It seems as though modern living has limited many of us in our physical space, but that doesn’t mean our physical space needs to limit us. CEO and co-founder of The Underbelly Yoga, Mary Carr, speaks from personal experience about some of the most effective ways you can build sacred space at home, whether that’s a New York-style shoebox or a guest ranch in Montana.
Creating sacred space means different things to different people. For some, it could mean spending time in nature, and for others, it could involve transforming a quiet area in the home into a sanctuary for mindfulness practices such as yoga, meditation, or journaling.
Sacred space might look like a celebration with friends and family for special occasions, such as the return of the sun at the summer solstice or the arrival of harvest at the autumnal equinox. There are no limits to what you might find worthy of conscious respect and gratitude.
Here are Mary's five simple tips for creating your own sacred space at home:
Organizing your space is necessary for relaxation, but this is more than just rearranging the décor in your home. Clearing your space also implies easing into the confines of your own physical body using deep breathing, awareness and visualization to get into the zone. Quieting the mind allows you to shift into that blissful, receptive state. You’ll want to be in rest and digest mode for this, also known as tend and befriend, which calms the nervous system, slows the breathing, and achieves a sense of comfort and safety. Remember that your own sacred space is just a thought away.
You can transform almost any surface or corner of your home — be it the top of a bookcase, an end table, or a simple box covered with your favorite scarf or tapestry — into an altar. On her altar, Mary displays items that connect her with the natural world and her familial roots. Glancing up during long work hours to see the shells and pine cones she collected with her children during their outdoor adventures inspires and deepens her connection to the web of life and offers her a brief escape from the grind of the working day. Your altar is also a good place to place totems, crystals, oracle cards, fresh flowers, a journal or candles—anything that holds personal importance to you!
Color therapy has become commonplace in the field of alternative healing. Colors such as orange stimulate creative energy and joy, and green can enhance feelings of love and harmony. The more etheric indigo or violet colors boost intuition, heighten perception, and enhance meditation and shamanic journeying practices. Mary encourages you let go of judgment and allow yourself to fully express with the joy of color. Release any notions of what you “should” do, what shade of beige you think you should paint that wall, and instead lean in to what colors make you happiest, no matter how bold.
Wanna tap into something bigger than yourself? Get a houseplant and bring the natural world indoors! Houseplants can serve as amazing companions, and they’re beneficial on an energetic as well as a biological level because of the negative ions they produce, the oxygen they provide, and their overall air-purifying effect. In Mary’s sacred space, she connects with her monstera plant Fiona. And although the plant has a lovely name, Mary claims she doesn’t need to personify it in order to validate it. “Fiona can just be Fiona.”
Journaling can enhance your mindfulness practice because it enables you to track your progress, jot down reflections or realizations, and explore your unconscious mind. Tarot and oracle cards allow you to gaze at your own reflection using symbolism and archetypes, while also serving as a meditative practice. Candles can help set the mood in the room, especially during twilight as the day transitions into night. Steer clear of synthetic scented candles and opt for the warm glow of beeswax or soy, never left unattended. Crystals can add brilliant color, beautiful texture, and straight-up magic to your home sanctuary. Adorn your space with the tools that most speak to you and use them to deepen self-exploration.
Mary Carr is happiest in her garden cultivating, manifesting and dreaming. She deeply values curiosity and seeks out nature to recharge. Floating in the ocean is about the best medicine she can find, second only to snuggling with her human babies. And while she misses the mountains immensely, she loves calling Durham, North Carolina home.