How to Create a Sacred Space, According to Indigenous Teachings
It’s no secret the pandemic has upended lives and brought plenty of changes, many for the worse. But some positives emerged, too. Being forced to stay inside their homes reminded countless of the importance and value of calming and restorative, functional living spaces.
In the Indigenous world, however, whether Alaska or Aoteroa, that mentality has always been a vital aspect of Native people’s wellness philosophy for good living. Chelsey Luger and Thosh Collins’ new self-help guide, “The Seven Circles: Indigenous Teachings for Living Well,” draws from traditions spanning multiple tribes to detail the wellness worldview cultivated by their ancestors. Through seven essential interconnected tiers, or circles — food, movement, sleep, ceremony, sacred space, land and community — they share with readers how to build strength, heal, and honor one’s entire self with Indigenous practices and philosophies.
Below you will find an excerpt from the Sacred Space section of “The Seven Circles.” With their advice, perhaps you can breathe new life into the meaning of home. Please note, however, that their perspective is in no means the only approach to Indigenous health. And to avoid cultural appropriation, Luger and Collins encourage you to “dig into the ancient and ongoing chains of knowledge that come from your own nationality, heritage, and family history and to incorporate those methods and teachings into your life today… Not only will cultivating an authentic spiritual or ritualistic practice be the best way to avoid cultural appropriation, it will also be the most sustainable and true,” they write.
How To Create a Sacred Space
- Learn about minimalism by watching documentaries or reading articles on the practice. Listen to stories about how minimalism has changed other people’s lives.
- Learn about preindustrial architecture and other diverse forms of home design. Find a style that speaks to you.
- Learn about the benefits of natural sunlight, fresh air, and indoor plants.
- Read up on potentially harmful ingredients in personal care and cleaning products, and make careful decisions about what products feel right to use in your home and on yourself.
- Regarding digital spaces: think about the big picture of your life, and identify how much time and energy you want to be spending online.
- Identify an area in your home that you are willing to declutter. After doing one area, sit with the feeling of peace that it brings you, and then continue into the rest of your spaces.
- Thoughtfully set boundaries in your home, school, or workplace regarding safety, energy, and what types of activities take place there.
- If the process of giving away and decluttering items feels emotionally challenging, know that this is a perfectly normal response. Go at your own pace, take your time, and seek support from a friend or family member during this process.
- Center wellness in your home design and planning.
- Listen to music, watch movies, and read books that inspire and uplift you. Recognize the ways that the media you consume affect behavior, attitudes, and feelings of peace.
- Set an intention before day-to-day tasks like dusting, cleaning off your kitchen table, or making your bed, viewing these as opportunities to cleanse your headspace as well as your physical space.
- Care for plants, flowers, and herbs that you grow inside and outside of your home.
- Clean up and take care of outdoor areas and create space outside to sit, eat, hang out, or move.
- Remove phones and electronics from the bedroom so they do not interfere with sleep.
- Regarding digital space: work backward from the digital life picture that you have identified and begin drawing boundaries, setting time limits, and developing a system of control over your digital presence. Think of this as being as much a part of your health journey as exercise and eating well.
- Your space feels serene, peaceful, and safe, and people comment on the good feelings they experience when they visit you there.
- You have created numerous spaces and nooks where you are free to move, which helps you seamlessly integrate a movement practice in any area of your home.
- Your home, school, or workplace is decluttered, clean, and welcoming.
- You regularly smudge or cleanse the air space in your home with fresh air, sunlight, and/or sacred medicines, whichever suits your lifestyle.
- You respect your space and it feels sacred to you, you have reverence for it, you care for it, and you love it.
- You are comfortable with your relationship to the digital world, and your time spent there is productive, not harmful or all-consuming.