Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Creating Sacred Space

by Troy Chapman

(published November 03)

I was trying to find more peace in my life, deeper connection on the spiritual level with the world around me, when a strange thought occurred to me. It was that I had no room for more peace and connection. There was no room for them because my mind was filled with anxiety or even the desire to “find peace.” First, these had to go before peace and connection could enter.

Out of this I learned the spiritual practice of creating sacred space. It’s a very simple and powerful practice. Instead of actively seeking something we want in our lives, this practice helps us remember we must first make room for it. How? By “cleaning house” internally.

Imagine someone who wants to buy new furniture but her room is chock full of her old furniture. If she doesn’t get rid of this old stuff there’s no room for the new.

Now, in buying furniture we might be able to wait for the new to arrive before getting rid of the old, but in the sacred realm, the new will simply not arrive until we create the space for it. Creating sacred space then acts like an invitation to good and sacred things. If we want more peace we can’t go out, find it, and try to drag it into our souls, hoping it will push out anxiety or unpeace. Instead we simply have to create a “peace-shaped” space within ourselves. When peace sees this space it will come and occupy it.

If peace were a traveler and it came to our inn, would it find a “no vacancy” sign? Or would it find that we have set aside a special room for it; that we’ve been waiting for its arrival?

We can also create sacred space in our relationships with other people, our communities, and even in the physical world. Sacred space ultimately exists within us, or between us and others, but “sacred” simply means, “set aside for holy purposes,” so we can “set aside” any space we want, whether mental or physical. Is there room set aside in your mental space for holy purposes? How about in your house? Do you have a room or a small corner of a room that could be “set aside?” How about in your community? Is there a sacred space where people can gather without being “marketed” some brand of religion?

I have a vision of “life temples” in every community that are open to all and serve simply as sacred communal space. They would be filled with light and there would be four rooms: a room of silence; a room of sacred sound; a room of sacred speech; and a room of sacred play. I am a dreamer, but that’s OK. Dreams are the soul’s way of thinking.

Not many such spaces exist yet in the physical realm but we can create them now within ourselves and within our relationships with the world. To do so, stop trying to achieve the good things you want — this effort takes up space and leaves no room for the very thing it seeks. Instead, get rid of your effort and everything else until you have nothing left but sacred space. If thoughts, worries, hopes, fears, or anything else try to rush in and fill this space, sweep them out… then wait.

I am creating space now for a connection with you; I’m creating space for inner kindness, for a good day; I’m making room within myself for a new world in which sacred space is plentiful, where every where I turn I find myself standing on ground “set aside for holy purposes.”

We have this power, you know, to turn all space into sacred space, and it is an extraordinary power. Is there room in your mind and heart for a sacred day? A sacred life? A sacred world?

Begin with a single sacred moment and let’s see where we can go from there.


• When you wake in the morning, before all the “stuff” of the day gets a chance to rush in, say to yourself, “I make room within myself for a day of sacred encounters.”

• Before eating, create sacred space for enjoyment and nourishment. It’s as simple as saying mentally, “I create sacred space for my meal now.”

• Before a meeting, do the same thing: Remind yourself, “I create room in my heart and mind for a possibility of real connection at this meeting or with this person.”

• If you’re depressed or angry, don’t try to make it go away. Instead clear out a place for peace within yourself by saying: “Right now I make room for peace in my mind and heart.”

• Before walking, making love, going to work, talking to your child and anything else that you might do, you can speak these simple words: “I create sacred space for ________ to come of this experience.” The key is to stop trying to make things happen and simply make room for them within ourselves. You’ll be amazed at the results.