When we work with small sacred spaces, we look at the ingredients for that space.
Our ingredients, are our pointers, our touchstones and arrows that point to our true north. They create a space (small, medium or large) that for us points towards and reminds us of our true home.
When we bring these items together, its good to feel into what it is we might like to give out or receive into our live, outward \\ & // inward!
Mine items currently are:
A string of mala beads
A book, currently alternating between Saly & The Radiance Sutras
A candle or incense (Nag Champa is my all time favourite, that sandalwood: oh my!)
Ganesha (cause he's awesome!)
An Art of Attention Card from Elena Brower
Clear quartz crystal for clarity
I love to sit with these little touchstones. They remind me to live from "that" place, our true home, or as I affectionately call it "True North". When I sit I may think about the attitudes, or the qualities that I wish to bring into my life, but the altar reminds me of the present which I can then realistically combine with wishes for the future.
I believe Thich Nat Hahn wrote that little assembly of words above.
I love ritual.
I love sitting in sacred spaces; a church, a sunrise, beside the lake, on my meditation seat.
I love all of the special tools used in rituals and in ceremony; candles, cards, quotes, malas, flowers.
I love the words, the feel, the smell and the intention behind these steps.
Because if life for me doesn't have any of these, it lacks lustre. It lacks that quality of pause, of coming home to centre, of being close to yourself and your practice.And this is how I found Elena Brower.
Many years ago she was featured in Yoga Journal. The topic was ritual, and it was a few pages featuring many Yoga Teachers and their special spaces in their homes where they sit for ritual, practice, meditation, whichever name you go by. Elena was photographed sitting in front of her Altar, hands in prayer with a big beautiful state us Quan Yin, the goddess of compassion. I began to follow Elena and her teachings from that point.
Fast forward many years later. After one false start, I booked in for her Art of Attention For Teachers 3 day training in San Francisco. EEKK! This was real and about to happen. A dream about to come true.
This happened with the support of a willing and wonderful husband, the encouragement of two children, one of whom turned 10 and gave me his blessing to go and a deep desire to go and learn from this teacher, person to person (along with 43 other lovely Yogi's).
I took myself on an adventure.
I took time for my Self.
I took time to just mooch around.
I took time to make new friends.
I took time for ritual.
I took time to open up for new lessons, new ways of thinking and new opportunities.
Ritual can be so simple. I previously thought it was very complicated and that I didn't have that special "qualification" for ritual. I learned from Elena who loves her ritual and practice, she writes that she has little Pujas throughout her home, serving as little reminders, little notes to ones self to stay close.
I learned from Elena that its simple, its sacred and its so available to us that we may not even know it by that name.
At the commencement of our 3 day training, Elena invited us to place our special items on the Puja table so they could soak up the goodness of the room. I selected 2 of my favourite Malas and 2 crystals to put on the table for the training. I just loved the fact they were up there, behind her, with everyone elses special items. I guess they "were in good company" as were we!
I now know, it surrounds us every day. Its in our home in the form of Puja; the photos that we put on a shelf, a mala that might sit next to a crystal, a quote written out on a special piece of paper or a candle with a postcard or photo next to it. Ritual surrounds us every day in those special things we do. For me its a mid morning coffee, a flat white please! Or a meditation practice, or drawing a card for direction or inspiration that day. That moment for me is a small pause, its a moment of connection and I can make it simple, complex, I can draw it out and read a quote or a passage from an inspiring text or book or I can have it on the go (least favourite option here).
Be bold, set up a little something in your home, office, car, draw, bedside cabinet. Wherever you feel drawn to. Buy a little crystal, look out for special stones, rocks or leaves as you go walking, find a cute note from your child, a small statue if you care.
Do this. I dare you. Create a special little something for you so that as you go through your day, when your eyes fall on this space it reminds you that ritual, puja, love, attention, intention surrounds you.
Dive into this.
I dare you!