"Your sacred space is where you can find yourself again and again". - Joseph Campbell
I've long had an affinity for the word 'sanctuary'. Maybe spending Sundays as a child and as an adult going to church has something to do with it. There's a feeling of holiness and awe when in the sacred part of a church, aka sanctuary, and no wonder as it's God's house. Even now, as Bella Botanica is housed in an old church, there's a sense of peace within these walls - a haven, if you will.
Our homes are another type of sanctuary. It was our safe place during the pandemic, and continues to be a safe place to come home to after a day at work. As an empty nester, I want my home to be a place where my kids always want to come back to, to feel welcome, loved, and safe. When days grow shorter and cooler, there's another yearning to turn towards home. We light candles, cuddle under cozy blankets, read books, watch movies, drink hot cider - all in our homes - our sanctuaries.
This fall I've been fascinated with the concept of minimalism. I began to clear space in our office in September, applied the cozy minimalist decorating guidelines, and I love the result! What a joy to be in that room where everything has a purpose and a place, and the clutter is gone - hallelujah! In this clutter-free space, I can think more clearly and feel less stressed. I want to do each room in my house now! But perhaps more important than decluttering rooms in my house, I need to declutter the rooms in my heart - my inner sanctuary. That begins with clearing space to determine what matters.
When we take the time to clear space on the inside to allow room for grace, peace, and contentment, it's called soul minimalism. Author Emily P. Freeman defines it like this: "A soul minimalist is a person who looks inward and intentionally elevates what she most values and works to remove what distracts her from it."
But how do we do that? From what I'm learning, it's paying attention to sources of stress, to what is positive and life-giving, and that sometimes it's ok to say no. It's setting aside time to reflect and take care of ourselves. We must fill our own vessel before we can fill others'. It's ok and necessary to practice self-care. Part of that self-care is pausing to listen to what our hearts are trying to tell us.
In her book 'Soulful Minimalism', Courtney Carver writes about a heart practice. This is what it looks like: create a sanctuary (a space) where you can sit for five minutes a day - in a cozy chair, on a yoga mat, outside in nature. Maybe light a candle. Sit quietly, holding one hand over your heart and your other hand covering both. Breathe deeply in through your nose, out through your mouth. Feel your heart beating. Continue to breathe deeply, almost like a sigh. She shares that a sigh is an acronym for Sitting In God's Hands. When I think of that, sitting there holding and listening to my heart, while God holds me, something happens, friends. It's a deeply emotional and spiritual experience for me. There is something there my heart is trying to tell me, or maybe that God is telling me. And I need to listen.
Those moments of silence can teach us something. " In the act of silence, you're not waiting for God to make a move, you're becoming aware of the moves he's making", writes Brennan Manning. Doesn't that give you goosebumps? There's something else, too. When I found the photo above, of the girl in the field of daisies sitting in sunlit rays, I instantly connected with it. That young girl - she could be the young version of me or of you - she's there, too. In those moments when my hand is on my heart, and I am listening, her voice is there, too. What is she telling me? I must be still so I can hear.
I've long struggled with living in the moment. For as long as I can remember, I've had a to-do list. And the reality is that that to-do list is creating my life. Is this the life I want? What if instead of a to-do list, I live from a to-be list. Learning how to just be is not easy. It doesn't come naturally to me, so again, I need to intentionally practice it. I'm finding that one of the best ways to live in the moment is to employ the five senses. Become aware of the sounds around me, the aromas that fill the room, how that cup of tea really tastes on the tongue, and open my eyes to the beauty in. this. moment.
This moment. This season. Each has a sweetness all its own. As we begin a new month in this lovely autumnal season, let's discover how to experience it in a soulful way. In her book, Creating Sanctuary, Jessi Bloom suggests setting seasonal intentions. So I ask myself, and you, to consider these questions:
1. What am I ready to let go of?
2. What is waiting to emerge in me?
3. What is calling for my attention deep in my soul?
4. What quality do I want to embody in this new season?
5. What do I want to do in this new season and more importantly, what do I want to stop doing?
So I ask you to be brave with me, to breathe deeply, and to hold your heart in your hands. Be still and listen. What's in your heart? Do you need to make a decision? Is it time to make some peace? Be gentle with yourself and show yourself some grace. Take one step towards making space in your soul. You are a treasure and worth far more than rubies. Blessings to you.
The Next Right Thing Podcast #193: A Soul Minimalist's Guide to Autumn
The Soulful Minimalist by Courtney Carver
Creating Sanctuary by Jessi Bloom
Hi, I'm Tracy - horticulturist, beauty-seeker, Word-lover, and blessed to be the owner of Bella Botanica. I also love to write about plants, gardening, and about my faith journey. Thanks for reading!