Your trauma-based fears and worries are justified. Recent events such as the mass shooting in Buffalo, NY on May 14, 2022, remind us of this fact. And it wasn’t that long ago that many other racially motivated killings and crimes have occurred consistently, such as George Floyd’s and Breonna Taylor’s murders two years ago, among many others. Racism and racially motivated violence creates an added layer of threat, and the world feels that much more unsafe when you belong to the community or group that’s being targeted.
Similar events across the world (historically and currently) continue to create a fear-based climate for us: wars and genocide such as the ones in the Ukraine, Afghanistan, Yemen, Palestine and many more around the world. Global events such as the COVID pandemic, and the many pandemics within it such as the mental health pandemic.
Within this climate, reclaiming your space, both physically and psychologically, is essential. It’s an act of revolutionary power. This is your invitation to rethink what space means to you, and to set an intention to reclaim your sacred space(s).
When these events happen, your limbic system (aka your fear center) gets activated. Its job is to ring the emergency bell to tell you to do something. This fire alarm is your amygdala (a part of your brain). And this starts a whole chain of events in the body. You can freeze, flee, fight, faint, or collapse. Your whole system is complex, and this is one of many parts of the brain that make up your neurobiological responses. Various other parts of your body are also involved, and responsible for your physiological reactions during times like these. Chain reactions on several levels can continue for several hours, days, weeks, months, and even years later. In the event that one thing after another happens, your fear center and fear reactions stay ON.
Sacred spaces aren’t only physical. They’re also not only religious or spiritual. When you hear the phrase ‘sacred spaces’, what probably comes to mind is a mosque, church, synagogue, or temple. These places are seen this way because they hold a significance to the person, group, and culture. What they have in common is not only worship but also community. Sacred spaces are about connection. And connection is healing.
Take a moment to reflect on spaces outside of yourself that represent these qualities to you:
These are just suggestions. Feel free to come up with strengths and positive qualities that resonate with you.
Think of spaces that give you these feelings. This can be your home, or a particular place within it. Maybe it’s your garden or bedroom. If it’s not your home, it might be somewhere else. Or it could be elements you love: light, water, greenery, and the spaces that represent that for you.
When you look closely, you’ll realize there are sacred spaces all around you. One of mine is a favorite tree I have in a park that hugs my body just the right way when I lean against it looking at the water, inhaling the fresh air. I connected to it while exploring water trails nearby during the pandemic.
You can either go physically to your sacred space to connect with these qualities or you can think of your sacred space and visualize it in your mind in details. This way, you can carry your sacred space inside of you and access it any time. I can think of my tree space now and feel the same peacefulness and support I feel while I’m there in person! Your mind is a powerful tool.
You may find yourself struggling with finding a sacred space that’s physically new. If that’s the case, take a moment to check if there’s space you can reclaim. During the COVID-19 pandemic I reclaimed my patio space. It had been a neglected space. And, the combination of a high state of risk, lockdowns, restrictions, unpredictability, coupled with lack of access to my usual wellness space took a toll. At times, I felt exhausted. Other times, anxious or on edge. And sometimes low and depressed. I got creative on a budget, and reused items from other spaces too, to make it a space that felt rejuvenating. I called this cozy place “my sanctuary”. Spaces like this can help restore your balance. Check if an option such as this one might be doable in your space. It can even be a corner!
The purpose here is learning to honour these spaces because that’s a pillar of resilience and empowerment. This isn’t about ignoring the world. It’s about what anchors you.
Sometimes people struggle with the opposite problem. Your sacred space may be cluttered.
When you have unresolved trauma, or the trauma is chronic and ongoing such as ongoing violent crimes and global events; it can lead you to have a fear-based mindset. It becomes your default setting. Fear can show up in what’s commonly known as anxiety, worry, and anticipation. Or, it can show up in having a hard time letting go emotionally, and having a scarcity mentality (e.g. worrying about not having enough so you keep things). When you experience scarcity mentality, fear of not being able to replace items or things you need could show up. This fear clouds your vision from seeing the benefits of decluttering your space.
Ultimately, it gives you freedom!
Take a moment and think of a space that you’d like to clear. It can be small such as a small closet, or even a bookshelf in your home. You can start decluttering it by understanding your energy as an ecosystem. Think about:
Decluttering from this perspective allows energy to flow within you and outside of you, and it affects your well-being, and how you feel in your sacred space(s). This shift helps your neurobiology to change and rebalance. It’s not just a feel-good experience, it’s a very physiological one. Your fear-mode button can turn OFF!
A side note: you may find yourself working internally hard in this process, and negotiating with yourself. This may add a level of tiredness. If you notice this, allow yourself a pause, regroup, then resume. Go with your pace.
Scents can be a way to infuse your space with various types of energies. For example, you can use calming essential oils like lavender for soothing, while you can use citrus oils to uplift and energize.
Did you know that essential oils have molecules in them that travel to your limbic system (your fear center) impacting your amygdala?! This happens when you inhale them. These molecules travel there through your olfactory (smell) nerves to the center of your emotions in your brain!
Essential oils can also be absorbed into your skin. For some oils, the best spot on your body to roll the diluted oil on is the bottom of your feet. Your feet have much larger pores than the rest of your body. So, the oils act more efficiently because they’re absorbed faster.
Check out these recommendations as you implement your intention for you sacred space(s). I’ll only recommend products I love and personally believe in.
This week, start your journey to either cultivating, creating, or clearing the sacred space(s) of your choice to have a sense of continued renewal. Reclaim your energy, balance, and power.
Connect with me below and share your experience. Tell me what space you will use as your sacred space or what space you can reclaim. I’d love to hear from you!
P.S. Feel free to share a picture of your space if you feel called to so.
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Hiba is a holistic psychotherapist specializing in trauma, couples treatment, and culture. She's passionate about solving mental health crises by practicing prevention. She brings over 18 years of experience working with individuals, couples, & families in her private practice. She is known for her work on the transmission of trauma and its impact on relationships.
Courage is a practice. In therapy, I bear witness to this daily - people using their voices to find and connect to their truth. This is to all the ones engaged intentionally in their healing. Your active participation in your healing journey is a courageous act of truth-telling. Your voice doesn’t have to be loud. Sometimes it starts as a whisper. A single step. It evolves, transforms, and grows bigger over time. Till, it takes more space in your life; showing up in more areas as you grow and return to what feels natural to you.