Building Your Sacred Space

"Heaven is my father and earth is my mother and even such a small creature as I finds an intimate place in its midst."
Chang Tsai

How would you like to have a special place where you can go to clear your mind, attune to your true nature, and feel the presence of holiness? If you are lucky, you may know of a place like this. You may live near a temple or church or meditation hall where you can tune in and feel at peace. Or maybe you have access to a peaceful place in nature, a grove of trees, a waterfall, or the edge of a canyon where life looks different, more real, more sacred.

Whether or not you spend time in such a place in the real world, you can create sacred space in your mind. Perception of real world events comes through the senses, but unfolds in the mind. You create your experience of the room you are in now by filtering sense perceptions and building imagery upon them. In a sense, your whole life is taking place in your mind. We can, if we want, direct our mental energies to build imagery that allows us to experience whatever we want to experience.

A well known visualization exercise is to imagine that you are in a peaceful scene from nature. If you can create a clear multi-sensory image of yourself in a peaceful nature scene, you will find yourself becoming calmer, more relaxed, more peaceful. The body follows the mind. As you imagine the warm sun shining on your skin, and a gentle breeze caressing you, and you hear the sweet sound of song birds, and you see the beauty of nature around you, you will naturally release tension. Your breathing will become deeper and slower. Your pulse will slow, and you will experience a feeling of general well-being. Your mind develops the images, and your body responds as if they are real. This is an incredible tool that we have at our disposal. We can reduce the effects of stress and adjust the way we respond to life by altering the pictures in our mind.

Another exercise we can do is to create in our minds a special place where we can go to pray, meditate, or just be present with the divine. You can think of this as building your temple or building your sacred space. This is a place that reflects your inner self and assists you in focussing your mind on that which is good and beautiful. You can use it when you want to break from the darkness of the mundane world and reorient to the divine light.


Place yourself in a comfortable position and begin to relax your body. Start at the crown of your head and pass your attention slowly through every part of our body down to your toes. As you scan your body, notice any muscle tension you meet along the way and invite it to release. Let relaxation follow your attention from your scalp down through your head, face, and neck. Allow your breathing to slow and deepen as you relax the shoulders, arms, and hands. Feel the calm as you release the muscles in your upper back, chest, and abdominal area. Let go of your tension in your hips, buttocks, and thighs. Relax into your knees, calves, and feet.

Let go of your thoughts as you relax your body. Just feel the warm tingle of relaxation as your blood pulses through relaxed muscles and tissues.

Now imagine yourself in a beautiful nature scene. Pick a place that is special to you, someplace peaceful and calm, where the sun shines. This is a place where you can be yourself, where your mind will be clear and calm. In your imagination, look around at the surroundings. Form a clear picture of the place. Then engage each of your senses in visualizing this special place. Listen. What do you hear? Is there moving water? Can you hear birds calling? Can you hear gentle rustling in the breeze? What can you smell? Are there plants there that have a scent? Feel the warmth of the sun on your skin. Feel the earth beneath your feet.

Spend as much time in this nature place as you like. Feel free to sit down there and just be present in the scene.

When you are ready, select a site to build your sacred structure. This might be in your nature scene, or it may be somewhere else. It might be on a mountain, or near the sea, deep in the forest, or in a lush valley. Make it a place where you would love to spend time. Make it a place where you can feel your power and also be still.

Look around the site and get a sense of the landscape. Again involve all of your senses in your imagination.

Now you can approach the building on your sacred soil in two ways. You may prefer to construct it piece by piece. Or you might consider that the structure already exists, and your task it to explore and discover it.

Let’s assume you are exploring. Start from a place a short distance away, so you can see the whole structure. What type of building is this? What color is it? What type of roof does it have? What surrounds the building? A wall? Gardens? Something else? Walk towards the building and pass through the entrance. As you do, notice what is to be seen, heard, and felt here.

Travel through the building to a central room. This is your special place of contemplation. This is where you look deep inside yourself and deep inside the universe. This is where you can see clearly and feel your connection to all that is.

Stand in this room and get a feel for its size. How tall is it? How far across? Look at the floor. What is it made of? What color is it? Look at the walls and ceiling. See their color and substance. How much light is in this room? What is the light source? If it seems too bright or too dim,  adjust the light with your mind. Since this is your imagination, if you find anything that is not quite right, use your powers of visualization to make it right. This place is a reflection of your idea of perfection.

How is this place decorated? Perhaps you’d like to decorate it to suit yourself. Place things here that are meaningful and beautiful to you.  What is in the center of the room? What would be here to help you focus your attention.

Are there any other beings in this best of all spaces? Who or what are they? Since this is your holy place you can choose to have company or solitude. Sometimes you might come here just to be alone. At other times you might invite someone to talk to. This can be a place to confer with your heroes, to seek wisdom from great minds.

Spend as much time as you like in this imagined place, this home in your heart, this temple within you. You can leave when you like and can always come back.

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© 1999-2002 Tom Barrett