Ancient and traditional cultures placed special value on designated places in the landscape. From Stonehenge to Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, there are many examples of sites with ceremonial, spiritual and cultural significance. Sometimes, this is based on the events that took place in these locations. Sometimes, it is based on landforms and uniqueness of place or perceptions of the energy found in a specific spot.
Our Favorite Places
We all have favorite places in the landscape. It may be a particular beach, a mountain stream or anything in between. Similar to traditional sacred spaces, these locations are often associated with events in our life, such as a honeymoon or family vacation spot. It may be that we appreciate the uniqueness of the landscape and natural systems found there. For whatever reason, we find these places restore and renew us. We go to them and return recharged. While we are there, we may feel a connection with something larger than ourselves.
The Everyday Landscape
Of course, it’s easy to feel refreshed after a week at the beach. How can we transfer that experience to our everyday life? Without realizing it, you may already rely on the landscape as a refuge from the stress of life. Walking in the park, lying on a grassy lawn or sitting on a bench in front of an outdoor fountain are the type of things we do to take a break from our daily routine.
Finding Your Sacred Place
Any of us can find a place that works to clear and restore the mind. It may be somewhere you pass by every day or close to your home. Try to find a location that is not hard to get to, that will be there when you need it. If you love to vacation at the beach, maybe it is a place with water. If your favorite place is in the mountains, find a spot with a grove of trees or a large rock to sit on. Look for a place that provides some kind of association with your favorite place for renewal and recharging - something that has meaning to you. Try to spend a few minutes there on a regular basis, at least once a week. Be quiet and listen for whatever the site offers back to you.
If there is a not a place in your daily travels or neighborhood that speaks to you, make your own special place. Designate an area in your backyard or even on your patio. Decorate it or enclose it to create a feeling of comfort so that you can relax, meditate or engage in your own unique ritual.
Though a spot in your neighborhood park or corner of your backyard may not be a sacred space in the traditional sense, it can provide much of the same function, serving as a place to feel a connection with the earth, with yourself or with a larger spiritual presence.