Cultivating Sacred Space

13-05-2014

As a child, I lie down in our suburban backyard on the hot concrete, heated by that gorgeous California sun. I make my way into our pool, and just float there, with my ears submerged, allowing the silence and weightlessness to overtake me. Here I am timeless, pulsating with the universe. This is my sacred space.

As a yoga teacher, I often find myself reminding students in one form or another, to be present. It’s that basic foundation of yoga, like the breath, that is one of the few elements that is agreed upon by every school.  Like so many of the qualities we aspire towards, being present is easier said than done. And easier done on the yoga mat, than throughout the rest of the day (It might help if we had someone follow us around throughout the day reminding us to relax our brow and be mindful).

We all know those people who seem to have just figured it out: their world only exists in the present moment, and when you’re with them, you feel like you’re the only people in the universe. Their attentiveness is genuine. Is living in the moment just in their nature? Or did they work to cultivate that bliss over the years?

I’ve been asking these questions since I was first told there’s no such thing as a stupid question. I’ve looked internally, sought external guidance from my teachers, and most recently, I’ve begun a not-so-scientific study focusing on all the blissed-out people I know.

In this ‘study’, I have asked friends and lovers, family members and mentors, about moments in their childhood where they experienced timelessness, where they were simply in the flow (credit to Joseph Campbell for inspiring this question within me).  As for the childhood stories that were shared with me, there are common threads to all of them.  They recall being most present as children when they were in nature, when they were involved in storytelling, and most notably, when they were removed from the practicalities of life, in their sacred space. Sacred spaces are simply where we live and breathe at our best, far away from the mundane daily tasks of life.

A dear friend of mine in New York, who has found extraordinary success as an up and coming filmmaker, recalled to me how as child, he found his timelessness through the creative act of storytelling.  If he didn’t have an audience, he would tell the story anyway, all to himself.  Now as an adult, he’s found his calling by tapping into that sacred space of his childhood storytelling. Go figure.

Those moments we all have where time melts away and we simply exist; usually find their origin within the sacred spaces of our childhood.

For a yogi, this space is often in the shala, on the mat. But for the rest of the day… what if we took a moment and looked back on our own childhood, asking ourselves what brought about those feelings of timelessness.  What if we began to peel open the layers of our childhood bliss, uncovering our own personal sacred space?  And what if we began actively cultivating that sacred space into every aspect of our adult lives?

Anton is a featured contributor to MyYogaOnline, where this article was originally published.  To read more by Anton, visit his author page.