Your Sanctuary

Bench and time alone

Do you have a place that you can go to when you feel stressed or overwhelmed?

What do you do when you feel rushed or can’t catch your breath?

The automatic response is to try to do more, or be faster and more efficient.

We run from one thing to the other and before we know it the day is over and it’s time to prepare for the next one.

Today I invite you to join me and escape the noise and pressures of daily living.

Take time off during (or at the end of) the day and allow yourself to do what grounds you and gives you perspective … what lets you breathe through stress and forget about the never-ending demands—even for a short while.

“One hour of thoughtful solitude may nerve the heart for days of conflict—girding up its armor to meet the most insidious foe.” ~Lord Percival

You can do this by visiting your sanctuary—a small, but personal place of sanity and peace.

How to build your sanctuary

You can build a sanctuary very simply and inexpensively from the things you have around in your house. The following is all you need.

Assign a space.

Find a space where you can be for a period of time without interruptions. It can be in your home office, a guest room, your basement, backyard, or a corner in a room that you can screen off for the duration needed.

The most important thing is to have a space that you can call your own for the time you need it. It’s best to have something that has a door you can close.

Make it comfortable.

You will need a chair and a blanket and maybe a little table. If you feel more comfortable sitting on the floor, a blanket or a towel and cushion will do.

It should be a place where you feel comfortable spending some time. It’s not necessarily luxurious, but comfortable and cozy so you can sit and enjoy your own company.

Make it personal.

This is your space. You can add a personal touch to it to remind yourself of this private corner of the world that’s yours.

It can be a small plant, a candle, a picture frame, or anything else that connects you to the place.

Have your sanctuary tools.

You don’t need a lot of tools to be alone. But if you want to do other things in your sacred time, consider these items:

Notebook and a pen/pencil. I would not recommend a computer; it’s too mechanical compared to the fluidity and intimacy of writing by hand.

Music/mp3 player and headphones. If you want to lose yourself in music for a while, this is the best time and place to do it.

A book or eBook reader/tablet. I recommend reading fiction and getting lost in the story. You can read nonfiction if you wish, but keep it light so you have enough time to reflect on what you read without adding more demands on your time.

Tablets are versatile. You can read on them, use the music app to listen to your favorite tunes, or use a timer. But they can be distracting. So be mindful and use your tablet for the intended purpose only.

The ritual

Whether you spend a lot of time alone or you don’t have any, it’s important to stop deliberately and be alone—no interruptions or distractions.

It is a wonderful practice to sit comfortably in your space on a daily basis and be at ease with yourself.

You can sit and write what comes to mind, journal, listen to a relaxing piece of music, read a book you’ve been meaning to read.

You can reflect on your day, meditate, or daydream. Or simply just sit and be in total silence.

It’s your space and it’s your time.

How long?

You can take as long as you need. If you’re not used to spending time alone, start with as little as 5 minutes and build up to an hour.

There is no set rule. The important thing is you get enough time alone.

Keep it simple. Keep your sanctuary simple and flowing. It doesn’t have to be set in stone. You can change the place or the way you sit and do things to what works best for you.

Your sanctuary is your little haven of peace and quiet. It will give you a renewed sense of purpose and keep you grounded—away from demands and expectations, rushing or reacting.

It’s time to be. Make it a ritual and do it often.

“The great omission in American life is solitude . . . that zone of time and space, free from the outside pressures, which is the incinerator of the spirit.” ~ Marya Mannes