DANCE OF EARTH AND SPIRIT: Creating Sacred Space in Home and Office
All action arises from stillness.
All sound from silence.
Interval is a place of transformation. (Tom Bender)
There is a story of a traditional Japanese gardener who was hired from Japan to create a garden in the grounds of a government building in eastern Canada. He arrived and looked over the bare and barren land left by the construction, the land that was to become the garden. He turned to his employer and asked if he could have access to a large natural field where he could collect rocks and stones to use in the design of the garden.
He explained that local material already had an inherent harmony with the landscape that was important for the creation of this sacred space. His employer phoned a farmer that he knew just outside of town and asked if the gardener could come and collect the rocks and stones from one of his fields. Now this farmer was clearing a new field and he offered to put all the stones in a single pile, thinking that the gardener would then have an easier time of choosing which ones he wanted to use.
When the gardener arrived at the farmer’s field he gazed over the area, shook his head and sighed. He completely dismissed the large pile of rocks gathered for his convenience and began to walk through the field toward the distance. He moved, as if in meditation, and gathered some of the remaining stones left on the earth.
“Why did you do that?” his employer asked him when he returned.
“Because the relationships of the stones had been disrupted and broken when they were moved into that great pile. Without knowing their original placement, they were of no use to me in creating harmony and balance within the space of this garden. So I collected ones which were still in their original arrangement, where their placement to each other was clear. In that way I would be able to maintain and enhance their natural alignment and reflect that in the structure of this sacred garden.”
From the form of the structure comes the symbol of its intention, and from the symbol comes the experience of sacredness. Many of us are like the stones out of place, out of right relationship with each other, ourselves, and our natural world – out of balance and without harmony.
The ancient science of Geomancy uses geometrical, intuitive and metaphysical approaches to understanding our environment and the cycles of our planet. Called the Art of Placement, it has much to teach us about ways of living in harmony and right relationship with the Earth. It speaks of ideas like the flow of subtle energy through all things animate and inanimate including through the structure of our buildings and cities, of the reflection between our inner and outer landscapes, of the symbols and metaphors inherent within the spaces that we occupy, and of honoring the spirit of the landscape, and most importantly, of places with soul that nurture our own.
Harmonizing Inner and Outer Landscape
Many times we receive an intuitive feeling about the physical place we are in. Some feel light and relaxed while others feel dark and heavy. These feelings arise from our direct experience of the subtle energy which flows around us and indicates our growing re-connection to our external world.
On the surface, the structure of our buildings can reflect the structure of our lives and livelihood. The architect Frank Lloyd Wright was the first to characterize our homes as reflections of our bodies. He likened the electrical system to our nervous system, the plumbing to our digestive system and the exterior siding to the skin of our bodies. With that insight and the interplay between our external environment and our internal landscape it’s easy to understand why building maintenance could have a subtle yet significant effect on our health.
Much of this knowledge and understanding comes from the ancient traditions of Earth Harmony in Europe and Feng Shui from China and modern studies in Ecology and Architecture.
From the study of Sacred Geometry we learn that it is best to use whole shapes like squares, rectangles, ovals or circles for our buildings. These reflect the wholeness that we are seeking, and give complete energetic support to all facets of our lives. If parts of the outline of the building or the lot are missing, enhance those areas by filling them in with a patio, paving stones or landscaping to complete the outline of the shape.
The interior of our homes and offices can tell us a lot about the state and quality of the inner landscape where our spirit resides. Soften sharp edges and corners with plants or mobiles to make our rooms more user friendly. Things like clutter can reflect a scattered mind or an overfull life. When we are lost in the busyness of our day-to-day activities full of deadlines, obligations, and material acquisition, we have little time to breathe and little space to reflect the sacredness around us. The rapid pace on the freeways around and through our cities reflect the speed at which our lives now travel along the road of our life.
Symbol of Place
On a deeper level our homes are filled with symbol and metaphor and it seems that, while we think we hide our skeletons in the closet, we actually hang them on our walls. They call to us to recognize them and heal the wounds that they represent. One of my clients had a watercolor in her bedroom which had been painted by her previous partner and given to her as a Christmas present the year before they separated. While it was a lovely painting of the Tree of Life, the most telling feature was that it was framed as a triptych – three pictures side by side, with one of the cuts running precisely through the middle of the tree. The feeling of separation was quite noticeable in the picture. After becoming aware of the symbolism she removed the picture and replaced it with one that symbolized wholeness and unity.
Creating Sacred Space
Ancient peoples knew the power and spirit of the landscapes around us. The evidence is found in places of power like Sedona and Mt. Shasta in the US, Stonehenge in Britain and the temples in the Yucatan area of Mexico, to name only a few. While these are strong and dramatic examples of the spirit of place we can find examples within our local landscape. Those areas where we feel at peace or particularly energized can be reflections of the strong nurturing energy of our planet.
Unfortunately we seem to spend so much time managing and coping with the ‘things’ in our lives that we have little space left for encountering the sacred. It is important in our busy world to create spaces that nurture our spirit and offer us an opportunity to rejuvenate our souls. These are often places that have a strong component of the natural world so bring objects and art that inspires you, living plants and flowers and the flowing water of fountains into your homes.
When we create sacred places in our surrounding environment – areas for meditation or contemplation in our homes, areas for music and thoughtful conversation, and inspiring gardens, we are beginning to reflect a sense of the sacred in our internal landscape.
The lessons of our houses enable us to begin working on many planes simultaneously – the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual – to bring us into fuller understanding of who we are, and who we are becoming. This begins to heal the wound of separation from nature, both the nature of our planet and the nature of who we are.
The Space of Stillness
Stillness is a space that lies between our inner and outer realities. It builds the bridge between those two worlds that brings both into harmony and balance.
There are three keys to coming into a deep and insightful co-creative relationship with our environment.
– Bring the space of stillness into our inner landscape and remember. Stillness is the point of healing where the body resets. It expands our awareness. From that expansion our conscious contact with the subtle energy around us emerges and amplifies our psychic potential. Even at a stop light we can slow down, breathe and become still for a moment.
– Shape our inner and outer world with sacred intention to nurture and heal our being and come into right relationship with all that is.
– Observe our direct experience of the space around us for insight into the lessons we are currently learning, and to catch a glimpse of the mirrors that reflect back to us those separated aspects of our selves
We are the dance of Earth and Spirit, of spirits manifest in physical form to experience all levels of this plane of existence. Our dance weaves together unique vibrations of subtle energy that initially form a multi-dimensional experience of separation and duality that, with conscious awareness, ultimately leads to awakening and the direct experience of Oneness. Through these deep levels of exploration we are freed from the limitations which hinder our growth and evolution towards Enlightenment.
(Article published in 2000)