One of my favorite parts about facilitating workshops, is creating the set-apart space for my participants to come and do sacred work within.
It is part of my own preparation as a teacher and facilitator, to imagine each participants' heart, as I set-up a safe, pleasant, and inspiring space. It is also empowering for participants to leave their everyday living spaces, as well as the roles and responsibilities that can so quickly pull them away from their own inner work.
Things have changed dramatically over the last year and now we are on Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype or other on-line platforms for our gatherings. We are jumping on to meetings in the kitchen and listening to webinars while we manage on-line school for the kids. Self-care was hard before, but now it can seem near impossible. With the enmeshment of our work and home life, how in the world can we still nurture our hearts and do inner work, without being pulled into the million distractions that lie in wait in the other room?
With the enmeshment of our work and home life, how can we still nurture our hearts and do inner work, without being pulled into the million distractions that lie waiting in the other room?
It is vital for our health and wellness that we find ways to intentionally create set-apart space for our hearts, minds and spirits to be nourished and resourced.
In this article, I explore ways that you can create your own special space, to cultivate self-care, your faith, inner healing or just get a break from the chaos of the world. The suggestions included will be especially helpful if you plan to participate in events that run for multiple hours or days, but they can also help you create a daily, sacred space for meditation, prayer or journalling.
It is vital for our health and wellness to intentionally create set-apart space for our hearts, minds and spirits to be nourished and resourced.
Begin With the End in Mind
Thank you, Stephen Covey, for this excellent suggestion. If we don't know where we even want to end up, how in the world can we expect to get there?
This doesn't have to be crazy elaborate, unless you like that sort of thing. It could be as simple as naming the qualities that you want to feel when you are in your space.
The image to the right is a sketch of what I wanted to create for the first Awaken Your Senses Workshop that I held a few years ago. Can you see the qualities that create a circle around the chairs and mats? THAT is what I knew I wanted to cultivate in the space I was preparing to create, and the workshop I was developing.
What do you want to cultivate in the space you are preparing to create? Suggestions include: inspiration, comfort, safety, beauty, peace, self-love. Take a moment and jot down the qualities that rise up for you.
Once you have a sense of the qualities you want to create in your space, the next most important thing to figure out is where you will set up your space. Where will you physically be?
"What?! There is NO WHERE I can go, that is just for me and where NO ONE will bother me!" Have you ever heard yourself (or someone else) say that?
I'm pretty confident that we've all felt this at some point in our lives; possibly within the last 10 months more than ever before.
Our environments are each unique, that is true. What feels available to me, will be different from what feels available to you. And, sometimes, it may even feel like NOTHING is available; that there is NO WHERE you can go where NO ONE will bother you.
And still, I believe it is absolutely possible to find a just right spot for you, for the inner work you desire to do. The truth is, it might call for some elbow grease and creative energy to make it so. Here are some things you can reflect on to help you determine where your just right spot just might happen to be:
Where do you have a door that can be fully closed?
Obvi: bedroom, home office, spare room
Less Obvi: the living room, your office across town, a spare room at a friend’s house
Sneak attack spots: a spacious closet, the bathroom, a local air b&b
Walls or no walls?
Get Creative: hang a curtain or sheet, using tacks or a spring tension shower curtain rod; use a folding room divider
Internet connection is essentially essential if you are logging in for a workshop or on-line event. To consider: Is the wi-fi strong and consistent enough do you need to plug into a line?
Once you know where you want to create your space, it is time to consider how you will support your Body, Mind and Spirit to cultivate the qualities you identified at the beginning of this process. Might I also include: feeling present, grounded, nurtured and good. ;)
When you are preparing a space for your body, think about the different positions you might find yourself in, what will help you be comfortable and what kind of sound you will be using.
What will you sit on, to support you to be alert, awake and engaged?
Is there enough space to lay down, as well as be in a standing position with your arms outstretched, without bumping into walls or furniture or a glass vase?
Headphones - for privacy, to better hear content, and for noise cancellation
A pillow and blanket
Food: If you are participating in a longer process or event, your body will benefit from having a plan for food.
Drink plenty of water.
Eat food that is rich in life-giving nutrients and feels good in your body. Refrain from heavy, gas-producing, fatty foods that could cause physical discomfort.
Have healthy snacks close at hand, like dried fruit and nuts, or bread with nut-butters.
When you are preparing this sacred, set-apart space, it is important to consider the stuff that has the power to pull you away - in your mind. This is helpful for short 15-30 minute sessions, as well as longer workshops for on-line retreats. Think about your kids, partner, the doorbell, in-coming emails, your to-do list, big projects, a pot of soup that is cooking on the stove, pets.
Do yourself, and the people you share space with, a GINORMOUS favor and set up a plan BEFORE you head into your sacred space for YOU TIME. It might feel awkward and difficult to speak up for what you need, but your mind will be able to relax that much more when you are there. This frees up cognitive space to actually deepen into the inner work you desire to do.
Here are some suggestions:
Post a sign on your door (or make shift wall) that lets people know you are otherwise unavailable.
Post a sign by your doorbell saying, "Please do not ring the doorbell."
Let your partner know when you will be finished - they will be grateful to simply know, and not wonder, when you'll be back. Perhaps plan to have a meal together when you are done (especially after a longer event).
Take your pets for a walk, feed and water them prior to your workshop or on-line event beginning. If they tend to bark or need a lot of attention, allow them to be in another room, their crate or another space until you are done.
Refrain from putting anything in the oven or on the stove for the duration of your sacred time. Just don't. Period. You don't need to be thinking about whether or not something is burning or boiling over.
Turn off all alarms, notifications, ringers and dingers.
Give them permission to do special activities while you are unavailable (i.e. screen time, special snacks, face time Grandma).
Let them know when you will be available again - for mini check-ins or as well as when you will be done. If they know you will be checking in with them proactively, they will be less likely to bother you.
It is a huge gift you can give yourself, to set aside the on-going stuff of life, in favor of giving yourself the care and nurture that you are so worthy of. Many of us act very capable of doing for others and nurturing them, but we struggle to do it for ourselves. The reality is that we can only ever give to others to the extent that we are willing to give to ourselves.
When you are preparing your space, think about adding elements that help you ground and turn towards love; add elements that cultivate your spirit.
Are there any trinkets, figures, sayings or pictures that help you connect with that which is greater than you?
Is there a particular quality of light will support you to feel present, grounded, nurtured and good? Perhaps a string of twinkle lights, a lamp that provides joyful and gentle light, a few of your favorite candles, or the natural light of a window.
Other ideas include: a vase of fresh flowers, a special scarf, an affirmation you have been practicing, and anything that rises up in your heart and mind!
Once you have your where identified, and you've taken time to address your body, mind and spirit, you may want to consider some other logistics that will make your scared space and time that much more empowering.
Consider the following:
How will you prop up your phone or tablet, or have your computer stabilized - so you can have your hands free?
Do you have a journal and pen close by?
Are there any apps that you need to have downloaded or links to have open?
Did you use the bathroom? May sound silly, but I don't know how many times I've sat down to meditate, only to realize that I need to pee!
The Sneaky First FIRST Step: Show Up
In the end, we can have brilliant and BIG ideas about how our sacred space will look and function, but the most important thing is for us to show up. Our presence is actually enough. Everything else I mentioned in this article is icing on the cake. But if you don't show up to meditate, participate, reflect, cultivate, integrate...none of the other stuff really matters. So if it is on your back patio with your ear buds, show up. If it is in your bed, before your kids wake up, show up. If it is in a local air b and b for a day-long retreat, show up. This is the vital first step to creating set-apart space: to say we are worthy of time to be nourished and resourced. YOU are worthy of time to be nourished and resourced. You are worthy of deepening in to your healing and wholeness.
And so...how are YOU going to show up for YOU? I would love to hear how this lands for you: what resonates, what doesn't and additional ideas and inspiration you have around this topic! Shoot me an email and let's chat!
With love and light for your journey,
Rachel Sartori is an Embodiment and Wholeness Coach. She is kick-ass and heart-centered whether she is showing up as a workshop/retreat facilitator, a private coach, a writer or a speaker. Rachel invites you to exercise your soul, and participate in the healing of your own heart and the world around you. With Rachel, all is welcome, all the time.
Read: Exercise Your Soul: Ignite Healing and Wholeness in your Life and Live from the Inside Out