook or a cozy corner: crafting, creating a vision board, and listening to good music.
Here are some great tunes that have been created just for this moment now, that can remind us that we are not alone but rather all in this together, that can be enjoyed in your own own cozy corner:
What the World Needs Now – for Virtual Orchestra
Nashville Studio Singers Perform an Epic Cell Phone Choir
And here is my updated Sacred Spaces Pinterest Board with more ideas to glean from:
While our current events may not be resolved anytime soon, it’s good to do what we can to keep healthy by boosting our immunity and remaining balanced in mind and heart. Here’s a great resource that combines both: Deborah Bishop, who once led me to health and prosperity during the Great Recession: http://www.guidedmindfulpractices.com/
And if possible, move into action. Doing so will keep you feeling empowered. Below are several ways to help.
Global and National Giving: My friend and client Regine Webster, Founding Director of the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, has a well-targeted global relief fund in place and a solidly effective track record to go with it.
Regine also reminds us here in Nashville that we’re not done recovering from the recent tornado that tore through only weeks ago. If you want to lend a helping hand, consider donating that latte money you’ve saved while sheltering in place to Hands On Nashville.
Or the Community Resource Center.
Even if it’s just the cost of a saved latte, every little bit helps. And speaking of lattes, let’s not forget the restaurant services workers. Restaurant Workers Community Foundation-COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund.
Wishing you wellness and peace.
– Marcelle Guilbeau