fall,  life changes,  managing stress,  nature,  seasons of change,  self-care,  Self-Compassion,  wellness

Sacred Space

Your sacred space is where you can find yourself over and over again.

Joseph Campbell

Lately I’ve been waking up even earlier than usual. Fall has already made its entrance and I find that I need more quiet, alone time with myself. It’s dark outside when I make my way downstairs. The light begins to faintly arrive around 6 am.

Nature comes alive when we’re going to sleep and the animals wrap up their activity as the morning light announces itself. The coyotes are having a howling convention in the late evening hours. As I tip toe around my kitchen in the early morning hours, I’m treated to glimpses of activity I wouldn’t have noticed otherwise.

Today, I counted five skeins of geese flying overhead, heading West. A fox ran through the backyard and into the woods, while two red tail hawks chased each other and landed on the tree outside my kitchen window.

I make myself a pot of tea, ginger with lemon. It feels good to hold a hot cup of tea at the beginning of the day, in my dark kitchen, my notebook open in front of me, and a candle burning on the table, its warm glow making me feel safe and cozy. I’m reminded that I need to foster this feeling more often.

I remember when my twin daughters were infants, the long waking, working hours, and the feeling of exhaustion. It was so easy to lose sense of time, much like the last eight months. The truth is that I’ve never been good at taking time for myself but after many failed attempts at being productive, I realized that what I craved the most was stillness. So, I decided to change my ways and try something different.

Every day, around one in the afternoon, the girls would take a nap. Whoever encouraged me to get the girls into a schedule, starting when they were infants, I want you to know that you have my heartfelt gratitude!

It was during those naps that I’d make myself a pot of tea and serve it in my favorite tea cup. I’d light a candle and sit in front of my biggest window, put my feet up and allow myself to take it all in. Sometimes it was thirty minutes and other times it was one hour. At the end of this break, I felt rested, excited, and ready to go hug my kids and see the day to its conclusion.

These days, as fall is prepping us for its grand entry, I find myself seeking warmth and comfort within myself as I feel my energy building up. Change is afoot. I’m getting inspired and grounded in my work. I’m preparing a new virtual retreat for a small circle of women who need a respite from the craziness that’s been thrust upon them since March, and Neal and I are taking small steps every day to prepare for our next move.

I’m inhabiting the space between endings and new beginnings. I’ve been in that space before but this one is different. I’m different. I’ve changed and grown and got knocked around quite a bit. This is a whole new chapter and it’s exciting … when I’m not anxious about the climate or the political landscape or my girls or whatever.

I’m well aware that I’m standing at a threshold, preparing to cross into a whole new chapter of my life. The world appears to be going mad and it’s ever so tempting to be swept into the collective emotional vortex. It’s during these times when my emotions can tip the balance, that I remind myself that our world has never really been a safe, predictable place to be in.

I look outside and see the squirrels engaging in their autumnal activity, running here and there, keeping busy, preparing for the change of seasons, unaware and indifferent to our drama. They’re preparing for the cold months ahead, pointing the way for me too.

As the weather changes into cooler temperatures, Mama Nature will be putting on a show, dressed in her bright colored robes, before she ushers her children underground to rest for Winter and gather their strength.

As I’m writing this, I see why I chose to share Joseph Campbell’s words …. “Your sacred space is where you can find yourself over and over again.” I’ve always felt the need to create sacred space for myself. I’ve done this since I was a child. I used to have my hide-out places where I’d go to be alone. There, I’d follow my imagination and create a new world to escape to. I’d daydream and travel to far away lands and meet all kinds of interesting people.

I continued this tradition as an adult. My home, this very corner I’m sitting in right now, and my garden, are some of the sacred spaces I’ve created for myself. There are others too, places I visit that are special to me and inspire me. When I’m there I can feel my heart open and I know I’m part of something much bigger than myself.

Now your turn! How do you create sacred space and time for yourself? When our so-called reality threatens your well-being and sanity, how do you soothe yourself? What are some of your favorite places where you go to find peace and be yourself?

Yota works with women who are in the midst of personal and professional changes and milestones. Her approach is deeply influenced by her cultural roots, work and life experience, and her long-term practice of mindfulness meditation. In addition to her work with individual clients, Yota speaks and writes on mindful living, overcoming self-doubt, and the art of letting go.

6 Comments

  • Diana Salsberg

    I have been particularly anxious in recent months, as many of us have been. Things that shouldn’t have impact, do. Some days the scales tip, but why? Many days are just like the ones before it but my coping skills get taxed. It’s complicated. Is it COVID-19, is it the mortgage my son is trying to secure, is it my husband’s health, my high blood pressure? It’s all of these and more. Breathe and take long walks, preferably in woods. My sacred places have always been in nature. Laughter is an amazing healer as well. So good to have a genuine belly laugh! While it’s hard to deny or put away the troubles of this world, and they are many, we can turn off the noise. We can go inward and find some measure of peace. Am I alright at this very moment? Can I be here now? Yes.

    • Yota Schneider

      Hi Diana,

      Thank you for being here and sharing right from the heart. As I read your response, I was right there with you, sentence by sentence. Yes, our collective has entered new territory and we’re taxed. How do we negotiate this, what do we do with it, how do we walk through it?

      Being in nature has always been sacred and healing for me. Sometimes it’s somewhere high up, where I can take the world in and breathe, other times it’s the sound of the sea that soothes me.

      I do hope that you and Jim are in good health and strong. As for Justin, I hope he gets his home soon and gets to enjoy it with you and the people he loves.

      Thinking of you my friend.
      Big hugs.

  • Kathleen

    Thanks, Yota! I felt myself relaxing and getting centered just reading your lovely words. Nature is a great healer, but words have always been the most potent source of comfort for me. And I’m always grateful for yours.

    • Yota Schneider

      Thank you Kathleen! That’s kind of you to say.

      Words, especially poetry, can be a source of comfort for me too. And, speaking of words … you may like these ones.

      I came across this quote by Forrest Hanson this morning, “You can be pissed about what’s going on out in the world, and still find contentment inside yourself.”

      Am I pissed? You bet! Am I going to let the craziness inhabit me? Not if I can help it.

      I was sitting outside a few nights ago. It was cold and Neal had built a fire. As I looked up, I saw a sky filled with bright stars and just then I felt it.

      People around me can be crazy and engage in destructive behaviors. They may fool themselves and those around them with their self-importance, but they’ll never touch the sky. They will fade in the chasms of history, just like the ones who came before them, but the stars will keep burning and I can always choose to look up.

      Big hugs to you, always.

  • Tara

    I’m feeling quite uprooted once again in my life. This time quite unexpectedly.
    Right now, I’m just starting to remember to carve out sacred spaces for myself or they just happen and I remember these places again.
    I’ve been taking care of my parents’ little dog Maggie more than ever now, as her best companion (My beautiful Dad) passed away last Spring and Mom isn’t up to taking her outside for walks.
    Late at night she may need to go out and I find myself staring up at the lovely trees, in my parents front yard. The tall trees of my childhood now even higher than ever imagined. I’ve noticed that two of these trees’ abundant, leafy branches reach out to one another and without touching they trace an almost heart shaped space, way above in the dark night’s sky.
    I love when the stars are out and I still gaze up and wish upon the first one I see, just as I did as a child. My wishes are more serious now and more like spiritual prayers because of life’s circumstances.
    Sometimes I make a wish for myself too. Many times as an adult I thought it selfish not to wish for something good for another but now I include myself in the vast Universe above.
    If the Moon is out it is an extra bonus for me. I’ve always had a special attraction to the Moon in all its phases and beauty. Sometimes I take “a Moon bath” recommended by the wonderful Dr.Clarissa Pinkola Estes. I let the Moon’s light bathe me in its warmth and magic and for a few moments I feel some peace in my unsettled soul.

    • Yota Schneider

      Dear Tara,

      Thank you! For a moment, I was right there, next to you and Maggie, looking up. Keep looking up my friend and letting the Moon bathe you. Then, carry the peace and healing these moments gift you through your days.

      One moment at a time, one day at a time …

      Big hugs, always!

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