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Is it a physical place? Is it a mental construct? Is it created by humans, by nature, by Consciousness? Can it be suspended in time and space? Or is it real and constrained by the physical world?

Sacred space is and can be all of these things. A space is made sacred by the intention of a consciousness to make it so. Perhaps in a larger metaphysical approach, all space can be said to be sacred; every here and now is sacred. But in our duality, we differentiate a specific space from the rest (whether external or internal) by intending to make it sacred. In other words, it just takes someone to decide ‘this' space is sacred and 'that one' is not to create a sacred space.

In doing so, individuals or a community (in the case of religious and spiritual groups) then develop a combination of intentional forms, objects and actions to be performed at the site and imbue these with meaning that represents the beliefs, values and experiences of a spiritual philosophy or sentiment. These then serve as symbols and gateways that help the community connect to their own sense of the sacred. 

Sacred space is essentially a space imbued with spiritual meaning. This can be spaces built by humans or simply spaces in nature that we interpret as so. Since the intention of consciousness is the defining factor that determines what is sacred space, it can also exist on a purely metaphysical plane. And even places that we normally don’t consider sacred like a bathroom or even a junkyard can coexist in parallel realities as both sacred and non-sacred simply by an individual’s intention. 

Individuals and the Collective

For the collective, places can be seen as sacred because “they perform a religious function, not because they have peculiar physical or aesthetic qualities”(1). Although an individual might have an internal experience of the physical, aesthetic or energetic qualities of a space that could inspire them to interpret such places as sacred and hold them so within themselves independent of the collective meaning or lack thereof. This I believe is the lifting of the veil where the internal experience begins to reveal that all space and all life is sacred. This also surges from the individuation of the self where one does not need to validate one's internal experiences with the external or collective experience. 

The reverse can also be true, someone that is not aware of the meaning attributed by a community to a space might not be moved in any regard to the same exact place that others might revere. A person that is very in tune might sense a different quality to the space but might not understand why. This can easily happen when visiting other cultures that have very different religious and philosophical beliefs such as westerners visiting the East or vice versa. And conversely, different people might attribute different layers of meanings to the same physical space (as in the city of Jerusalem for example). 

Creation Myths

In creation myths and religious lore there are of course meanings attributed to specific locations that claim they are inherently made sacred by the deities of the religion. These I would argue are metaphysical sacred spaces that exist in relation to the physical places but the community is what upholds this connection. If there were no humans there would be no sacred space as it all would be sacred and there would be no need to determine if this river or that river is more sacred since it is all one and the same. There would be no need to define what is sacred, no word would be needed for what is, it would just be. 

Each people call themselves the chosen people, each religion calls itself the ultimate truth. I think in duality they are both right and wrong simultaneously. All people are chosen and proof of that lies in their simple existence. If they were not worthy of living then they would not live. And all religions lead to the ultimate truth if the individual awakens to it within. But that being said, again, back in duality, each culture has its own places and spaces in which it has ascribed these special symbols. 

The Language of Symbols

There are traditions that point at the synchronicities in life as signs from beyond. These can be seen as signs from God, the Universe, gods or goddesses, angels, ascended masters, aliens, spirit animals, ancestors, daemons, or spirits, all depending on which religious tradition you consult. Or a skeptic might say these are projections of your internal psyche into the world. Regardless of where exactly they come from, and even if they are only internal projections, where is the intelligence creating such beauty, weaving such marvelous stories, imbuing life with such depth of meaning that we’ve erected countless cathedrals, ziggurats, temples, stupas and imagined all forms of magnificent beings in attempt to justify what depths we are capable of experiencing within?

In a way, does it matter? After all, isn’t it true that "a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”?




Updated: Dec 15, 2023

So what does it mean to design for 'wellness' and 'mindfulness' at home?

Although there are many different ways to answer that question, and I won't go into the #WELLBuildingStandard for now (that will be an upcoming post), these are some of the key aspects I've identified in my design practice:

  • Optimizing the spaces in your home for your health and well-being mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually

The initial phase when a client tells the designer what they need is what we usually call programming. This would be the ideal phase to tell your designer your wellness goals and if you have any specific needs or concerns for each space.

For example: if you struggle with sleeping in your master bedroom the designer might then want to do some detective work in the room for environmental cues that might be contributing to this (such as lighting, loud sounds nearby, temperature, location of AC vents, mattress comfort, etc.) and then propose some design suggestions to help improve these conditions.

  • Designing spaces that encourage mindfulness and awareness.

This can be done in many ways through environmental psychology so for example activating touch by choosing warm wood floors can help you feel more at ease in a space and gives an opportunity for connecting to your body by walking barefoot.

Another simple idea is to introduce mirrors at key moments in the house so you would have several 'encounters' with yourself as you circulate your home.

Of course all of these interventions require a conscious awareness in you to choose to engage and come back to the present moment. The environment can only provide invitations but it's up to you whether you engage with them or not. The idea is to layer these opportunities in to your home design so they feel natural and you discover them over time.

  • Creating a design process that is mindful and caring in each encounter with our clients & colleagues.

This includes practicing an empathetic approach, active listening and choosing to work with people that are in alignment with our values and work ethic. I find the project itself and collaborative efforts flow much better when we're each in our zone of genius and are feeling appreciated, respected and heard. It's a constant work in progress and certainly doesn't mean everything will always flow perfectly, but rather that we try relating to each other from a humane point of view, allowing space for honest communication and continuous growth.

  • Consider the environmental and social impact of the design decisions we are making.

This entails consciously choosing specific vendors or materials over others because they not only meet the project parameters but also make a better impact on people and the environment.

That means prioritizing our client's best interests and the project criteria, but when given a choice between two great products supporting the more responsible one. It also means actively seeking vendors, products, materials and installation methods with sustainable and regenerative aims.

So lastly this also means a personal commitment of our own time to learn about the latest and most responsible design solutions to make more informed decisions for our clients and their homes.

  • A designer can set you up for success but the rest is up to you .

So the creation of your home for you and your family's wellness, begins with the design but continues way past that with the care and intention you bring into your home, the habits you create and how you choose to live.

There are a series of healthy habits that can contribute to wellness at home that are within your control. Some are as simple as opening the windows and letting in sunlight and fresh air from time to time. We all have heard about the benefits of organization, decluttering and keeping a clean house. Also, biophilia is a REAL thing so just cultivating your own mini indoor forest can do great things for your health.

Ultimately the collaboration between the designer and the homeowner/s is what makes the dream work.

Thank you for reading.

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