The idea of a sanctuary as a space which is held sacred, as a place of safety, a place of warmth, a nest of comfort, a nook of rest and relaxation, an island of silence and stillness, is perhaps not new to any of us. While the formal seed notion of a sanctuary may have been planted in formal places of worship outside the home, the individual notion of what is sacred and what consists of a personal sanctuary goes beyond. In fact, it would be unusual to find any Asian Indian home without a formal area, or even an entire room, set aside as a “mini-temple” or sanctuary – a dedicated place for prayer, celebration and contemplation.
Why is it that being in a sanctuary, or the mere thought of revisiting them, generates mostly positive energy within us? Is it because out hearts and minds are assured safety, security and silence in the time that we spend in the safe-zone of a sanctuary (inside or outside our homes)? In the past few decades, the idea that similar safe-zones would benefit animals and plants (mainly forests) have led to the creation of national parks, protected forests, wildlife sanctuaries and more. One would imagine that us humans would feel more at peace, if there is a feeling of peace in the flora and fauna around us. If you regularly take a walk in any park or forest or in a natural space that you consider to be a sanctuary, you will feel the radiance of peace.
If greater inner peace were the only benefit of investing time and space in developing a personal sanctuary, it would be enough. However, there is more. Most of the time, the amount of time that we experience in the peace of a sanctuary is limited. In fact, unless we have a personal sanctuary at home and we have made a spiritual agreement to regularly spend time in it, the fraction of our daily lives that we spend in such a sanctuary is extremely limited. In fact, as our lives become more and more mobile, we are perhaps wise to develop a ‘mobile spiritual sanctuary’! How can we make this possible?
Let us begin at the beginning. We will have to do some work to construct this mobile sanctuary. First, we shall clarify and define what is sacred to us. This is a highly personal and personalized task. If necessary, this can be derived from our core beliefs and values. Write them down. These are your ‘self commandments’. Second, we can excise or clean out those thoughts, words and actions that lead us away from our definition of sacred. We may have to do this spiritual house cleaning on a regular basis, even daily, lest the dust of the world gets to grow too thick on the coffee (or tea) tables of our sanctuary. Third, we can focus on growing into higher mindfulness and heartfulness – or whatever fullness we choose. This will be done with our preferred tools – meditation, association, recitation, writing, walking – any portable tools that we can bring with us wherever we go…
The three-step process – identify the sacred, clean the dust, invest in practice and tools – can create a portable sanctuary for us. I posit that this is a sanctuary framework that can work for any and all of us who choosed to do so. It is portable and shareable. And better yet, this portable sanctuary can be recharged when we are near ‘home base’ – our physical sanctuary at home or outside the home!
Did I miss any steps? Do you personally see any challenges or flaws in the framework? Do you have any other ideas that you would like to share on the subject? Well, thank you for reading this far. I invite you to share on this subject in our live hour on twitter in #SpiritChat – Sunday, December 13th at 9amET / 2pmUTC / 7:30pm India. Or share your personal sanctuary thoughts in the comments below. Either way, we would love to hear from you!
Until we meet again – from my sanctuary to yours – I offer you a deep bow in Namaste,