I need my home to be a safe place, and that doesn't just happen. I have to MAKE it a sanctuary.
The modern world is a complicated place to navigate. And its heavy. Its confusing and too much to process, sometimes. Everyone has their own coping mechanisms for when they are feeling uprooted, disillusioned, and/or overwhelmed. Mine is to spend time away from the chaos to process, focus on other things and feel SAFE. I am absolutely no master at this, but when I realize that I am needing a safe place I make sure that I try my best to make that happen- usually at home. Of course most of our homes are naturally comfortable because its our house and humans love familiarity. However, I am meaning creating a sanctuary by, yes being comfortable physically in our home, but also having a way to mentally give our families sanctuary.
I'm chuckling as I write this because frankly my house is an absolute bad house right now. And in my perfect vision of my sanctuary home is not what a house looks and sounds like with tyrant babes ruling the place. But I digress.... Real life is all we've got, and so there is no reason to give up on creating sanctuary for ourselves and our families, in fact this makes it all the more important! I honestly believe that if we let go a little bit, and adjust our focus, we can create sanctuary nearly anywhere.
Here is a little bit of an explanation behind this post- I have been designing "happy places" in my head since High School, and as my live has progressed forward I've started practicing making my physical world a sanctuary as well. Cultivating a sanctuary can seem hard and overwhelming, but its mostly mental and is all about slowing down and stepping back. It takes practice but it gets easier with time. I want to have a space to rest, for my my family and friends to rest and that links directly to my practice of making my home a place that we can all get a breath of fresh air. I have NOT been practicing this recently. There is a lot going on in the world and new changes in my household and usual routine and its been incredibly trying. Then it hit me- I need to step back. I need to give myself space and step away from the craziness and let myself be. This can obviously be done my taking a long hot shower late into the night, or reading a favorite fantasy novel, but I need my home to become a place that gives me space to even feel like I can step away and breathe. It is feeling a little more complicated now with two busy babes and a husband working from home. But that does not mean it can't happen, we just have to get creative, be honest about what is really helping us and throw out the rest.
I know that every household is undergoing changes, shifts and moves all the time. Especially right now. And I hope my this nest portion will resonate and guide you to create your own sanctuary.
The sanctuary I need is built around presence, protection, & calm
I'm sire you're thinking: And how the heck are we supposed to cultivate that kind of atmosphere at home? Well honestly, I'm sure it looks pretty different for a majority of people, and I don't think there is one right answer for every household. But I think that there are elements of sanctuary that resonate across the board, so I am sharing some key elements for my household right now to guide you towards the sanctuary that fits your needs.
1. TAKE A DANG BREAK FROM SOCIAL MEDIA. Mama, let me tell you- social media is incredible because to has the capacity to create connection and relay information- But it can also interrupt connection and relay TOO MUCH information. The worlds voices are LOUD, heavy, numbing even. And sometimes you don't realize the noise and weight until you block it out, even for a short time. So dangit, just take a break. Not checking social media for a day or more isn't going to ruin anything. If something massive happens, you'll find out one way or another and you'll be able to catch up on your scrolling later. Let your mind have some space to enjoy the "quiet." I bet you'll me able to listen to/consume some actually enriching things. I always fool myself into thinking that Social Media lifts and inspires me, that its essential. But it isn't. And I always feel better when I take a break away and let myself sit outside of the digital world for a while. You should try it. This helps to create a concrete space that's away from the world outside of your door/phone/computer etc. This doesn't have to be all the time, of course, but it should happen when it needs to.
2. DON'T FOCUS ON YOUR OWN AGENDA. The photo featured at the top of the post is of my sweet little girl cuddling on the couch on a very tired day. The day that I realized I needed my home to be made into a better sanctuary, actually. Because a lot has been going on in our house, and because I love to be in control, I have been holding onto an agenda that I didn't always realize I had in the back of my mind. Because I wasn't totally aware of my agenda and expectations surrounding it, tension was overflowing and there was always something going wrong. So on the day pictured, I kept the lights low, I put on Disney songs for my girls quietly, folded laundry and just sat. There was still a lot of frustration and I definitely cried during our bedtime routine because it was hard, but girlllll, the day felt SO MUCH BETTER because my perspective was to just do one thing and let the day move as it warranted. Naps weren't at the perfect time, the house was messy, but I felt calmer because I wasn't grasping for control that I wasn't going to ever reach at a time like this. Letting go of an agenda and grabbing onto calm is hard, but it its one step closer to making home a sanctuary from the stress of life. Right now, lowering some of my expectations and just trying my best to be positive, for me and for my family, is what matters and so its an important part of the sanctuary we will cultivate.
3. GET MOVING. This isn't necessarily essential to making a sanctuary in your home, but it makes an incredible difference because it helps you get out of your head, get oxygen flowing to your limbs and brain, and releases stress and encourages a more optimistic outlook, which you already knew, I know. Yoga (my go to forever), barre, and HIIT workouts are my jam. I especially love going on walks outside in spring to feel refreshed and reset. When I am overwhelmed it literally feels impossible to step aside from the spiral in my mind, and taking time to push it away with physical activity helps me actually let go of that spiral a little bit and sometimes, a lot a bit. Exercising, and sweating especially, help cycle out the chemicals in our body that create panic and anxiety and even depression in our body. It doesn't erase them of course, but it is an incredible way to release a good amount of them, so get moving, if you can. Moving my body matters when creating a safe place because it helps me feel calmer mentally and it also gives me mental and physical energy to offer to my family.
4. MEDITATE. You can do this in a lot of ways, I don't care how, just do it. Meditating allows you to train your brain to have control over your thoughts, and how you process them mentally and physically. If that's not a stress killer I don't know what is. The more you meditate the more you'll gain control over your thoughts and peace in the present. Meditating helps me to release fear, focus on acceptance, and brings me happiness. Feeling mentally safe translated directly into feeling physically safe, so for me these both make my home a more protected place and meditating is an easy way for me to move into a safer place.
5. REDUCE CLUTTER. Messes are everywhere, because that's what happens when we live somewhere. But doing what you can to eliminate clutter and things that don't need to be strewn about or piled, reduces sensory (visual) stress. I am NOT talking have a perfect house- that's the ideal, right? but not usually realistic- I'm talking, that mound of papers on the counter? make them into a clean stack. Maybe consolidate the dishes into a certain area in the kitchen, put on a candle, and face in a different direction for a while. Sensory overload contributes to overwhelm which is the opposite of feeling like you're in a sanctuary. So I do a little here and there to reduce visual and, if I can, audio stimulation to get a small break.
6. MAKE A GRATITUDE LIST. Put it somewhere you'll see it too, if you're into that. This lines up with protection. If we feel grateful, fear has less power over us. Focusing on blessings and joy, makes the goodness around us multiply. Filling our mind and by extension our physical home with gratitude will push out unneeded stress and fear. Seeing it often will remind you to look for joy instead of panic. I am less likely to be angry if I'm focusing on the good in my children, instead of the difficult. And as a result my girls are more likely to respond to me with better behavior (in time).
7. READ UPLIFTING OR GUIDING MATERIAL/SCRIPTURES. No matter your spiritual affiliation, we all have access to material that can uplift and offer strength and guidance in times of trial and chaos. For me, this material can range from studying scriptures so that I can lean into Gods plan for ME (because I'm a religious individual, this aids me greatly), to wisdom imparted from Ghandi himself, when recounting trying experiences from his life in an interview, to laughing along with a comedian reading their memoir, and even to studying modernist artists and how they processed and dissected what the human condition really is after becoming disillusioned with the world- the Humanities geek in me just can't help it, guys.
Sanctuary is something that's cultivated, it grows as we take care of it, let it grow into our habits and lifestyle. It's ever changing. And it can seem daunting when first planting the seed. But it will flourish if we allow it to. Yes, anger and trial will fight against it, and maybe even tear it down for a time, but it can always be brought back. And like a garden, its well worth the effort to tend it. The reward is worth far more than the effort we have to give. So give and let go. You deserve it, your family deserves it.